Wednesday, November 22, 2006
a name -- I recognize that name:
My Name is Rachel Corrie has been pretty roundly panned as poor theatre and tendentious politics. I don't intend to see it, and will confess to being only superficially familiar with the Corrie case -- that being, the young American activist who travelled to Gaza to stop Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes and was run over, perhaps accidentally, by a bulldozer. That said, this TNR review says way more about the mania the Corrie case gives to Zionists than it does about the Corrie case itself.

The author, James Kirchick, pretends not to know about a million and one things about how people view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For instance:
The selection of Corrie's writings on display never adequately explains why she would so determinedly seek out a dangerous place she knew little about, other than that she had a deep antipathy toward "injustice."
"Other than"! Is this so hard to understand? If one expresses despondence over injustice, it is not hard to see how that might lead one -- especially if one is a perhaps-fluffyheaded college student -- to be pissed off at Israel. It's sadly indicative of a certain kind of diaspora Jew that Kirchick says the play "elid[es] all of the intricacies of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Now, again, I haven't seem the film, and Kirchick presents a compelling case that Corrie didn't shed a tear over Israeli children murdered in the Dolphinarium or a Sbarro or just for walking down the street in their own country. But Kirchick's evident hostility to the idea that maybe the IDF doesn't have to destroy people's apartment blocks or olive groves suggests that what he really means by "intricacies" reduces merely to a slant in Israel's favor.

I'll take Kirchick's word that unspecified "people" are portraying Corrie as a new Anne Frank, and, if so, the comparison between someone who travelled to a war zone in an act of resistance and someone hunted and murdered for her heritage is plainly foolish. But this passage is idiotic:
[T]his adorable video is meant to convert your sympathy for Corrie into sympathy for her cause. How dare we ridicule such an precocious and idealistic young girl who now lies dead because of her devotion to world peace? What right do any of us have to question the cause for which Corrie gave her life?
Sorry, asshole, but yeah, how dare you ridicule Rachel Corrie? What drives you to do so, aside from an adolescent impulse to insulate yourself from asking why she died, and what drove her to put herself in danger? Is it really the wages of sympathy to Israel these days to seek to ridicule people sympathetic to the Palestinians? Even worse, Kirchick attempts to turn Rachel Corrie into a suicide bomber, in order to balm the Zionist conscience about her death. For instance, he says that Corrie has become a "Palestinian suicide martyr," knowing full well the implication of that term -- except, you know, she didn't commit suicide, nor did she murder anyone. What Kirchick is doing here, whether he knows it or not, is suggesting that if the IDF killed her on purpose, they killed her before she could kill any innocent Israelis. And he accuses others of eliding "intricacies."

I'm begging you, my fellow Zionists, to remember the universalism that drove the first Zionists to develop Zionism
. Matt recognizes that 40 years of occupation has driven the two biggest intellectual results of the Holocaust -- a resurgent Zionism and the human-rights movement -- into conflict. It is incumbent upon Zionists, not Palestinians, to remember that these things must go hand-in-hand if Zionism is to survive. To believe that the burden of Jewish history infuses Israel with a special moral blemishlessness is the surest path to an apartheid state. Be proud of yourself, Kirchick.
--Spencer Ackerman

As a non-Zionist Jew (That I even have to identify myself as a Jew before asking this question is a sign of the ridiculousness of the debate but whatever..) doesn't Zionism- or really, and kind of ethnic-based nationalism- inevitable lead to opposition to human rights?

By which I mean... how can you believe that a specific piece of land belongs to any one group of people and have that lead anywhere but exclusion and oppression of other types of people?

I'm not asking this rhetorically. I seriously want to know, and I figure a compassionate progressive zionist is a good person to ask the question of.
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