In a widely-circulated email sent out on Monday, August 20, COPMA explains that several significant plays that have been promoted at Theater J in the last few years.
These plays that defame Israel have been going on for years, and our efforts to stop them have been rejected. Although you never intended your charity dollars to be used to attack Israel, the Federation is doing exactly that by using your contributions to provide a substantial source of the operating funds of Theater J. Even worse, Theater J boasts that it is a partner organization to The Federation, thereby using the Federation’s name to endorse its anti-Israel program.
For COPMA, “The Admission,” is a red line. It reads like a fleshed out version of one or two of the mini-plays in Caryl Churchill’s “Seven Jewish Children.” Or for those who are not familiar with that play, picture Der Sturmer magazine’s worst caricatures.
The protagonist, Avigdor, was a colonel in the Israeli War of Independence. We learn during the course of the play that although Avigdor had not admitted it before, his and two other companies attacked the Arab (fictional) village of Jirin, located near Haifa. Avigdor admits that fourteen Arabs were killed (that’s Avigdor’s count, a “history book” claims 96 Arabs were killed) in the yard of a mosque, no less.
When the play takes place, Avigdor is a big developer. His company is in the process of bulldozing over the graves of those who were killed, along with the homes currently populating the Arab village. Oh, and for good measure, Avigdor is also working furiously to get a local Arab girl to leave town because Avigdor’s son is in love with her, and the family doesn’t want him to be involved with an Arab.
Like JCC Watch, COPMA asks supporters of Israel to consider reducing or eliminating their contributions to the local Federation. COPMA points out that their criticism should not be met with cries about freedom of expression.
Ari Roth, the agenda-driven artistic director of Theater J, is free to stage any shameful attack on Israel that he feels driven to launch. However, he should not be supported by funds contributed by those in the Jewish Community who love and continue to defend Israel. And he should NOT be permitted to continue his anti-Israel propaganda on a stage having the endorsement and imprimatur of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.
The Jewish Press spoke with Carol Greenwald, treasurer of COPMA, about the effort to send a financial message to the Federation. Greenwald understands very well what it means to have a financial impact on an institution in order to encourage change. She has a PhD in macroeconomics from Columbia University.
“It is a tragedy when Jewish leaders refuse to stand up to support Israel. But it is actually against the law when Federation leadership accept Jewish charity money and then use it to defame Israel. That’s a violation of their fiduciary duty, and something for which they can and should be held accountable,” Greenwald explained.
Sondra Kloner lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C. When contacted by The Jewish Press, Kloner said she was “very much opposed” to what goes on at Theater J.
“There are enough people out there trying to encourage Jewish youth to be anti-Israel. I don’t think the Federation should be supporting this, and I don’t think the money I give to Federation should be used for this,” Kloner said.
“The Admission” has not yet been staged in Israel, although it is scheduled to open there this November. It had already been scheduled for productions in three different Israeli theaters, but all three productions were canceled.
“I can only guess that there were fears and perhaps pressures that led to it. You can also guess that these pressures had to do with the huge difficulties we face in Israel and in Jewish communities outside of Israel to discuss the events of the 1948 war that led to a conflict that is still unresolved,” Lerner said.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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