THE CRISIS OF ACCEPTANCE AND UNDERSTANDING
The mental, emotional, social and political attitudes of many Europeans have recently been focused on the division between “we” and ”they”, between “I” and “the other”. It is enough to listen to the news to realize that “the other” might be perceived as the police in minority communities, Muslims in Western countries, illegal immigrants at our borders and in our cities, etc. Add to that the long history of anti-Semitism in Europe, and you get a disquieting and abrasive image of incessant crisis of acceptance and tolerance towards anybody and anything that is not close, familiar, recognizable as “my own”. It is important to see that the prejudice, aversion and rejection work both ways. In this seminar we shall study the problem of the crisis in interpersonal relations which rises from racial differences. Two plays of Shakespeare – The Merchant of Venice and Othello – will be the starting point for the attempt to diagnose various aspects of the crisis at encountering the other. We shall study Shakespeare’s plays to find out the potential critical and dramatic interpretations leading to discovery of the essence of the problem at hand: how to stage the plays to enhance our recognition of the crisis of our time, and how to initiate possible processes leading to eradicating enmity and prejudice as well as to accepting a more tolerant social and personal position.