If you want to know anything about what is really going on between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza or elsewhere, do not go to Lawrence Wright’s new play, “The Human Scale.” Like Wright’s New Yorker pieces, it is bookended by the plight of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held by Hamas—as if somehow that explains the violence of Israel’s December 2008 assault on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead. Wright also uses Shalit’s detention to more less blame Hamas for the blockade. But, as the Goldstone report states, “maintaining the blockade of the Gaza strip until the release of Gilad Shalit…would constitute collective punishment of the civilian population of the Gaza strip.” I don’t see how collective punishment can be blamed on its victims. Wright also says or leaves the firm impression that the blockade was in response to the capture of Shalit. But, in fact, severe economic and political measures began in February 2006 with the Hamas victory in the legislative elections—almost four months before Shalit’s capture.
Wright, speaking from the stage, opens with some BS about Jewish Nobel prize winners vs. Muslim winners. I have been receiving that email for years from those who are anti-Muslim. What point he was trying to make was lost on me—something about the possible trade of 1400 Palestinians for one Israeli. Does the number of Nobel prize winners make it a good trade or a bad trade? The play is Israel-centric and paints Israelis as somehow caring more about life then Palestinians. It equates the occupied with the occupier when they are utterly unequal. It practically blames Operation Cast Lead on the claimed intransigence of the Palestinians. Wright reads from the Hamas charter, but does not give us all of the similar if not worse statements by the Israelis. In videos Wright shows us some of the destruction in Gaza. After we see some of that devastating footage, he talks about the response of a Palestinian woman who now says words to the effect that perhaps “we Palestinians have learned from this.” In other words, the assault worked to teach the Gazans a lesson. He briefly reads some of the conclusions of the Goldstone report giving roughly equal time to the condemnation of the Israel and Hamas, essentially equating the actions of the two parties. And as I recall he does not read the strongest conclusions of Goldstone regarding Israel’s assault.
I would love to see a play like this done from the Palestinian perspective. This play may work in NY with a brainwashed audience, but take it outside the US and it will be booed off the stage.