Thursday, March 20, 2008
The Idiotic Campaign over Rachel Corrie
2. The Myth of Rachel Corrie
By Judy Lash Balint
FrontPageMagazine.com | 3/20/2008
Jerusalem: The news that a senior Islamic Jihad terrorist, Shadi Sukiya,
was captured by an elite anti-terror unit of the Israel Defense Forces
while hiding out in the Jenin offices of the International Solidarity
Movement (ISM) did not make a ripple in the flood of coverage from the
Iraqi front in late March 2003.
Just eleven days earlier, on March 16, the ISM did make world headlines
when Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old ISM member, was run over by an Israeli
bulldozer in Rafah and died of her injuries.
Maybe the fact that a "peace organization" was found to be defending
terrorists twice in a two-week period will factor into the inquiry called
by several Washington state congressional representatives into the
circumstances of Rachel Corrie's death.
With the fifth anniversary of Corrie's death having just passed us, only
one thing remains certain about the events of March 16: Corrie died in
Rafah, on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip, under very questionable
The questions remain: Is Israel responsible for Corrie's death, or do the
doctors at the Arab hospital where she was taken still alive after the
accident bear any responsibility? What about the ISM that organizes
protests in a closed military zone and encourages its members to play cat
and mouse among the tanks and bulldozers? Or the Arabs who invite the
"internationals" to risk their lives in a war zone? How she died, exactly
where she passed her last moments and who should take the blame for Rachel
Corrie's death are questions that demand answers.
The inconsistencies in eyewitness testimony raise doubts about the
simplistic conclusions drawn ever since the event.
By all accounts, Rachel Corrie was one of a group of protesters attempting
to disrupt the work of two IDF bulldozers leveling ground to detonate
explosives in an area rife with terrorist activity. The bulldozers moved
to a different area to avoid the protesters, and Corrie became separated
from the group. Some of the agitators stood with a banner, while Corrie
picked up a bullhorn and yelled slogans at the driver encased in the small
cabin of the dozer. This went on for several hours on the afternoon of
March 16. It's the kind of activity favored by the young pro-Palestinian
types who make up the ISM.
There wasn't enough action for Corrie. According to fellow Evergreen State
College student, Joseph Smith, 21, who was at the site, 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. "We were
horribly surprised," Smith told me by phone from Rafah the day after the
incident. "They had been careful not to hurt us. They'd always stopped
before," he said.
As the dozer plowed forward heaping up a pile of dirt and sand, Corrie
scrambled up the pile to sit on the top. Smith says she lost her footing
as the bulldozer made the earth move beneath her feet. She got pulled
down, he says. "The driver lost sight of her and continued forward. Then,
without lifting the blade he reversed and Rachel was underneath the
mid-section of the dozer, she wasn't run over by the tread."
Capt. Jacob Dellal of the IDF spokespersons office confirms what Smith
says about the driver: he lost sight of Rachel. Inside the cab, some six
feet off the ground, visibility is very restricted. The protesters should
have known that and kept within the driver's line of sight to avoid
getting hurt, Dellal asserts.
The strange thing about this part of the story is the discrepancy over the
photos given to the press and posted on several pro-Arab websites.
As Smith describes to me his version of events, I ask about the series of
photos printed in an Arab newspaper I picked up the morning after the
incident, in Jerusalem's Old City. "They aren't of the actual incident,"
he states firmly. "We'd been there for three hours already, we were tired,
we already had a lot of pictures."
Yet these are the pictures used on the ISM website to document the before
and after of Rachel's interaction with the bulldozer. The same pictures
are featured as a photo-essay on the site of Electronic Intifada, where
they're even attributed to Joseph Smith.
There are several shots of the back of a woman with a blond ponytail
facing a bulldozer. She's standing in an open field, wearing an orange
fluorescent jacket, holding a megaphone.
Even Michael Shaik, the ISM media coordinator at the time, wouldn't
confirm that these are pictures of Corrie taken the day she died. "I'm
fairly sure they're of the incident," he tells me by phone from his
Bethlehem office. In the same conversation, Shaik asks me not to contact
Joe, Greg or Tom, the Rafah ISM eyewitnesses again directly: "They're
still in trauma."
The pictures should have raised all kinds of questions to photo editors,
but all the major newspapers and wire services chose to run the photos
regardless. If there are pictures of Rachel before and after, why didn't
the same photographer consider it important to document the act of the
bulldozer running her down?
Where is the mound of earth Rachel clambered up and was buried in? The
woman shown lying bleeding from her nose and mouth is lying on a flat
piece of ground.
So, Corrie was either knocked down by the dozer, or fell in front of it.
ISMers assume that she was intentionally run over, but there's no proof
that was the driver's intent.
