Too Hot for New York: "The slim book that was suddenly the most controversial work in the West in early March was not easy to find in the United States. Amazon said it wasn't available till April. The Strand bookstore didn't have it either. You could order it on Amazon-UK, but it would be a week getting here. I finally found an author in Michigan who kindly photocopied the British book and overnighted it to me; but to be on the safe side, I visited an activist's apartment on Eighth Avenue on the promise that I could take her much-in-demand copy to the lobby for half an hour. In the elevator, I flipped it open to a random passage:
'I can't cool boiling waters in Russia. I can't be Picasso. I can't be Jesus. I can't save the planet single-handedly. I can wash dishes.'
The book is the play My Name Is Rachel Corrie. Composed from the journal entries and e-mails of the 23-year-old from Washington State who was crushed to death in Gaza three years ago under a bulldozer operated by the Israeli army, the play had two successful runs in London last year and then became a cause celebre after a progressive New York theater company decided to postpone its American premiere indefinitely out of concern for the sensitivities of (unnamed) Jewish groups unsettled by Hamas's victory in the Palestinian elections. When the English producers denounced the decision by the New York Theatre Workshop as 'censorship' and withdrew the show, even the mainstream media could not ignore the implications. Why is it that the eloquent words of an American radical could not be heard in this country--not, that is, without what the Workshop had called 'contextualizing,' framing the play with political discussions, maybe even mounting a companion piece that would somehow 'mollify' the Jewish community? "