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My Name is Rachel Corrie

23-year-old Rachel Corrie who was crushed to death by Israeli bulldozers in Gaza in 2003 [NawalAlhawsawi/Twitter]

Fourteen years have passed since 23-year-old Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by Israeli bulldozers in Gaza. The American activists, along with other members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), were taking part in nonviolent direct action to protect the home of a Palestinian family from demolition when the activist from Washington was killed.

Since her untimely death on the Rafah border crossing in 2003, Corrie’s free-spirited attitude to life has been the inspiration for international solidarity movements, non-violent resistance as well as plays and books celebrating her humanity and bravery.

My Name is Rachel Corrie, being showed at the Young Vic in London, is based on the emails and diary entries of the pro-Palestinian activist, which first premiered at London’s Royal Court in 2005. The play was originally put together by the late Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner, now the editor of the Guardian.

Unsurprisingly the plays reproduction has come under strong criticism from Pro-Israeli groups. Fury at the revival of the play has stirred all kinds of controversy such that supporters of Israel in the UK are piling pressure on the Young Vic for staging the play. The Vic’s artistic director David Lan, who is Jewish, felt compelled to come to the theatre’s defence saying: “Gaza is a wound to the planet from which so many people are suffering.”

Read: Rachel Corrie’s parents: ‘Our concern is for the Palestinian people’

Pro-Israeli organisations have even threatened to leverage the £1.7 million pubic grant given to the Young Vic to ensure that it takes a more “balanced” position when it comes to Israel. Lan however has insisted that artistic expressions are useful to promote dialogue saying: “We welcome and hope to encourage as wide a discussion of this terrible situation as possible and anything that keeps Gaza at the front of our consciousness is to be valued.”

Aside from the nuisance of having Pro-Israeli activists shoving propaganda leaflets smearing the memory of Corrie towards you at the entrance of the theatre, the hour and half long immersion into Corrie’s mind is a memorable experience.

The play brilliantly darts through the diaries of Corrie from her early teens through to the period of her untimely death. Directed by an award winning director, Josh Roche, and wonderfully performed by British actor Erin Doherty, viewers are exposed to a visceral representation of the brutality of Israeli occupation seen through the eyes of an activist searching for her place in life.

Doherty’s astonishingly skilful performance of Corrie brings to life defining moments in the campaigner’s  personal journey as she grapples with her own sense of privilege in contrasted with the indignity and poverty she saw in Gaza. If nothing else, the play powerfully captures the inner tensions of Corrie who felt a deep sense of responsibility over her own country’s unquestioned support for Israel.

The play is emotionally rousing given the very nature of diary entries, which are intended by its author to be an honest representation of ones thoughts and feelings unpolluted by polemics. Corrie appeared deeply troubled by the constant dehumanisation of Muslims and Palestinians; her conversations with her father, which are including in the the play, shed light on America’s own troubling assumptions about the world in the post 9/11 world.

The added punch to the play and the performance of Doherty is made all the more incredible by the setting; a background made up from the barest material, empty colourless plywood panels on the floor and the wall. The centrepiece is a tall wooden stand that appears to stand as a representation of Israel’s Separation Wall. It required an exceptional actor playing an exceptional person to make the experience so emotionally jarring.

Rachel Corrie’s legacy will continue to inspire thousands in campaigns against political oppression and this play, like its predecessor, has certainly reached the level of being “the irrepressible political voice” of the young campaigner from Olympia.

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  • Meifumado

    My name is Rachel Corrie I was tricked by the Arabs, now I am dead and they use my name for propaganda,I was a fool.

    • Kelly Kelly

      She was at the wrong place at the wrong time, doing something that she was not gifted to do.

  • ricck lineheart

    Gaza , the worlds largest prison camp .

    • Meifumado

      With 5-star hotels ,shopping malls and movie theaters!

      How stupid are you?

      Stop the lies.

      • ricck lineheart

        You are a drug addict , right ?

    • si91

      …thanks to Hamas. And what kind of “prison camp” has luxury resorts, malls, and fitness centers?

  • Bryan

    A very sad story about an idealistically naive young woman groomed by the International Solidarity Movement to act as a human shield in Gaza by standing in the way of bulldozers destroying terrorist tunnels. The ISM opposes Israel’s existence and seeks to prevent Isreal’s defence forces stopping terrorists from murdering innocent Israeli civilians.

