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Digest: Normal Oppression

1. Thousands of olive trees are being planted on land day demonstrations March 30th
2. Human Rights Worker Attacked near Hebron Settlement March 27th
3. Border Police enter home And beat Palestinians and 75 year old Australian volunteer March 26th
4. Palestinians, U.S. citizen complain of Hebron settler violence from Haaretz March 27th
5. Normal Oppression March 28th By Jane
6. Notice at Kalandia Checkpoint: Al Ram is Now Israel March 25th
7. Rachel Corrie is the new Anne Frank. by Katharine Viner
8. Democracy Now, Debate Between The New York Theater Workshop, and “My Name is Rachel Corrie” Editor Katharine Vine
9. Democracy Now, Rachel Corrie’s Parents Reaction to postponement
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1. THOUSANDS OF OLIVE TREES ARE BEING PLANTED IN LAND DAY DEMONSTRATIONS

On Land Day, Thursday March 30, thousands of Palestinians, along with Israeli and International activists will hold a series of large-scale peaceful protests.

Demonstrations against ongoing Israeli land confiscation are taking place in the villages of Beit Sira (Ramallah area), Zabda (Jenin area), Rafat (Salfit area) and Jbara checkpoint (Tulkarm area) with marches alongside the annexation barrier where local residents will plant 1000’s of olive trees.

Some of Today’s Demonstrations are taking place in:

Beit Sira. Since 1967 the village has lost 65% of its land to expanding Israeli settlements. As a symbolic act villagers will march carrying a coffin on their shoulders containing olive tree saplings which will be planted in the confiscated land

Rafat. 3000 Dunams out of a total land area of 3500 has been isolated from the village by the Annexation Barrier. The Israeli army has announced 300 Dunams of the remaining land are a closed military zone

Zabda. 6000 villagers are cut off from the West Bank behind the annexation barrier. Many more are excluded from their land by gates open for only 2 hours in the early morning and late evening. Out of 1722 farmers that applied for permission to access their own land 150 were granted permits

Jbara checkpoint.. March and demonstration against the wall, land-grab and collective punishment. Tulkarm has been completely closed for more than five moths as a collective punishment. In addition Many villages including Jbara are isolated by the annexation barrier.
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2. HUMAN RIGHTS WORKER ATTACKED NEAR HEBRON SETTLEMENT

Jewish settlers attacked American Human Rights’ activist Brian Morgan, outside the Beit Haddasah settlement on Saturday March 25.

About 20 settlers, adults and children as young as eight years, kicked, punched and hit Morgan on the head with rocks. He later received sutures in hospital in Tel Aviv.
An Israeli soldier at his post outside the settlement close to the attack, repeatedly ignored Morgan’s requests for help.

‘I judged the situation was not life threatening,” commented a soldier from a nearby checkpoint.
Morgan described the incident as unprovoked: “We were not filming, but I think they did not want any international witness in the area,” he said. He believes the attack was premeditated.
Morgan works with the Tel Rumeida project, which accompanies Palestinian families and their children to and from school, shielding them from harassment by settler children.
Most attacks on Palestinians and internationals occur on the Sabbath day when settler youths are not in school.

“There has been a considerable rise in settler violence during these pre-election weeks,” said a spokesman from Tel Rumeida, But we and other Human Rights’ activists will remain in this area to do our job.”

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3. Border Police enter home And beat Palestinians and 75 year old Australian volunteer
By Jane

Sunday 26th March, 25 soldiers and Border Police entered a Palestinian home And beat two Palestinians and 75 year old international volunteer for no apparent reason.

My first evening in Al Khalil/Hebron. I have just poured myself a cup of tea and Mary is telling me about the situation here. There’s a commotion outside and we go to investigate. As we come down the stairwell a young boy says “soldiers, soldiers” and points into the apartment.

On entering the apartment of Radey Abu Aesheh I see first one soldier, gun raised and pointing at people, then I see another and another, 6 altogether. All with guns raised. The apartment seems full of women and men shouting, there are 5 or 6 children. Radey Abu Aesha had been hit in the mouth. Hasan Abu Aesheh tells Mary the soldiers kicked him.

Suddenly the soldiers decide to leave and back down the stairs. Perhaps there were too many people for them. Many people follow, shouting their greivances at the soldiers for entering their home and their violent behaviour. The soldiers are shouting back. The Captain of the soldiers says they went into the house because they heard shouting, nobody believes this.

More soldiers and Border Police arrive until they are very many. The Captain confers with his men. They decide they want to take Bilal Abu Aesheh. In the chaos I don’t know if the soldiers reentered the building. What I saw was 4 soldiers wrestle Bilal to the ground and handcuff him with plastic cuffs behind his back, using aggressive force, banging his head on the ground. After he was cuffed a soldier approached him and kicked him. The Police arrived and he was taken away. Besam persuaded everyone to go back into the building. We stood at the entrance. The soldiers decided they wanted Husan. Soldiers surrounded the doorway, they tossed me aside.

Mary refused to let them enter saying “ these people are my family, you can’t come into my house”. They hesitated, they yelled at the Palestinians inside. Husan appeared on the stairwell. They grabbed Mary very roughly twice and threw her aside and grabbed Husan. They pushed him up against the outside wall of the building and rubbed his face across the stone. They hit him and threw him on the ground, they kicked him. They cuffed him behind his back. The women are screaming out of the windows. They take Husan behind one of their vehicles.

