Tag Archives: Rachel Corrie

FROM ONE RACHEL TO ANOTHER: an open letter to Rachel Corrie

Efforts to keep Cindy Corrie from speaking at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, ban the film Rachel altogether, and/or defund the festival, inspired filmmaker and peace activist Rachel Leah Jones to write this moving letter from Tel Aviv. Jones is friends with Rachel filmmaker SImone Bitton, and was planning to go to the West Bank the day Corrie was killed in Gaza. The appropriate intensity of Jones’ response reveals the profound chasm in the Jewish world. As though seeing for oneself what the occupation hath wrought, instead of reading the filtered fundraising letters of our childhoods from various Jewish groups, transports one into an entirely different parallel universe. As more and more of us make that journey- literally or metaphorically – the two worlds threaten to explode on contact.

Like the SF Jewish Film Festival, which has, ironically, been a model of integration and vision, understanding that our Jewish community is wide and broad and varied and strong enough to be just that.

It simply remains a fact: any just solution and lasting peace will absolutely require that we join these universes together.

Jones writes:


Date: Friday, July 24, 2009, 2:22 AM
 
 From one Rachel to another
 
 An open letter to Rachel Corrie as the screening of the film that bears her name, honors her life, and condemns her death faces shameless criticism and censorship
 
 Dear Rachel,
 
 The day you were crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza, was a stormy day in Tel Aviv.
 
 March 16, 2003 — to be exact.
 
 I was seated at my computer editing a collection of reports by Amira Hass filed from Ramallah (reporting from ramallah). It was the first compilation of writings by this Jewish Israeli Ha’aretz journalist to be published since she left Gaza for the West Bank. Come afternoon, I was to head from Tel Aviv to Ramallah, where I intended to meet up with my friend and colleague, filmmaker Simone Bitton. Simone was working on a series of daily video diaries (Ramallah DailY). It was raining so hard, I wondered if I had it in me to schlep across Qalandia checkpoint. It never dawned upon me whether I had it in me to face a D9 house-demolishing bulldozer in Rafah.
 
 I went online to check the forecast, to see if the storm was going to let up, and I saw the newsflash announcing your crushing; anonymous, faceless, nameless. I remember the words American, peace-activist, female. I didn’t know yet that, like me, your name was Rachel. Nor did I know that you too were a “Greener.” I just knew that some folks in the states might mistakenly worry at first glance that the said woman was me. I dropped my mother a line to assure her I was fine. And off to Ramallah I went.
 
 Simone was in a production frenzy but I remember we exchanged a few words about it: “Did you hear?” “I heard.” Finally the rain subsided, and posters bearing your likeness sprang up like mushrooms. Ramallah was covered in them: a blond, blue-eyed, “girl-next-door,” sweatshirt-wearing martyr. People were deeply moved. Someone other than they, someone who “didn’t really have to,” had put their life on the line. And since we all know that in the deranged Western economy of imagined human worth one blond, blue-eyed, sweatshirt-wearing life is worth 100 if not 1,000 brown-haired, brown-eyed, not sweatshirt-wearing lives, your death was like a massacre.

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More controversy about Rachel Corrie’s mother at San Francisco’s Jewish Film Fest

There’s something so deeply, deeply depressing about the attack against Cindy Corrie by J Weekly, the Bay Area’s Jewish newspaper. True, it’s just one of countless examples of the moral malaise that plagues the institutional Jewish world when it comes to Palestinians, but on this day, this day when I am fresh back from Gaza, from Hebron, from Silwan, it has gotten to me.

I’m not sure which is worse- the possibility that the J’s editorial writer actually believes the morally groundless drivel he or she is writing? Or the possibility that they know full well that the moral outrage that is the Israeli treatment of Gazans is an affront to all Jews and feeling people, but that they care more about keeping advertisers happy.

While acknowledging the right of the SF Jewish Film Festival to air the film Rachel, a documentary made by Jewish-Israeli filmaker Simone Bitto , the Bay Area’s Jewish magazine has condemned in an editorial the decision to invite Cindy Corrie. Cindy is the mother of  the subject of the film, Rachel Corrie, who was killed by an Israeli Defense Forces bulldozer while protesting home demolitions in Gaza.

As a grieving mother, Cindy Corrie has our sympathies. No parent should ever have to bury a child. But as an echo chamber of her daughter’s repulsive opinions, this woman has no business attending and speaking at a Jewish event like the film festival.

We are all for free speech. We are all for scheduling controversial films. But Cindy Corrie’s appearance crosses a line. The Jewish Film Festival is under no obligation to offer a microphone to Israel-bashers.

Israel-bashers? Repulsive opinions? For free speech? Oh to have just one hour to take the J editors to Gaza to see for themselves that which the Corries have so rightfully denounced. I just returned from there, and yet again, I have never been so confronted with the fact of meaningless, cruel and vindictive suffering. This has nothing to do with Israel-bashing. In fact, if you care about Israel, and only Israel, you still will come down on the side of the Corries, for it’s nearly impossible to see a decent future for Israelis if the country continues to harm and radicalize Gazans through illegal blockades and incursions and war.

Rabbi Brian Walt has clearly been to Gaza. He knows Cindy Corrie (As do I, and I agree with every single word he says about her). He gets it:

In my position as Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America,  I have worked with Cindy and Craig, Rachel Corrie’s parents.  They are extraordinary human beings who generously support the work of Rabbis for Human Rights and other Israeli human rights and peace groups. They have visited with Rabbi Arik Ascherman, the Executive Director of RHR in Israel, and others in the RHR office in Jerusalem and have consistently supported our work.  I have been moved in my conversations with them, by their integrity and their deep commitment to a just peace.  If I were in their situation,  I would imagine that the temptation to hate  those who killed my daughter would be hard to resist.  (Forman points out that the details of Rashel’s death are disputed.  He doesn’t mention that it was Israel’s refusal to agree to an impartial investigation that prevented us from knowing the truth.  In a very similar action,  Israel recently refused to cooperate with the Goldstone Commission into the Gaza war, even though Judge Goldstone is a committed Jew and made it clear that he would be investigating violations by both sides.)  Despite their daughter’s tragic death, the Corries have never spoken in a hateful  way towards Israel or Jews.  On the contrary, they are deeply committed to peace and to the security of all people in the conflict, Israelis and Palestinians.

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