‘You Jews Disgust Me’: British Play on Antisemitism Faces Torrent of Abuse
A new play on antisemitism that opened in London on Tuesday has ironically inspired a torrent of anti-Jewish abuse.
Written by Stephen Laughton, “One Jewish Boy” centers on the experiences of a British Jewish man who is concerned about the rise of Jew-hatred and the failure of his friends to distinguish between Israel and Diaspora Jews, and who is ultimately subject to a violent assault.
Yet since promotion for the play began in September, Laughton himself became a target of antisemitism on social media, The Guardian reported.
He’s faced comments such as, “Who cares about Jews? This looks sh*t”; “I must say I do not give a fu*k. Perhaps you could write a play about Palestinian kids getting blown to pieces by Jews”; and “You’re a fu*king enabler. You Jews disgust me.”
Posters advertising “One Jewish Boy” were torn down and defaced, and “Palestinian flags were posted online in response to mentions of the play,” according to The Guardian.
“I expected something, but I didn’t anticipate they’d come for me,” Laughton said. “I’m worried there’ll be more antisemitism when the play opens, and I’m worried it could become physical.”
He said he was inspired to write the play after watching friends — many of them liberal Jews who are critical of the Israeli government — become more concerned about rising tensions and abuse affecting their community.
“The play has been written from a place of tangible fear,” Laughton said. “Things that were on the fringes of the far right and the far left started creeping in to the mainstream.”
“In the last few years it seems like people feel they have permission to be antisemitic,” he continued. “You see it in our politics, on our social media, with our kids getting beaten up on the streets. I wanted to chart that.”
Laughton said he was “historically a Labour party supporter,” and described himself as a “romantic Zionist” who is critical of blockades and settlements.
At the end of each performance, donations will be collected for three organizations: Medical Aid for Palestinians, which provides healthcare to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Lebanon; Rabbis for Human Rights, a group that opposes Israeli activities in the West Bank; and Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial.
The final show will be followed by a peace vigil with a Havdalah service, which is typically used to mark the end of the Jewish sabbath, and a Kaddish prayer.
Play director Sarah Meadows told The Guardian that she was “shocked at how aggressive” the antisemitism inspired by the play has been.
But “there’s a realistic message of hope at the end of the play,” she continued. “We can overcome these differences. We can find a way to communicate.”