The Holocaust serves, paradoxically, as an alibi for Europeans to assume they are morally superior to others, as the cancellation of an arts prize to Caryl Churchill shows
A demonstrator displays a placard reading: "Palestinian Lives Matter" during a pro-Palestinian protest in Berlin on 19 May 2021 (AFP)
There are troubling insights to be gained into modern European racism from the German arts community’s decision to revoke a lifetime achievement award to the respected British playwright Caryl Churchill over her trenchant support for the Palestinians.
On 31 October, Churchill was stripped of the European Drama Prize she had been given in April in recognition of her life’s work. The decision was backed by Petra Olschowski, the arts minister of the state of Baden-Wurttemberg, who said: “We as a country take a clear and non-negotiable stance against any form of antisemitism. This is all the more reason why a prize funded by the state cannot be awarded under the given circumstances.”
The jury - comprising eminent figures in German cultural life - said they had had their attention drawn, since making the award, to two problems. First, Churchill had backed BDS, a Palestinian grassroots movement calling for a boycott of Israeli institutions directly involved in Israel’s decades-long oppression of the Palestinians.
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