When I see a Palestinian being taken behind a vehicle I think he will get beaten so I stood nearby, the 2 soldiers guarding him demanding ‘get back, get back’. A large man in civilian clothes shone a bright video camera light in Husan°s eyes and filmed him. He stood right over him as Husan was crouched down on a low ledge. I turned my back for a second, on turning round Husan signaled with his eyes and motioned that the man had spat at him. An action I had half caught in the corner of my eye. Then I understood the man was a settler. The soldiers continued to let him stand over Husan and verbally abuse him. Soldier had lined up behind vehicles and trained their guns on the building. It seemed to take forever before the Police arrived again and Husan was put in the back of their vehicle. Mary said she wanted to go with Husan and the Police did not object, so she climbed in too.

In Radey Abu Aesheh’s home the wait began. The street had been closed but now people began to arrive. The older men clicked their prayer beads whilst they talked. Women made coffee, peeled oranges and apples. Yechye, a lawyer, regularly rang the Police. No news, no news and then bad news, Bilal and Husan were accused of attacking the soldiers. Radey Abu Aesheh says “Bush is claiming we are the terrorists and all the Euopean Governments go along with him and support him. But look how Palestinians are treated, you can see the reverse is true”. Rajab Abu Aesheh says “The settles want the Palestinians to leave the area but the people will not follow this plan, so they are harassing us to force us to leave, but we will not leave until we die and this will be transmitted from son to son”.

Suddenly the police tell Yechye good news, Mary, Bilal and Husan are all being released. It’s a fast walk up hill to get to a car. It’s parked outside the Israeli controlled area, where Palestinians are not allowed to drive. We skirt round Tel Rumeida in the car, to get back to almost where we had left the house and on to the Police station. At the gates of the Police station, Yechye has to stick his fingers though the metal gate to use a phone to communicate with the Police inside. At midnight, the 3 are released. Mary who mis seventy five years old has also been accused of attacking the soldiers. Husan is very sore and bruised, he has blood in one of his eyes.

Living in the settlement building just up the road a few hundred yards from this violent episode is Baruch Marzel, extreme right winger, well known for his hatred of Arabs and support for transferring all Palestinians to Jordan. His wife and son are among the worst for attacking the Palestinian inhabitants of Tel Rumeida. He is standing as a candidate in Tuesday’s Israeli elections.

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4. Palestinians, U.S. citizen complain of Hebron settler violence

By Amos Harel and Michal Greenberg, Haaretz Correspondents for Haaretz

Several Palestinians and an American volunteer in the West Bank on Sunday filed complaints with the police, accusing settlers of violence toward Palestinians in the Hebron area on Saturday, after three people were wounded in two separate incidents.

In one of the incidents, Palestinians said about 10 masked, Hebrew-speaking youths had raided a tent encampment near the settlement of Sussia, on the border of the Havat Yair outpost on
Saturday night. They allegedly attacked two Palestinian brothers with clubs and knives and then escaped. The brothers, Abdelrahman and Aziz Shanaran, were lightly to moderately wounded and were taken to Alia Hospital in Hebron for treatment.

Another Shanaran relative, who said he had witnessed the incident, filed a police complaint on Sunday.

Also Sunday, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel asked the state prosecution to intervene immediately in an effort to bring the assailants to justice.

Left-wing activists familiar with the area said they thought the assailants were settlers from Sussia, and said settlers had been attacking Palestinian villagers in the area for a long time, in an attempt to steal their land.

Abdelrahman Shanaran told the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem that the assailants had hit him on the head with a sharp object while he was sleeping in his tent. He said they continued to beat him and removed him from the tent.

His brother, Aziz, heard the screams of his wife and children and rushed to his assistance. According to the testimony, some of the assailants then began beating Aziz.

Aziz Shanaran told B’Tselem that the assailants appeared to be young and that some had earlocks and rifles. He said that after the attack, they escaped in the direction of Sussia.
Hospital records show that Abdelrahman Shanaran was treated for three cuts on his head and a leg wound, and that his brother received orthopedic treatment.

In the second incident, which took place Saturday afternoon, an American volunteer assisting Palestinians in Hebron as part of the Tel Rumeida Project said he was attacked by a group of about 20 Israeli children and youths. He said they threw stones at him, kicked him and spat at him. He was taken to a Hebron hospital shortly after the incident and underwent additional tests at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv on Sunday. He was hit in the head and doctors are concerned he may have a concussion.

The volunteer said he ran from his assailants to a nearby Israel Defense Forces post, but charged that the soldiers on duty refused to assist him.

However, IDF sources said the soldiers reached the site of the attack without being summoned and then dispersed the settlers. Police said they showed him mug shots but that the volunteer was unable to identify the people he said had attacked him.

Police said they would continue their inquiry into the attack on the American volunteer, but admitted that they had encountered difficulties.

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5. Normal Oppression
By Jane
28th March 2006

Tel Rumeida- Today at the Tel Rumeida check point, an Israeli soldier lashed out injuring a Palestinian man by kicking him and hitting him with his rifle.

Everyone is saying that it is tense here in Tel Rumeida. As today is the Israeli election the settlers are not at work and the children not in school. In Tel Rumeida this translates into a high possibility of settlers on the streets, encouraging their children to throw stones at the Palestinian children going to and from school.

Things were quiet and calm at the check point through the morning. I said hello to the 2 soldiers on the check point to establish some contact and they were polite and pleasant. They were allowing Palestinians to pass the check point with relatively little hassle. The children came out of school through the check point, or up the hill to their homes. At about 12.30 pm the teachers approached the checkpoint. They have established with the soldiers previously that they will not pass through the check point portacabin with the doors remotely controlled a soldier behind a glass screen. They use a small metal gate at the side.

