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At PEN festival, Patti Smith honors Rachel Corrie

US Politics
on 7 Comments

The PEN World Voices festival is taking place in New York this week, without the sponsorship of the Israeli government, for once; and Patti Smith honored Rachel Corrie last night there. Salon’s report, by Max Cea:

Patti Smith, who performed with her daughter Jesse Paris Smith, provided a useful metaphor in introducing her first song of the night, “Peaceable Kingdom.” The song, Smith said, was written in memory of Rachel Corrie, a young activist who was killed in a combat zone in the southern part of the Gaza Strip when she shielded a doctor’s home from being bulldozed.

Adalah-NY celebrates last night’s memorial:

Rachel Corrie was 23 in March 2003, when an Israeli bulldozer crushed her to death. An American from Washington state, she was serving with the International Solidarity Movement to protect Palestinian homes from demolition. The “combat zone” was a neighborhood of the occupied Gaza Strip close to the Egyptian border that Israel was demolishing during the second intifada because it alleged that arms were being smuggled in there. An Israeli investigation found that the killing was an accident, though Corrie and fellow activists had been resisting the demolitions for hours and she wore a bright orange jacket and held a megaphone. The Corrie family sued the Israeli government for wrongful death; that suit was dismissed.

PEN’s consciousness-raising last night reflects the high degree of awareness that now exists on the left about Palestine. A year ago 100 well-known writers, poets, publishers, and others in the the literary community called on PEN America to reject sponsorship from the Israeli government for the annual festival. Among them were Marilyn Hacker, Deborah Eisenberg, Russell Banks, Sarah Schulman, Susie Abulhawa, and Geoff Dyer. That pressure continued this year and PEN’s list of sponsors did not include Israel. PEN director Suzanne Nossel had a very respectful exchange with Adalah-NY and Jewish Voice for Peace in which she conceded nothing re the end of the Israeli government sponsorship, but she clearly knows these folks are speaking for her own base. Patti Smith’s performance reminds us: It is no longer possible to be PEP, progressive except Palestine, in these spaces.

You can read about Rachel Corrie here, including her posthumous publications.

Here are some of the lyrics to Patti Smith’s song:

Yesterday I saw you standing there With your hand against the pane
Looking out the window At the rain

And I wanted to tell you That your tears were not in vain
But I guess we both knew We’d never be the same
Never be the same

Why must we hide all these feelings inside?
Lions and lambs shall abide

Maybe one day we’ll be strong enough To build it back again
Build the peaceable kingdom Back again
Build it back again

Why must we hide all these feelings inside? Lions and lambs shall abide

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7 Responses

  1. iResistDe4iAm
    May 4, 2017, 11:52 am

    Here’s Billy Bragg’s tribute to Rachel…

    Billy Bragg: The Lonesome Death of Rachel Corrie

    Lyrics and free download (MP3) of the song:

  2. festus
    May 4, 2017, 1:56 pm

    I suspected Ms. Smith must have been attacked as an anti-semite previously given what she bravely did here. I was not wrong.

    • Lillian Rosengarten
      Lillian Rosengarten
      May 5, 2017, 11:07 am

      W must never give into the Zionist ministry of propaganda that labels those who oppose Zionist crimes as anti-Semites.
      The song and Patti’s beautiful singing broke my heart. Yet we must go on to resist!

  3. JWalters
    May 5, 2017, 2:59 am

    Rachel Corrie is in noble company. Martin Luther King, Jr was beginning his stand against the war profiteers when they killed him, too. A fascinating, detailed account of how they took out King, and then kept it covered up, is in this recent interview with William Pepper, a legal counsel to MLK.

    More on how Israel gets other governments to help cover-up its crimes is in “Government Smearing of Israel’s Critics”.

    • RoHa
      May 5, 2017, 11:03 am

      Not a lone, crazed, gunman? Gosh. How astonishing. Who’d have thought it. Etc.

  4. John Salisbury
    John Salisbury
    May 5, 2017, 8:53 am

    It is fit and proper to honour Rachel Corrie.
    Last October we did a walk for Palestine, from Sydney to Canberra.
    For each of the ten days of the walk we named it in honour of a significant contributor to human rights.
    Rachel Corrie made the list easily.

  5. Boomer
    May 5, 2017, 10:00 am

    Rachel Corrie deserves to be remembered and honored. It is good that in one small space within American society awareness remains. Mostly, evidence of awareness of the role the U.S. plays in the theft of Palestinian homes and rights is hard to find. I thought of this fact while reading John Dower’s essay on “American Amnesia.” He writes about “victim consciousness” in Japan and the U.S. He does not speak of Palestine/Israel, but one can see a similar pattern. Zionists cultivate victim consciousness, and the U.S. fully embraces that narrative.

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