Seven Jewish Children, revisited: Anthony Julius responds to Caryl Churchill and the Guardian

I haven’t read some of the more chilling anti-Semitic lines in Caryl Churchill’s play, Seven Jewish Children – which is posted to this day on the Guardian’s website – in quite a while.

To those who may have, like myself, nearly forgotten how insidious the play truly is, here is Anthony Julius’s reply, in today’s Guardian, to Caryl Churchill’s letter from last week defending her work from Julius’s characterization of it in his book, Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England.

In Trials of the Diaspora, I argue that Caryl Churchill‘s play Seven Jewish Children is antisemitic. Churchill (Letters, 4 March) denies this characterisation, writing that I rely on the line “tell her there’s dead babies, did she see babies?”.

I had in mind the following lines, among others. “Tell her we killed the babies by mistake / Don’t tell her anything about the army.” “Tell her I look at one of their children covered in blood and what do I feel? Tell her all I feel is happy it’s not her.” “Tell her I wouldn’t care if we wiped them out.” “Tell her I don’t care if the world hates us, tell her we’re better haters, tell her we’re chosen people.”

In this play, Jews confess to lying to their own children and killing Palestinian children. They also confess to something close to a project of genocide. And they freely acknowledge the source of their misanthropy to be Judaism itself.

None of this seems to bother Churchill – nor, indeed, the Guardian. As she correctly notes, the play is available on your website.

Anthony Julius


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