Three young Palestinian men were being kept waiting, leaning against the wall by the gate, on the other side of the check point. One was Abu Shakhdam. After the teachers had passed by, the gate was not completely shut.

One of the soldiers said something to the 3 Palestinians waiting the other side. Abu Shakhdam
responded. The soldier shouted, Abu Shakhdam banged his hand on the gate. In a flash the soldier erupted. He rushed up to Abu Shakhdam shouting, pushing his gun a hairs breath from Abu Shakhdam’s face. Abu Shakhdam backed off, running back into the street, his side of the
check point. The soldier yelled, following and threatening him by aiming his gun. The soldier made him kneel down in the middle of the street. The 2nd soldier ran up, forcefully kicking Abu Shakhdam before swung his rifle and hit him on the side of his head. Meanwhile I’m
shouting ” I’m filmimg you, stop hitting him”. One soldier shouted “shut the fuck up”. The soldiers bring Abu Shakhdam through the gate, he has blood flowing down the side of his head.
Abu Shakhdam was taken away in an army vehical. At the Police station he was accussed of attacking the soldiers. Hageet, from Machsom Watch, made a complaint about the soldier’s behaviour. She informed the Police that we have on film the soldier attacking Abu Shakhdam but
still they refuse to release him.

A soldier attacking a person is just a part of a “normal” days events here. A call came shortly after to say that settler’s children were throwing stones at Palestinian kids. Children under 14 year of age are not arrested or dealt with by the Israeli criminal justice system, as an adult would be. It is an incredibly sad sight to see little Israeli children, as young as four or five, throwing stones at little Palestinian kids, while their communities adults stand behind them.
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6.Notice at Kalandia Checkpoint: Al Ram is Now Israel
For a picture of the notice see: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2006/03/26/notice-at-kalandia-checkpoint-al-ram-is-now-israel/

On Saturday March 25 Israeli military placed a notice at the Kalandia checkpoint announcing that from March 27, 2006 only holders of a permit to enter Israel will be allowed to cross the checkpoint to the West Bank village of Al Ramm.
By restricting Palestinian access in this way, the Israelis have effectively annexed the village minus its West Bank residents to Israel. cutting it off from the rest of the West Bank. The restriction will also cement the illegal annexation of occupied East Jerusalem.
The Kalandia checkpoint is flanked on both sides by the annexation Wall. Olmert’s Kadima party has admitted that the Wall is not a temporary security measure as Israel originally claimed but will be Israel’s “permanent border”.

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7. Rachel Corrie is the new Anne Frank. by Katharine Viner
co-editor of the play, My Name is Rachel Corrie, on the controversy over the postponement of her play. Link: http://www.wnyc.org/shows/bl/episodes/2006/03/23

Excerpt:
“There is a particular entry in Rachel Corrie’s diary, probably written some time in 1999, four years before she was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in the Gaza Strip trying to prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes. She is aged 19 or 20. “Had a dream about falling, falling to my death off something dusty and smooth and crumbling like the cliffs in Utah,” she writes, “but I kept holding on, and when each foothold or handle of rock broke I reached out as I fell and grabbed a new one. I didn’t have time to think about anything – just react as if I was playing an adrenaline-filled video game. And I heard, ‘I can’t die, I can’t die,’ again and again in my head.”

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8) Democracy Now, Debate Between The New York Theater Workshop, and “My Name is Rachel Corrie” Editor Katharine Vine

Transcript: http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/03/22/1435259
MP3 Download: http://www.archive.org/download/dn2006-0322/dn2006-0322-1_64kb.mp3

Katharine Viner, co-creator of the multiple award winning play, My Name is Rachel Corrie debates the controversy over the postponement of the plays US debut at the New York Theatre Workshop with the 2 theatre directors – James Nicola & Lynn Moffat responsible, in a Democracy Now broadcast hosted by Amy Goodman
The play My Name is Rachel Corrie was due to open recently at the celebrated New York Theatre Workshop but has been indefinitely postponed.
James Nicola said “After Ariel Sharon’s illness and the election of Hamas, we had a very edgy situation…our plan to present a work of art would be seen as us taking a stand in a political conflict, that we didn’t want to take.”
Actor Alan Rickman – Katherine’s co-writer – responded by saying, “This is censorship born out of fear” and Literature & Pullitzer Prize winning writer Harold Pinter and others in a letter to the New York Times asked: “What is it about Rachel Corrie’s writings, her thoughts, her feelings, her confusions, her idealism, her courage…that New York audiences must be protected from…Rachel Corrie gave her life standing up against injustice”

Interview Excerpt:

AMY GOODMAN: Today, in a Democracy Now! broadcast exclusive, we host a discussion between one of the creators of the play, My Name is Rachel Corrie and the New York theater group that postponed the production of the play. In London, we’re joined by Katharine Viner. She’s the co-editor and co-producer of My Name is Rachel Corrie. She’s editor at the Guardian newspaper in London. Here in our New York studio, we’re joined by James Nicola. He is the artistic director at the New York Theatre Workshop, as well as the theater’s managing director, Lynn Moffat. And we welcome you all to Democracy Now!

Well, why don’t we begin with you, Jim Nicola, about this play, about My Name Is Rachel Corrie, about its plans for production, opening night tonight, and why it was cancelled or indefinitely postponed?

