Saturday 2 May 2009

Belgian opera shows Jew raping woman in anti-Israel piece

"Samson [...] died at the hands of his occupiers, while killing many of his captors. This, according to the opera's creators, makes him "the world's first shaheed," or martyr."

Intifada at the opera. The Flanders Opera is also organising a number of political debates on the conflict.

Source: article by Cnaan Liphshiz in Haaretz

"By portraying a religious Jew raping a woman in a show about Israel, the state-funded Flanders Opera is in danger of encouraging anti-Semitic stereotypes, leading members from Belgium's Jewish community told Haaretz.

The highly-controversial scene appeared in the premier of "Samson and Delilah" in Antwerp on Tuesday evening. The contested show was created by two Israelis, who turned the biblical tale of Samson into a reverse-role protest against Israel's occupation of Palestinians.

Belgium's Jewish community has condemned the opera directed by Omri Nitzan and Amir Nizar Zuabi for dressing Philistine conquerors in Western garb while Hebrew fighters like Samson wear Arab clothes. The rape scene shows a Philistine religious priest dressed up as a religious Jew while raping Delilah, who was Samson's lover. The rapist was the only man in the show wearing a skull cap. The Flanders Opera could not be reached for a comment.

Samson lived in the 11th century BCE as a partisan under occupation of the Philistines - a powerful and technologically-advanced people of European roots. The Bible says he died at the hands of his occupiers, while killing many of his captors. This, according to the opera's creators, makes him "the world's first shaheed," or martyr.

"From conversation with the creators, I gather the rape scene was meant to protest religious coercion inside Israel," said Michael Freilich, editor-in-chief of the Dutch-language Jewish affairs newspaper Joods Actueel. "But most people in Belgium don't make such distinctions. To them a man wearing a skull cap in a show about Israel is a Jewish Israeli."

Another image from the show showed occupying soldiers clad in black combat suits and armed with M-16 assault rifles stroking the weapons while placing them horizontally against their crotches. Israel's ambassador to Belgium, Tamar Samash, was invited to the event but eventually canceled. Sources involved with the embassy's work in Belgium said the ambassador felt it was "inappropriate" for her to attend on Tuedsay night, the eve of Israel's 61st anniversary.

"I have not seen the show so I would rather not comment on the specifics," Eli Ringer, vice-chairman of the forum of Jewish Organizations of Belgium, told Haaretz. "But I gather it portrayed a man wearing a skull cap in the ugliest way possible and of course this is not helpful to combat anti-Semitism."

Ringer also said that he is concerned about the use of holy scriptures to promote political causes. "History tells us this is not a good idea," he said. A number of members of Jewish organizations attended the premier to report on it. They said the production provoked members of the crowd to boo the cast at certain points. This was confirmed by Dutch radio. The Jewish onlookers said the jeers did not come from the delegation. Meanwhile, most Belgian media offered negative criticism of the opera on artistic grounds rather than ideological ones. "If you go to the opera, close your eyes because the music is wonderful," one critic wrote.

Another connoisseur said the role reversal is too complicated to follow because the original text of the opera was not changed to fit it. "Imagine seeing a production of Little Red Riding Hood where a wolf who is dressed up like a little girl meets another little girl while he is on his way to visit her granny," the opera-lover said."

- Belgian Jews criticize Flanders Opera for staging anti-Israeli premiere
- "Massaal boegeroep" na voorstelling Samson en Dalila in Vlaamse Opera
- Intifada lyrique

1 comment:

ModernityBlog said...

what antisemitic filth, terrible.

the north of Belgium, Flanders has seen the growth of Far Right groupings in the last 20 years, and going back to WW2 it is not a pretty picture either