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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘COPMA’

D.C. Theater Retools Controversial Play about Israeli Arabs

Friday, October 11th, 2013

A Washington Jewish theater funded in part by the local Jewish federation scaled back its plans to produce a controversial play concerning how Israeli Arabs were treated when Israel became a state.

Rather than showing the entire play, Theater J instead will present “The Admission” as a workshop in which viewers will be invited to give their feedback. A spokesman for the Washington DC Jewish Community Center, which houses Theater J, said the play, by Israeli playwright Motti Lerner, will be used as a platform for discussion on how difficult subjects are treated.

Washington D.C. JCC officials told the Forward that outside pressure had nothing to do with the decision, which they said was made in part because there was no available Israeli theater to co-produce the play. In the past, Israeli plays mounted at Theater J have involved an Israeli company.

A small group known as COPMA — Citizens Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art — in an advertisement in the Washington Jewish Week and an email campaign on several Jewish listservs urged potential donors not to give to either Theater J or the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

Robert Samet, COPMA’s chairman, said his group was not against showing the play and does not believe in censorship. However, he said his group was against any Jewish federation funds being used to put on the play.

Samet said the play was “essentially an effort to put into theater some of the people who rewrite the history of Israel.”

In an interview with the Forward following the announcement of the scaled-back version, Samet said he would still push to have the play canceled.

Federation officials had defended staging the play, citing free speech and as a pushback against the problems they said could ensue from the precedent of acceding to threats from a small outside group.

“The Admission” is a fictionalization of a controversy over whether Israeli troops carried out a massacre in Tantura, a small village on the coast, during the 1948-49 Israel Independence War.

DC JCC Continues Pattern of Promoting Viciously anti-Israel Plays

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

The Washington, D.C. Jewish Community Center has a live theater component, known as Theater J.  For years Theater J has been the object of criticism from the pro-Israel world because its director, Ari Roth, promotes plays – either by staging them or having readings – which are profoundly anti-Israel.

And now Roth has done it again.

The latest play to draw the ire of Israel supporters is “The Admission.”  It is a play written by Motti Lerner, who was also the playwright of “Return to Haifa.”  The latter play, the adaptation of a novella written by the spokesperson for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was staged by Theater J in 2011.

The PFLP is an Arab Palestinian terrorist group, designated as such by the U.S. government.  The PFLP’s specialty was airplane hijackings – perhaps you’ve heard of the Entebbe hijacking?  That was one of theirs.  But they like to diversify: in October, 2001, the PFLP assassinated Rehavam Ze’evi, a member of Knesset.  The PFLP also staged homicide bombings.  The goal of the PFLP is to create a democratic socialist state in Palestine.  En route to their goal, they seek the complete destruction of the state of Israel.

When “Return to Haifa” was shown at Theater J, a pro-Israel grassroots organization sent a letter to the D.C. Federation, complaining about such a play being promoted at a Federation-sponsored venue.

Roth responded to the critical letter by stating that it “is not a prerogative of the donor” to intervene in artistic content, and claimed that attempts to limit the theater’s activities amounted to censorship or blacklisting. David Makowsky grew up in Chicago, and told The Jewish Press he well remembers Ari Roth. “He was a bully then and it sounds like he’s still a bully today.”

“The Admission’s” Lerner explained in an interview earlier this year that it was Theater J’s Roth who initiated contact about “The Admission” back in 2010.  It was Roth’s initiative that encouraged Lerner to work with an English speaker and translate the play, which was in Hebrew and Arabic, into English.

Appointing and then keeping someone who brought to the stage of a Jewish Community Center the handiwork of a leader of a group dedicated to eradicating the Jewish state is a shocking choice.  The man makes his living from the donations of Jews who think they are giving money for Jewish causes.

Not surprisingly, there are a number of people in the Washington, D.C. community who find Roth’s taste in drama repugnant, who have been trying for several years to bring the dirty back tale of Theater J to the attention of the national and international pro-Israel community, as their efforts thus far have fallen on deaf ears at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and at the Washington, D.C. JCC leadership.

Louis Offen, a Rockvile, Maryland resident, told The Jewish Press that he used to contribute substantially more to the D.C. Federation before he “was put off by the Theater J business and the failure of Federation and the DC JCC director to put an end to Ari Roth’s use of Theater J in the service of his personal politics.”

