This is an update to the dispatch of December 7, 2004, titled Alan Rickman, Rachel Corrie, David Irving, and Robert Fisk.
1. Theatre Review: "My Name is Rachel Corrie" (Guardian, April 14, 2005)
2. My Name is Rachel Levy (17, blown up in a grocery store)
3. My Name is Rachel Thaler (16, blown up in a pizzeria)
4. My Name is Rachel Levi (19, murdered while waiting for the bus)
5. My Name is Rachel Gavish (killed with her husband and son while at home)
6. My Name is Rachel Charhi (blown up while sitting in a cafe)
7. My Name is Rachel Shabo (murdered with her three sons aged 5, 13 and 6 while sitting at home)
The new play "My Name is Rachel Corrie" premiered last night in London at the prestigious Royal Court Theatre.
Naturally the first review today was in the Guardian. (I attach it below, with extracts first for those who don't have time to read it in full.)
The play was co-presented by Hollywood film star Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner. (Viner is the editor of The Guardian's weekend magazine).
For those who don't know, Rachel Corrie was the young American radical who burnt mock American flags at pro-Hamas rallies in Gaza in 2003. A short while later she died after throwing herself in front of an Israeli army bulldozer that was attempting to demolish a building used to hide weapons smuggling tunnels. Partly because of the efforts of Corrie and her fellow activists at the International Solidarity Movement, the Israeli army was unable to stop the smuggling of weapons through these tunnels. Those weapons were later used to kill Israeli children in the town of Sderot in southern Israel, near the Gaza Strip, and elsewhere.
However, this isn't the version that most newspapers worldwide have given of Corrie in many hundreds of articles published in the last two years. Many papers have been careful to omit such details in profiles lionizing Corrie, who has even been compared to Anne Frank
-- Tom Gross
THE FORGOTTEN RACHELS
Also attached below are snapshots of six of the Israelis named Rachel murdered by terrorist groups of the kind that Rachel Corrie did much to defend
These profiles were compiled with the help of Dr. Robin Stamler, of London, a long-time subscriber to this email list.
Dr Stamler writes: "My intention is not to be dismissive of Rachel Corrie's death. However, I am distressed that the deaths of other Rachels, together with the deaths of so many other Israelis, have been dismissed within the anti-Israel narrative promoted by the theatrical establishment and sections of the media that are focusing on this play. Somehow I doubt that the Royal Court will be staging a play to commemorate them."
Tom Gross adds: Please note that one of those profiled below, Rachel Thaler (blown up in a pizzeria, aged 16), was a British citizen. But I doubt that anyone at the Royal Court Theatre or most people in the British media, have ever heard of her.
As an alternative to the version of Corrie produced on the London stage, people may wish to view photos of Corrie that were published by the Associated Press and on Yahoo News on February 15, 2003, before she died. These show Corrie on one of the occasions when she burnt mock American flags and stirred up crowds in Gaza.
And this is a photo of President Yasser Arafat awarding the parents of Rachel Corrie with a "Martyr's Medal" on her behalf after her death.
Theatre: My Name is Rachel Corrie
Rating (4 stars. Maximum rating 5 stars)
Royal Court, London
By Michael Billington
April 14, 2005
"...In the course of 90 minutes you feel you have not just had a night at the theatre: you have encountered an extraordinary woman.
Most readers will know the bare facts about Rachel Corrie: that she was a 23-year-old American who went to aid Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and in March 2003 was killed by an Israeli bulldozer... Corrie herself has the artist's ability to see the significance of her own life.
... But Corrie was always a progressive with a conscience and in January 2003 she went to work with the International Solidarity Movement in Gaza... Corrie went to Gaza specifically to support Palestinians whose homes were being demolished and makes no attempt to hide her partiality.
... Theatre has no obligation to give a complete picture. Its only duty is to be honest. And what you get here is a stunning account of one woman's passionate response to a particular situation.
... The danger of right-on propaganda is avoided by the specificity of Rickman's Theatre Upstairs production. Above all, this is a portrait of a woman. And Megan Dodds [the actress playing Corrie] captures above all is Corrie's boundless curiosity, nomadic spirit and rage against injustice.
