Monday, July 11, 2011

A Reminder: Rachel Corrie Wasn’t the Only ISM Member Playing Chicken with a Bulldozer That Day (PJM Exclusive)

Lenny Ben-David

God, sometimes we Israelis are idiots. Leave aside the colossal fashla (you call it a snafu) of the ill-timed announcement of the expansion of the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood that sent the Obama administration into a hissy fit. What we’re doing with the latest “lawfare” case against Israel, the trial brought by Rachel Corrie’s parents, is another beaut.

In March 2003, a young American woman named Rachel Corrie was crushed and killed by an IDF bulldozer in Gaza. And now her parents are in Israel, suing Israel. Last week, the Israeli newspaper Yediot portrayed her as a saintly martyr and featured a false photo of the incident, taken at a different time and with a different bulldozer. The anchor of Israel Radio’s morning commute show rebuked Israel’s actions, and the Israeli YES cable network presented Rachel, a two-hour paean to Corrie and an indictment of Israel.

We’re nuts. We overlook the fact that Corrie’s death took place in the midst of the “intifada” terrorist onslaught against Israel and that she was working for a Palestinian-led organization as the first line of defense against Israel’s Operation Defensive Shield to stop terrorist suicide bombers. Just ten days before Corrie’s death, a Palestinian suicide bomber blew up a bus in Haifa, a few miles from the courthouse where the Corrie parents are suing Israel. Seventeen Israelis died in the attack, many of them teenagers.

Today, the parents of the dead are outraged by the attention Rachel Corrie is getting and by the chutzpah of the Corries embracing Israeli courts to rail against the country Rachel Corrie loathed.

The Palestinian-led group — International Solidarity Movement (ISM) — enlisted dozens of “internationals,” including Corrie, to serve as support troops. ISM admits that it “recognizes the Palestinian right to resist Israeli violence and occupation via legitimate armed struggle.” ISM’s creed translated into action: In May 2002, ten ISM members rushed into the Church of the Nativity to serve as human shields for Palestinian terrorists holed up there and desecrating the holy site. In Jenin in March 2003, an ISM woman hid a wanted Islamic Jihad terrorist, Shadi Sukiya, from the Israeli army. In Gaza in April 2003, two terrorists “had tea” with ISM members before they embarked on their mission to blow up Mike’s Place, a bar in Tel Aviv, five days later.

Danny Seaman, a spokesperson for the prime minister’s office, stated at the time:

Members of the ISM have been knowingly aiding and abetting terrorists and disrupting the activity of the IDF meant to prevent the murder of Israeli civilians.

Corrie and her band of ISM internationals had been disrupting IDF activity in Rafah just yards from the infamous “Philadelphi route” along the Gaza-Egypt border. This was an area of intense terrorist activity and was — and still is — the location of Hamas tunnels.

But the ISM group was frustrated, Newsweek’s Joshua Hammer wrote in a 2003 exhaustive report on Corrie in the leftist Mother Jones magazine:

An anonymous letter was circulating which referred to Corrie and the other expatriate women in Rafah as “nasty foreign bitches” whom “our Palestinian young men are following around.”

That morning [of Corrie’s death], the ISM team tried to devise a strategy to counteract the letter’s effects. “We all had a feeling that our role was too passive,” said one ISM member. “We talked about how to engage the Israeli military.” That morning, team members made a number of proposals that seemed designed only to aggravate the problem.

“The idea was to more directly challenge the Israeli military dominance using our international status,” said the ISMer.

On the day of Corrie’s death, the new ISM aggressive actions involved placing themselves in severe danger. Eyewitness reports recorded immediately after Corrie’s death prove that the ISMers had knowingly decided to put themselves in harm’s way.

Reported here — for the first time — is the fact that prior to Corrie’s death at least two “internationals” had been pulled out from under the bulldozers at the last second.

According to one of Corrie’s colleagues, whose recollections were published three days after her death (emphasis mine):

For two hours we attempted at great risk to ourselves to obstruct and frustrate the bulldozers in their work.

Another ISM colleague stated:

Our group began to stand in front of these bulldozers in an attempt to stop them. Generally they did not stop when we stood in front of them, but continued to push the earth up from underneath our feet to push us away. Several times we had to dive away at the last moment in order to avoid being crushed. This continued for about two and a half hours. … At one point, Will from the United States was nearly crushed between the bulldozer and a pile of razor wire. The bulldozer stopped at the last minute in Will’s case. If it had moved any closer he would have been impaled by the razor wire.

Besides “Will,” Newsweek’s Hammer reported on “Jenny’s” close call:

An Irish peace activist named Jenny was nearly run down by a D9. “The bulldozer’s coming, the earth is burying my feet, my legs, I’ve got nowhere to run, and I thought, ‘This is out of control,’” she told me. “Another activist pulled me up and out of the way at the last minute.”

On that day in March 2003, the ISM internationals had decided to play a game of Russian roulette with the Israeli army, and Corrie lost.

At the trial in Haifa last week, Corrie’s colleagues testified that Rachel stood in front of the bulldozer and the driver intentionally drove over her. Israel has been saying for seven years that the driver couldn’t see her. Again, careful review of news accounts and statements made by ISMers immediately after her death prove that Corrie was squatting down amidst the rubble, thus minimizing her profile:

“When the bulldozer approached a house today,” wrote the New York Times, “Ms. Corrie, who was wearing a bright orange jacket, dropped to her knees.”

“The bulldozer drove toward Rachel slowly, gathering earth in its scoop as it went,” an ISM friend stated in 2003. “She knelt there, she did not move.”

Another colleague related: “She did not ‘trip and fall’ in front of the bulldozer. She sat down in front of it, well in advance.‎“

He added: “Corrie dropped her bullhorn and sat down in front of one of the bulldozers. She fully expected that the driver would stop just in front of her.”

The conclusion: Corrie’s ISM colleagues may have committed perjury.

The result of ISM’s aggressive actions and Corrie’s carelessness was tragically predictable. Wrote Hammer:

The IDF “makes a credible case that the operators, peering out through narrow, double-glazed, bulletproof windows, their view obscured behind pistons and the giant scooper, might not have seen Corrie kneeling in front of them.”

There’s no doubt this is well-organized “lawfare” against Israel. Craig Corrie told the Israeli Yediot newspaper last week that they cannot take their case to the International Court until after exhausting all legal measures in Israel. Father Corrie’s intention is clear.

After reviewing the case, another suit should be brought: the International Solidarity Movement should be on trial, not Israel. ISM founder George Rishmaw told the San Francisco Chronicle that Corrie was cannon fodder for the organization:

When Palestinians get shot by Israeli soldiers, no one is interested anymore. But if some of these foreign volunteers get shot or even killed, then the international media will sit up and take notice.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rachel Corrie's picture should be in the margin of a dictionary entry for "Darwin Award Winner".