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Weil, Gotshal & Manges and Kirkland and Ellis have dropped their funding of London's Royal Court theatre, following claims that it is staging an anti-Semitic play.

One of the main characters in the play 'Rare Earth Mettle' is a CEO of an electric car company, trying to monopolise the earth's resources - who was originally named Hershel Fink. Although there is no reference to the character being Jewish in the play, the choice of name for the megalomaniac billionaire was slammed by critics who complained it was anti-Semitic.


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Baddiel tweet


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The theatre said in a statement that it was notified at the beginning of November by Jewish community members that the use of the Jewish name for a CEO on a "mission to save the world and...make millions of dollars in the process - risked perpetuating antisemitic tropes". The theatre said the playwright, Al Smith, immediately changed the name to Henry Finn.

In a tweet, the Royal Court described the naming as an example of "unconscious bias": 


Royal Court


However, Weil and Kirkland have now pulled their funding for the Royal Court. 

“Weil strongly condemns any form of anti-Semitism or discrimination whether conscious or unconscious, and we will be withdrawing our support for the Royal Court,” a spokesman for Weil told RollOnFriday. Weil was a 'gold' corporate sponsor, which is understood to have been worth around £12,000 a year to the theatre. 

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms any and all forms of racism and discrimination, including anti-Semitism, and in light of the recent events, we were unable to continue our sponsorship," said a spokesman for Kirkland. 

"I am pleased to see that firms see the equivocation of the Royal Court as unacceptable and their initial antisemitic actions as thoroughly reprehensible," Baron Mann, the adviser to the government on anti-Semitism told RollOnFriday, adding that he "congratulated" both firms "on their leadership."

The play started its run at the Royal Court on 10 November and it finishes on 18 December. 


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Comments

Anonymous 17 December 21 09:22

"Henry Finn"? That sounds very white and very English. As a white Englishman, I find that highly offensive. 

BAN THE PLAY!! CANCEL EVERYTHING!!!

 

Or, maybe, you know, people could get a freaking grip.

Anonymous 17 December 21 09:41

@09:22

I think the point is that the stereotype of the rich, evil Jew has demonstrably made life harder for Jewish people for thousands of years

Pretty poor bit of unconscious bias from the playwright

Anonymous 17 December 21 11:20

"I think the point is that the stereotype of the rich, evil Jew has demonstrably made life harder for Jewish people for thousands of years"

But the stereotype of the evil rich white man is making my life harder right now. How come that's ok?

Why are you allowed to stereotype people like me but not people like them?

To be clear, antisemitism is always unacceptable (and there's plenty of real examples in the UK to call on) but this isn't it. It's just hypersensitivity and special pleadings dressed up as something more legitimate (by a community which, in fairness, has justification for feeling under threat and which can be easily excused occasional bouts of overreaction such as this one).

But take it to its logical conclusion. If we take this objection seriously then we're effectively agreeing to a special rule saying that theatre/film villains aren't ever allowed to be Jewish, in case it makes Jewish people look bad. So everyone else has to play villains instead of them. That's absurd, and this well meaning but misguided objection to the author's original vision should be politely declined.

Anonymous 17 December 21 11:55

Pal, no one is attacking you personally. We don't think you're bad because you're a white man.

The point is that this played into a dangerous stereotype. Now it doesn't. There's literally nothing more to this.

wilfredrostron 17 December 21 12:02

Umm, anonymous. Yes evil characters are allowed to be Jewish. But this wasn’t a play with any other Jewish characters. It was a left-wing play about the oppression of poor indigenous farmers by a ruthlessly exploitative billionaire.

This wasn’t unconscious bias. The writer isn’t stupid. He knows 100% that he has picked a name which basically says Jew Jew Jew. Hershel Fink ffs. So repeating the Hitler-like messaging of Powerful Evil Jew Jew to a whole new 21st century audience.

If you don’t see what’s wrong with that you’re a fool. 

Anonymous 17 December 21 12:13

What a load of horse-shit dumped on artistic freedom by hypersensitive religious bigots. You'd actually have to be from that religion to know that that name sounds like that to you.

