Photo Credit: Wikimedia
British actor Alan Rickman, dead at 69.

British actor Alan Rickman died on Thursday, Jan. 14, at age 69, from cancer.

Rickman was a stage and film star whose oddly ugly-good looking men and flat monotone voice delighted millions of fans. Rickman, of course, was wildly popular as the evil – or not really evil – double agent Potions professor Severus Snape in the long-running Harry Potter film series.


Rickman was born in London and began his acting career with the Royal Shakespeare Company, according to a BBC obituary. Rickman starred in many acclaimed television series and films and won accolades and awards for his theater work.

In addition to the role of Snape in Harry Potter, Rickman appeared in Die Hard (1988), Truly Madly Deeply (1990),  Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), and he played Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility, opposite Kate Whinslet (1995).

Rickman appeared in two Noel Coward plays, and in the United Kingdom he performed in more than half a dozen plays by William Shakespeare.

Rickman recently married his lifetime love interest, Rima Horton.


The BBC obituary doesn’t mention Rickman’s involvement with a play he co-wrote and directed about the American anti-Israel activist, Rachel Corrie. The play, “My Name is Rachel Corrie,” was based on personal writings by Corrie.

Corrie died at age 23, trying to prevent a bulldozer from demolishing the home of – in her mind, sweet innocent Gazans, while in the view of the IDF, terrorists whose home covered a terror tunnel. Corrie was in Gaza, engaging in the game of chicken in a declared war zone. There were repeated announcements that the home was going to be demolished and demands that Corrie and her “activist”colleagues leave the area. Her refusal to get out of the way of the bulldozer, which ultimately struck and crushed her, led to her death. The courts ruled that the driver of the bulldozer was unable to see Corrie when she was struck.

The play about Corrie’s life was a romanticized and sympathetic rendering, portraying the International Solidarity Movement human shield volunteer as a human rights activist. Her view of the Arab-Israeli conflict was written and presented as truth, with the Israelis as the ever and only evil participants.

Corrie, as an ISM member, moved to the Middle East to be with Palestinian Arabs, including members of Hamas, whom she saw as the sympathetic actor in the Arab-Israeli conflict. She was not only anti-Israel, but apparently anti-America as well, based on pictures of Corrie with face contorted in fury, burning a drawn representation of an American flag.

“My Name is Rachel Corrie” was originally produced in London, in 2005, and soon after was brought to the United States where it appeared in several theaters, including Jewish ones, such as at Theater J, owned by the Washington, D.C. Jewish Federation.

Although an off-broadway theater, the New York Theatre Workshop, agreed to stage the play within a very short period of time, its postponement led to an ugly battle between the “artists,” who claimed censorship, and the theater’s artistic director and his board, which had begun to realize the varied layers of the Middle East conflict and the political ramifications of misrepresenting what happened.

Rickman claimed “censorship” when the play was postponed by the New York theater, responding to rumors that the play had instead been cancelled. The play was produced in the U.S. in the fall of 2006 at the Minetta Lane Theater, where it earned mixed reviews according to the New York Times.

Israeli courts repeatedly rejected the claims that Corrie’s death was a murder, and U.S. courts threw out lawsuits brought there. Corrie’s family members and fellow activists continue to bitterly blame the IDF for the young woman’s death.


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Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email:


  1. Fantastic article. Only two sentences in, and the author comments on the perceived attractiveness of the deceased – "oddly ugly-good looking mien". Very professional.

    We then have a couple of instances of the classic "We investigated ourselves, and found ourselves not guilty" allusions to the Israeli justice system.

    1. "The courts ruled that the driver of the bulldozer was unable to see Corrie when she was struck."
    2. "Israeli courts repeatedly rejected the claims that Corrie’s death was a murder."

    Also included is some clever cover-up: "the theater’s artistic director and his board…..begun to realize the varied layers of the Middle East conflict and the political ramifications of misrepresenting what happened.", which typically means that they feared backlash from hardline pro-Israel hawks who don't tolerate deviation from the narrative, and from their influence among Jewish communities.

    It's wonderful how the article tries to justify the murder-by-bulldozing of a peaceful activist by trying to justify the Israeli state's bulldozing of a home that doesn't belong to them, on land that doesn't belong to them, with the most tired of excuses – "it's a terrorist, get him!".

    All in all, par for the course.

  2. Clayton Miller Oh, then you must not have heard about the play “My Name is Rachel Corrie”, which is ostensibly the main topic of this article, and which came about due to the popularity of Rachel Corrie's story and the widespread sympathy for her and her cause.

    I think that fulfills the requirements of the figurative loss of sleep you've referred to.

    Many people knowingly place themselves in harm's way for worthy causes. You might think that the IDF do so on a daily basis. Are the dead IDF soldiers all morons in your view as well?

  3. Clayton Miller Do you believe that anti-American sentiment is lunacy by necessity? Is there no reason you can think of why people would be against certain systemic US foreign policies, or does the immunity enjoyed by Israel in that regard transfer also to Washington?


  5. We loved him … especially for his profound decency, his willingness to advance the narrative … you know the story of how Israel has engaged in horrific violence against any and all who oppose the illegal occupation of Palestine! Rachel Corrie, a courageous young women slaughtered at the behest of Israel by a bull dozer! A bull dozer! You should be ashamed — while Rickman should be celebrated for the hero he was.

  6. 1. "The courts ruled that the driver of the bulldozer was unable to see Corrie when she was struck."
    2. "Israeli courts repeatedly rejected the claims that Corrie’s death was a murder."

    Correct. She was an ignoramus who planted herself in front of a moving bulldozer, and expected it to magically turn into hummus.

  7. The article is appropriate. Representing Rachel Corrie as a humanitarian saint is misrepresenting what she really was, and that unfairly hurts Israel. I'm sure if someone made a play about someone who was defaming you, you would probably want to set the record straight.

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