As If!

Dodds playing Corrie playing Anne Frank

“My Name Is Rachel Corrie” opened off-off-Broadway yesterday at the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York. The one woman play, starring the very blond and wholesome looking Megan Dodds, is compiled from writings left behind in the diaries, letters, and e-mails of a 23-year-old American ISM activist killed while standing in front of an Israeli bulldozer. The bulldozer was in the midst of knocking down a house in an area used for smuggling contraband, weapons and explosives into Gaza from Egypt through tunnels.

The controversial play, a hit for London’s Royal Court Theater where it was first performed is now breaking advance ticket sales records at the Minetta. The show’s original scheduled performances last spring at the New York Theatre Workshop were cancelled at the last minute – organizers blamed scheduling issues, critics blamed censorship.

The play has so far gotten mixed reviews. Michael Kuchawara, the AP Theatre critic said that Dobbs “gives a distant, oddly detached performance that seems more like an acting exercise than a portrait of a passionate young woman.” Ben Brantley, the New York Times critic, stated that “for long stretches “Rachel Corrie” feels dramatically flat, even listless.” Michael Dale of opines “The story of Rachel Corrie may be an important one. Her words may deserve to be heard. But this lackluster and ultimately heavy-handed and one-sided presentation is not the way to do it.”

So the show sucks. But perhaps the real theatre is behind the scenes. Variety has a good article about how the presumed politics behind the production is playing out in hymietown New York with its large, Jewish, theatre-going population.

“Some people chose not to work with us on this,” [co-Producer Dena Hammerstein] says… As one longtime legit agent explains: “You can’t be perceived as saying anything remotely anti-Israel in New York. People jump all over you.” … Some observers doubt “Rachel Corrie,” or perhaps any play, can do justice to the situation in the Middle East…. “There are very few plays that can capture that complexity,” says Emanuel Azenberg, the veteran legit producer who makes regular trips to Israel…

The producers have gone to pains to state that the play is not meant to be about politics (despite benefiting greatly from the surrounding politically-oriented controversy):

“It’s an emotional stance the show takes, not a political one,” says Hammerstein. “This girl just wanted to make the world a better place.”

She was so sweet...But I guess some people nonetheless see attendance at “My Name is Rachel Corrie” as a vote against the right of the state of Israel to exist.

Take Ed Koch, the former New York mayor who has a long history with the city and its Jewish populace.”I assume the people who are of the opinion that the show is anti-Israel propaganda won’t go,” he says. “I happen to be a Zionist. I wouldn’t go to see anti-Israel crap.”

Anti-Israel activists have practically canonized Rachel Corrie, trying to set her up as a modern day Anne Frank. As an observer of the middle-east conflict, Corrie is woefully naive and uninformed. As far as any messages one can take from the play, many critics have noted that for a ten minute stretch, the play shows some promise when Dobbs reads a letter Corrie sent to her Mother. In the letter Corrie finds herself “questioning my fundamental belief in the goodness of human nature.” Anne Frank, who died at Bergen Belsen and suffered privations that Corrie and her supporters could hardly imagine, wrote something completely different however:

It’s difficult in times like these: ideals, dreams and cherished hopes rise within us, only to be crushed by grim reality. It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. I simply can’t build my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery, and death…and yet…I think…this cruelty will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.

That there says it all. Rachel Corrie may be many things – but she’s no Ane Frank.

About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • Well, Anne Frank she definitely isn’t. But the deaths of both Ms. Frank and Ms. Corrie were unnecessary tragedies.

    Like Mr. Dale said, her words might deserve to be heard. So if you’re interested in her words, her letters (including the one with “questioning the fundamental belief in the goodness of human nature”) can be found here and here.

  • Yes Finnish they both were unnecessary – however Ann Frank’s death was murder by Nazis who wanted her dead for being a Jew and Rachel Corrie’s death was caused by her own stupidity and desire to protect those that wish to finalize what the Nazis had started – like a big circle really.

