Anti-Zionism sans moral borders: Howard Brenton defends claim that IDF targets Palestinian actors

Some unhinged charges leveled against Israel infuriate, while others – for various reasons – fascinate. Yet there are others simply so informed by pathos and endemic bias that they serve to illustrate a Guardian animus beyond rhyme, reason; directed towards one lone Jewish state. 

 Howard Brenton’s suggestion that Israel is engaged in an assault upon Palestinian artists (‘Stand up for West Bank’s Freedom theatre‘, June 12th, Guardian Theater page) in his fictitious account of the murder of Juliano Mer Khamis in April 2011, is an example of the latter.   

 Brenton wrote a passage which, (I may need to remind you, if the antagonist and protagonist of his running query is unclear) is meant to evoke IDF soldiers seeking their Palestinian prey:

“Or how about being picked up at a checkpoint because you’re an actor, or made to stand by a theatre wall in the middle of the night with your trousers down because you’re a theatre technician? Or being taken off to a detention centre and denied a lawyer or family visit ? Or being shot in the head with your baby son in your lap because you’re an artistic director?” [emphasis added]

As Margie in Tel Aviv so eloquently expressed on these pages in a response to Brenton’s hallucinatory polemical journey, after noting that Brenton offers “not a smidgen of proof”:

“From his account the incidents plaguing the Freedom Theatre sound like an (Israeli) attack on the very concept of dramatic presentation and theatre.”

Margie later notes that Brenton, “neglects irresponsibly to remind his readers of Jenin’s reputation as a violent city of crime, murder, terrorism and rebellion,” and then quotes from the following New York Times report:

“Gangs that threatened to bring chaos back to the streets of Jenin, a notorious hub of violent crime during the second intifada reborn in recent years as a model of Palestinian self-rule, cooperation with Israel and economic growth.”

“Qadoura Moussa, 60, the governor of this region in the northern part of the Palestinian territories [was shot dead by multiple Palestinian gunmen in May]”.

The Israeli arrests Brenton alludes to – not directly related to the murder of Mer Khamis – are almost certainly related to the surge in terror activity in Jenin – a city increasingly a hub for Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist movements.

Indeed, after Benton received a battering of criticism beneath the line, a commenter named SantaMoniker directly addressed the writer:

Brenton was kind enough to respond, backing down not one rhetorical inch from his original claim.

As Alan Johnson wrote at Harry’s Place – regarding Brenton’s broader narrative of the supposed villainy of a state the Guardian contributor would have us believe is directing a campaign against a uniquely liberal Palestinian theater promoting peace and co-existence:  

“Here is just some of what [Brenton] had to ignore.

First, that the Guardian itself reported at the time of the killing that Mer Khamis ‘had received threats for his work in Jenin’ from Palestinians; and…fire bombs were thrown at the theatre.’

Second, that the Guardian itself reported then that ‘[Mer Khamis’s] bringing together of young men and women angered conservative Muslim elements in Jenin.’

Third, that Palestinians at the time were clear [that] some people [in Jenin] were angry with the liberal values he was promoting at the theatre.”

Fourth…that before the murder Fatah militants had sought to intervene in this Islamist campaign of intimidation. One Fatah militant, Zakaria Zubeidi, a leader of the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, ‘was appointed co-theater director in an attempt to subdue the ongoing threats voiced against both the institution and Mer-Khamis.’ 

Fifth, that the specifically Islamist character of the campaign against the actor was common knowledge. Again from Ha’aretz: ‘Some of the criticism focused on the fact that the theater offered co-ed activities, despite prohibition in the Islamic moral code.’ ‘Objectors were also outraged when Mer-Khamis staged the play “Animal Farm”, in which the young actors played the part of a pig, which Islam considers an impure animal.’ “

In other words, those who consider the Freedom Theater a threat – such as whoever murdered Juliano Mer Khamis – are Jenin’s Islamists.  In the context of the ascendancy of terrorist groups in Jenin and the resources the IDF must now devote to countering this resurgent threat, the notion that their special units are also assigned to crippling the progressive Palestinian arts community represents a meme beyond parody. 

As Margie in Tel Aviv noted:

“Brenton either never knew or wilfully disregarded the environment in which this Free Theatre has its being, the infamous city of Jenin, home of the Big Lie: the Jenin Massacre, that never happened.”

As readers will no doubt recall, the ‘world’s leading liberal voice’ was in a league of its own in spreading the most odious Jenin-lie poisons against IDF forces and it looks as though Brenton’s latest libel (the Jewish state arresting innocent actors, theater and artistic directors) will simply add to the steady drip of the Guardian’s unique contribution to an anti-Zionist antipathy without decency or borders.

Written By
More from Adam Levick
Guardian erases ‘Palestinians’ from two Palestinian terror attacks in Hebron
The Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent, Peter Beaumont, pulled off quite a feat in...
Read More
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *