Lawrence Wright boldly challenges NY audience with Israelcentric view of Gaza

on 12 Comments

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.

12 Responses

  1. Cliff
    March 22, 2010, 11:33 am

    The guy wrote The Siege also.

    • James Bradley
      March 22, 2010, 2:10 pm

      That movie made me cringe…

    • Avi
      March 22, 2010, 5:54 pm

      The guy wrote The Siege also.

      So, HE’s the one, eh?

      I always wondered how a plot about a bus being blown up in the US made it into an American movie when such incidents were normally associated with Israel, not the US.

      It was yet another movie aimed at garnering sympathy for Israel by scaring the average American into thinking “what’s happening in Israel could happen here. We better support the Israelis in their fight against those ‘Palestinian terrorists'”.

      Of course, the plot wouldn’t be complete without the token “Good Arab” played by Tony Shalhoub.

  2. James North
    March 22, 2010, 11:35 am

    Thanks, Michael Ratner, for this review. I had actually considered looking at Wright’s book about the September 11 attacks, but now I think I won’t — not out of pique, but because after your review I just don’t trust him.

  3. Chaos4700
    March 22, 2010, 12:17 pm

    Wright, speaking from the stage, opens with some BS about Jewish Nobel prize winners vs. Muslim winners.

    But Zionism isn’t racism. Right.

    • MRW
      March 22, 2010, 5:32 pm

      Here’s the antidote to that Jewish Nobel prize winner email, which I get sent me from Israel all the time. Since that email usually highlights ‘Jewish’, and not ‘Israeli’, it belies the national character of those prizes, their research financing (eg USA), and of course, the politics of getting one.

      link to
      This is highly entertaining.

      1001 Inventions and the Library of Secrets

      Oscar-winning actor and screen legend Sir Ben Kingsley has taken the starring role in a short feature film about the scientific heritage of Muslim civilisation. The mini-movie, entitled 1001 Inventions and the Library of Secrets, accompanies a global touring exhibition that this currently open to the public at the Science Museum in London. The exhibition runs till 30th June 2010 and then goes on an international tour.

      In the movie, Sir Ben takes on the role of a mysterious and cantankerous librarian who takes a group of school children on an enlightening journey to meet pioneering scientists and engineers from the history of Muslim civilization. The librarian is then revealed to be 12th century engineering genius Al-Jazari.

      Dark Ages? 1001 Inventions is a global educational initiative that promotes awareness of a thousand years of scientific and cultural achievements from Muslim civilisation from the 7th century onwards, and how those contributions helped build the foundations of our modern world.

      • MRW
        March 22, 2010, 5:40 pm

        Here’s another one:

        Zheng He, the Muslim seafarer (Genghis Khan brought Muslim seafaring techniques to China.)
        link to

        Take a look at this. The little ship in the pic is Christopher Columbus’. Zheng He sailed out of Nanking to explore the world with 62 of these, 255 slightly shorter ships, enough food for two years, 28,000 troops, enough gold, brocade, and other trade items to start marketing , and he did it 84 years before Columbus.
        link to

  4. Avi
    March 22, 2010, 5:57 pm

    This kind of garbage is epidemic in the US. Is it a good business, though? I would love to put together plays, scripts, movies, songs and literature about the evils of Palestinians and Muslims with absolute disregard for reality, human rights and international law. Do you think I could make a living out of it?

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