By Richard Millett, London.
The Guardian’s Michael Billington gave My Name Is Rachel Corrie four stars out of five in his review of the anti-Israel play now showing at the Young Vic Theatre in London. Billington’s review doesn’t hide the fact that the play was written by the late Alan Rickman and now Guardian Editor-in-Chief Katherine Viner.
Why oh why did this play need to be revived yet again having been shown in London in 2005 and Edinburgh in 2006? Corrie was killed in Rafah in Gaza in 2003 while standing in front of an Israeli bulldozer that was about the demolish a house that was shielding a Hamas weapon supply tunnel from Egypt into Gaza.
Her death was at the height of the second Intifada when Hamas were using these supply tunnels to blow up Israeli citizens inside Israel using suicide bombers.
Judging by the Billington’s review the play doesn’t mention this crucial narrative. The play merely shows Corrie “was crushed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza” and that Corrie goes to “work in Gaza with the International Solidarity Movement to support Palestinians whose homes were being systematically demolished.”
So there is no mention that at the trial of the driver of the bulldozer he was found innocent by the court because there was no way he could have seen her standing in front of the bulldozer based on how high up he was in his carriage. But the play accuses the driver of murdering Corrie.
Having sent IDF soldier Elor Azaria to prison for killing a Palestinian terrorist and also having done the same to the IDF soldier that killed activist Tom Hurndall the Israeli court would no doubt have sent to prison the driver of the bulldozer if the evidence was there. It just wasn’t.
So I suspect that this destructive, mean, vindictive play that provides nothing of any positivity to the world has been revived because anything anti-Israel provides an instant full house. And, tragically, the timing is highly advantageous what with anti-Semitism on the rise to the extent that the recent Labour Party conference proposed discussion on whether the Holocaust happened.
The director Josh Roche was kicking a ball into an open goal with this revival. He and actress Erin Doherty now have a sold out show at a prestigious London theatre to boast about.
Had the play instead been called My Name is Rachel and included stories of the 19 Israeli Rachels murdered by Hamas (whose tunnels Corrie was trying to shield when she herself was killed) and Fatah during the second Intifada then I doubt the play will have sold many seats.
Incidentally, the Young Vic rejected any such balance itself when it refused a request to have photos of those 19 murdered Israeli Rachels, with descriptions of how they were blown to pieces by Palestinian terrorists, in the foyer during the running of My Name Is Rachel Corrie. Here are their photos and bios
The only people to blame for the death of Rachel Corrie were the International Solidarity Movement and Rachel Corrie herself who was played mercilessly by the ISM. Her death was not caused by Israel. The Corrie family need to accept this and stop allowing the furthering of the hate that is fomented as a result of the lies in this play.
I have read no better piece that sums up the situation Corrie found herself in than Oliver Kamm’s in The Times in 2004 when discussing Channel 4’s programme on Corrie Death of an Idealist:
“Ms Corrie was in fact in the midst of conflicting national claims that must one day be reconciled in a territorial settlement resembling the pre-1967 armistice lines. The cause to which she gave her life inflames that conflict. The ISM does not operate against the terrorist enemies of a two-state outcome. Its “human shields” do not travel on Jerusalem buses in order to protect Israeli civilians from suicide bombers. Its principal activity is knowingly to endanger its young volunteers. As an ISM founder chillingly told The Washington Post: “We’re like a peace army. Generals send young men and women off to operations and some die.””