Your March 27 edition reported that Ms. Andrea Barron led a group of protesters in support of Theater J’s production of The Admission, which accuses Israel of massacring Arabs (“Culture clash continues as ‘The Admission’ opens to public.”) Ms. Barron was quoted as saying that they were protesting against opponents of the play because “We don’t like an outside group trying to shut down the play.”
She said that the controversy is “a struggle going on over what kind of criticism and dialogue is permissible.”
While Ms. Barron is understandably interested in portraying the conflict as a battle for free speech – in which Theater J and supporters such as herself are the alleged victims – Washington Jewish Week readers have a right to know that she is not merely some disinterested champion of freedom of expression. In fact, she has a long history of engaging in exactly the kind of anti-Israel accusations that The Admission makes.
As a leader of the “America-Israel Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace” in the 1980s (and perhaps later), Ms. Barron frequently leveled harsh and baseless charges against the Jewish State. For example, in an advertisement in The Jerusalem Post on Feb. 20, 1988, Barron and her colleagues accused Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin of carrying out “forced deportations” (they were referring to the temporary exile of a small number of terrorist leaders) and justified Palestinian Arab violence against Israelis as “the inevitable result of 20 years of occupation.”
Nobody is challenging Andrea Barron’s legal right to attack Israel or defend The Admission. But she does not have a moral right to disingenuously wrap herself in the cloak of free speech when her own record indicates that what really motivates her is animus towards Israel.
MOSHE PHILLIPS, president, BENJAMIN KORN, chairman
Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia chapter
I am writing to scold Mr.’s Phillips and Korn for their negative, read: ad hominen approach to an issue of ethics and intellect. Having decided against a particular content, they took what many would consider a cowardly, intellectually weak approach to criticism by trying to deride the critic’s character.
On the other hand, their strident tone shod how the protest succeeded beyond our initial goal. Not only did it spark full-throated debate among the community of both the naysayers and the supporters, but it grew the paying audience even larger than it might have been without our protesting appearance. And because “The Admission” played to overflow, sold out audiences several evenings, it is being extended at another local theater.
The above letter is disingenuous. There are plenty of strong supporters of Israel who applaud Theater J for its presentation of the Admission. If the authors of the above letter had actually attended one of the performances, they would understand that the play is incredibly nuanced, thoughtful, and respectful of the differing points of view on the subject of the play. Indeed, those who are cheerleaders for anti-Israel propaganda would be sorely disappointed in “The Admission,” as the play presents difficult questions but does not provide answers. Rather, the play intentionally leaves that task to the audience. It is a powerful, thought provoking play, and panel the discussions that followed were amazing.
It is too bad that some people are incapable of considering pieces about Israel as ones that either attack Israel or defend Israel. The world is far more complicated then that. Too bad for them that they are incapable of a more nuanced understanding.