Theater J Announces It Is Downgrading “The Admission” To A Workshop. But This is No Victory.

Should A Proven Lie Be Elevated In Dignity by Dramatizing It and By Holding Panel Discussions to Debate It?

Some of you may have seen the news stories last week of The DCJCC and Theater J’s announcement that they are downgrading “The Admission” to a workshop, rather than a full blown theatrical production. The workshops will include dramatic readings and panel discussions. In separate newspaper accounts they vociferously assert that COPMA’s campaign had nothing at all to do with the decision. The news articles can be viewed here:

    1. The Washington Post
    2. The Forward

Astoundingly, the head of the DCJCC, Carole Zawatsky, asserted that this is actually an improvement over the play format. She acknowledges that the DCJCC engaged a public relations firm to help frame its response to our objections.

“The DCJCC engaged a Washington communications firm, West End Strategy Team, to help frame a response to COPMA.”

Apparently, hard earned donor dollars were used to pay this PR firm to come up with the following spin:

“COPMA would love to see us close down the conversation and our intention is to open up a conversation.

“Open up a conversation” about a lie – about a fabricated massacre for which the author was sued in the Israeli courts, admitted the absence of evidence and publicly apologized!? “Open up a conversation” about a lie that was repudiated by the final decision of the Israeli Supreme Court upholding the verdict of the lower Court?

You are urged to read our review of the history of the repudiation of the massacre in the Israeli Courts and among Israeli historians years ago.

The Tantura Massacre – A Lie Brought To You By Theater J

If a lie is repeated often enough, people begin to believe it.

More importantly, elevating a lie to the status of a legitimate dispute gives it a dignity it does not deserve and irreparably damages the target of the lie. Simply because a few fringe extremists desperately cling to an unfounded belief that a fabricated event took place doesn’t make their dispute legitimate, doesn’t make it any more than a lie and doesn’t justify dramatic readings and panel discussions of what amounts to a modern day blood libel. The DCJCC and Theater J are doing a great disservice to Israel and Jews by elevating this lie alleging a massacre in Tantura to the status of a legitimate dispute and by airing it with panel discussions and dramatic readings.

Would we countenance the reading of a play and panel discussion about the now repudiated Jenin massacre of only a dozen years back. Israel was wrongfully accused in the press and public of a non-existent massacre, and the repeated mention of it by Israel’s enemies, even some among our own people, has left many believing such a massacre took place. It has even been referred to in mainstream sources as “The Jenin Massacre”:

“The Battle of Jenin (April 1–11, 2002), also known as the Jenin Massacre, took place in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.”

Would we tolerate the DCJCC bringing in speakers to tell us a massacre actually took place in Jenin?

Would we countenance a play and panel discussion alleging that Jews masterminded the 911 World Trade Center Terrorist Attack? Does it become a legitimate dispute deserving of what the DCJCC, in its quote to the Washington Post, stated should result in opening up conversations, rather than closing them?

And what about the Holocaust? Would we tolerate the DCJCC or Theater J producing a play and offering panelists to deny the Holocaust? There is no shortage of enemies and idiots who could be brought to the DCJCC to speak on the subject. Should our donor dollars be used to “open up conversations” on that subject?

A lie is a lie is a lie. Tantura was proven to have been a lie. Giving it credence by dramatic readings and by panel discussions is just plain wrong. The fact that a few fringe revilers of Israel – Motti Lerner and Ari Roth included — keep repeating it, doesn’t provide justification for elevating it to the level of a legitimate debate.

Some would say this is a victory for COPMA and our campaign. We’ve been congratulated. But this is not about victories for COPMA. The question is, is it a victory for Israel? The conclusion that it is NOT is unavoidable. In some respects it is worse. Theater J at the DCJCC will continue to do all in its power to spread the modern day blood libel of a massacre at Tantura. They call it “opening up conversations.” They’ve dug up a teacher at the University of Maryland who gave quotes to the media indicating that the previously discredited massacre may actually have been true. He provides no basis at all for saying this and does so in the face of the Tantura lie having been thoroughly discredited in Israel years ago.

In addition, the DCJCC in the press reports has indicated plans to bring the author, Motti Lerner, here to speak on the subject, and based upon past media quotes from him, he will tell audiences that Israeli soldiers massacred Palestinians in Tantura during the War of Independence. And he will say this to audiences at Theater J with a straight face despite the previous repudiation and public apology by the student at the University of Haifa who authored this modern day blood libel. In short, Ari Roth at the DCJCC’s Theater J, using Federation support and donor dollars, is continuing his plan to do all he can to persuade attendees that Israelis massacred Palestinians at Tantura in 1948. It’s shameful.

This is what your donations to the DCJCC and The Federation are supporting. So, do you think this is a victory?

We want to thank everyone who has helped us thus far to protest the use of Jewish charity dollars to support anti-Israel programming at the DCJCC’s Theater J, but it is clear that this is nothing more than a begrudging effort by Theater J to sidestep the pressure that has been created. Three years ago, after meetings with Federation and DCJCC officials, we were assured that there would be oversight and that a line would be drawn on such activities. It never happened, and we now find ourselves fighting a planned production at Theater J more malevolent and disparaging of Israel than its previous presentations. We must continue in our effort to either eliminate the anti-Israel propaganda from Ari Roth’s theater repertoire or the funding that supports it. Please continue your phone calls, letters and emails to the Federation, and please consider a temporary suspension of your donations until such time as they are no longer used to support groups that attack Israel.