Original Article Published On The Washington Jewish Week

Doron Ben-Atar is difficult to place in a neat category. The former Macabi Tel Aviv basketball player was born in Israel, chairs the history department at Fordham University in New York, is a member of the school’s Middle East Studies and Women’s Studies programs and is working on his third play.

His Peace Warriors will premier July 10 at the Capital Fringe Festival in the District. The festival presents one-act plays, comedies, dramas, musicals, dance, puppetry, improvisation, clowns, hip-hop, jazz, poetry, mime and more through July 26.

Ben-Atar, of New Haven, Conn., describes Peace Warriors as “a dramatic exploration of the fashion of taking anti-Israel positions among the American intellectual elite.” In the play, four academics and one teenage girl “flaunt their peace activism. A visit from an old family friend sparks rivalries and hidden affairs.”

Ben-Atar wrote Peace Warriors “because we are living through a worrisome dramatic rise in global anti-Semitism. Leading the charge is the intellectual elite who are demonizing Israel and delegitimizing its existence.”

He reports on the situation on college campuses where professors “teach students that Israel is the new Nazi state, and that terrorism against Jewish targets in Israel and around the globe is a justifiable anti-colonial act of resistance,” and where Israeli academics are subject to boycotts and harassment.

Perhaps ironically, Ben-Atar is himself a member of “the peace camp” in Israel and is opposed to what he calls “the occupation” and “settlement policy.”

“But the conversation about this subject is reduced to a vile shrill,” reports Ben-Atar. “Settlers are the most demonized group in the world. Not to acknowledge their humanity and the life they live — that they live in constant threat — is not fair.”

He feels it is ironic that members of the peace camp know more Palestinians than “settlers,” whom they imagine are “beastly violent fascist fanatics.”

A call from the Hillel director at Yale University, requesting that Ben-Atar house a troupe of coexistence actresses, inspired the play. Ben-Atar recalls, “The Israeli Arab refused to stay at our house because she hated the Israeli activist and could not bear to be in the same house with her.”

Director Michael Behar notes, “This show is about coexistence, not only with others whose views may different, but with many elements in our own

Ben-Atar’s first play, Behave Yourself Quietly, based on the book he co-wrote with his mother, Roma Nutkiewicz Ben-Atar, about her experience at Auschwitz, was performed for one night in 2007 in New Haven. Ben-Atar’s next play is set at an old age home and looks at the question of “who are the real children?”

Another Jewish-themed show in the festival is Jay Nachman’s I’m Not Oedipus, a comedy about death, full of themes of religion, sex and rock ‘n’ roll. Publicity for the show by Nachman, public relations manager at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, describes it as “[a] cheery little tale about the death of the performer’s mother, laced with themes of religion, sex, loss, and rock & roll. The perfect show for anyone who has, or has ever had, a mother.”

Peace Warriors will be shown at Warehouse-Mainstage in the District on July 10 at 6pm, July 12 at 11am, July 23 at 9pm and July 25 at 1pm I’m Not Oedipus will be at the DC Arts Center on July 10 and July 11 at 9:15pm. All tickets are $15 (plus a one-time purchase of a $5 Fringe button) and can be purchased at or by calling 866-811-4111.

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“During the summer, the entire Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England learned about Israel in our Jewish Studies class, we wrote and performed a play about “The Case of the Missing Water,” and we enjoyed getting to know 40 plus members of the mishlochot (Israeli delegation). We were also sad to learn of deaths of Israeli soldiers during the War in Lebanon. We were a little worried that the trip wouldnt take place, but we had faith. Some parents even handed me deposit checks DURING the war! The trip was a dream come true. This was my third Tikvah Ramah Israel Trip, and the 10th trip to Israel in the history of the Tikvah Program. We enjoyed seeing places of historical significance, davening in so many different placesthe Kotel, outside of our guest houses in the Negev and Galil, and at Reform and Orthodox synagogues, purchasing souvenirs for ourselves and friends, and supporting the Israeli economy. But, most of all, we enjoyed seeing our many Israeli friends. Our group was like a magnet, and the Israelis were like iron filingsdrawn to us everywhere we went. I am pleased that our campers and program alumni (age range: 17-31) felt comfortable in Israel and will return to their homes, schools and communities as great shlichim and hasbara members for Israel.


Members of the Tikvah Program of Camp Ramah in New England


Dec. 20, 2006 – January 3, 2007


  • Working in the toy factory, with therapeutic dogs and in the gardens at Kishorit Village (near Karmiel) for adults with special needs.
  • Meals in homes of Ramah Israeli Staff Members: Lunch in Haifa with Tomer Nachshon and dinners in the Beit Shemesh home of the Benstein family and in the Moshav Emunim home of the Tzivoni Family.
  • Making spice sachets, writing with a reed and special ink, meeting a sofer, and making zatar spice at Neot Kedumim.
  • Seeing the Chagall Windows, then giving presents to Israeli Jewish and Arab children in the Pediatrics Unit at Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital
  • Seeing every possible weather pattern from sun in the Galilee, to rain and fog in the Golan Heights, to rain while on Masada and swimming in the Dead Sea.
  • Buying fruit, nuts and rugelach in the bustling Machane Yehudah market on a Friday afternoon (for a Camp Ramah oneg Shabbat)
  • Seeing ibex, deer, and hyrax at Ein Gedi, a fox in the Negev on the way to camel riding at Beertoyim, and two wolves in the Negev near Kibbutz Mashabe Sadeh.
  • Petting and feeding llamas and alpacas at Mitzpeh Ramon.
  • Sitting in actual Israeli planes at the Israel Air Force Museum in Beersheva.


Jason Belkin
Howard Blas (Group Leader)
Elisheva and Hannah Blas
Adam Brand
David Dalnekoff
Max Davidson (Chaperone)
Benji Garbowit
Jeremy Jacobson
Eric Levine
Gideon Pianko
Aaron Rudolph
Emily Sowalsky (Chaperone)
Marie Strazulla
Ortal Winterstein
Jacob Yellin

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