Guardian stands by 'antisemitic' Caryl Churchill play

The Guardian has said it will not remove a recording of the controversial play Seven Jewish Children from its website, despite renewed criticism that the piece echoes the blood libel.

Caryl Churchill's script, written after the Gaza conflict in January 2009, was denounced by many as antisemitic.

The newspaper produced its own video of actress Jennie Stoller performing the play later that year. The reproduction was criticised at the time by author Howard Jacobson and the Community Security Trust. A Guardian spokeswoman this week said it was not company policy to "unpublish a video or article".

Arguments over the video's continued availability re-emerged following a row on the Guardian letters page.

Last week, Guardian writer Jonathan Freedland published an article exploring antisemitism in Britain. He cited lawyer and critic Anthony Julius's suggestion that the play "taps into the blood libel".

Ms Churchill wrote to the Guardian to deny the characterisation. Mr Julius replied, reasserting his claim and criticising the newspaper for continuing to make the play available on its website.

Again Ms Churchill wrote in response: "I don't think the play is a disproportionate response to that attack [on Gaza]. It should be possible to pillory the defensive and self-righteousness and racism of some – not all – Israelis without being called antisemitic."

Asked whether the video would now be removed, a Guardian spokeswoman said: "When the video was published on our website we ran a series of comment articles arguing for and against Seven Jewish Children, including our video version of the play and a piece written by Dave Rich and Mark Gardner of the CST which is very critical of our video."

Last updated: 12:52pm, March 10 2011