Jonathan Miller: Jonathan Miller’s Anti-Semitic Act

Fair readers, have no fear: This column is not a revelation of yours truly as a self-hating “self-hating Jew.”

Nor is it a critique of Jonathan Miller, the News Corp executive, Jonathan Miller, the Birmingham Rabbi, Johnathan Miller, the Iran-Contra felon, or even Jonathan Miller whom God called to run for Congress in West Virginia.

Rather, my deep disappointment is directed toward the most famous Jonathan Miller.

For those of you who are under the age of 50 and have never tried to Google me, THE Jonathan Miller is “is a British theatre and opera director, actor, author, television presenter, humorist and sculptor,” best known for being a frequent guest in the early 1980s on The Dick Cavett Show.

That Jonathan Miller also recently committed an act of transparent anti-Semitism.

Miller co-signed a letter (along with three dozen other British actors, directors, and writers, including two-time Oscar winner Emma Thompson), asking Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London to withdraw its invitation to an Israeli theater company “so that the festival is not complicit with human rights violations and the illegal colonisation of occupied land.”

A charge of anti-Semitism, of course, is quite severe, especially concerning a fellow Jonathan Miller. And I’m not one to consider every pronouncement against Israeli policy anti-Semitic or even anti-Zionist.

Furthermore, I strongly support a two-state solution in the Middle East that would require Israel to return most of the West Bank lands it captured in its defensive struggle for existential survival during 1967’s Six Day War. I believe that criticism of the occupation, and particularly of many of the Jewish settlements in these territories, can be — in the proper context — a profoundly Zionist statement.

But this is far from the proper context.

Jonathan Miller has asked the Globe theater company to exclude an Israeli troupe because of that country’s occupation and settlement policy.

But he did not protest the inclusion of a Turkish theater in the production (despite that country’s controversial occupation of parts of Cyprus), or China’s theater (despite their much-documented record on human rights in Tibet and other provinces), or Iran’s theater (despite their horrible treatment of minorities, especially gays and lesbians), or Russia’s theater (despite its violent occupation of Chechnya), or the Palestinian theater (despite its support for indiscriminate bombing of Israelis), or even the United States’ theater (despite our continued presence in Afghanistan and Iraq).

To hold the Jewish State to a different standard; to single out and punish Jews for actions that are similar to  — or indeed, in most of these cases, far, far less troubling than — actions taken by Christian and Muslim and Buddhist and secular nations, is wrong, is offensive, and is de facto anti-Semitism.

As the New York Times‘ Thomas Friedman — a vociferous critic of the current Israeli administration — has argued, “Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is vile. But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest.”

Amen.

And shame on you, Jonathan Miller!

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