Will David Hare’s New Play Become Another “Seven Jewish Children”?

Anyone’s guess. But based on the excerpt Hare published in The New York Review of Books a couple of weeks ago, it won’t go down lightly. The Public Theater will show two of Hare’s new works, both monologues, in five performances beginning May 14.  One is titled “Wall” and another “Berlin.” The latter considers the fall of the Berlin wall, twenty years hence, while the other, “Wall,” focuses on Israel’s security barrier along the West Bank and Gazan borders. Ardent Israel supporters won’t find much solace in the piece, riddled as it is with Israelis who say they’re ashamed of it, and quotes by Sari Nusseibeh and The Hague that say it’s a land grab. But Hare is certainly more evenhanded than Churchill, whose ten-minute playlet “Seven Jewish Children” caused a considerable roe in the U.S. just weeks ago (see my post below). The NYRB excerpt of “Wall” features biting passages of Hamas torture techniques used on Palestinians it considers collaborators:

The victim is shown a wall on which a staircase is drawn, and at the top is a drawing of a bicycle. The victim is told to go and get the bicycle. He says he can’t get the bicycle because it’s a drawing. He is then told if he doesn’t bring the bicycle downstairs he will be beaten.

If Hare calls out the wall’s futility, he at least gives a fuller picture of the conflict. This was something Churchill was either unable or unwilling to do. Hare knows the Palestinians, particularly in Gaza, haven’t done themselves any favors, but he also knows the Israelis haven’t done much better. Hare revels in the ironies, quoting two enlightened Jews, Disraeli and Einstein, who were quick to point out how a powerful Jewish state might forget its history of victimization. And he lets Israeli novelist David Grossman, whom he interviews, have the last word: “And here, again, is the central paradox, the idea of Israel was that we should cease to be victims. … Survival becomes our only aim. We are living in order to survive, not in order to live.” Though gloved between the lips of an Israeli, still fighting words.

Stay tuned for the bout.

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