Sunday, July 30, 2017

UK: London’s Young Vic theatre is reviving Rachel Corrie

Via Harry's Place (Jonathan Hoffman):
London’s Young Vic theatre is reviving ‘My Name is Rachel Corrie’. There will be 27 performances, starting with previews on Kol Nidre (29 September); press night is 4 October.  The theatre holds 70, so 1890 people will have the chance to see this play which incites hatred against Israel and therefore against its supporters, at a theatre which is supported by the taxpayer. 
Rachel Corrie was a young American (age 23). The play is extracts from her emails and diaries, selected by Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner. She was idealistic but very naïve. She volunteered for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a group that opposes Israel’s existence and whose members seek to prevent the Israeli army from acting against terrorists in Gaza and Judea/Samaria. The IDF’s ability to operate effectively in these areas against terrorists has been systematically and intentionally obstructed by groups of foreign volunteers for the ISM, used by the Palestinian Authority as “human shields”. By interfering with Israeli counter-terrorism operations, the ISM directly endangers the lives of Israeli civilians. 
In April 2003, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported: “ISM members take an active part in illegal and violent actions against IDF soldiers. At times, their activity in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip is under the auspices of Palestinian terrorist organisations.” In the past, ISM members have been arrested vandalising and destroying Israeli security fences and equipment. In March 2003, fugitive Islamic Jihad terrorist, Shadi Sukiya, was arrested in a house in Jenin rented by the ISM. 
Rachel Corrie was one of the “internationals” planted in Rafah, a town on the Egypt/Gaza border, in March 2003. There the IDF was demolishing tunnels used by the Palestinians to bring arms and explosives into Gaza to use against targets in Israel. The area of the IDF’s operation was clearly a military area and Corrie should not have entered it.  But she did and in the course of one such Israeli attempt to knock down a structure shielding one of the tunnels (16 March 2003), Corrie stood in front of an Israeli bulldozer. She slipped on a mound of dirt and was tragically killed. (...)
There is no mention in the play that the ISM met with the British suicide bombers Omar Khan Sharif and Asif Muhammad Hanif who, a few days later (30 April 2003), blew up Mike’s Place, a Tel Aviv pub, killing three and injuring dozens (see this piece by Tom Gross).  Or of the fact that in its mission statement the ISM said ‘armed struggle’ is a Palestinian ‘right’. Nor of the statement of the ISM ‘media co-ordinator’, Flo Rosovski, that “Israel is an illegal entity that should not exist!” Indeed Rachel Corrie did not think that the ‘terrorist’ word was appropriate for Palestinians. She suggests to her mother that she should update the local paper with her news and says ‘I think it’s smart that you’re wary of using the word ‘terrorism’ … you could be perpetuating the idea that the Israel-Palestinian conflict is a balanced conflict.’ Try telling that to the widow and children of Elad Salomon, murdered in Halamish while having Shabbat dinner last week, along with his father and sister
As for Corrie herself, inconveniently for those who have sought to portray her as a peaceful protester, photos of her burning a mock American flag and stirring up crowds in Gaza at a pro-Hamas rally were published by the Associated Press and on Yahoo News on 15 February 2003, a month before she died. Yet just three weeks earlier (on 25 January – the day she arrived in Israel) she wrote “I’m really new to talking about Israel-Palestine, so I don’t always know the political implications of my words”. (...) 
Corrie ripping Israel flag
Corrie ripping mock US flag
My Name Is Rachel Corrie is a sad play about a naïve young woman who is irresponsibly exploited by the ISM and tragically dies a painful and premature death.  But it fails to show the terrorism which was killing hundreds in Israel at that time and which Israel was combatting by its operations in Gaza; it whitewashes the ISM; and worst of all, Rickman and Viner falsely accuse the Israeli bulldozer driver of murdering Corrie. Under oath, he insisted that he had not seen her. 
At a time of heightened antisemitism, this season will foment hatred of Israel and thus of Jews in the UK who support Israel (which is the vast majority). That the Young Vic should stage it, is thoroughly irresponsible.  Presumably its decision-makers would not stage a play which demonises Muslims or blacks to the extent that this play demonises Israeli Jews – how, then, do they defend their decision? 
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