    Ann Frank’s murder is a tragedy – Rachel Corrie’s death not so much.

  • This debate itself is both a form of holocaust-denial and “Israelis are nazis” — see first point again.

    We need to move away from victimology and keep calm (at least publicly). With great respect to the former mayor who has always cheerleaded the New York and American Jewish community, denunciation is not necessarily a helpful response on a communal level, particularly if shrill. Also, the Village Voice write-up seemed to praise the fact that the play did expose her insanity.,soloski,74725,11.html

    This woman, however bright and articulate, is not the most dependable narrator. Self-described as “scattered and deviant and too loud,” she’s the sort of Pacific Northwest creature who can say with perfect conviction, “The salmon talked me in to a lifestyle change.”

  • Rachel Corrie was incapable of speaking a coherent sentence, much less being compared to the highly literate (and much younger) Anne Frank.

    And they made a play about her?

    Now there’s an oxymoron.

  • As you say. Anne Frank did not want to be “Anne Frank”. She just wanted to be Anne Frank. She had no way of knowing, ever, that she would later become “Anne Frank”.

    Anne was for the Enlightenment. The other one was not.

    Nobody should die young. But dying young does not make you right.

    There is a lot of spurious, frustrated, pseudo-maternity around. It is a consequence of nobody wanting children any more. Sometimes the result is anexoria, sometimes this stuff. Yuck.

    Have guts, I would have told her. Insist on a husband not a “significant other of the week”. Hold out for a baby. Hold out for a real religion, one with a long, long track record that can be made to produce, well, a husband and a baby.

    Some people say “you don’t have to jump in a barrel of it to know what it is”.

  • I meant, she made a religion out of politics.

    She was reaching for a religious vision, and did not have access to anything but politics, which could not give her anything constructive. She died of her hunger for a real religion, because she only had a false one, politics.

    Whoever, up there in the woods, denied her access to a genuine religion, one that takes on moral questions effectively, instead of ineffectively, bears some responsibility for her death.

    There were TOO weapons-smuggling tunnels right where she died. And, look at what has happened since. All her notions have been refuted by subsequent events she did not live to see.

    Some people think the bulldozer driver did not see her, which is quite possible. Some people think he decided he had his job to do in a war zone, and too bad for her, which is also quite possible.

    At least with her, it wasn’t the “OMG They All Look Like Omar Sharif, They Are So GORGEOUS and so MANLY” syndrome. THAT would not have been as easy to make into an attractive play…. The heroine would have looked disgusting, not interesting…. I wonder if you know whom I am referring to…..

    That WOULD be a caustic play. Don’t look to me to write it. I try to stay positive.

  • There are abundant grounds for taking issue with Rachel Corrie’s politics, without trashing her for failing to die a sufficiently painful death. I mean, if the ultimate test of sanctity is degree-of-suffering, then Anne Frank had nothing on Daniel Pearl, who in turn had nothing on Samuel K. Doe.

  • You probably know the the was put together by well-known British thespian Alan Rickman (who made one of my favorite all-time tearjerkers “Truly, Madly, Deeply”, besides his normal bad-guy typecasts). In the NY Theater Group controversy Rickman pulled the play rather than abide by a postponement, covered a bit here by your good friends at Tikkun Olam…

    But I got a laugh out of what Shai said here…

    And Foxman NOT calling for Rickman’s head here…

    I don’t know how to put this without it sounding like an overgeneralization. But, that Rickman’s British (very), and we see how the British media and hip British academics and “artists” view Israel with an unsympathetic eye, made his involvement a point of interest to me. Considering the source, I was only a little appalled by the headline on this.

    The funny thing is Rickman’s listed on the psycho Frank Weltner’s “Jew Watch” as being Jewish.