... Theatre can't change the world. But what it can do, when it's as good as this, is to send us out enriched by other people's passionate concern...."
MY NAME IS RACHEL LEVY (17, Jerusalem, blown up in a grocery store)
March 29, 2002 Rachel Levy, 17, of Jerusalem, was one of two people killed when a female suicide bomber blew herself up in the Kiryat Yovel supermarket in Jerusalem.
On Friday afternoon, Rachel's mother, Avigail, asked her to go to the supermarket to buy some things for the Shabbat meals. A 16-year-old female Palestinian suicide bomber, wearing a belt of explosives around her waist, walked into the supermarket in Jerusalem's Kiryat Hayovel neighborhood Friday afternoon and blew herself up. Haim Smadar, the security guard, prevented the bomber from going deep inside the store. Rachel Levy, who was near the entrance, was killed; 28 people were injured.
Rachel Levy was a senior at the Sieff High School. Fellow pupils from her photography class at school said that she was an excellent pupil, and that an exhibition of Rachel's photographs is being held at her school. "She was a charming girl, always smiling and pleasant. simply a wonderful person," said a relative. "She loved books, music, and sports," said her mother.
Rachel's cousin, Rafi Levy, was killed in a terrorist shooting attack at a roadblock near Ofra a month ago.
Rachel Levy was buried in Jerusalem. She is survived by her parents, Amos and Avigail, and her two brothers: Guy, 23, and Kobi, 7
MY NAME IS RACHEL THALER (16, of Ginot Shomron, blown up in a pizzeria)
February 27, 2002 Rachel Thaler, 16, of Ginot Shomron died of wounds suffered on February 16 when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a pizzeria in the shopping mall in Karnei Shomron in Samaria, bringing the death toll in the attack to three.
Rachel Thaler had gone on Saturday night to the local Yuvalim Mall in Karnei Shomron with his brother, Lior. Since its opening six months ago, the mall has become a popular meeting place for local youth. Rachel, who suffered a critical head injury in the bombing, never regained consciousness. She died 12 days later. Her family donated her organs for transplant. The condition of Rachel's brother, Lior, 14, who was also seriously injured, has improved greatly.
Ganette Thaler said she had donated her daughter's organs, because she thought it was important that other people benefit from her tragedy, especially during this time of so many terrorist attacks. "I feel that part of my daughter is living in two other people who gained life from her donation. I know that's what my daughter would have wanted," she said.
Rachel was the oldest of the family's three children. Her parents Ganette, from England, and Michael, from the US moved to the Ginot Shomron neighborhood five years ago, and were divorced three years later. Michael had moved back to the US, while Ganette remained in Ginot Shomrom with the children.
"It hasn't been easy for her. Not long ago, Ganette discussed the possibility of moving to the US. Rachel came to me and asked me to persuade her mother to remain," Vered Cohen, a family friend and neighbor, said.
Rachel studied at the Ulpana in Dolev. Eliraz Smet, Rachel's guide in the Ulpana, said "She always had a smile on her face. We would aske her to teach us how she always kept the smile, even with what's going on."
Rachel Thaler was buried in Karnei Shomron. She is survived by her parents and two brothers, Lior and Zvi
MY NAME IS RACHEL LEVI (19, murdered while waiting for the bus)
February 14, 2001 Sgt. Rachel Levi, 19, of Ashkelon, was one of 8 Israelis killed when a Palestinian crashed a bus into a crowded bus stop at Azor junction, south of Tel Aviv. It was the deadliest Palestinian attack on Israelis in four years.
Sergeant Rachel Levi worked on computers in logistics at Tel Hashomer. She had signed to continue her service in the IDF for an additional three years.
She had been dropped off by her father near the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station, about an hour before she was killed. He said: "Adi, my older daughter, told me that the attack occured at a junction where Rachel used to be daily. We called her on her cell phone, but there was no answer. We called her commander, and he said that she had not arrived. We then called the hospital, and they told us that she was not among the injured. We asked about her close friend and neighbor, Sigal Yunsi, and we were told that she was severely injured. I felt weak in the knees. We did not know what was happening. And then the officers came with the bad news."