The name is not an indicator of anything  Robert Maxwell had an English-sounding name, but he stole millions. Jordan Belfort had a French-sounding name, but he was the Wolf of Wall Street ffs. It's not who you are, it's what you do that counts.

Anonymous 17 December 21 12:17

Say anything like "most kids under 5 in Gaza suffer from anaemia through a poor diet due to the Israeli blockade" and you'd be anti-semititic as well, presumably.

Anonymous 17 December 21 12:35

Please can we not simply roll over when religious people go "Oh, oh, I'm offended".

All good art offends someone - I wish you luck trying to find some good, inoffensive artwork.

Anyone know any good picture books about the prophet Mohammed?

Nonny 17 December 21 13:23

Why is Corbyn linked to this article? It has nothing to do with him. 

Anonymous 17 December 21 13:27

Have to agree with @12:17. Shows privilege to be upset about names whilst children in Gaza have 0 quality of life

Anonymous 17 December 21 13:34

@Nonny it's because Corbyn was personally responsible for all anti-semitism in history, ever.

Don't look too closely at the newspapers or politicians who told you he is the most racist man in the UK, btw. They've got nothing to hide, no siree.

Anonymous 17 December 21 13:44

What does this article have to do with Gaza? 

Ellis Simpson 17 December 21 13:50

The anonymous cowards who posted (17 December) at 12:17 and 13:27 are a right piece of work. Or are they Corbyn supporting Labour party members? That might explain matters.

Robert Maxwell 17 December 21 14:00

Dear Anonymous 12.13,

You know I'm Jewish, and my natal name is Ján Ludvík Hyman Binyamin Hoch, don't you?

But well done you. 

Touker 17 December 21 14:59

Funny how the same people in this comments section that are blatantly trying to justify anti-semitism are the same wokeists that perpetuate the victimhood mentality that's done far more damage to the BAME community than the conspiracy that we're all somehow being held down by a global cadre of Jews.

Anonymous 17 December 21 15:07

"Pal, no one is attacking you personally."

I didn't suggest, and neither did anyone else, that anybody in this thread was being personally attacked.

But I suspect that you already know that and are just trying to drag a sensible counterargument off-course and into the realm of ad hom mudslinging. Because it's quite hard to sensibly engage with someone who has pointed out that this incident might represent a bit of an overreaction, and you don't have any better ideas as to how to respond.

 

"he has picked a name which basically says Jew Jew Jew. Hershel Fink ffs. So repeating the Hitler-like messaging of Powerful Evil Jew Jew to a whole new 21st century audience"

No. He picked a name that suggested 'Jewish'. He's changed it to a name that suggests 'White British'. Apparently that's ok, whereas the former was racism.

The point here is that the slightly hysterical attempt to try and equate any use of a fictional Jewish character with negative character traits, to the kind of awful propaganda produced by the Nazis/Hitler (see your quoted post above for a textbook example) is silly and is an overreaction. It should be politely pointed out as such.

Again, to be clear, I would agree with your points if you were objecting to a media climate in which all the villains (or all the rich villains) were Jewish. That would obviously be antisemitic. And that would be wrong.

But we don't live in that environment. Do we?

We actually live in an environment where a small group of people think, for misguided but somewhat understandable reasons, that it's somehow forbidden to ever portray a Jewish person as any kind of villain at all. That is also wrong.

 

"Shows privilege to be upset about names whilst children in Gaza have 0 quality of life"

Ah, see now this is antisemitism.

Please stop equating Jewish people as a general group (and, in particular, Jewish people in the UK) with the actions of the Israeli state. They aren't the same thing and it's deeply racist to use one as a synonym for the other.

Anonymous 17 December 21 15:08

@Robert Maxwell - I think the point beong made is that the name isn't a marker at all. It could be English, French or whatever - you can be a real life nasty person who is Jewish but doesn't have a Jewish name. it's only screechy religious people who make it an issue. 

Anonymous 17 December 21 15:10

"Why is Corbyn linked to this article? It has nothing to do with him."

I think that RoF were making a joke about him based on the fact that he is a well documented antisemite, who has repeatedly courted the company and endorsed the opinions of other well documented antisemites.