JAMES NICOLA: Sure. Well, I would want to go back a little bit to my original reading of the play, which was inspiring and moving, and I really connected to what Katharine Viner and Alan Rickman were trying to do in their portrait, which, in any artist who is approaching a character or subject, shapes the material into something. And they said, as in Katharine said, what did she want people to feel or think about when they walk out of the play; she said to feel inspired to go out and do something about the world’s inequalities. And I thought that was an excellent thing to put forward in New York.

All of us Americans, myself included, live in some sort of fog of avoidance and denial, and here was a beautiful example of someone who pierced through that and did something and made a commitment. I also thought a lot about my nieces and nephews who are roughly her age now, and I see how they’re living, and I thought she would be a wonderful example to them, to all of us. But this portrait that they wanted to create was about — they had a very particular view, which I really supported and believed in, which is the example she set with her life. And they wanted to keep at bay, for the sake of this argument, this portrait, many — anybody who would walk in with any particular idea or bias or view and say, just for the sake of this argument, ‘Look at this beautiful act of commitment and courage and idealism, and let’s hold our thoughts and just study that example.’ And that was what we were trying to fight for. And on this very short time frame that we had to mount this, we didn’t realize at the beginning the complexity of that task.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, before we talk about the controversy over the staging of this and what happened, let’s turn to Katharine Viner, co-editor and co-producer of My Name is Rachel Corrie, and start at the beginning. Tell us about this play, how you came to edit it, and why we call you co-editor, as opposed to playwright.

KATHARINE VINER: Right. Well, it all began just after Rachel was killed. Her family released lots of her emails home from Gaza, and they were published around the world, including in the Guardian, which is the newspaper I work for in London. And they were astounding. They were so powerful and evocative and moving. And Alan Rickman, the Hollywood actor, he saw them and got very excited and took them to the Royal Court Theatre and said these should make a play. These are fantastic. And I was asked to get involved at that point. And we approached Rachel’s family to ask for permission, and obviously that was a very hard time for them. And they said, “You know, we love theater, but, you know, give us some time. We need to think about this.” And then, I think it was about a year later, they came back to us.

And in that meantime, we had been really thinking about how we could do this. We were thinking of doing a patchwork of voices, voices from Rachel’s friends in Olympia, Washington, which is where she was from, her friends in Gaza, fellow activists, Israeli soldiers. We were imagining sort of creating a whole patchwork of a play. But then, suddenly there landed on our doorstep 184 pages of Rachel’s words, and her family had gone and discovered all these journals that she had left behind in her bedroom, and they had typed them up for us, which was a real emotional task, as you can imagine. And they were her journals from the age of ten.

And you can imagine, we were so excited about this, and we realized that we didn’t need to be playwrights. We just needed to edit Rachel’s words, that Rachel could tell her story all on her own. And so then, the patchwork was just moving around Rachel’s words, timings. And, in fact, the first third of the play is before she even goes to Gaza, and it’s her packing in her bedroom, finding old journals, telling stories about bumping into ex-boyfriends or her job or female friends or just being an ordinary teenager, before she made the big decision to go to Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, you staged this at the Royal Court Theatre in London?

KATHARINE VINER: That’s right, yes. Now, we staged it in April last year and, in fact, it was sort of this huge success immediately. We were very shocked, because obviously it was a small play about, you know — and a political play. I mean, there was a trend for political theater in London at the moment, but we hadn’t realized quite how successful it would be. And, in fact, the Royal Court said it was their fastest sellout in their 50-year history. And this is the theater — Look Back in Anger – their biggest sellout in their 50-year history, which is fantastic. And there were lines of people waiting outside the theater every night for returns. So, we quickly brought it back to a larger theater, also at the Royal Court, which was also a sellout. And next week, in fact, when the New York transfer was canceled, a West End producer stepped in, and now the play is transferring to the West End next week. The West End is the equivalent of Broadway. So, we’re hoping it’s going to be a major commercial success, as well as a major artistic success.

AMY GOODMAN: So, now let’s go to what happened in New York. The play was presented to the New York Theatre Workshop. You read it, Jim. You loved it. You said, ‘Let’s go with it.’

JAMES NICOLA: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: And the schedule was set. Then what happened?

JAMES NICOLA: Well, we started onto our usual process of how do you make the pathway for a writer’s voice, you know, publicly, from — it goes from the page to the stage, and then you have to bring people to it. And I took very seriously this desire of Katharine Viner and Alan Rickman to find this place where people could feel safe and free to suspend their points of view, to listen to Rachel and to look at Rachel in this particular way. And then — certainly I am more educated now on this whole conflict than I was at the start of it. And, in fact, I look back six, eight weeks, and I feel like I’m a different person. But as we started to learn and listen, that task just seemed to get bigger and more complicated. In addition to other production logistical questions because of the short timeframe, were also growing concerns. So — we — maybe, Lynn, you might want to talk a little about that.

AMY GOODMAN: There’s a letter today in The New York Times. It’s written by Harold Pinter, who is the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, Gillian Slovo. Stephen Fry, and it’s dated March 20. The letter was signed by 18 others, and it says, “We are Jewish writers who supported the Royal Court production of My Name Is Rachel Corrie. We are dismayed by the decision of the New York Theatre Workshop to cancel or postpone the play’s production. We believe that this is an important play, particularly, perhaps, for an American audience that too rarely has an opportunity to see and judge for itself the material it contends with.

“In London it played to sell-out houses. Critics praised it. Audiences found it intensely moving. So what is it about Rachel Corrie’s writings, her thoughts, her feelings, her confusions, her idealism, her courage, her search for meaning in life — what is it that New York audiences must be protected from?”

