Fury at Young Vic re­vival of no­to­ri­ous Gaza play

● Drama about death of anti-Is­rael ac­tivist Rachel Cor­rie ‘pro­motes fu­tile ha­tred’

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY DANIEL SUGARMAN

A LEAD­ING the­atre’s planned stag­ing of a con­tro­ver­sial anti-Is­rael play has an­gered Jewish or­gan­i­sa­tions, with one group say­ing it would sup­port protests against the pro­duc­tion.

My Name is Rachel Cor­rie, based on the emails and di­ary en­tries of a pro-Pales­tinian ac­tivist in Gaza, will be per­formed at the Young

Vic in Lon­don from Septem­ber 29 — the night of

Kol Nidrei.

Com­mu­nal lead­ers have called the play “un­apolo­get­i­cally an­tiIs­rael” and de­scribed it as a polemic, with one ques­tion­ing why an or­gan­i­sa­tion re­ceiv­ing public fund­ing was not of­fer­ing a bal­anced per­spec­tive.

The Young Vic cur­rently re­ceives an an­nual grant of more than £1.7 mil­lion from Arts Coun­cil Eng­land.

But David Lan, the the­atre’s artis­tic

di­rec­tor, who is Jewish, told the JC: “Gaza is a wound to the planet from which so many peo­ple are suf­fer­ing.

“We wel­come and hope to en­cour­age as wide a dis­cus­sion of this ter­ri­ble sit­u­a­tion as pos­si­ble. Any­thing that keeps Gaza at the front of our con­scious­ness is to be val­ued.”

The play, which was put to­gether by Alan Rick­man, the late ac­tor, and Katharine Viner, now the ed­i­tor of the Guardian, was first per­formed in 2005 at the Royal Court the­atre in Lon­don.

It has been con­demned for its one-sided por­trayal of the Is­raeli-Pales­tinian con­flict, fo­cus­ing ex­clu­sively on Is­raeli treat­ment of Pales­tini­ans and down­play­ing ter­ror at­tacks on Is­rael.

Rachel Cor­rie was an Amer­i­can ac­tivist work­ing in the Gaza Strip for the In­ter­na­tional Sol­i­dar­ity Move­ment

(ISM) which de­scribes it­self as a hu­man­i­tar­ian or­gan­i­sa­tion but has been ac­cused of us­ing its vol­un­teers as hu­man shields.

In 2003, she and other ISM mem­bers at­tempted to pre­vent Is­raeli bull­doz­ers from de­mol­ish­ing a house which the IDF be­lieved to be hid­ing the en­trance to a se­ries of ter­ror tun­nels.

Ms Cor­rie was struck and killed by one of the bull­doz­ers in an in­ci­dent which an Is­raeli court ruled to be an ac­ci­dent.

News of the Young Vic’s pro­duc­tion prompted an an­gry re­sponse.

Paul Char­ney, chair­man of the Zion­ist Fed­er­a­tion, said: “The re­vival of this un­apolo­get­i­cally anti-Is­rael play is noth­ing short of an op­por­tu­nity to fan the flames of ha­tred. While many are try­ing to rec­on­cile and de-es­ca­late the strug­gle be­tween Is­rael and the Pales­tini­ans, the Young Vic is pro­mot­ing a re­vival of a play that only aims to drive a wedge be­tween two peo­ples and their sup­port­ers.

He added: “This has noth­ing to do with ‘jus­tice’ and ev­ery­thing to do with ‘pol­i­tics’. The ZF will be sup­port­ing those who seek to protest against it and will not sim­ply stand by while fu­tile ha­tred and un­con­struc­tive neg­a­tiv­ity is al­lowed to run unchecked in one of Lon­don’s the­atres.”

Marie van der Zyl, (Above) Megan Dodds plays Rachel Cor­rie on Broad­way in 2006, and the ac­tivist in Gaza in 2003

The pro­duc­tion is be­ing di­rected by Joshua Roche, who won the JMK Young Di­rec­tor com­pe­ti­tion for his pro­posal to re­vive the play. The prize in­cluded the op­por­tu­nity to stage the cho­sen work at the Young Vic.

Af­ter win­ning the award in May, Mr Roche de­scribed the play as be­ing “about the ir­re­press­ible po­lit­i­cal voice of Rachel Cor­rie.

“Rachel Cor­rie and I were born only 10 years apart. Her le­gacy is our in­her­i­tance”.

Mr Roche de­clined to com­ment when ap­proached this week.

The James Men­zies-Kitchin (JMK) Award, now in its 20th year, is held in mem­ory of the young di­rec­tor, who died sud­denly in 1996 at the age of 28.

Past win­ners in­clude Mark Rosen­blatt in 1999, who di­rected The Dyb­buk by An­sky, and Natalie Abra­hami in 2005, di­rect­ing Sa­muel Beck­ett’s Play/Not I.

Ivan Lewis, the Jewish MP and for­mer Mid­dle East Min­is­ter, is on the Young Vic’s Board of Trustees. He did not re­spond to a re­quest for a com­ment.

PHO­TOS: GETTY IM­AGES

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