A powerful excerpt from Rachel Corrie: Too Hot for New York, an article by Philip Weiss detailing the controversy over a New York theater's decision to postpone a play about Rachel Corrie.
Hunka doesn't use the J-word. Jen Marlowe does. A Jewish activist with Rachelswords.org (which is staging a reading of Corrie's words on March 22 with the Corrie parents present), she says, "I don't want to say the Jewish community is monolithic. It isn't. But among many American Jews who are very progressive and fight deeply for many social justice issues, there's a knee-jerk reflexive reaction that happens around issues related to Israel."No doubt it harms everyone. But, not all harms are created equal.
Questions about pressure from Jewish leaders morph quickly into questions about funding. Ellen Stewart, the legendary director of the theatrical group La MaMa E.T.C., which is across East 4th Street from the Workshop, speculates that the trouble began with its "very affluent" board. Rachel's father, Craig Corrie, echoes her. "Do an investigation, follow the money." I called six board members and got no response. (About a third appear to be Jewish, as am I.) This is of course a charged issue. The writer Alisa Solomon, who was appalled by the postponement, nonetheless warns, "There's something a little too familiar about the image of Jews pulling the puppet strings behind the scenes."
Perhaps. But Nicola's statement about a back channel to Jewish leaders suggests the presence of a cultural lobby that parallels the vaunted pro-Israel lobby in think tanks and Congress. I doubt we will find out whether the Workshop's decision was "internally generated," as Kushner contends, or more orchestrated, as I suspect. What the episode has demonstrated is a climate of fear. Not of physical harm, but of loss of opportunities. "The silence results from fear and intimidation," says Cindy Corrie. "I don't see what else. And it harms not only Palestinians. I believe, from the bottom of my heart, it harms Israelis and it harms us."