Why do some people think that campaigning in solidarity with the Palestinians is “a bit anti-Jewish”?
In early 1987 there was a public controversy about "Perdition", a play by Jim Allen, a radical writer with a Trotskyist background, which was scheduled to be directed by Ken Loach at the Royal Court Theatre in London.
Critics claimed that the play, representing Zionists as collaborating with the Nazis in the massacre of Jews in Hungary, was anti-Jewish, and designed primarily to "delegitimise" Israel; defenders argued that it was being banned for highlighting awkward truths.
The Royal Court cancelled the production at a late stage. Later, the play, in an amended version, was published, and in 1999 it was performed at the Gate Theatre in London.
- Sean Matgamna's critique of "Perdition" in Workers' Liberty 6, arguing against the cancellation under pressure but contending that the play was indeed anti-Jewish
- Tony Greenstein's first polemic
- Sean Matgamna takes a second look at "Perdition"
- Tony Greenstein's second polemic
- Sean Matgamna's second reply
When the Royal Court Theatre decided at the last minute not to go ahead with its scheduled production of Jim Allen's play about the massacre of the Jews of Hungary in 1944, 'Perdition', a flood of discussion, polemic and recrimination was unleashed in the press. It had already been the subject of protests by various prominent Jews and of publicity in the press.
Jim Allen is accused of being "vainglorious, boastful" and the campaign against the banning of Perdition is described as being "smart" and "disingenuous" ("The Perdition Affair" by John O'Mahony, WL6).
Tony Greenstein praises and justifies 'Perdition' by pointing to some of those who are against it. That's altogether too crude. Yet it is the normal standard of judgement used by the two-camps left in world politics.
I would be the last person to complain that the reply to my letter in Workers' Liberty 7 was more than four times the length of the original.
As always, Tony Greenstein doesn't debate the issue in dispute. He worries around the edges of it, quibbling over secondary details and evading the questions he is supposed to be dealing with.
On 19 March, Mohammed Merah, a French citizen of Algerian descent and a self-described member of al Qaeda, killed three Jewish children and an adult at a Jewish school in Toulouse; the previous week he had shot dead three French soldiers of North African origin.
Two bottom lines: vote Labour. And expel Livingstone from the Labour Party.
In his letter giving his recollections of the debate around the (successful) attempt to ban the Sunderland Polytechnic Jewish Society in the 1980s (Solidarity 238), Brian Plainer highlights the “natural bias” of “500-600 mostly overseas Arab/Islamic students”, which he believes represented “a significant block vote in favour of banning the Jewish Society”.