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My Name Is Rachel Corrie by Rachel Corrie

Reviewed by Cynthia Ozick
The New Republic Online

"On Justice Brandeis's celebrated principle that 'the remedy [for free speech] is more speech,' it is good and salubrious that My Name Is Rachel Corrie can finally be seen on a New York stage. Last year, when the play was turned away by the New York Theater Workshop apparently because of objections from donors offended by its agitprop banalities, there sprang up, amid the foolish cries of 'censorship' (as if the Constitution were being subverted), a newborn legend. The longer the play was absent from local scrutiny, the more romantically its faraway halo might glow: a visionary young woman on the barricades, part heroic Joan of Arc, part victimized Anne Frank, mercilessly cut down in the very act of defying brute injustice...." Read the entire New Republic Online review.

19 Responses to "Martyr"

    FTK December 7th, 2006 at 4:08 am

    Could you at least have tried to get someone impartial to write this review? It reads like a list of reasons why not to feel sorry for the Palestinians. The last line especially is telling: 'There are Jews in the dock.' I thought this book was about Palestine and Israel, not about Palestine and every single Jewish person ever? I mean - all political arguments aside - at least try and get someone objective and not someone who is going in with a pre-judged notion of Rachel Corrie, based on the fact, as it seems from the review, that if Rachel Corrie 'really knew' what was going on she would have realised just how evilly manipulative those wily Palestinians were and how Israel has no choice to do what it does.

    I mean, I am someone who is both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli, I believe both have the right to exist, and that terrible crimes are committed by each side, but this even to me felt like 1 pure piece of propaganda masquerading as a book review.

    andy brady December 7th, 2006 at 7:00 am

    This treatise is another Pro-Israeli (anti everyone else) treatise. Not much of a book review.

    Esther Bradley-DeTally December 7th, 2006 at 10:01 am

    Incredibly detailed, straightforward review showing the underbelly of machinations. We forget history, and there is abuse-horrible abuse on both sides, but the underground tunnels and reference to them, says a great deal. Well written, clear, and unfortunately shows the tragedy of having only one point of view.

    Roger Briggs December 7th, 2006 at 11:50 am

    Like Rachel Corrie, my daughter attended Evergreen College sensitized to the plight of families trying to survive or maintain a home in a turbulent world. Rather than your implied dismissiveness of Evergreen's philosophy, the plight of salmon in this quest for survival and home strikes me as a good analogy.

    Your review seems an attempt to diminish Rachel's story and the impact it should have in helping us work to resolve the Palestinian/Israeli conflict over land and human rights. At this moment, we are in an intractable war in Iraq that has been a major diversion and destroyer of peace in the Middle East.

    Had U.S. resources, both diplomatic and economic, been applied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict instead of the quagmire we know as Iraq, peace and the symbolism of Rachel's sacrifice would have been better served.

    This review only seems to polarize and maintain the status quo, a stay-the-course mentality doomed to perpetuate itself.

    Zaha Hassan December 7th, 2006 at 1:13 pm

    Oops. Your bias is showing underneath your thinly veiled (poor) attempt to present a meaningful review of the words of Rachel Corrie. Not only is your review pathological in its defense of Israel but it is also pathological in the outright lies with respect to the nature and funding of the International Solidarity Movement which is a worldwide grassroots movement to effect peace and justice in Israel-Palestine.

    Ms. Ozick, stick to writing your fictional short stories instead of reviews: from your review here, it is obvious that fiction is your forte.

    Ashley Struck December 7th, 2006 at 3:47 pm

    In her discussion of Rachel Corrie and other pro-Palestinian "Independents", Ms. Ozick reveals what seems to be her own rage toward the Palestinians, and assumes certain truths about the conflict, and about the rightness of Israel's cause. So convinced is she of her own viewpoint, and so arrogant in her criticism, that her review reads like propaganda itself: limited, banal, and unenlightening. Not to mention angry and self-indulgent. I don't know why Ms. Ozick is so pissed off, but her contempt for Rachel Corrie's idealistic passion for salmon and the homeless at age 23 is creepy and low.

    SMB December 7th, 2006 at 5:46 pm

    Like, FTK, I grew increasingly distressed at the obvious bias of the reviewer. This is the first blog I ever wrtten here. I would be my hope that the review be pulled and another less biased reviewer try again. The underlying book may be wonderful or it may be crap, but please try to find a reviewer with a little objectivity.