"The army was her whole life," her mother Henya said. "I don't wish this feeling on any mother, I can't stop shaking."
Rachel left behind her parents and two sisters. She was buried in Ashkelon.
MY NAME IS RACHEL GAVISH (killed with her husband and son while at home)
March 28, 2002 Rachel Gavish, 50, of Elon Moreh was one of four members of the Gavish family killed in Elon Moreh, when a Palestinian terrorist infiltrated the hilltop community near Nablus, burst into their home, and shot them shortly before 9 P.M.
She was killed along with her husband David, her son Avraham, and her father Yitzhak Kanner.
The terrorist continued to shoot from one of the rooms while neighbors and security forces returned fire. Others placed a ladder to allow family members on the top story to escape. The terrorist remained in one of the top-story rooms, until he was shot and killed by security forces.
Rachel Gavish, together with her husband David, were among the founders of the Elon Moreh community. She worked as an educational counselor at the Ariel Regional College and at the Academic College for girls in Elon Moreh.
In Elon Moreh, thousands attended the funerals of Rachel, 50, and David Gavish, 51, their son Avraham, 25, who lives in Kedumim with his wife and was visting the family during the Pessah holiday, and Rachel's father, Yitzhak Kanner.
Rachel Gavish was buried in Elon Moreh alongside her family members. She is survived by her six children: Menashe (23), Yeshurun (2), Avigdor, (19), Tzofia (18), Leah (17), and Assaf (14)
MY NAME IS RACHEL CHARHI (blown up while sitting in a café)
April 4, 2002 Rachel Charhi, 36, of Bat-Yam, died five days after being critically injured in a suicide bombing in a cafe on the corner of Allenby and Bialik streets in Tel-Aviv on March 30. Some 30 others were injured in the attack. The Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility.
Rachel and her husband Ben-Zion, who was among the injured, saw the terrorist and tried to escape but did not succeed, reported Rachel's siblings.
Rachel was a secretary at an accounting firm. Her daughter had often suggested she quit her job so as not to have to ride the busses, but Rachel told her not to worry. On the day of the attack, Rachel and Ben-Zion thought to dine in a different cafe but chose My Coffee Shop instead, since it was less crowded.
Rachel was buried in the Yarkon cemetery in Tel-Aviv. She is survived by her husband Benzion, daughter Kinneret 14 and sons Ariel 13 and Barak 7
MY NAME IS RACHEL SHABO (murdered with her three sons aged 5, 13 and 6 while at home)
June 20, 2002 Rachel Shabo, 40, of Itamar was murdered along with three of her sons when a terrorist entered their home in Itamar, south of Nablus, and opened fire.
Shortly after 9 on Thursday night, the terrorist infiltrated the settlement, shooting in all directions before bursting into the Shabo home. The terrorist first shot the mother, Rachel, in the back. Then he shot Avishai, 5, Zvika, 13, and Neria, 16, as well as a neighbor, Yosef Twito, who came to their aid. Thirteen-year-old Avia told the doctor who treated her in the hospital that she had heard her mother shout out in pain and then all was quiet.
Boaz Shabo, the father, a printer by profession, was not at home. The older children Yariv and Atara were also out, visiting friends.
Rachel grew up in Karnei Shomron and met Boaz, from Moshav Beit Meir near Jerusalem, 20 years ago. The Shabos were among the founders of Itamar 18 years ago and always welcomed newcomers, inviting them to their home for a Shabbat meal. Rachel worked as a secretary in the nearby settlement of Yitzhar until a year ago. Her friends described her as an energetic and affable person.
Only a month earlier, Neria had escaped terrorist shots in his bedroom at the yeshiva high school on Itamar, when three of his friends were killed. His pillow had been hit by bullets. Neria's friends said he had been a genius. Zvika's friends described him as a righteous young man.
