THE BLOG
03/02/2009 02:09 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

A Jew Goes to England

It's a crappy time to be a Jew going to England. If you're an Israeli Jew like me, you're really screwed. Considering the outrage following the recent Gaza offensive/defensive, I expect to be greeted at Heathrow with a cold metal probe, the words "What's your role in Gaza, you baby killer!" engraved on it.
It pains me that England, a country I respect and admire in countless ways, has also been home to the primitive, absurd cries for boycotts against Israeli academics and artists, which not only targets the very people that are the very beacon of hope for progress, understanding and humanitarianism, but are also actions that are just as counterproductive as the military actions and embargos against civilians that they condemn so vehemently in the first place.
But back to me. I'm leaving for London on Saturday to do my solo show about Israel, in which I play 11 different people in a Tel Aviv cafe moments before a suicide bombing. The show is more sociological than political, in that it does not espouse a particular political view but many different views; It explores the splintered conflicted nature of Israeli identity and society and humanizes a people that the world has turned into an amorphous arrogant military mob.
I've been touring with the show for almost two years now, and I think it has done well precisely because its not a polemic; its first and foremost theatrical entertainment, and audiences from all walks of life, Arabs included, seemed to enjoy the show and connect to it on a universal level. I have been lucky enough to have the discussion surrounding my piece be of a psychological analytical nature; what motivates Israelis, what are their internal conflicts, how has their history informed their thought processes, their desire to stay or leave their country, the era of post Zionism etc.
But now I'm going to England, barely a month after the war in Gaza. And as much as I'd like to keep the discourse surrounding my piece a socio-psychological theatrical exploration of Israeli society, I'm bracing for the worst. I mean, look at what's all the rage there these days: Caryl Churchill's piece SEVEN JEWISH CHILDREN, which is being done at the Royal Court Theatre, a piece which demonizes average Jewish parents to an extreme, once again doing the very thing that the world condemns: dehumanizing and depersonalizing an entire nation, as if every person in Israel was rejoicing in the deaths of Palestinian citizens, which could not be farther from the truth. If you are appalled by the government's military action, focus on that. Don't make the average Joseph the one dropping the bombs, cuz he's just lost and doesn't see a bright future and is starving for a solution. So help him - illuminate, enlighten with your work, don't give him a pitchfork and spend your artistic energy inciting hatred rather than understanding.
I'm surprised at how surprised I am. I mean if certain so-called intelligent academics call for academic boycotts against their colleagues, why can't certain artists, the ones that we rely on to explore the common human condition, to bring to light the universal commonalities of all people, to shake people out of their ignorant hebetude (Great word. Hebetude. So apt and pun filled), why can't certain artists write pieces that engage in the very behavior and mind set it is their job to dispel. The fact that some like Churchill have such respectable bodies of work makes their engaging in these despicable behaviors all the more devastating.
I really hope I will be pleasantly surprised in London next week, I've had such fantastic experiences performing in the UK in the past that I can only hope that those particular souls that so aggressively demonize average Israelis for demonizing Arabs come see my show and get shaken out of their limited-thought stupor. Maybe if I'm lucky, Caryl can show me her metal probe over some Pims after the performance.