    Rev. December 7th, 2006 at 6:39 pm

    As a Minister in Boston in the 60s, I had to assist many young people struggling with a monstrous war with too little information, but with an abiding call to take committed, non-violent action. The first draft card burners became my parishioners, and more. Soldiers fleeing the war machine were my parishioners. TWhey wer all there, from heroes to cowards. There were flaming patriots, too. I had the heroic Rachel Corries and the obstreperous Cynthia Ozicks, who seldom actually fought. One at Harvard Law School at that time was the coward and drugged George W. Bush.
    Ozick is little but a spokesperson for the Israeli government, very similar to the flag-waving South Boston racists who lined the streets to harass our demonstrations. Like those who, in the 60s, cursed the brave, she does so from a safe place, attacking a martyr who cannot answer back.
    I have been to both Palestine and Israel, while representing a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Congressional Black Caucus, and I can attest to the monstrous oppression, the state-sponsored violence, and the hatred of the Israeli settlers in the West Bank (where we visited). On the doors of Palestinian stores, they had sprayed "Death to the Palestinians!" horribly reminescent of the slogans painted on stores of Jews in Germany in the 30s.
    These settlers do not exemplify the majority of Jews or of Israelis (about 70% of whom support a two-state soluton, but the government if Israel moved them there and encourages them and defends them. As for the IDF soldiers, they are young men and women, terrified of their neighbors, who are usually there without any officers around! They, too, are victims of the Israeli state oppression and violence, which I say again, represents only a minority of the Israeli people.
    Finally, I am sorry Powells chose such a propagandist for exteme nationalism and violence to review the journals of a silence martyr. Writing a review of the life of Jeanne d'Arc, the Archbishop of Canterbury could not have done better than she did.
    But it will come out Rachel's way in the end -- with peace and justice. We say a very similar situation resolved in my beloved South, when I was arrested and beaten repeatedly, and in South Africa, which looked at itself and was horrified, and has moved toward justice. As Dr. King said, quoting Rev.Theodore Parker, the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.
    Rachel Corrie, presente!
    It was during that period that I began to study the Palestine/Israel conflict carefully.

    Maurice Englander December 7th, 2006 at 11:13 pm

    The stone in the shoe of the Middle East isn't Palestine; it's Israel. Her refusal even to try to live in peace with those who have had to make way for a Jewish homeland has resulted in terrible suffering for Arab Palestinians and great anguish for Israeli settlers who would want to live in peace with their Arab neighbors. Ozick's review of the Rachel Corrie story is nothing but a shamelss defense of the indefensible. Who has the planes, the tanks, the army, the US support, the atom bomb? Certainly not the Palestinians whose houses are bulldozed, whose leaders are assassinated and imprisoned, whose olive groves are uprooted, whose land is confiscated,walled in, whose innocents are killed at check points--the list of Jewish atrocities is endless--and one small, young American is smashed by an Israeli tank and appologist Ozick sees only a manipulative little fool who most probably deserved what she got? For shame, Ozick! What a waste of a once formidable writing talent.

    VikiS December 8th, 2006 at 8:13 am

    The vehemence in Cynthia Ozick's review is just plain sad. What honor is there in wielding her intellectual sword against Rachel Corrie's private thoughts, words taken from a journal that never would have been published except for Rachel's death? She mocks Rachel for thinking "the Holy Land is full of rocks", with "she thinks of herself as a poet". Then twists everything recorded in Rachel's journal as wilfull guile. Come on, Ms. Ozick, not everyone spends his or her life forging an intellect's identity like yourself. You certainly can't believe that the rest of us carry values any less dear to us because we're not you?
    The more troubling aspect of this review is Ms. Ozick's use of her own intellectual credentials to offer what appears to be a no less credulous belief in IDF than Rachel's (purportedly) in the ISF. Ms. Ozick knows a lot more of the particulars than I ever will but, at the end of the day, one cannot ignore Israel's occupation and oppression of Palestine. There have got to be tunnels and smuggling but the pattern of economic destruction carried out by Israel against the Palestinians goes way beyond that. Incidentally, Ms. Ozick fails to note in her review that no tunnels, mines or anything to be protected against were found in the vicinity of the house that was set to be bulldozed, though the bulldozing did happen some months later. It's clear that violence also serves to protect in Israel's mind, just as Ms. Ozick's bitterness and lack of compassion serves to protect her from a more inclusive truth than the one she gives.

    Bob December 8th, 2006 at 8:40 am

    Ms Ozick is obviously quite biased in this supposed review. She refuses to acknowledge that any wrong is being done to the Palestinian people and casts snide aspersions on the idealism of a young woman who as she grew up recognized injustice and pain in the world around her. Given Ms Ozick's antipathy to the subject, she really doesnot offer a review, but only a diatribe giving vent to her own narrow and hate filled view of the Occupation of the Palestinian people! I think there must have been a more intellectually honest reviewer who could have discussed the book and the play giving some insight and sense of the book as written.

