On the eve of Yom Kippur, the 2005 play My Name Is Rachel Corrie will return to the London stage. The play, which amounts to little more than crass anti-Israel propaganda, is based on the story of its title character, who died after throwing herself in front of an IDF bulldozer at the behest of the International Solidarity Movement, an organization dedicated to providing cover for Hamas. David Herman sees a pattern “of anti-Israel bias in British theater.”
Over the past twenty years there have been a number of plays attacking Israel: My Name Is Rachel Corrie, Alive from Palestine: Stories under the Occupation, David Hare’s Via Dolorosa, and Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza. In 2014 the Tricycle Theater refused to host the UK Jewish Film Festival because it received funding from the Israeli embassy. The Tricycle was supported by Nicholas Hytner, then director of the National Theater. In addition, [the playwright] Harold Pinter, [the producer] Michael Kustow, and [the playwright] Arnold Wesker all became vocal critics of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Along with Churchill and Hare, these were major figures in British theater. . . .
At Edinburgh this summer, Jackie Walker, a left-wing activist suspended from the Labor party over accusations of anti-Semitism, had a one-woman show, The Lynching, which included predictable attacks on Israel. A banner draped in front of the audience read: “Anti-Semitism is a crime. Anti-Zionism is a duty.”
Another play on the subject—Oslo—is also coming to London. Although this play is hardly distinguished for its sympathy to Israel or its sensitivity to the realities of the conflict, Herman notes that “it is inconceivable that it would have been commissioned by a British theater or written by a well-known British playwright,” as its (pro-forma) attempts at evenhandedness make it a far cry from the “shrill agitprop” preferred by the British stage.