Water Man Spouts

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Protocols of Rachel Corrie

Last week I had the opportunity to watch Marc Levin's documentary, "Protocols of Zion," on HBO. The 2005 film explores the myth that no Jews died in the Twin Towers on 9-11. It also exposes some of the anti-Semitism that remains, like a stubborn virus that infects our society.
Marc Levin is, in my opinion, one of the most talented artists in America. His 1993 film "The Last Party," about the Clinton campaign, was a treat for everyone who loves politics. In other works, he confronts controversial issues head-on; these include "Soldiers in the Army of God," and especially "The Execution Machine: Texas Death Row." But I think that "Protocols of Zion" is his most powertful film.
Levin allows everyone an opportunity to speak in the film. He goes well out of his way to seek out, and provide a fair chance for people to put forth their beliefs about the absolutely incoorect theory that "the Jews" were responsible for 9-11, and that they "took care of their own" by makingsure no Jews went to work in the Twin Towers that day.
Hatred is an illness. In the case of most illnesses, a person knows they are sick. In a few, such as drug addiction, the victim is not aware that they are ill, because the disease lies to them. Hatred of groups of people, be it for concepts like race, religion, sex/orientation, are likewise diseases that lie to the victim that plays host to them. Thus, those in Levin's film who are sick, are totally invested in the lie that eats their being like a cancer.
This type of disease is very dangerous, and not only to the hosts themselves. They pose a threat to the greater society, because they must deny the truth, as they spread their lies. And the denial of truth always leads to attempts to forcefully suppress those voices in society that speak the truth.
There may be no better example of this than what happened in 1967, when the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke at the Riverside Church in New York City. In his classic sppech, "A Time to Break Silence " (aka "Beyond Vietnam"), Martin bravely spoke out against the war in Vietnam. He connected the hatred and violence that was taking place in SouthEast Asia, with the racial hatred and spiritual poverty found in the streets of America. And he attempted to expose the root causes of that hatred, as what he called "the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism."
In "Let the Trumpet Sound," author Stephen Oates writes that King's "address provoked a fusillade of abuse from all sides. The Jewish War Veterans of America blasted it as 'an extremist tirade' that belabored an 'ugly parallel' with the Germans, revealed 'an ignorance of the facts,' pandered to Ho Chi Minh, and insulted 'the intelligence of all Americans.' The FBI claimed that Stanley Levison had shaped if not written the Riverside speech, and bureau documents denigrate King as 'a traitor to his country and to his race.' .... In media circles, Newsweek accused King of plunging in 'over his head' and mixing evangelical passion with 'simplistic political judgement,' which indicated that he had abandoned his dream of an integrated America in favor of a country 'in which a race conscious minority dictated foreign policy'." (page 421)
On March 22, 2006, Cindy and Craig Corrie attended a service at that same Riverside Church in Manhattan, for a memorial service honoring their daughter Rachel. Three years earlier, Rachel Corrie, 23, traveled from her home to Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, to engage in non-violent protest of the Israeli destruction of the homes of Palestinian families.She was crushed to death by a bulldozer.
Rachel's parents allowed her diaries and e-mails to be worked into a book and play, "My Name is Rachel Corrie." The play did very well in England, and was scheduled to come to the off-Broadway New York Theater Workshop. However, before it was staged, the theater canceled it "indefinitely," due to protests from sponsors and other groups. The details of what The Nation called "An American Inquisition" in their editorial, can be found in the article "My Name is Rachel Corrie: Too Hot for New York." (April 3,2006) There are also two very good articles in the May/June edition of Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. ( http://www.wrmea.com )
The Washington Report's articles are: {1} "We Are Them.They Are Us." A Celebration of the Writings of Rachel Corrie, by Laura Angela Bagnetto; and {2} Rachel Corrie: Will Americans Get to Hear The Voice of an American Anne Frank?, by Delinda Hanley. They are moving articles, that make a strong case that Rachel Corrie's voice is much like Anne Frank's. Hanley writes, "The story of Anne Frank's life and death resonate with people of all ages and backgrounds. Anne's diary provides a vehicle for people to learn from Europe's Holocaust and examine prejudice, persecution, discrimination, hatred and violence."
Rachel's words offer us that same opportunity. Sadly, like King's Riverside address, they also cause those infected with the disease of hatred to lash out in the same ugly way. The people who have worked to silence this brave and idealistic young woman's voice are no different than the hateful people in Levin's "The Protocols of Zion." I hope that Marc Levin will make a documentary on Rachel Corrie. It may be the most important work he could do today.


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