After attending Iddo Netanyahu’s play, “A Happy End” (“The Handwriting On The Wall,” Well Versed blog, March 13), at City College, I write to share my experience.
I heard about the play through a Facebook event rallying students to protest the performance because of the playwright’s brother (Israel’s prime minister). The play received good reviews so I purchased a seat. Indeed, the performance was riveting as 1930s Weimar Germany came to life, reminding me of the difficulties my grandparents and so many other German Jews like them faced during that time.
I was shocked by the “discussion” that followed. Instead of discussing the play, students chose to read aloud well-rehearsed verses of anti-Israel discourses. Eric D. Weitz, the dean of humanities and arts at CCNY, stopped a speaker and explained that this discussion was about art, not polemics. But students continued to berate the playwright and his association to Israel’s prime minister. After a few more attempts, the discussion was closed due to uncooperative engagement.
I thought the students’ protests were distasteful and disrespectful. I was upset that the protesters felt the only way to stand for their cause was to disrespect a work of art — for it is within the acceptability of humanity’s differences through voices such as the arts that will allow us to amend, appreciate, and connect.