  • Good links Ramon. I particularly enjoyed this bit in Shaister’s comments quoting from Steven Plaut:

    1. My Name is Rachel Levy (Israeli girl age 17, blown up in a grocery store)
    2. My Name is Rachel Thaler (Israeli girl aged 16, blown up in a pizzeria)
    3. My Name is Rachel Levi (Israeli girl aged 19, murdered while waiting for the bus)
    4. My Name is Rachel Gavish (killed with her husband and son while at home)
    5. My Name is Rachel Charhi (blown up while sitting in a cafe)
    6. My Name is Rachel Shabo (murdered with her three sons aged 5, 13 and 6 while sitting at home)

    I mean one tragedy does not justify another, but it’s good to at least attempt balance. Good, but ever so rare in practice.

  • True, Rachel Corrie is not Anne Frank. They should be viewed as individuals each with their own story.

    Comment by Paul — 10/16/2006 @ 11:33 am

    A reminder of Rachel’s story, in her own words, no less: LGF 3/19/2003: No Tears for Corrie.

    What? That didn’t make it into the script? Shocker!

    I can’t help but compare the essentials of this entire farce with the plot of “The Producers” – only here they are actually planning for the success of Springtime for Rachel in Gazastan.

  • Shy Guy, shove a sock in it with your juvenile pancake jokes. It does not advance Israel advocacy, rather it reinforces some terrible false stereotypes. You may think it’s funny, but the average American does not.

  • Frankly Nick, I don’t give a damn. Call ’em as I see ’em. You don’t like it? You can leave.

  • You can say whatever you like Shy Guy. But making jokes out of an unfortunate tragedy is not our way. I don’t agree with the ISM. I don’t think what Corrie was doing was particularly laudable and I think she was certainly responsible for what happenned to her. Having said that, it’s still tragic that otherwise well meaning kids have their idealism hijacked by savvy aggitators and get fed a bunch of propaganda and then endanger their lives and the lives of those around them in what is a war zone and not a playground. Corrie’s death was a tragedy. I don’t take pleasure in anyone’s death.

  • CK – perhaps you’d take pleasure in answering a few questions about your beliefs in Judaism and in an email? it would be much appreciated 🙂

  • CK, I find nothing unfortunate or tragic in Corrie’s death in particular.

    As for the general tragedy of “kids” (how old is the average ISM’er?) sopping up their idealism from such drek, that was their choice. As you yourself admitted, Corrie was responsible for what happened to herself. Not much different than the Germany’s citizens that decided to adopt Nazism and all of its trappings some 75 years ago. Not much different than the Palis that voted in Hamas earlier this year.

    So we disagree here, too.

  • Corrie was a terrorist enabler. Although I personally believe she was an anti-Semite, let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and say that she was just naive, stupid, and misguided, But no matter how you slice it she was a terrorist fellow-traveler nonetheless. And she was an adult, not a child. She aided and abbetted terrorists who murdered innocent Jews. Maybe good taste dictates that I should not make tasteless jokes in public, but I shed not a single tear over her demise. She was killed in a war zone in the act of trying to protect terrorist weapons-smuggling routes. Why should I be sad? The only reason this is an issue is because she was a young, female privileged WASP from the US, and people like that aren’t supposed to get killed.

    You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred.

  • I would like to point out that terrorism is not as such enabled by people like Ms. Corrie, but rather by the spread of poverty and conditions which drive people to extremism.

  • “I mean, if the ultimate test of sanctity is degree-of-suffering, then Anne Frank had nothing on Daniel Pearl”

    Frank was sent to concentration camp and died of Typhoid after months of starvation and cold. She suffered more than Pearl, whose death took minutes at most. But Pearl suffered too much God knows.

  • Debatable point, Finnish. People who excuse terrorism are facilitators. In cases like Corrie’s, they are the ones who go to Western countries and take active steps to promote the false ideas that “resistance” in the form of suicide attacks and other forms of targeted attacks on non-combatants are “understandable” or acceptable forms of fighting. Terror groups are not only emboldened as a result, but find that opposition to what they are doing is reduced and actually requires a great degree of effort from decent, good, moral people who abhor and reject terrorism.

