When a ‘Zionist’s’ Judicial Self-Flagellation turns into a vehicle for Anti-Semitism

We oppose censorship, but we are impelled to participate in the debate about Jim Allen’s play, “Perdition,” especially after a number of Holocaust experts have declared that it is riddled with errors and distortions.

Advisers have written countless pages separating fact from fiction in the search for objective truth. Such objections have been ignored by the author, Jim Allen, in a wilful effort to try “Zionism” in a courtroom drama.

The charges made by Scott, Jim Allen’s prosecuting mouthpiece, are identical to those which have been appearing in the Soviet press all the way back to the anti-Semitic Slansky trial of mainly Jewish communists in Czechoslovakia in 1952. Virtually every canard in the play—from Zionist collaboration in the mass murder of European Jewry to hints about the menace of international Jewish finance—have been echoed time and time again in the Soviet press.

Jim Allen has sanitised and polished ancient Jewish stereotypes, even de-Stalinising them to make them more acceptable to a left-wing audience. The socialism of Israel’s founding fathers, born out of the Russian social revolutionary tradition, have been edited out and the Marxist-Zionist leadership of the Warsaw ghetto uprising played down.

Effectively, Perdition is an instance of literary McCarthyism where international “Zionism” is even made responsible for the murder of its own Jewish people.

In Pravda and Izvestia, “Zionists” were deemed responsible for the extermination of Jews at Babi Yar; the invasion of Dubcek’s Czechoslovakia; the assassination of ‘President Kennedy, even Chairman Mao was turned into a “Zionist.”

This would be absurdly humorous, but in a country, which has seen millions butchered at the hands of the Nazis, coupled with an anti-Semitic heritage, such accusations have exacerbated anti-Semitic tendencies. This is the road which Jim Allen had chosen to tread in this country.

The play ends with an injection of medieval clerical imagery. Yaron, the character embodying Zionism, is “crucified” by Scott, the prosecutor. Yaron’s shallow defence of Zionism and judicial self-flagellation are in reality a vehicle for his anti-Zionist views.

Yaron: When I sat there in there in the witness box, it was real. I was on trial. There was no pretence. I suffered.

Ruth: Now the slate is wiped clean.

Yaron: That box became my confessional. I was naked.

Ruth: The worst is yet to come.

Yaron: That Mr Scott, I like him. Merciless! I felt that he was ramming spears into my body.

So Zionists in Mr Allen’s world are not simply Nazis, they are also Jews who have lost their way. The road to salvation lies in apostasy.

Perdition is a poisonous and reactionary work. It is an inversion of history. All publicity will undoubtedly serve the play’s purpose, but the lessons of Jewish history teach us that to remain silent is far worse.

Coln Shmdler, Steven Berkoff, Andre Deutsch, Elaine Feinstein, Rosemary

Friedman, Ronald Hayman, Bernard Kops, Emanuel Litvinoff, Bernice Rubens, Alan Sillitoe, Clive Sinclair, Derek Wax, George Weidenfeld, Arnold Wesker.

c/o The Jewish Quarterly, London N3.

Guardian 1986

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