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Saturday Art: The Skies Are Weeping for Rachel Corrie on the Ninth Anniversary of Her Death

8:44 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

I. On March 16, 2003, Near the southeast border of Gaza, Evergreen College senior Rachel Corrie was run over by an Israeli Army bulldozer, and killed.  Four days later the United States invaded Iraq.

Soon after the war started, I decided that I would write an anti-war musical composition, centered around Corrie.  After sharing my proposed lyrics with her family, I got their permission to go ahead.  Six months later, The Skies Are Weeping was complete, and we were beginning to rehearse the work for soprano, small chorus and percussion ensemble with the University of Alaska Anchorage’s percussion group.

In the lead-up up to a public meeting about the work’s perceived anti-Israeli content, I became the subject of an incredibly intense on-line attack, peaking on April 7th through 10th, 2004, at hundreds of hostile e-mails per hour.  By the time the meeting was held, co-hosted by an Anchorage rabbi, I had decided that I couldn’t expose the kids in the percussion group or choir to the same vituperation and beyond that I was experiencing and being threatened with.

I cancelled the Anchorage premiere.

As word got out, 24 groups or individuals worldwide asked for copies of the score (the music the conductor uses) and MP-3 MIDI audio.  I sent the material out, and got 17 responses.  I followed through on the few with promise.  First choice was a group in Brooklyn, who eventually decided to drop the project.  Funding from generous donors might suffer, it was thought.  A small group in Toronto was seriously interested, but I was leery of their agenda, and backed away.

Eventually, I became convinced by London-based soprano and peace activist, Deborah Fink, to go with a London production sponsored mostly by Jews for Justice for Palestinians, as a benefit for Israeli and Palestinian progressive groups.

We were able to present The Skies Are Weeping on November 1, 2005, as part of a concert featuring other works about the conflict in Palestine.

I flew from Alaska to the UK to help with rehearsals, and my wife came over and joined me a few days before the performance.  Our hosts were so outgoing, energetic and positive about the concert project.

Craig and Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s parents were there, along with Jocelyn Hurndall. She is the mother of Tom Hurndall, another peace activist killed by the IDF in Gaza that spring.  Jocelyn and I held hands as the group played the memorial dance I had written for her young son.

We wanted to create a professional recording of the concert, perhaps to make a fundraising CD.  But the singers’ union needed a lot of money if they were to allow us to do that.  We preferred to use that money on the charities the concert supported.

So I recorded The Skies Are Weeping with a portable digital recorder that I set on the concrete floor beneath my front row seat.  Right below the choir.

Wednesday and Thursday I created a Youtube of The Skies Are Weeping’s London audio recording.  It includes all the lyrics, and occasional photographic comments on the content of the music. Read the rest of this entry →

Al Jazeera English’s Powerful Documentary on the Gaza Flotilla Seizure

4:43 am in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Al Jazeera‘s 45 minute-long documentary on the seizure of the ships and boats of the Gaza flotilla concentrates on events aboard the MV Mavi Marmara. This is because most of Al Jazeera‘s team (one of whom spent election day 2008 with my wife and I in Wasilla, covering the results in Palin’s home town) was on the small cruise ship, and footage smuggled out by members of Cultures of Resistance came from that vessel. In the documentary there is evidence of war crimes by the IDF.

For instance, the very straightforward skipper of the Mavi Marmara states:

At around 6:30 in the morning [after the IDF had seized the bridge of the MVMM and bound all crew there but the captain], we were asked to start the engine and turn to the route 130 degrees. No matter how many times I asked the Israeli soldiers to provide first aid to the injured, until our doctors intervened, they kept on insisting that as long as the engine was not started and the route was not turned to 130 degrees, they would not provide first aid.

There are so many instances of Israeli soldiers letting injured people or sick people just fucking die. The most pathetic recent incident occurred late last week, as Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem opened fire on the husband of an American citizen in his car. When he got out and sought to distance himself from the car in which one of his American daughters was cowered down, they shot him, let him bleed, then shot him again. Then, according to numerous witnesses, they danced around his body, in triumph.

Please watch this powerful Al Jazeera documentary. I doubt you will see such comprehensive reporting on the flotilla on any American TV network.

Will any American network provide coverage of the next Euro-American-Asian flotilla later this month, or in July?

I had friends on the last one, and several will be on this one. Yesterday evening, I got word that members of the London-based group Jews for Justice for Palestinians will participate in the Jewish boats that will attempt to break the blockade. JfJfP produced the 2005 performance of my work about Rachel Corrie, The Skies are Weeping, in London (after Alaska and New York performances had been canceled), and hosted my wife and me. I brought 20 pounds of Copper River Sockeye salmon I had smoked myself from Wasilla to London for my friends, and for the Israeli-Palestinian-people-from-all-over reception we had after the concert. We drank Palestinian and Israeli and British beer, even pouring suds from the three countries together into the same glasses.

Some of the Jewish peace activists on the German boat will be bringing musical instruments, which have been banned in Gaza.

The Al Jazeera documentary embedded here fairly clearly shows the benign intent of the vast majority of participants in the Memorial Day weekend flotilla. How will the Israeli press handle the European Jewish boats? What if the Jewish boats and the supposed Iranian boats meet up and exchange gifts, food, musical instruments, hugs?

This flotilla movement is more fascinating every day.