The letter goes on to say, “The various reasons given by the workshop — Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s coma, the election of Hamas, the circumstances of Rachel Corrie’s death, the ‘symbolism’ of her tale — make no sense in the context of this play and the crucial issues it raises about Israeli military activity in the Occupied Territories.”

And the final line of the letter says, “Rachel Corrie gave her life standing up against injustice. A theater with such a fine history should have had the courage to give New York theatergoers the chance to experience her story for themselves.” Signed Gillian Slovo, Harold Pinter, Stephen Fry, London, March 20, 2006. Harold Pinter this year won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Lynn Moffat, your response to the letter?

LYNN MOFFAT: To the letter? It’s a beautiful letter. It actually addresses the issues that we were concerned about. We believe in Rachel’s voice, as they believe in Rachel’s voice. We want it heard by a New York audience, but we want the voice heard by the New York audience, not the ancillary events that can pollute that voice. So that is the — that is the purpose of the methodology that New York Theatre Workshop employs when it uses — when it develops context for a play. I know “context” has become a much maligned word in the last few weeks, but that is what we do, because ultimately the purpose of the workshop in producing art is to foster community dialogue, and to do that requires a lot of work just beyond the play that is seen on stage.

AMY GOODMAN: But now, you did agree to produce the play, and it was going to have its opening night tonight?

LYNN MOFFAT: And we still want to produce the play.

JAMES NICOLA: Yep.

LYNN MOFFAT: We still want to produce the play, and the word “indefinite,” we don’t know where that word came from. We really – and we never canceled the play. We were having a conversation with our colleagues at the Royal Court about the difficulties that we were having, not only just with the research that we were doing about the project and about the play, but also about, you know, contracts and budgets and fundraising, and all that sort of stuff.

JAMES NICOLA: Visas.

LYNN MOFFAT: Visas. We were having a conversation with them, and then Katharine’s letter appeared in the Guardian.

AMY GOODMAN: Katharine Viner, your response.

KATHARINE VINER: Yeah. I mean, I’m actually not a co-producer of the play. I was just the co-editor, so – but as I understand it, we had everything set. Our tickets — our flight tickets were booked. I was due to fly out yesterday to New York. The production schedule was finalized. Both sides of the Atlantic had agreed on a press release that was going to go out to the press, announcing the production of My Name is Rachel Corrie, and then the Royal Court, as I was told, received a telephone call saying that the play was to be postponed indefinitely. That’s where the phrase came from. We said we regarded that as a cancellation, because everything was ready, and there were barely – I think it was five or six weeks to go. And then they asked us, the New York Theatre Workshop asked the Royal Court to give them time in order to work out how to present this “postponement,” as they called it — “cancellation,” as we took it to be — and we gave them that time.

But then Mr. Nicola started talking, saying that it was a tentative arrangement. He started giving quotes, saying it was actually a tentative arrangement, and we felt at that point that we had to go public with the story, because it was not a tentative arrangement. This was a definite arrangement. But, you know, I don’t think – I think we could get into the, you know, “You emailed on this day, you telephoned on this day” conversation, but actually there’s a much bigger picture here and a much more important story, which is about the political smearing of Rachel Corrie, and there’s no doubt that the New York Theatre Workshop was the victim of a political smear campaign.

And I could have – you know, I understand this about contextualization. I personally think that works of art should be able to stand on their own, and consultation isn’t necessary. However, if that’s how things are done in New York, then I understand why, you know, say, Jewish community groups may have been contacted. I don’t quite understand why Arab American groups weren’t contacted, and I also don’t understand why I wasn’t consulted. You know, I was brought in to do this play, because I understood the political context, and I know about narrative, but also mainly because I understand about the political context, and I could have warned the New York Theatre Workshop all about the misinformation there is about Rachel Corrie on the internet. I could have told them why — I understand why that happens. She’s a very powerful figure, and I could have helped them.

AMY GOODMAN: Your response.

JAMES NICOLA: Well, it’s deeply regrettable. I would have loved to have been consulting with Katharine. It would have been immensely helpful, but in the time frame that we were on, I had various phone calls with Diane Borger at the Royal Court, two visits from Alan Rickman, and we were underway, and I felt we should consult with – and most of the people around that table, myself, Alan, were of a similar mind about issues, and it seemed the logical next step would be to speak to people who might have a different point of view, and that’s when we went and we did a lot of internet research. We saw all of what Katharine mentions about this terrible misinformation out there, which made me only more certain that we had to have very strong plans to neutralize that or make it go away or answer a question when it was posed.

AMY GOODMAN: And what do you mean by contextualization? You would present the play, and then what?

JAMES NICOLA: Well, we were discussing the idea of, after every performance, having – giving the audience an opportunity to discuss what they had just experienced.

LYNN MOFFAT: In a very structured format.

JAMES NICOLA: Right.

LYNN MOFFAT: We don’t just have post-performance discussions, where audience members just simply react to the play. We actually were talking about bringing in scholars, bringing in various voices from the communities, and having very structured discussions that would not — that would help people understand the complexities of the situation. Rachel’s voice is very clear. There is no question about that, but it sits in a larger world.

AMY GOODMAN: And that larger world is?

LYNN MOFFAT: That larger world is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. There’s no question about that.

AMY GOODMAN: Katharine Viner?

KATHARINE VINER: It’s almost as if you’re suggesting that people need to, you know, read the full history of Israel from 1948 to the present day before they are even allowed to see this play. It’s a work of art that can stand on its own and, you know, can I ask you who you consulted before canceling the play?