    By the way, many suicide bombers come from middle class backgrounds.

  • Some of Corrie’s emails from Gaza are posted online. I gotta say – just cause someone’s got a theatrical writing style and evocative prose does NOT mean their politics are worth s*#^%. A lot of the praise for this production confuses two different things: having writing skill and having a clue in hell what’s going on. Corrie spins some lovely metaphors but also spins a pretty wacked out view of reality. The woman who says “Rafah is the poorest place on Earth” (er, Burma, Chad, North Korea ring a bell?) also proclaims that, “the salmon inspired me to a lifestyle change.” The salmon? Good grief.

  • According to Finnish, if conditions are bad enough they can drive people to extremism.

    By this reasoning, black people in America should have every right to murder white people out of hand as just payback for their enslavement by the whites. And any Jew should be able to go up to any German and just blow his head off. What about the Armenians and the Turks?

    Anybody see that happening? Of course not.

    Muslim Arabs believe that they have the right to murder Jews and that any and every Jew is a legitimate target because their religion teaches them that this is so.

    Plenty of people are oppressed the world over. For example, Tibet has been invaded and annexed by China. The Chinese have oppressed the Tibetans horribly and have destroyed their culture and driven their leader into exile. They are flooding Tibet with Han Chinese, a kind of ethnic cleansing by invasion. And they shoot Tibetans for sport even if all they do is just walk out of the country. Do you see Tibetans blowing up Chinese women and kids on buses? No. Because the Tibetans are Buddhists and their religion doesn’t teach them that it is OK do do such things.

  • Ephraim, in any case, I was talking about the current situation, not events from the past. But I see your point.

    Themiddle, I started looking up the “middle class”-connection and found Professor Alberto Abadie, who says poverty is not the number one factor. According to Mr. Abadie, it is the intermediate level of political freedom which is the biggest cause of terrorism. I don’t know if there exists a concensus agreement about Mr. Abadie’s arguments, but anyway I’ll have to stand corrected on that one – clearly the point is debatable, as you said.

    Anyway, I was not trying to say that blowing other people up is an acceptable form of anything. It’s stupid. It’s a waste. I was trying to point out that a bunch of foreign young people parading in neon vests are not the ultimate source of where terrorism springs forth, whether that source is intermediate level of political freedom, poverty, religious interpretations, tradition, geography, foreign influence, etc.

  • I know you weren’t saying that it’s acceptable, Corrie was saying that. Those young people in neon vests associate with terrorists and support them as part of a movement that refuses to denounce attacks on non-combatant Israelis. This is a movement that seems to have connections to terrorists based on photos available on the Internet (with some of your bright eyed Western, young volunteers participating in the meetings). The ISM, this movement, also seemed to house the two British Muslim terrorists who blew up Mike’s Place in Tel Aviv.

    The point is that it’s one thing to support peaceful resistance and take steps to do so, and it’s another thing to support violent terror while calling it natural and acceptable “resistance.” They would do better to try to convince their hosts to compromise with Israel. Hmmmmm….what a strange idea.

  • Ephraim, in any case, I was talking about the current situation, not events from the past.

    Comment by Finnish – 10/18/2006 @ 2:37 am

    Still incorrect. See Affluent Genocide, one of numerous articles that debunk poverty as being the source of all evil Islamic terrorism.

  • Shy Guy, thanks for the link. Please also read the entire reply at #30. The point of poverty being the ultimate cause is debatable, if not a wrong conclusion altogether, and I accept that. Whereas I was focusing on the current situation in my argument, Ephraim was trying to make an analogy based on historical injustices.

    Themiddle, agreed, maybe there’s a need of books about (for example) Mahatma Gandhi to stimulate new avenues of thought instead of bombs, guns and killing…

    And a side note, today I ventured upon this piece of news, a computer game about the conflict in the Palestinian territories is in the making.

