'Seven Jewish Children' in Bolton (or Octagone to the PSC?)

This is a guest post by Jonathan Hoffman
“Seven Jewish Children” is the antisemitic play that was written by PSC Patron Caryl Churchill after Operation Cast Lead.
CiF Watch readers will not be surprised that “Seven Jewish Children” was thoroughly embraced by The Guardian.
Michael Billington of The Guardian wrote the following defamatory sentence “But Churchill also shows us how Jewish children are bred to believe in the “otherness” of Palestinians and how, for generations to come, they stand to reap the bitter harvest of the military assault on Hamas.” Notice the eugenic redolence of that word “bred”.
On last Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening it was performed at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton in the UK. On Saturday afternoon there was to be a debate on it and ‘All My Sons’, the main play being featured by the Octagon Theatre. The event was to be a cosy Israel-hate session with speakers from the PSC, JFJFP and the local MP who is secretary to the All Parliamentary Britain-Palestine Group, with the line up as follows:

Linda Clair – Chair of Manchester Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Of Jewish origin. Recently visited the West Bank.
Dr Brian Iddon – Labour MP for Bolton SE and secretary to the All Parliamentary Britain-Palestine Group. Has visited Palestine several times. He is also a patron of the Octagon Theatre.
Asad Khan – Consultant Physician in Bury. Visited the West Bank in 2007. Member of Physicians for Human Rights, Israel and the British Medical Committee on Palestine.
Richard Kuper – Chair and Publications officer of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, an organisation of more than 1,300 Jews in Britain.
Norma Turner – Manchester health care worker. Visited Gaza post Jan 2009 and recently visited the West Bank.

But thanks to someone on the theatre mailing list, I was alerted to the event in good time and insisted that the ‘antidote’ play ‘Seven Other Children’ was shown as well and that I and others be called on to speak at the debate. This was accepted – the theatre has close links with Bolton University and receives public money.
The Artistic Director of the Octagon, David Thacker, told me that “Seven Jewish Children” was being performed at the request of the PSC. If you look at a cached copy of the Octagon website you will find the same explanation:

When premiered the play caused uproar. It was the Bolton Palestine Solidarity Campaign who approached the organization to produce Seven Jewish Children. The Octagon Theatre would like to thank Bolton Palestine Solidarity Campaign for their ongoing support.

Yet when we debated on BBC Radio Manchester on Monday night (starts 41:20) and in the theatre on Saturday, Thacker insisted the play was his free choice to perform. Go figure. If the BNP asked him to perform a play called “Whiter than White” would he oblige and claim it was his own idea?
And how come in 1994 he had such concerns about “Merchant of Venice” but now seems to have none about “Seven Jewish Children”?

With increasing racist assaults and Nazi activity throughout Europe, we have an obligation. There is a real responsibility to not only avoid any possibility of fuelling that racism but moreover to confront and reveal the source of that racist upsurge.

Go figure……
Addendum
Engage has also been following this story. See the comments by Morten and IsraeliNurse who were both also there. IsraeliNurse suggests that a more appropriate Arthur Miller play for the discussion would have been The Crucible

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