Saturday, November 28, 2009

Seven Jewish Children

Oh dear God. My friend is in a political theatre class this semestre, and she is studying the most interesting material. We had an hour long conversation yesterday about it, I almost feel like I'm taking the class vicariously through her. Heh. At any rate, she loaned me a copy of Caryl Churchill's latest play: "Seven Jewish Children." And... oh dear God.

This is a link for you to read and view it for yourself.

Critics call this play antisemitic. But I think you can be critical of a situation without being prejudiced. True, the language of this piece is quite strong, but the it is carefully chosen. Political theatre's intention is to make you angry, to outrage you into action, and that is what this piece does.

Perhaps it doesn't help that I'm biased here. I have always believed the creation of Israel to be a poor political move which did not consider future consequences. It was a quick-fix solution, meant to alleviate guilt. As a result, we (The West) are expected to side with Israel on every issue, and when some one doesn't... why, they're labelled as antisemitic.

But of course this is all complicated by the very real horror of the Holocaust.

This situation seems to me to mirror (or at least reflect) post-colonialism in Canada. In the past, perhaps rather insensitvely, I have spoken out against things that I could not know. I made a comment to the effect that yes, residential schools were terrible, but that doesn't mean an individual can blame their entire failings on the one situation, horrible as it was. In uttering this opinion I was hailed, at least to a degree, as a racist.

There is an element of personal responsibility that everyone, every sufferer, must acknowledge. As a Woman, I see discrimination and oppression against my sex. But I ALSO see how some women contribute to their suffering. While the event is not something you can control, your own personal reaction to it can be. Being a survivor is not a choice, but being a Victim is. And being a Victim does NOT make it acceptable for you to turn into a perpetrator.

But back to the Churchill piece. Why is it wrong to examine a situation from the other side? In expressing views that, while contrary to popular opinion, some people certainly have, you are opening up the subject to debate, for discourse. It seems to me that one should be able to analyze all sides of history, not just the novel written by the victor.

Furthermore, Churchill invited the Board of Deputies into the rehearsal process, in order to incorporate the Jewish Voice. However, knowing Churchill to be a Palestinian sympathizer, they rejected the invitation. The play is therefore focused on the Palestinian plight because the Israeli Voice refused to speak.

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