  • maybe there’s a need of books about (for example) Mahatma Gandhi to stimulate new avenues of thought instead of bombs, guns and killing…

    Comment by Finnish – 10/18/2006 @ 4:25 am

    Gandhi? I’ll pass.

    “Hitler killed five million [sic] Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs.”
    Mahatma Gandhi, comment to biographer Louis Fischer, June 1946.

  • Shy Guy, if you’re going to quote, please quote in full, if for nothing else than the sake of completeness. The original quote continues like so: “It would have aroused the world and the people of Germany. As it is they succumbed anyway in their millions.”

    So yeah, Mr. Gandhi was a “militant pacifist”, if you can use such a term in this context, and the quote must be read with that in mind. Mr. Gandhi thought his way of non-violent resistance is ultimately better than starting to fight with real, tangible weapons, especially if you’re the underdog.

    And I think, on the whole, people resisting passively in a non-violent way is better than blowing up restaurants and buses. Don’t you think so too?

  • Finnish, the remainder of the quote doesn’t make the first part of the quote any less revulting.

    As for better ways to protest, my interests are Israel’s interests – not the Palestinians. So speaking as an Israeli being suggested to follow the path of Gandhi the icon, should we perhaps dismatle the IDF and get ourselves slaughtered because that would arouse the Islamic and Arabic people? You must be joking!

  • Slightly related, I think Jewlicious readers might be interested in discussing this article in a separate entry: Europe knows not evil. My favorite quote:

    “If we have to make compromises, with whom? Compromise and dialogue are not values in themselves if the question “with whom?” is not asked.”

  • Shy Guy, no, it doesn’t make the first part of the quote less revolting. What it does, in my opinion, is give context to the overall quote and clarify Mr. Gandhi’s message from “go home and die” to “conduct non-violent resistance to make the rest of the people see this madness” with “(and stop it)” implied.

    And Shy Guy, that quote from 1946 belongs to a whole different place and time, it is not applicable to the current situation, so please don’t get too stuck up on that.

    The reason why I brought up Mr. Gandhi in the first place was to reply to Themiddle’s mention about peaceful resistance and because, in general, there are other ways to resist than conducting suicide bombings or other destructive ways.

  • Getting back to the play: it’s good it played in New York, despite the pressure to cancel it. It’s always best to let people make up their own minds, including whether to see it or not. Which is not to say that boycotting it is an inappropriate response.

    Kids like Corrie are worthy of compassion: I suspect ck’s right, that she got suckered, or simply gave in to an undiscerning, youthful enthusiasm, a phenomenon Nietzsche limned for the ages in Beyond Good and Evil at 31. A tragedy she never lived long enough to “introduce a little art into [her] sentiments”, as FN put it.

  • Ghandi was resisting the British who were, for all of their faults, essentially civilized. Ghandi knew that peaceful resistance would work with them. In addition to that, he had a billion Indians to work with, and there was never any doubt that India was their country and that they were always going to be there, no mater what the British did. Anyway, the British program was never the extermination of the Hindus. All they wanted was to control them so they could take their wealth. No comparison with the Nazi program is possible.

    The situation of the Jews under the Nazis, and the situation of Israel vis-avis the Arabs, is not in any way analagous to the Indian situation. The Nazis were not civilized, and judging from their actions and rhetoric, neither are the palestinians. Nor do the Jews have a billion people to work with (would that we did!). I don’t believe necessarily that the palestinians are genocidal in the way the Nazis were; that is, while it is clear that they are intent upon the destruction of Israel and the extirpation of most of the Jews who live there now, there is sufficient reason to believe that if the Jews went back to being dhimmis under Muslim control as they once were that they would tolerate at least a token presence of Jews living among them, so long as the Jews knew their place.