Rachel Shabo was buried in Itamar alongside her three sons. She is survived by her husband Boaz, and four of their children Yariv (17), Atara (15), Avia (13) and Asael (10).
MY NAME IS RACHEL CORRIE
My Name is Rachel Corrie
Rating (4 stars. Maximum rating 5 stars)
Royal Court, London
By Michael Billington
April 14, 2005
Political theatre takes many forms. It can be an engrossing judicial inquiry like Bloody Sunday. It can be a family saga like Wesker's Chicken Soup With Barley. Or it can be a deeply moving personal testimony like this selection from the writings of Rachel Corrie, edited by Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner, editor of Guardian Weekend Magazine, and performed by Megan Dodds.
In the course of 90 minutes you feel you have not just had a night at the theatre: you have encountered an extraordinary woman.
Most readers will know the bare facts about Rachel Corrie: that she was a 23-year-old American who went to aid Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and in March 2003 was killed by an Israeli bulldozer. But what comes as a shock is realising that she combined an activist's passion with an artist's sensibility. Louis MacNeice once yearned for a poet who was "informed in economics, actively interested in politics". Rachel Corrie emerges as just such a person.
Writing was clearly in her blood. She started a diary when she was 12 and the first third of the evening shows her, at high school and at college in Olympia, Washington, using it to discover who she was. As a compulsive listmaker, she itemises the people she would like to hang out with in eternity; significantly, they are mainly writers, including Rilke, ee cummings, Gertrude Stein and Zelda Fitzgerald.
And Corrie herself has the artist's ability to see the significance of her own life. Writing of a boyfriend who ditched her, she says percipiently: "Colin always wanted to walk faster and I wanted to trudge and identify ferns."
But Corrie was always a progressive with a conscience and in January 2003 she went to work with the International Solidarity Movement in Gaza. What makes this part of the evening so stirring is her ability to set down precisely what she sees. She records the exact amount of time Palestinians spend waiting at Israeli checkpoints. She talks to a doctor who knows that the house that it took him 30 years to afford can be destroyed in three hours, but who still says: "I trust in my god, so no problem."
She also records the surreal experience of watching Pet Sematary on cable TV and ducking in horror from its fictional violence. An obvious comparison is with David Hare's Via Dolorosa. But that was a conscious, and very fine, piece of theatrical reportage in which Hare talked to both Israelis and Palestinians at all levels. Corrie went to Gaza specifically to support Palestinians whose homes were being demolished and makes no attempt to hide her partiality.
And, while she distinguishes between Jewish people and Israeli politicians, she is appalled by what she sees: the checkpoints that prevent people getting to jobs and places of education, the casual destruction of wells, the children who grow up with tank-shell holes in their walls.
Theatre has no obligation to give a complete picture. Its only duty is to be honest. And what you get here is a stunning account of one woman's passionate response to a particular situation.
And the passion comes blazing through in Corrie's eloquent reaction to her father's inquiry about Palestinian violence. As she says, if we lived where tanks and soldiers and bulldozers could destroy our homes at any moment and where our lives were completely strangled, wouldn't we defend ourselves as best we could?
The danger of right-on propaganda is avoided by the specificity of Rickman's Theatre Upstairs production. Above all, this is a portrait of a woman. And Megan Dodds doesn't play down Corrie's early moments of precocious self-absorption. But what she captures above all is Corrie's boundless curiosity, nomadic spirit and rage against injustice. Dodds also conveys some essential human decency that makes Corrie feel guilty about her parent's tender concern for her own endangered existence.
Hildegard Bechtler has designed a remarkable set that encompasses both the young Corrie's clothes-strewn American bedroom and the sun-bleached, bullet-marked Palestinian walls in front of which she ends her tragically brief life.
But, although the aesthetics are important, they matter less than the show's content. And what that offers is a jolting reminder of the daily realities of Palestinian life and a portrait of a remarkable woman who tried to alleviate suffering.
Theatre can't change the world. But what it can do, when it's as good as this, is to send us out enriched by other people's passionate concern.