For a brief moment last night, I had a sense of what it would be like to be on the other side of my issue.
The evening was coming to an end, at the New York Theatre Workshop– a reading and discussion of Caryl Churchill’s very short, Gaza-inspired play, “Seven Jewish Children”– and for the second time the play was read, this time by Andre Gregory, the aristocratic actor/director of social/religious engagement. He stood near the front of the stage pouring out anger against the ways of formation of Jewish identity.
I applauded, as did most of the other 300 people in the house, and two seats away I could see the hands of a Zionist clasped in his lap, as he grumbled to his stony-faced girlfriend. You can listen to a recording of the play here [bandannie cannot link you to it but go to the Mondoweis site to download it; after the reading there is an interesting discussion]and read it here.
For the rest of the night I could not get that picture out of my head. An important stage in New York, an elite workshop space that is contested ground: three years ago the writings of an idealistic young woman who was killed by the Israeli occupation could not even be performed here, because of the “sensitivity” of Jews, the cultural importance of Jews.
But even Rachel Corrie’s piece was not directed against the springs of Jewish identity, as Churchill’s piece is, and here it was uncensored–swaddled of course in Context, a whole evening of discussion rather than just the thing itself– but here it was, and Laura Flanders, the very appealing host of Grit TV, wearing black boots and a dark jacket, had begun the evening by invoking Corrie’s name, and the evening now ended with Andre Gregory spitting out anger, which I applauded.