Rubble Rubble (play)
Artist: Dan Fishback
Date of Action: August 2021
Region: North America
Location: American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY
Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion
Confronting Bodies: Right-wing activists
Description of Artwork: Rubble Rubble is a play written by Dan Fishback that deals with themes pertinent to the contemporary Arab/Israeli conflict such as how Jewish families are broken over the politics of Israel-Palestine. With its first full public reading at the historical society on December 14 2017, the play tells the dual stories of a modern-day settler family in the West Bank as well as a Jewish family caught up in revolutionary politics in early-20th-century Russia. The playwriter is an outspoken supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, an attempt to place economic and cultural pressure on Israel due to its policy regarding the Palestinians.
The American Jewish Historical Society, which holds about 40 million archival items, is one of five scholarly organizations housed at the Center for Jewish History.
The Incident: In October 2017, after facing the condemnation of right-wing activists accusing playwright Dan Fishback of being “anti-Israel” and the American Jewish Historical Society of supporting “anti-Israel” programming, the American Jewish Historical Society chose to cancel a scheduled reading of the play as well as a complementary panel discussion.
Results of Incident: This decision drew strong criticism from some, including the theater director Rachel Chavkin, who described it as “right-wing censorship.” (The NY Times, October 11, 2017). Furthermore, Ofri Cnaani, an Israeli-American artist, removed her installation exploring the life of Emma Goldman in the lobby of the group’s building in protest.
Mr. Fishback hoped to stage the reading elsewhere and has since raised nearly $5,000 in an online appeal to finance it.
Jewish Center Faces Backlash After Canceling Play Criticized as Anti-Israel, The New York Times, October 11 2017.