A Jewish playwright whose new play tackles antisemitism while raising money for a Palestinian charity says he has faced abuse by both Israeli and Palestinian supporters ahead of the opening night.
Stephen Laughton, whose show ‘One Jewish Boy’ opens at the Red Lion Theatre in Islington on Tuesday night, said he had been called “a f****** enabler” by Palestinian supporters and told to “write a play about Palestinian kids being blown to pieces by Jews”.
However he said an Israeli man had also berated him this week. “He had a go at me and said I was a typical diaspora Jew, called me disgusting and sickening and asked how I could complain about antisemitism whilst supporting Palestinians”.
Posters for his new show, which ironically deals with rising antisemitism in the UK, have been defaced across London, and social media users have also weighed in, one asking: “Who cares about Jews?”
Laughton is critical of Israeli policies and settlements and told Jewish News this week that Israeli actions impacted British Jews’ safety.
“Most antisemitism seems to be coming via the situation in Israel and I would challenge that the Israeli government have a responsibility to think about the effects their actions have on Diaspora Jews.”
At the end of each night, he has arranged for a collection to be made for Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), Rabbis for Human Rights and Yad Vashem. At the end of the four-week run, there also will be a vigil for peace.
However, the backlash to his latest play, which focuses on domestic themes and the relationship between a Jewish man and a non-Jewish woman, led to the Community Security Trust (CST) being consulted.
“In terms of the antisemitism, yes, I’m scared it could escalate and become more physical towards me, but it isn’t going to stop me making challenging work,” said Laughton. “We need to discuss what it is, what it looks like, how we respond to it.”
No stranger to controversy, Laughton’s 2017 play ‘Run’ was caught up in an angry backlash against Jewish culture centre JW3 after Orthodox rabbis boycotted the venue for allegedly promoting LGBT lifestyles.
Ahead of his latest offering, however, the Londoner said he wanted to focus on the increased feeling of antisemitism in the UK – and the community’s reaction.