Navigate to News section

Shylock Returns

Stephen Marche on hypocritical criticism of an Israeli theater group

Alana Newhouse
February 13, 2012

Almost exactly a year ago, we published an essay, by the terrific writer Stephen Marche, about his experience as a non-Jew married to a Jew, raising a Jewish child. “We are seeing,” he wrote, “the emergence of a category of gentile that is historically unique: millions of non-Jews who are attached to Jews but not affiliated with Jews. The emergence of a large group of these attached goys (goyim, to be precise) is a highly significant social development, an unprecedented development even, and it raises obvious questions: Who are the goys? What do we mean? And, of course, are we good for the Jews?”

Many of the commenters—undoubtedly moved by the eloquence, erudition, and undeniable sensitivity of Marche’s writing—answered in the affirmative. But the naysayers came out as well: “Another ridicoulous [sic] pro-intermarriage article that is delusional,” wrote one. “The fact is that intermarriage is bad for Judaism.”

Everyone is entitled to an opinion. But I wonder whether that commenter noticed Marche’s latest piece: a masterful takedown, in this weekend’s New York Times, of the hypocrisy of those criticizing the Shakespeare’s Globe theater for hosting a performance of “The Merchant of Venice” by the Habima Theater of Israel. “Israel, uniquely among nations, suffers from being turned into a synecdoche—of the part being taken for the whole,” he writes. “The other theater companies involved in the Globe’s program—whether from China, Zimbabwe or the United States—are simply not subject to the same scrutiny of their nation’s politics. No one would think of boycotting the English theater because Britain had been involved in the bloody occupation of two countries in recent memory. That would be absurd. Yet it is not absurd when it comes to Israel.”

I’ll only say this: Stephen Marche may be a lot of things, but bad for the Jews isn’t one of them.

Another Trial for Shylock [NYT]
Related: Intertwined [Tablet Magazine]

Alana Newhouse is the editor-in-chief of Tablet Magazine.

Become a Member of Tablet

Get access to exclusive conversations, our custom app, and special perks from our favorite Jewish artists, creators, and businesses. You’ll not only join our community of editors, writers, and friends—you’ll be helping us rebuild this broken world.