    Eugene Robbins December 9th, 2006 at 10:59 am

    Dear Sir or Madam,
    Cynthia Ozick's review of the play "My Name Is Rachel Corie" should be removed from Powell's website because it is, in fact, not a review but rather a partisan attack on Rachel Corrie as a person and the Palestinian people as a whole. This is a common occurance amongst Jewish Americans who feel that Israel must be defended at any cost. This is tantamont to supporting the policies of the American government no matter what, which few Americans would sanction. Ms. Ozick's diatribe is riddled with distortions ranging from her characterizations of the ISM (which has never promoted violence in any way) to her false reasoning for the demolition of civilian homes. According the Human Rights Watch, 10,000 Palestinian family homes have been destroyed by the Israeli military. Of these, 6,000 were to clear border areas and to provide room for Israel's illegal (according to the World Court) separation barrier which annexes more Palestinian land, 3,000 homes were destroyed in the Jerusalem area to enable Jews to become the majority population and 1,000 because a family member either committed or was planning to commit violent resistence to the Occupation. Ms. Ozick should review the play and not use the "review" as a vehicle for her partisan support for an apartheid state.
    I am Jewish. I saw the play last month in NYC and was moved to tears by the humanity shown by Rachel Corrie. By-the-way, Ms. Ozick forgot to mention that six months after Rachel Corrie was killed by the Israeli military bulldozer, the Nasrallah family home she was defending was razed to the ground. According to the Israeli military, no tunnels were found under the home. The Nasrallah family was never compensated for their loss and are now homeless like the thousands of other innocent Palestinian families whose homes happen to be in the way of the Israeli Occupation.

    April, December 12th, 2006 at 1:38 pm

    Thanks for your comments. I'm pleased to see you all involved in this lively discussion. As you may know the opinions expressed in the review are the opinions of the author of the review & do not reflect the opinions of or its employees.

    We publish reviews from our literary partners without editing or censoring them. I hope you will continue to offer your own opinions on these reviews and rest assured that your comments are appreciated by us here at

    Aaron December 20th, 2006 at 11:23 pm

    Cynthia Ozick, a woman of great depth and moral seriousness, is to be commended for bringing her considerable intellectual talents to bear in this devastating review. To those still under the perverted illusion that Rachel Corrie is some sort of a hero, little can be said and even less done. The breathless words of the critics above speak for themselves, both in their profound ignorance and their blinding fanaticism. Misguided and misplaced sympathies acted upon have real and tragic consequences, and the sanctification of this young woman is only likely to encourage Palestinian terrorism, without which this conflict would have long ago been settled.

    John Womack December 31st, 2006 at 2:17 pm

    The great flaw in Rachel Corrie's worldview, perfectly described by Cynthia Ozick, is her historical ignorance and her search for black and white answers. Like the "minister" who commented above, she embraced the "Jews bad, Arabs good" theory of history--a perfect sound-bite for a historical illiterate. For those of us who struggle to know it, the truth is, of course, never so neat.

    Scott Phillips January 20th, 2007 at 1:31 am

    Reading Cynthia Ozick's review is deeply moving. She brings deep knowledge of history and literature to what she writes, giving us insight into the new Blood Libel. I never believed, growing up in San Francisco listening to and reading left leaning news, that I would see a return of the Blood Libel in my lifetime. But not only has it returned, but worse, so many of it's perpetrators are, as one can see from many of the comments above, blind to the effects of their own actions.

    green wizard March 19th, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    I must agree with several of the commentators that this review should be removed as it is largely not a review of the play My Name is Rachel Corrie, but rather a hostile attack on Palestinians and their supporters by someone obviously sympathetic to a hard-line Jewish settlement-type mentality. At the very minimum, Powells has a responsibility to flag this as a highly contestable and thinly veiled review of a play or else place an even minimally counter-balance review. It is sad to see myths of Israeli innocence being perpetuated even in reviews of a play about someone (Rachel Corrie) directly killed by the actions of Israeli military forces in Rafah. This needs to be addressed, from an editorial as much as an ethical business standpoint, all political views aside. My two cents.

    Philip March 31st, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    I hope to obtain the rights to the play, and to stage it in Alaska. Ms. Ozick's "review" will be a useful tool to explain to audiences why the play is necessary.

    Elizabeth April 8th, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Excellent writing by Ms. Ozick. Thank you, Powells, for keeping it available. The play is an ill-informed propaganda piece much like the unfortunate Ms. Corrie herself.

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