The real issue is, was Rachel alive when she was taken by Palestinian Red
Crescent ambulance to Martyr Mohammed Yousef An Najar Hospital? In other
words, where did she die? Were adequate efforts made to save her in the
Again, there are conflicting stories. Joseph Smith tells me in a telephone
interview the day after the tragedy, "She died in the hospital or on the
way to the hospital." CNN also reported that Rachel died there. (Israeli
bulldozer runs over 23-year-old woman. CNN, Monday, March 17, 2003)
In his account posted on www.arabia.com, ISMer Tom Dale has a slightly
different story. On March 17 he writes: "I ran for an ambulance, she was
gasping and her face was covered in blood from a gash cutting her face
from lip to cheek. She was showing signs of brain hemorrhaging. She died
in the ambulance a few minutes later of massive internal injuries."
But Dr. Ali Mussa, director of Martyr Mohammed Yousef An Najar Hospital
where Corrie was taken, seems confused. On the day of the event, Dr. Mussa
tells AP Gaza reporter Ibrahim Barzak that Rachel died in the hospital.
(American Killed in Gaza. AP. March 16, 2003)
One week later, in a telephone interview, Dr. Mussa states definitively to
me that Rachel died at the scene, "in the soil," as he puts it. The main
cause of death was suffocation, Mussa asserts. There were no signs of
life, no heartbeat or pulse when she arrived at the hospital, he says.
Mussa states that Rachel's ribs were fractured, a fact determined by
Doesn't quite jive with the photo essay on the pages of the Electronic
Intifada website for March 16, 2003. (Photo story: Israeli bulldozer
driver murders American peace activist by Nigel Parry and Arjan El Fassed,
The Electronic Intifada, 16 March 2003.)
A caption under one photo of doctors leaning over a female patient reads:
Rachel arrived in the Emergency Room at 5:05 p.m and doctors scrambled to
save her. By 5:20 p.m, she was gone. Ha'aretz newspaper reported that Dr.
Ali Mussa, a doctor at Al Najar, stated that the cause of death was skull
and chest fractures. Dr. Mussa told me he was one of the treating
physicians, yet he alone maintains that Rachel was dead before she was put
into the ambulance.
To further complicate matters, on that same website, a report from the
Palestine Monitor is cited. Here, the writer says that Rachel fractured
her arms, legs and skull. She was transferred to hospital, where she later
died, says this report.
Just who is Dr. Ali Mussa? Clearly a man in favor with the Palestine
Authority hierarchy. Dr. Mussa's views are aired on the official website
of the PA's Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation: (January
There, Dr. Mussa accuses Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's "terrorist
government" of deliberately killing Palestinian children in Rafah.
A few days after the incident, ISM Media Coordinator Shaik tells me by
phone from Rafah that three ISMers, Tom, Alice and Greg were in the
ambulance with Rachel. She died in the ambulance on the way to the
hospital, says Michael.
But Greg Schnabel, 28, who is quoted in numerous wire service and
newspaper stories, never says he witnessed the death of his comrade in the
ambulance. In his account published a few days later on the ISM website,
he carefully states that she died twenty minutes after arriving at the
What happened to Rachel's body after her death? Depends whom you ask. Dr.
Mussa says it was kept for 24 hours at the hospital before a Red Crescent
ambulance transported it to the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, via the border
where an Israeli ambulance took over. l Shaik says "we lost track of it
(her body) after she died." Three ISMers tried to escort the body, but
only one was permitted on the ambulance on the Israeli side. According to
his account, the ambulance drove straight to the Israeli Forensic
Institute at Abu Kabir, where an autopsy was performed. The Israelis are
trying to say she died from a blow to the head by a rock, Shaik recounts.
Speaking about the autopsy, one of Rachel's ISM trainers, Iowa native
LeAnne Clausen, a fieldworker for the Christian Peacemaker Team based in
Beit Sahour, tells me: "The general sentiment within ISM is that the
Israelis are trying to suggest perhaps Rachel was on drugs."
In reality, IDF spokesperson Dellal says that initial Israeli
investigation results indicate that the cause of death was most likely a
blow to the head and chest by a blunt object, possibly a chunk of cement
dug up by the bulldozer.
In keeping with ISM sympathies, Rachel received a shaheed (martyr)
procession in Rafah, the day after her death. But here again, there's
confusion between reality and photo op. Some accounts noted that her
coffin draped in an American flag was paraded through the streets. Yet a
picture on the site of her college town's peace movement, the Olympia
Movement for Justice and Peace, shows Arab women holding a coffin covered
by a Palestinian flag with the caption: Palestinian funeral for Rachel.
Confusion and obfuscation seem to be a trademark of the ISM. In May 2002,
a number of ISMers raced past Israeli soldiers into the Church of the
Nativity in Bethlehem, where dozens of Palestinian terrorists had holed up
to evade capture by the IDF outside. After an agreement was reached, the
ISM members refused to leave the church, holding up the solution. Then
they charged that they were mistreated by clergy, who claimed the ISMers
desecrated the church by smoking and drinking alcohol.