    Israel and Zionism is the Jewish thumb in the eye of Arab Muslim imperialsim and oppression. That is why it is a problem for them. And if the Jews want to remain free and independent, they will have to be ready to fight. If the situation of the Jews vs. the Nazis had been like the Indians vs. the British, where the Indians outnumbered the British 1,000 to 1, maybe the Jews could have taken that path. But the situation was the complete and utter reverse. The anti-Semites were the majority and the Jews were the minority. The same sitation prevails today vis-avis the Arabs. That is why the Indian model does not apply.

  • >>Ben Brantley, the New York Times critic, stated that “Rachel Corrie” feels dramatically flat, even listless.”

  • NYT critic Brantley is a bit harsh. Most other critics concur that the play is quite down to earth.

  • I attended the original production in London last year. I am glad that some are engaged in a tasteful protest outside the theater showing the several other “Rachels” who were deliberatly killed. Free speech should be answered with more speech. The idiot leftists at Columbia can learn from their decent response to speech they disagree with. That is the difference between neo-cons and neo-coms (leftists).

  • I’m with Shy Guy and Ephraim on this. I also want to add: People are overrated. People die hideous deaths every day. People, far more selfless and righteous than the “image of Corrie” die senselessly everyday. There are over 6 Billion people on earth. People are over-rated, but her death must be the most over-rated after the Al-Dura kid, used specifically for propaganda purposes and nothing else. Did I learn something from Corrie? No. My parents were intelligent.

  • Down to Earth? Good one, Shy Guy, but don/t you think that by the end, Corrie is portrayed as a very two dimensional character?

    Now, the Bulldozer Operator; there was a role with some traction. It’s easy to see how an enthusiastic actor would push that one a little too hard.


  • One does not have to approve of Israel’s occupation of West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem to realize that the International Solidarity Movement and Ms. Corrie herself, made some tactical mistakes, which along with the reckless behaviour of the soldiers driving the bulldozer that mowed her down, also made the loss of Ms. Corrie’s life even more likely.

    It also stands to reason that the comparison between Ms. Corrie and Ann Frank, or the comparisons of Ms. Corrie to people in the American South who were killed while helping African-Americans register to vote during the heyday of the Civil Rights movement here in this country are both poor anologies, and are stretching it. Here’s why: First of all, unlike Rachel Corrie, who voluntarily went over to Gaza, Ann Frank had no choice at all. Ann Frank and her family were committed to concentration camps and effectively murdered just simply for being who/what they were–Jewish. Regarding comparison of Ms. Corrie with Civil Rights workers in the American South who were murdererd in cold blood while helping African-Americans register to vote: that’s not a good anology either, imo, for the following reasons:
    First of all, the Civil Rights Movement took place right here, on United States soil. Secondly, the Civil Rights workers in the American South were not confronting an organized military machine. Thirdly, the Ku Klux Klan, which was responsible for the killings of Civil Rights workers in the South had been targeting these particular civil rights workers for some time, and opened fire on them as they were driving by

    Did Anne Frank use and own a biro pen? Was it the same bulldozer which crushed Rachel Corrie to death, that was used at Bergen Belsen to dispose of typhus victims?

    Zyclon B, Dead Sea Scrolls et al. The jewry is still out and I am still deliberately thinking? I will let you know the truth, whatever that maybe, when the Chinese start re-writing world history books.

  • Do you accept guest blogposts? I like the taste how you wrote Jewlicious THE Jewish Blog » My Name is Anne Frank Rachel Corrie, I’m in this topic for ages and I would love to write couple material here in the event you agree.

  • Ehrenberg’s Black Book.
    Take it from Paul Maleski, the zyklon B holocaust is a myth. The jew is a jew, whether Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Mizrahi et al. The primitive jew was born to destroy. Leave white Christian Europe in peace. All the jew could ever build independently, were dunghills. The Talmudic jew is full of excrement. Go lizard jew, to Indian Ocean Madagascar and murder the monkey. That is all you are capable of!


    the hollow-cause is the jews biggest weapon

    a get out of jail free card

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