Over the past few weeks, Jerusalem’s deputy Mayor David Hadari has been busy writing letters. First he outlined a proposal to market 900 new housing units in an illegal settlement in East Jerusalem and sent it to the City Finance Committee. Then he wrote to the Hadari Appropriation Committee and asked them to pull the plug on thousands of dollars of annual funding usually reserved for the Khan Theatre in Jerusalem.
Hadari is not happy with the Playhouse’s decision to show ‘My Name is Rachel Corrie.’ The production commemorates the peace activist’s life, who was demonstrating against the demolition of a house in Gaza when she was killed by an Israeli armoured bulldozer in 2003. Corrie was wearing a florescent orange jacket, holding a megaphone, and was just 23 years old when she died.
The play recreates the story of her life, from the messy bedroom where she spent part of her childhood in Olympia, Washington, to a bullet marked set depicting Gaza in Palestine where she spent two months as a member of the International Solidarity Movement. Actual emails sent between her and her parents are recited, as is an eyewitness account of her death.
The original writing used for the play was edited by actor Alan Rickman and Guardian deputy editor Katharine Viner. The piece itself scooped up the Theatregoer’s Choice Awards for best director (also Rickman), Best New Play and Best Solo Performance which went to Megan Dodds who played Rachel in the early version. Rachel’s writing has been reproduced globally in Arabic, Hebrew, French, Spanish and Italian.
Despite the popular screenings and glowing reviews ‘My Name is Rachel Corrie’ has received across the world, predictably the incident with the Khan Theatre is not the first time the performance has been contested. In March 2006 it was set to be shown at the New York Theater Workshop, but was postponed ‘until further notice’ due to its political content.
Something Hadari would himself be happy with, judging by the particularly nasty letter he wrote to the Khan Theatre this week: “This was an Israel hater who was unintentionally killed and that the courts in Israel refused the family’s requests for compensation… We should not lend a hand to problematic plays that hurt Israel and Jerusalem in the name of art.”
To which the theatre responded: “It’s a pity that the deputy mayor, just as MK Orit Strouk before him, is hurrying to judge the play as inciting without even seeing it. They are both most welcome to come and see the play first to see what it’s all about.”
Hadari needs to spend less time penning letters and more time practicing peace.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.