Another revealing ISM action took place shortly before the Bethlehem
incident, when a number of protesters managed to make their way past IDF
barricades into Yasser Arafat's Ramallah compound to protect the terrorist
Strange, given the fact that most ISMers are avowed anarchists decrying
any kind of governmental authority. Corrie's Swedish boyfriend and fellow
ISMer told a reporter for Seattle's The Stranger newspaper, (April 4,
2003) that Corrie could be described as an anarchist.
Still, the politics of the Ismers are predictable. Another Evergreen
student who arrived in Israel around the same time as Corrie says he has
"been at war with the multinational corporations for some time now." His
"baptism of fire" took place at the World Trade Organization protests in
Seattle, he proclaims.
Joe Smith, recounts his motivation to join forces with the ISM . "Because
I felt it was one of the best ways for me to use my privilege as a white
middle class American male to directly serve impoverished people of color
who are under-privileged due to the Israeli and other Western governments,
I have dedicated my life to serving such people (ed. Arabs), as I believe
my over-privilege is a direct result of their under-privilege. I have
benefited from their suffering, and this must stop."
ISM activity in Rafah has more to do with being used to defend terrorists
than preventing suffering of the masses. IDF efforts in Rafah were
concentrated on preventing the flow of arms and explosives over the border
from Egypt into the terrorist's dens that riddled the area. Less than a
week after Rachel died defending terrorists, Israeli tanks moved into
Rafah , surrounded several houses, and arrested two Hamas members. IDF
spokesperson, Dellal calls Rafah, "the most dangerous area in the West
Bank and Gaza," and decries the provocative protests of ISM. "There's
nothing wrong with civil disobedience, but these people crossed the line
of what was safe for everyone," Dellal says.
So, while the memorial services laud and remember Rachel Corrie as a peace
activist murdered by Israeli occupation forces, the truth lies elsewhere.
An Israeli bulldozer injured Corrie as she tried to prevent it doing its
job of protecting Israeli civilians, but she was alive when she was taken
to An Najar Hospital, according to at least three eyewitnesses. Only Dr.
Mussa, a man intent on accusing Israel of child killing, claims otherwise.
None of Rachel's comrades have stated they were with her in the hospital
when she died. No one has commented on the extent of efforts to preserve
Corrie's life at An Najar.
And all the while, the ISM continues to encourage misguided young people
from around the world,like Rachel Corrie, to spend time in the Middle East
providing cover for terrorists.
Judy Lash Balint is a Jerusalem based writer and author of Jerusalem
Diaries: What's Really Happening in Israel (Xulon Press). She blogs at
3. In Ben Dror Yemini.s column from last weekend
(http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART1/709/510.html ) , he discusses the
latest group of Jews for a Second Holocaust in Israel, a group calling
itself .Zochrot.(remembrances). No it is not a group trying to maintain
memory about the past century of atrocities done to Jews by Islamofascism.
It is a group trying to .memorialize. the locations and names of villages
and other cites occupied by .Palestinian. interlopers in the Land of
Israel before the 1948 war and declaration of independence of Israel. It
demands that signs be erected by the Israeli government with my money to
mark the locations and villages abandoned when these Arabs fled the battle
zones in 1948-9, including on JNF lands. The JNF has agreed and
.Zochrot.s. political agenda is quite openly the .Palestinian Right of
Return,. meaning its right to destroy Israel and expel the Jews. Its reps
participate din the .Let.s destroy Israel and replace it with a Single
Arab state. conference in London recently, in which several other Israelis
for a Second Holocaust participated. And to top matters off, the Tel
Aviv Municipality is co-sponsoring a photo exhibit with these people about
Arab Jaffa in dem olde days.
The ZOCHROT web page is here: http://www.zochrot.org/index.php?lang=hebrew
4.. Have they no decency?
GOLDIE HAWN HECKLED AT JEWISH CHARITY DINNER IN GLASGOW
Hollywood actress Goldie Hawn was heckled by demonstrators outside a
fund-raising dinner hosted by the Jewish National Fund in the Scottish
city of Glasgow. About 150 demonstrators screaming curses about Israel
and Jews jeered Hawn as she arrived at the event on Sunday March 9.
dinner was to raise funds for a reservoir in the Galilee that benefits
both Jews and Arabs.
Separately, the Israeli ambassador to Britain has been disinvited from
giving a talk at Edinburgh university after threats and protests from
anti-Israeli student groups.
And also in Scotland, two leading Scottish newspapers, the
Edinburgh-based daily The Scotsman, and The Glasgow Herald, are being
by the police after virulently anti-Semitic comments were posted on
their websites alongside articles containing mistranslated comments
Israel threatening to inflict a "Holocaust" on Gaza. The Scotsman has
said it is cooperating with police to try and identify readers who
posted comments urging people to kill Scottish Jews and praising
One of Britain's leading Muslim politicians, Shahid Malik, the
government's minister for overseas development, called upon Britons to
sure that criticism of Israel's actions did not spill over into