The organization Citizens Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art – COPMA – was formed in 2009, after another of Roth’s choices, “Seven Jewish Children” was staged at Theater J.   That play is a series of seven one minute plays, in which a group of parents or relatives are discussing what to tell their Jewish Israeli children about “the situation,” and what should be kept from the children.  The actors quickly reinforce every horrible anti-Israel canard, by showing parents keeping the truths from their children.  For example, one line is: “No but dont tell her Arabs used to sleep in her bedroom.”  In one of the plays, water that is supposed to be for the fields of Arabs is instead used for Israelis’ swimming pool, “Tell her it’s our water, we have the right.”

COPMA, like New York City’s JCC Watch, is a grass roots effort to inform pro-Israel people about Jewish institutions that are using Jewish communal dollars to fund programs that are harmful to Israel.

JCPA: ‘We’re The Voice of American Jews,’ But Many Beg to Differ

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

As we conclude the somber observance of Tish B’Av, the time when so many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people are recalled, it is perhaps not irrelevant that U.S. secretary of state John Kerry has returned to the Middle East.

Official reports claim Kerry has no plans to visit Israel, but, as Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu reported in The Jewish Press, Kerry met with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas while in Jordan.  It turns out he is also meeting with various Arab leaders who, according to al Jazeera, Kerry believes “are essential to his push to get Israelis and Palestinians to resume peace talks.”  That’s right.  Arab leaders to push – who? Who else, but Israel, to restart the “peace talks.”

Yes, although the entire Middle East is in turmoil, Egypt has just gone through a second revolution, nearly a100,000 have died in Syria’s ongoing civil war, one into which Lebanon is increasingly being drawn, Turkey is nearing the boiling point, Iraq continues to unravel and Iran is approaching nuclear weapons capability, leave it to a group of professional Jewish professionals to sashay into D.C. and tell the relevant congressional committees that now is the time for Kerry to kickstart the Arab-Israeli “peace talks.”  And that’s what happened, just before Kerry left for the Middle East.

The Jewish group making the possibly worst-timed suggestion ever is the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA).

According to its website, the JCPA has a tripartite mission: first, “to safeguard the rights of Jews here and around the world”; second, “to dedicate ourselves to the safety and security of the state of Israel”; and third, “to protect, preserve and promote a just American society, one that is democratic and pluralistic, one that furthers harmonious interreligious, inter ethnic [sic] interracial and other intergroup relations.”

From their mission, you might think that the safety and security of Jews and the Jewish state would be the primary focus of JCPA’s activities.  But you might be wrong, as a quick look at their website makes clear.  The JCPA’s focus is on liberal domestic issues. Israel and Judaism play a minor role.

JCPA CLAIMS TO REPRESENT THE ORGANIZED JEWISH COMMUNITY

Nonetheless, the JCPA can prioritize as it wishes and make whatever suggestions it wants to members of congress.  But when the JCPA leaps over its goal to be something and starts proclaiming it is something, that is when people begin to bristle.

You see, on the JCPA Facebook page, and on its Twitter homepage, it states, with no qualifiers, that “the JCPA is the representative voice of the organized Jewish community.”

That’s news to a whole lot of American Jews who shared their response with The Jewish Press.

Because when the JCPA decided to meet with the House and the Senate foreign relations committees, asserting that the American Jewish community wants Kerry to focus on restarting the peace talks, that claim may have been heard as if it had far more weight than warranted.

Let’s put aside for the moment that when the JCPA went to congress to make its claims, it was double-dating with the American Task Force on Palestine.  That’s something they do a lot.  Again, whatever JCPA does is its own business.

But The Jewish Press asked a broad geographical cross-section of American Jews who are knowledgeable about the Middle East in general and Israel in particular, whether, as the JCPA asserts, it is the “representative voice of the organized Jewish community,” and if it spoke representing them when it went to congress urging the restart of the “peace talks” at this time.

In a word, no.

People in California, Chicago, Florida, Washington, D.C., and New York were asked to comment.  Rabbis, architects, businesspeople, financial wizards, intelligence analysts, and Jewish communal leaders were asked to comment.  They all said no, the JCPA does not represent them.

“They don’t represent me,” said Jeff Ballabon, the president of a New York consulting firm and the founder of the Coordinating Council on Jerusalem, a consortium of two dozen national pro-Israel groups.

“Israel has stated very clearly: there are to be no preconditions for starting the peace talks, so I have to wonder, why are these groups putting pressure on Israel?  I don’t see how any American Jew who cares about Israel’s safety and security would be pushing this now,” Ballabon said.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jcpa-were-the-voice-of-american-jews-many-beg-to-differ/2013/07/17/

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