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


60 replies »

  1. Ariadne,

    Well, best of luck to the English in sorting out that internal affair of theirs. I don’t intervene, and I wish for reciprocation. Reciprocation, of course, would mean CiF would be cut down to a tiny fraction of its current size…

    Excellent blog, I know it from a link that appeared on Steven Plaut’s blog something like a month ago.

  2. JCWModerator.

    The problem is that Stephen Pollard, that sanctimonious creep who is the so-called editor of the un-Jewish Chronicle, is much more interested in burnishing his credentials as a champion of the “liberal” chattering classes “, hoping he’ll be next in line as editor of the Times, Telegraph or whatever, than he is in the future well-being of the Jewish state.

  3. Ariadne:

    “I’d love to see a play expounding the Zionist point of view”

    While I take your italicization of “the” to be a sarcastic comment on the idea that there is a single zionist viewpoint, I’ll just note that both Israel Horovitz wrote What Strong Fences Make and Deb Margolin wrote Seven Palestinian Children in response to Caryl Churchill.

  4. “Wow, revisionism knows no bounds: revisionists in Iran, revisionists in Israel. Coincidence ?”

    So, diss manages to compare Israel to terrorist, Holocaust-denying Iran, and to accuse Israel fo revisionism in the process. Diss proves his opponent’s point by quite rapidly descending to rhetoric which the EUMC has lebeled anti-Semitic.

    May Diss and his sh-ty little island sink beneath the waves.

  5. The fact that you, and half of the civilized world, can speak English, shows that the UK is anything but irrelevant.

    It requires an amazing quantity of gormlessness and deluded superiority complex to suggest that this fact has anything to do with the UK. The English as lingua franca replaced the French after the US became the leading power of the free world and nothing to do with the British.
    Without the US there wouldn’t be English language at all – diss would advertise his bigotry in German or in Russian.

  6. Rob, cut it out. You and we know you are merely striking a pose. You probably were among the original audience for Seven Jewish Children and are pratting around here because its message fell on fertile ground.

    Give it a rest already. You’ve been rumbled.

  7. Ian Thal, I agree with you that Churchill’s excuses are in bad faith. Worrisome is that they are believed so widely.