  • Fasdunkle

    She was used as a human shield by a terrorist supporting organisation.

  • ricck lineheart

    The same that killed her nailed Jesus to a cross and released a killer ….

    • kirby1

      Romans.

      • ricck lineheart

        NO , it was not the Romans that cried ” Crucify Him ” . Do you not ever read the Holy Bible ?

        • kirby1

          Please, the actual events were fictionalized to placate those in power (e.g. Romans).

  • kirby1

    The Big Lies about Rachel Corrie:

    1) Rachel Corrie was protecting an Arab doctor’s house from demolition

    Video tape of the incident when Rachel was killed clearly shows she was not protecting a house. She plunked herself down in front of a D9 caterpillar tractor that was clearing the entrance to a weapons smuggling tunnel and the driver did not see her. The video can be seen at StoptheISM . com on the home page. There was no “doctor”; the ISM found a pharmacist named Sami Masry to claim Rachel was protecting his home. For this, Masry got himself a new home paid for by the Rachel Corrie Foundation in the US, to perpetuate the Big Lie.

    2) Rachel Corrie was a pacifist concerned with “human rights.”

    Rachel Corrie was a self-avowed anarchist (this according to her boyfriend). She hated not only Israel but the US. She wrote her mother calling the terrorists who blew up Israelis “martyrs” and considered them noble.

    Rachel took her anarchism seriously. Two weeks before she died, she was in one of those weapons smuggling tunnels helping to bring out the dead body of a Hamas terrorist the IDF had killed in an earlier operation. In another instance, shortly before her death she walked out into a hot combat zone with Fellow ISM activist Joseph Carr under orders of a Hamas supervisor to retrieve another dead body of a terrorist.

    According to a phone interview I made with Carr before the last lawsuit in the possession of government lawyers, Rachel did this because she knew Arab snipers would shoot any IDF soldiers who came out from cover to arrest them. The fact that Rachel was trying to draw fire upon IDF soldiers made her an enemy combatant.

    3) Rachel Corrie was acting on her own to aid the Palestinians.

    The ISM on its website openly boasts they are Palestinian-led and has Arab plainclothes supervisors at all demonstrations against the IDF this per one of their leaders, Adam Shapiro). As such, Rachel was following orders that day in Rafah to interfere with IDF soldiers. That makes her a part of the terrorist network.

    4) Rachel was the victim of a negligent IDF.

    Rachel Corrie’s ISM group leader, a non-Arab, admitted to the press the day she was killed that she was in a spot where she shouldn’t have been. Bored about waiting for directions, she left the group and plunked herself in front of the active bulldozer that was clearing a weapons smuggling tunnel.

    Rachel knew that driver would not emerge to move her because Arab snipers would shoot him if he did. This was a deliberate act to harm IDF soldiers and she no doubt got this idea from the earlier episode removing dead bodies in combat zones. There were no homes being demolished that day in Rafah as the video showed.

    The IDF Captain, in charge of the detail that included the D9 and two vehicles, in an interview immediately after her death said the ISM activists would stand in front of his vehicles and point to their own chests and yell at the soldiers “Shoot me! Shoot me!” The IDF showed remarkable restraint that day.

    For those who ask why the army didn’t send soldiers out of their vehicles to arrest the ISM activists, the fact that Arab snipers were using the ISM activists to draw them into sight for just such a reason shows why they didn’t do this. And it also points out how Corrie and her ISM buddies were part of a combat scenario against the IDF.

    5) The tractor backed up over Rachel after she was run over.

    This was another canard started by Joseph Carr, Carr, who has been deported by Israel before but sneaked back into the country under false identities, was identifying himself as Joseph Smith that day, started the Big Lie that she was backed over by the bulldozer’s driver even after she was struck. This lie appears frequently on blogs on the Internet.

    In a radio interview Carr claimed he was running alongside the bulldozer telling them to stop before hitting her when he was nowhere near the scene of the accident. Carr even created fake photos of the incident and preceding moments that he tricked Reuters into posting worldwide. Reuters later had to post a retraction. These photos can be seen also at StoptheISM . com.

    Carr was drawing a salary at that time from Christian Peacemaker Teams, an ISM affiliate. Carr expressed in an interview that Corrie’s death was a price well paid as it would advance “the revolution,” a true anarchist program.

    These are just a few of the salient details about the Rachel Corrie canard that mainstream media doesn’t tell you.