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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Friday, March 03, 2006

My Name Isn't Rachel Corrie

I've been a bit remiss in discussing the "Rachel Corrie" issue. After, giving it some thought, I'm certain that enough is expressed elsewhere. (Here, here and here for example.)

Suffice to say I think I'm not really all that qualified to talk about the Israel-Palestine conflict with much authority, unless it's feigned, and I'm certainly no fan of censorship. I'm also not a fan of attacking people without all the facts, and since I've never read the play and don't actually know what happened behind closed doors at the New York Theatre Workshop (and because I'm certain that the play is getting published in April, and that Rachel Corrie has foundations with her name attached, etc, etc, and that it was seen already in London) I think this isn't exactly the Night of the Long Knives and I'll just leave it at that.


This was posted via Superfluities. On www.rachelcorrie.org you can find out a great deal of information. But you can also find pamphlets like this one, which uses words like Genocide and has articles like "The Cost of Israel to US Taxpapers" and "Serving Two Flags: Neo-Cons, Israel and the Bush Administration" and "The Jewish Defamation League Unleashes A Campaign of Violence in the US."

There is a case someone will make for this sort of journalism... a sort of truth that's left out of our "Israel-friendly" media. But it sounds frighteningly like it accuses American Jewish people of dual loyalty, talks about Jewish violence in the US (ironic considering how little violence we actually face on a day-to-day basis) and actually showing how we should stop supporting Israel for our own wallets. It's, well, one-sided, too familiar, and a very, very slippery slope.

I'm not saying we should let Israel off the hook...I'm just saying let's be vigiliant. There's too much history not to be.


parabasis said...

here's my provocative question, Matt... do you think you'd be so quick to dismiss what is going on if your politics around the issue were different?

Freeman said...

It's possible. But they aren't. My politics are ambivalent on this issue.

Honestly, I thought a great deal about this, but whichever way I sliced it, I couldn't make any firm statements about this. I just don't know enough.

Of course I'm against "censorship" but I'm not a big fan of throwing that word around when it's not warranted. And I'm not sure that this is censorship, in the true sense of the word. This isn't a book that is getting banned.

Also, Israel and Palestine... frankly... it's just a topic I'm not an expert on. I know what I hear, about the pain and struggle on both sides, about the history of the struggle, about how it's another terrible case of TWO underdogs battling it out while the real powers-that-be look on with a keen eye on self-interest. I know that I get wary of people of my own political persuasion being a bit quick to attack Irael, but I'm also aware that Palestinians are legitimately impoverished and endangered.

It's a mess, and I don't want to waste anyone's trying to compartmentalize or hypothesize about a topic that takes up an entire section at most Book stores.

MattJ said...

"And I'm not sure that this is censorship, in the true sense of the word. This isn't a book that is getting banned."

I'm not sure what to make of this Matt. What sort of thing is it that theatre cannot do politically that a book can do. Warranting a book to be censored but not a play?

Alison Croggon said...

One point Matt: Israel is most definitely not an underdog. It has one of the largest armies in the world, and when Sharon some time last year threatened to bomb Rome if he didn't get his way all the powers scrambled to apologise...

I really want to make the point that there is a difference between the Israeli State and Israelis and Jews. I don't want to condemn Israelis for being frightened, but I do want to condemn the State of Israel for what it's doing in the Occupied Territories. This is why it's fortunate that there are Israeli activist groups around which are a good source of information about this issue, though it is common for Israeli Jews or other Jews who protest their government to be called anti-Semitic self-hating Jews. This doesn't elide the uncomfortable fact that sometimes in the discourse around these things (in Europe you can see it) is a fair bit of anti-Semitism. Complicated, to say the least, and it blurs the issue considerably.

For my part, I don't hold any brief for thugs of any stripe. The Protocols of Zion business that goes around some Arabic circles is just as offensive. What is less well known is the more interesting Arabic commentary that isn't anti-Semitic at all; a Columbia Arabic academic who spoke out often against Arabic anti-Semitism was targeted as anti-Semitic by right wing Zionist groups for his criticism of Israel, and now no longer teaches his course on the Middle East; Edward Said, surely the most unracist intellectual, has been disgracefully smeared for hs stand on Palestine. Etc. Like I said, the rational voices are the first ones to be attacked.

P'tit Boo said...

Well I am not qualified to discuss the political issues as well and I am from France so well, that's even worse when it comes to discussing them.
But I still think it's bullshit not to put on a work because of fear. And I think they are just wussing out.

Alison Croggon said...

PS If you want some background, Matt, a really excellent site - meticulous in its information gathering and very even-handed - is B'TSelem, an Israeli human rights group. Information on the Occupation here.

Freeman said...

Like I said, not actually looking to draw out or be drawn any further into this discussion. My point is to be careful of that same anti-semitism. Not because I'm uninformed, but because I am careful not to speak from authority on matters that I do not have authority.

I've worked for a very long time to give myself a credible view of theatre. I am a news and a history junkie, but there the very thing that makes Israel-Palestine such a powerful problem is that there is no clear resolution and neither side wants to give any ground.

I haven't earned the right to condemn Israel or preach about Palestine. I did vote against George Bush in the US, so I'm happy to talk about that.

Maybe over a beer I'd be happy to engage with someone about this issue. On my blog...*shrugs*... it's just one more endless discussion with only murkiness at its core.