 

Or are you going to tell me that he was just 'present but not involved' at all of those antisemitic events and rallies that he has previously been photographed attending and addressing as a keynote speaker?

Vote Labour...

Anonymous 17 December 21 15:37

Yes, do vote Labour, the party which in 2010 had two candidates for leadership, both Jewish. It is scandalous and nonsense to describe the party as anti-semitic. Socialists stood up for Jews in Nazi Germany and paid for it with their lives and they stand up for Palestinians, the same way Tom Hurndall and Rachel Corrie did.

Anonymous 17 December 21 16:02

"Socialists stood up for Jews in Nazi Germany and paid for it with their lives"

Good of Labour in 2021 to be taking credit for the actions of German citizens living in the 1940's.

Many Labour Party members in the Weimar Republic were there?

 

"they stand up for Palestinians"

In a way they never seem to want to do for Uighurs, or any other oppressed minority elsewhere in the world...

What is it about the opportunity to criticise the Israeli state that exercises them so uniquely do you think?

Anonymous 17 December 21 16:39

"It is scandalous and nonsense to describe the party as anti-semitic"

So the EHRC report is nonsense? Labour is the only political party after the BNP to have been investigated by the EHCR. Read the report. 

"and paid for it with their lives and they stand up for Palestinians," 

Why is it always a straight line from the Nazis to the Israelis?

"Socialists stood up for Jews in Nazi Germany and paid for it with their lives"

The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were military allies and jointly invaded Poland before they fell out. Socialists weirdly tend to forget this part. 

That said, this fallout over a same is a little over sensitive. 

Nonny 17 December 21 22:27

I think that RoF were making a joke about him based on the fact that he is a well documented antisemite, who has repeatedly courted the company and endorsed the opinions of other well documented antisemites.

 

I think it's utterly irrelevant to the article. Even if he is am antisemite. Which he isn't. 

Anonymous 17 December 21 23:40

Everyone calm the heck down. Wtf is there about this worth arguing about? Nobody died. Why is everyone so hypersensitive?

Anonymous 18 December 21 04:17

Yes, all those Jewish people should really listen to those on this thread explaining how antisemitism works. They should pipe down - historically this has been an excellent strategy for them!

The fact is there are specific stereotypical tropes falsely associated with certain races/religions. Calling on those specific tropes is offensive because of that false association. It is not racist or comparably offensive to call on those same tropes in connection with other races/religions or to associate other negative traits with that same race/religion. 

Anonymous 18 December 21 09:47

"The fact is there are specific stereotypical tropes falsely associated with certain races/religions. Calling on those specific tropes is offensive"

No. Using the word 'tropes' to try and make that specious reasoning sound a bit fancier doesn't make the underlying point any better.

We get that racists in the past used to portray Jewish people as villains all the time. That was wrong.

But that doesn't mean that we should create a social rule that means that Jewish people can never ever be cast as villains in the present day (and that other races always have to be the baddie instead). Even if some Jewish people don't enjoy seeing Jewish villains and say it offends them. Pandering to their demand that we didn't would just be another kind of racism.

It's wrong for any racial group to demand that level of routine self-censorship and there's no embarrassment or shame in politely saying so. 

I appreciate that the above will offend some of the Jewish people objecting to the original script, which is a shame. But race isn't a qualification, and occasionally hearing views one disagrees with is an unavoidable part and parcel of genuine free speech.

Anonymous 18 December 21 11:56

Everyone seems completely fine with racist caricature and stereotypes of Muslims on mainstream tv for the last 2 decades.

Anonymous 18 December 21 12:43

No EHRC report isn’t nonsense, a fact demonstrated by the training on antisemitism and measures taken by the Labour Party to address it. Whereas the Conservative's report on islamophobia is where exactly? 
 

(Also as a Labour Party member - there is plenty of criticism and opposition to China’s treatment of the Uighurs/Saudi Arabia/Russia). 
 

Don’t think Labour in 2021 is taking credit for the actions of socialists/trade unionists/anarchists in pre-war Germany, just pointing out a historical fact that it was left wing activists who opposed the Nazis, not those on the right. See also the battle of Cable Street. 
 

