The Washington Jewish community cannot protect Israel from Iranian nuclear weapons or rockets from Hezbollah and Hamas. But we can refuse to support anti-Israel propaganda within our own community. The play The Admission is the latest in a line of anti-Israel plays produced by our Washington DC Jewish Community Center’s Theater J and paid for with Federation funds — but by far the worst.
Under director Ari Roth, Theater J’s productions have become ruthlessly anti-Israel. Many have not risen above the level of propaganda, such as Return to Haifa, written by the leader of a Palestinian terrorist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Seven Jewish Children, written by a notorious British anti-Semite.
Roth’s latest offering, The Admission, represents a new low — for this play is not merely propaganda, but a poisonous lie. It is the fabricated story of a massacre of 240 Palestinians by Israeli soldiers in 1948, with the added anti-Semitic twist of the protagonist building a shopping mall on the unmarked graves.
The story of the fake massacre started with a 1998 master’s thesis by a radical University of Haifa student who based his claim on interviews with Palestinian survivors of the “massacre.” Members of the accused Israeli unit sued for libel, won, and the Israeli Supreme Court upheld the verdict. In the court proceedings the Haifa student admitted to having fabricated the testimony of his “witnesses.” The case on which The Admission is based is famous in Israel — but not as a massacre, but as a proven and admitted modern blood libel.
A play promoting this libel will now be staged in Washington — not by Palestinian activists or a BDS group, but by our very own Washington DC Jewish Community Center and underwritten by our very own Federation.
Roth defends his production by citing artistic freedom and censorship, but these are red herrings. Nobody is contesting his right to stage such a defamatory play. We are contesting the appropriateness of a Jewish communal institution using Jewish charity donations to defame Israel and the Jewish people.
Conversations are important. Big tents are vital to us Jews. At some point, however, you stop discussing a lie because it only serves those who want to perpetuate the lie. The liar, and the lie, needs to be expelled from the tent.
Repeating lies about Israeli soldiers is not a healing process. When a lie is repeated often enough, people begin to believe it. Leaders of the Jewish community, Susie and Michael Gelman, in an op-ed in this newspaper defending Theater J wrote that the play “draws on some troubling references to events that may or may not have occurred during Israel’s War of Independence.”
“May or may not have occurred”?
The Federation would not fund a play denying the Holocaust or promoting the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. There are no shortage of speakers who could be brought to the DCJCC to open up a conversation on these topics. Why is it just lies about Israel that we are happy to spread?
Plays such as The Admission are not constructive. They do not promote peace and understanding. Most people recognize that the incitement in Arab media to hate Israel as a murderous entity that preys on innocent Palestinians decreases chances for peace. The Admission does not help heal the rift between Israelis and Palestinians, but in fact does the opposite. It condemns the Israelis as villains and the Palestinians as victims and promotes a false and defamatory history of Israel.
The only conversation this play raises that is worthy of discussion is about Roth, Theater J and the Federation. Why are people who claim to represent the Jewish community insistent on spreading malicious, easily disprovable lies about Israel?
Giving false massacre allegations credibility by dramatic readings, panel discussions and artistic prestige is morally wrong, an insult to the Jewish community and an abuse of Federation money. We call on donors to the Washington Federation to cease giving until production of The Admission is canceled and, equally important, the Federation pledges to stop funding anti-Israel propaganda at Theater J.
Dr. Greenwald is treasurer of COPMA, Citizens Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art.