LYNN MOFFAT: It was a lot of different people from – that were colleagues and colleagues of colleagues who we consulted, but I do want to say that the Royal Court did an absolutely brilliant job of contextualizing the play, including giving that history from 1948 of the conflict through its Young Writers Program. We were, at the workshop, very impressed with the work that the – that our colleagues at the Royal Court had done.

KATHARINE VINER: Thank you very much.

AMY GOODMAN: Who – on that question of who you consulted, The Nation magazine’s cover story is about tickets too not handle, and it talks about a P.R. firm, consulting firm, Finn Ruder, saying they were involved in advising you against this play. Is this true?

LYNN MOFFAT: We used a lot of consultants. I mean, not-for-profits have to, because we don’t have the money to keep such expertise on staff. I mean, it includes legal, accounting, advertising, marketing, press, P.R. There’s a lot that we – we need these people; we rely on these people. In the case of Ruder Finn, we have been working with Ruder Finn for over ten years, and we are working with them on a project, but it is not related to the play.

AMY GOODMAN: Since you had agreed to go ahead with the play, and it was going to open tonight, at what point did you change? What was the, not particularly the date, but the reason where you said, “We’re pulling it for now”?

LYNN MOFFAT: There were several. Jim came to his conclusion, and I came to my conclusion that we needed to ask for a postponement. We needed more time for different reasons. It wasn’t simply the contextualization. I was also very, very concerned, as the managing director, about the business deal. It hadn’t been completed, and that is a – I mean, you know, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: But you were – but the tickets were up on Telecharge, and you were moving forward tonight.

LYNN MOFFAT: Well, that, you know — that’s sort of just, you know, that’s sort of theater business. You can put tickets up on – we weren’t – they weren’t on sale. The computer program had been built. Drafts were going. We were trying to get a lot of work accomplished in a very short period of time, so I had all the – I didn’t go a, b, c, d. I just said, “Everybody, just do your jobs, and lets try to get this done.” We really moved forward with the best intent.

AMY GOODMAN: Has this happened to you before, where you set a play, you set a schedule, you say what the opening night is, the tickets say they are going to go on – the Telecharge says they’ve got the tickets, and then it’s pulled?

JAMES NICOLA: Yes.

LYNN MOFFAT: I would say – well, pulled is a rough word, but I would say that 50% of the productions that we schedule do not happen in the schedule that we had originally intended. That’s a lot. That’s half.

KATHARINE VINER: But with six weeks notice, Lynn?

LYNN MOFFAT: Yes, with six weeks notice. Well, I mean, Katharine, you have to remember, you know, Rachel Corrie wasn’t coming into an empty spot in the theater. There had been another artist booked there, and we had come to an agreement with him to —

JAMES NICOLA: Move him.

LYNN MOFFAT: — move him, move his show into the next season, so we could do Rachel Corrie.

KATHARINE VINER: So, if this was just about theatrical logistics, why then, in your first interview, did you say it was because of the election of Hamas in the Palestinian elections and Ariel Sharon’s ill health?

JAMES NICOLA: It was a part – it was – I regret that I was naive in talking to the press at that point. It was a part of something, and there was a much bigger picture, and that was sort of pulled out. So I have to take some responsibility for being an imprecise speaker.

AMY GOODMAN: But at a time you were concerned about these political developments?

JAMES NICOLA: Yes. I was concerned about: How do we keep focus on this thing that we all agree is the center, this idealistic, inspiring example?

AMY GOODMAN: Now, of course, the Middle East is mired in controversy and has been for many, many years. Why is this different right now?

LYNN MOFFAT: I think we weren’t cognizant of how Rachel was being viewed on all sides of the spectrum, and that is something that we were learning as we went through this process.

AMY GOODMAN: What is it that you heard about Rachel Corrie that was a different picture than you had than was presented in the play with just her own words, My Name is Rachel Corrie?

JAMES NICOLA: Well, I can speak to one very terrifying, I guess, conversation I had with a very good friend, who is Jewish, and certainly every conversation I’ve ever had with him about Israel, he’s been extremely critical of policy and action, and I gave him this play, and he read it, and he was really – he had real problems with it, and I was really surprised to hear it from him, and I was really surprised because I had such a love for this play and this young woman, that it hurt me that there would be a question of it. And he said to me, “Did you know she was member of Hamas?” And I didn’t know what that — I hadn’t heard that, and it didn’t seem to be true to me, and I said, “No.” And he said, “Well, it’s on the internet that she was.” And in that moment I realized, well, there’s a lot — because in my position, I have to try and prevent that from taking hold. I have to be able to answer that question, and then as we went on to the internet, there was much more that, you know, [inaudible].

KATHARINE VINER: You’ll never be able to get at the truth on the internet.

LYNN MOFFAT: Yes, I thought the Mother Jones article was particularly intriguing, because the author of that article lays out a lot of different perspectives.

AMY GOODMAN: Newsweek reporter Joshua Hammer.

LYNN MOFFAT: Yes. It was really fascinating.

AMY GOODMAN: Katharine Viner.

LYNN MOFFAT: But this is all part of a really big smear campaign against Rachel Corrie and against many – as happens with many activists, and I can sort of see why. You know, she was the first American citizen, perhaps the only American citizen — I don’t know — but to be killed by the Israeli army. She wrote so powerfully and so brilliantly about life under occupation, which is terrifying to hear if it’s not something you hear very often, but also, you know, she’s young, beautiful, blond, white, American. She’s completely easy to relate to for a vast majority of Americans, and that makes her very dangerous, and that’s why there’s been so much misinformation about her on the internet and elsewhere. But again, I would have loved to have helped you with that. I knew about all of that. I’m one of the people who has read every single word that Rachel wrote, and I’ve read a huge amount of what’s been written about her, and I can see the gap between the two, and surely one has to go for the truth rather than these kind of myths that surround people who are dangerous.