Note: it’s not antisemitic to point out that the actions of the Israeli government are causing immense suffering to the Palestinians - something made explicit in the EHRC report. 
 

Tbh this is where identity politics takes us - down the route of individual special interest groups demanding that their rights be respected at the cost of free speech, academic and artistic freedom and free thought,  which ultimately damages and makes the country and culture less safe for those special interest groups and leaves others, like white English women and men wondering why it’s ok to attack and vilify them with impunity.  Orwell (Labour Party member) had it right - we are all equal, but some are more equal than others. 

Anonymous 18 December 21 17:11

The entire premise of the outrage appears to be based on conflating "rich and evil" with "rich and successful". Yet the review in the Grauniad, as sensitive as one may expect, does not state the main character is evil. To the contrary, the main character meets evil people.

Secondly, the main character is based on Elon Musk, and I don't see anyone disagreeing with that. And while he clearly is rich and successful, is he generally considered evil

All in all, the entire debate is as if extracted from the 1930's where the subconscious and accepted assumption is that rich and successful simply must imply evil, and especially so if the main character can somehow be construed to be Jewish. The premise is so deeply rooted that it is not even questioned. And that is where the antisemitism lies. 

Anonymous 18 December 21 23:07

We need to stop religious people trying to skew our freedoms to their agenda - it's damaging and unnecessary. Religions and their alcolytes should be like dogs barking in the darkness (which is what they are).

Anonymous 18 December 21 23:32

Anon 09:47: 

“But that doesn't mean that we should create a social rule that means that Jewish people can never ever be cast as villains in the present day”

The point you are overlooking (which is perhaps understandable if your sole reference for this story is the ROFL article) is that the objection from the Jewish community isn’t that there is a Jewish villain. It is that there is specifically a rich, money grabbing, megalomaniac seeking world domination. All very specific, false, negative stereotypes. 

I’d suggest free speech is alive and well. The Jewish community are absolutely permitted to voice their upset. The play was not shut down by the government nor the play-write prosecuted. Sponsors are free to choose to make their own decisions. You too have been free to assert that there should be no social rules stopping you or others espousing negative racial stereotypes. 

Yup, that went the way I expected 20 December 21 15:12

From zero to "why are these Jews so sensitive" in one comment.

From zero to Gaza in seven comments.

Meerkat 21 December 21 07:30

Good Malcolm Gladwell article on why so many major law firms have Jewish names

https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/being_jewish_and_born_in_the_1930s_a_boost_for_many_lawyers_author_says

Anonymous 21 December 21 12:26

Religions are really over-reaching into our lives. Life of Brian and the Book of Mormon lampooned the absurdity of Christianity and Mormonism.

We really need to give po-faced religions who take themselves too seriously the same treatment - all religions are by their nature absurd and untrue. There is nothing special about religions which gives them a free pass to censor others' activities and we should be very resistant to them doing so.

Human 22 December 21 08:53

Elon Musk is not Jewish, but apparently the caricature of him is, because of course.

But no, nobody is going to die because the playwright (who was warned in writing by the dialect coach [not Jewish for what it's worth] and the assistant director [Jewish]) associated capitalist villainous exploitation with Ze Infernal Jew.

So the playwright is perfectly free to explore his own unconscious or conscious anti-Semitic fantasies, and the law firms are perfectly free to tell said playwright to consciously or unconsciously pleasure himself on his own dime.

Everyone's happy, right?

Human 22 December 21 08:59

If your response to anti-Semitism in the UK is that it is "privileged" to complain about it because of "what about the poor children of Gaza" then you don't really care about the poor children of Gaza either. Your anti-Semitism doesn't help Gazans achieve justice or freedom one little bit.

Human 22 December 21 10:17

Final thought: this is nothing to do with reasoned critique of the Judaic faith and everything to do with unreasonable racial stereotypery of Jews.

Anonymous 26 December 21 10:57

It’s sad that our plays will now only feature one dimensional “good” characters with Jewish names...  

Ben 05 January 22 11:00

More importantly, is the play any good?

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