LYNN MOFFAT: Right.

JAMES NICOLA: Absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: Jim, let me ask something. So this one conversation with a friend who alleged that Rachel was a member of Hamas turned this whole play around and led to the postponement of it?

JAMES NICOLA: No. It was the beginning of the dawning of the scale of this task in the – and then in the sense of four weeks before a proposed first performance that I had a lot of learning to do. We had a lot of planning and plotting and strategizing to do to make this happen.

AMY GOODMAN: Did you also consult with members of the Palestinian community in New York or the Arab American community?

JAMES NICOLA: We did not at that point, because we were at the beginning of this. We certainly would have, and we were certainly looking on the internet, and frankly, because we were at the beginning of this, as I said earlier, the people that were sitting around the table in this conversation were of a particular mind. We were of a similar point of view.

LYNN MOFFAT: I’d also like to point out, though, sitting around that table were Americans and British and Rachel’s voice, which is, as you’ve said, Katharine, American. We had no Palestinian voices yet, and that was one of the reasons we needed more time was because we needed to explore all of the voices that were coming out of that community, and that takes time.

AMY GOODMAN: So where do you go from here? Are you sorry you put this off?

LYNN MOFFAT: No. I’m not sorry. I think we did the responsible thing. We did the responsible thing for the play.

JAMES NICOLA: You know, I would still love to see it happen. I would really love to see it happen. I so believe in this voice and the importance of this voice being heard now here.

AMY GOODMAN: Tony Kushner also condemned the postponement of the play, whose play you had produced on Afghanistan, on Kabul. Your response to that.

JAMES NICOLA: Well, I think, you know, everyone should have a point of view, and I’m glad, in a certain way, that he has taken that stand, because I think it starts to provoke an important dialogue in our community about how do we talk about difficult, complicated issues and ideas. And I hope this is leading to that kind of conversation.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to play a clip of Vanessa Redgrave. We were in London, and we spoke to her, and Vanessa Redgrave, of course, was involved in supporting the Royal Court Theatre production, and this is what she had to say.

VANESSA REDGRAVE: The essence of life and the essence of theater is to communicate about lives, either lives that had ended or lives that are still alive, beliefs, what is in those beliefs, and this was an extraordinary young girl. It wasn’t — she didn’t take sides, although she went to defend Palestinians. It isn’t about taking sides. It’s about defending human life. That’s the basis of all human rights. That’s the basis of what every country proclaims it stands for.

I don’t know of a single government that actually abides by international human rights law, not one, including my own. In fact, violate these laws in the most despicable and obscene way, I would say. But to cancel a play, and it wasn’t really a play, to cancel a voice, because it was her voice, is an act of such catastrophic cowardice, because we are living in times when people are quite fearful enough about speaking out, for losing their career or, you know, whatever, and I think it’s — people in the theater, in film, radio, television, dance, music, we have to do what we must do.

AMY GOODMAN: Vanessa Redgrave, speaking at her home in London. Your response, Jim Nicola.

JAMES NICOLA: Well, I would just repeat, we did not cancel the play. We asked for more time to do our job as we understood it to make this voice ring out loud and clear, and I think that’s, you know, at some point everyone has to make a personal decision about when they are going to fight a battle, when they are going to take it on, how they are going to take it on, are they fully prepared to fight that battle.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you have a date set for when you’ve offered the Royal Court Theatre to —

JAMES NICOLA: We do not – we have not had any communication with the Royal Court, so there is no – and we do not have the rights. They have the rights.

KATHARINE VINER: Yeah, I’m afraid to say, I think that there’s just been such a breakdown of trust with what’s happened that I don’t think that the Royal Court, and I certainly don’t think Rachel’s family, would be keen on the play coming to the New York Theatre Workshop. However, the theater has been inundated with requests from other theaters throughout America and many theaters in New York, and we really do hope we will come to New York this year.

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9. “Democracy Now”- Rachel Corrie’s Parents Reaction to postponement.

Transcript: http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/03/22/1436203
Mp3 download : http://ia310137.us.archive.org/2/items/dn2006-0322/dn2006-0322-1_64kb.mp3

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined in our studio by Rachel Corrie’s parents, Craig and Cindy Corrie. They have traveled to New York to attend a public reading of Rachel’s writings tonight at Riverside Church. It was supposed to have been the opening night of the play, My Name is Rachel Corrie, at the New York Theatre Workshop, as we just discussed. Last year, the Corries initiated lawsuits against the state of Israel, the Israel Defense Forces and Caterpillar, the manufacturer of the Israeli military bulldozer that crushed Rachel to death on March 16, 2003, just a few days before the invasion of Iraq. We welcome you both to Democracy Now!
CINDY CORRIE: Thank you.
CRAIG CORRIE: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, you’ve been listening to the discussion. Your response? Would you be willing for the New York Theatre Workshop to move ahead with the play based on Rachel’s writings?
CINDY CORRIE: We really defer to the Royal Court Theatre in deciding what the next step should be with the play. It’s actually going to be playing in the West End in London again, starting at the end of this month. I think Katharine, when she talked about the breakdown of trust, I think that’s a real concern. We know that the original intentions of the New York Theatre Workshop were good intentions. They wanted to bring the play here, and we respect that, and we certainly, you know, we don’t wish any ill towards them or towards any of their staff around this, but I think — I have some real concerns about the amount of contextualizing, and so forth, that they wanted to do. Mr. Nicola spoke about wanting to sort of set the stage to get Rachel’s voice out there. And I would just say, in London that happened just by presenting the play, by allowing people to come to see it. And I would say, let Rachel do that. Let her get her words out.
AMY GOODMAN: You saw the play in London?
CINDY CORRIE: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Did you speak to people who watched it?
CRAIG CORRIE: We did once, and then afterwards, but most people don’t really want to talk, coming out of the play. It’s very quiet at the end of the play. And people came for a variety of reasons. My daughter Sarah and I sat next to a woman who came from a very small town in northern England. She just came because she loved Alan Rickman and wanted to see what he put on, had no idea what she was going to see. Cindy spoke to a couple that came from Israel and saw that My Name is Rachel Corrie was the pick of the week, so they decided they had to see it. They told Cindy that they were members of the Likud Party, a very conservative party in Israel. But they loved the play, because it was not against Israel, but it was against violence.
I listen today, and I hear these people talking about trying to put a context in advance around this play, and it sounds like they are apologizing for the play. Why would you apologize for a piece of art in which you believed in? You would just present it. That’s all they have to do is let Rachel speak for herself. And I’m very sorry, but it seems like now that we have this cacophony of sound around Rachel’s words, of what side is it on. This is a play really about my daughter. It’s about from when she was ten years old until she died. It’s through her words and a little bit of Cindy and me and somebody else. To me, they should just let that — let those words come out. Let our daughter talk for herself.
AMY GOODMAN: And what they were – what Jim Nicola raised, when he was speaking with someone who said, “Did you know that Rachel was a member of Hamas?” Your response?
CINDY CORRIE: Well, just outrageous, untrue things. And if you go to the internet and google, you will see outrageous, untrue things. I mean, Rachel went there with the International Solidarity Movement, which is a Palestinian-led nonviolent resistance movement, a direct action resistance movement. The two things that it calls for are believing in the rights of the Palestinian people to freedom and to use only nonviolent direct action means of resistance. There are outrageous things on the internet about many people, but to make a decision based on — you know, what should happen to this piece of art, this play, based on those kinds of things, is very troubling to me, more troubling than I thought it would be.
CRAIG CORRIE: I guess I would urge Mr. Nicola to go to the U.S. State Departments’ website, and on there you can find the human rights reports for the last three years. There, Rachel is listed as a human rights observer. Her killing, of course, is a human rights violation and is listed in their report, but under an observer of human rights, and that’s how our State Department and our government looks at Rachel.
AMY GOODMAN: Your description of what happened to her? This is just past the third anniversary of her death, March 16, 2003, three days before the invasion of Iraq. If you could bear to tell us.
CINDY CORRIE: You mean what happened to Rachel? On March 16, 2003, Rachel was with seven other members of the International Solidarity Movement from the United States and from the U.K. They had been working in front of a home, one of the homes that was threatened with demolition because of where it was located on this border strip that was being cleared. Bulldozers were working in the area, two bulldozers, each with two operators aboard, and an APC vehicle. They would come up to the activists and stop at their feet and then retreat. They went back to the border at one point, and the activists thought they had been successful in stopping a demolition that day, but then they returned, and after they came back, within five minutes, Rachel was killed. A bulldozer — she took a stand in front of the Nasrallah house. She knew that there was a family with five young children behind the walls of that house. And a bulldozer proceeded. She took a stand, showed — raised her arms, showed that she wasn’t moving. The bulldozer came forward, continued over her, and according to the ISM reports, even though they were screaming and yelling, the bulldozer stopped and then backed over her again. And that’s what the photographs also show happened.
CRAIG CORRIE: Amy, I’d just like to point out something, because we’ve talked about what’s out on the internet, and sometimes this family is referred to as terrorists that Rachel was protecting, and members of that family were actually on your show, and that was beaming from Des Moines, Iowa, where they were. So, a 34-year-old man and his wife and their small baby that wasn’t born when Rachel was killed came to the United States to do that. They had to go to Tel Aviv to get a visa. So they got a visa from the Israeli government to go walk the streets. At Tel Aviv they got a visa from the United States to walk in Des Moines, Iowa, and neither one of those countries had anything against this family whose home they destroyed and lives they threatened. And that, to me, is telling a story that we don’t hear in the United States, and I think it changes everything. Rachel was standing in front of a home, protecting the home and the lives of a family for whom Israel had nothing against them, besides their home was where they wanted to destroy.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, certainly, this controversy has launched events all over the world of the reading of Rachel’s words, and people can go to their website at rachelswords.org to see all of these events. You’re here for tonight’s event at Riverside Church.
CINDY CORRIE: Right. There’s been a wonderful response from people who just believe that Rachel’s voice should be heard, and a group of those people are here in New York City, and there will be this event at 8:00 tonight at Riverside Church. There are a wonderful group of performers and readers that are going to be there. We’re going to be there, and we’re very excited about this and very heartened by the response from all over the world. This has been true really since Rachel was killed, that we hear from people all over, but this is a particularly exciting event.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much for being with us. Cindy and Craig Corrie, parents of Rachel.
ould come in here.

AMY GOODMAN: Katharine Viner?

KATHARINE VINER: Yeah, I’m afraid to say, I think that there’s just been such a breakdown of trust with what’s happened that I don’t think that the Royal Court, and I certainly don’t think Rachel’s family, would be keen on the play coming to the New York Theatre Workshop. However, the theater has been inundated with requests from other theaters throughout America and many theaters in New York, and we really do hope we will come to New York this year.

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