How the International Solidarity Movement Caused Rachel Corrie’s Death
The International Solidarity Movement knowingly and willfully endangered Rachel Corrie’s life
by Bill Levinson
Deceased peace activist Rachel Corrie deserves justice, but her parents Craig and Cindy are looking for it in the wrong place: an Israeli courtroom. They are also calling as witnesses members of the organization whose recklessness (or worse) caused their daughter’s death. The indicated link defines reckless endangerment as,
- a crime consisting of acts that create a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person. The accused person isn’t required to intend the resulting or potential harm, but must have acted in a way that showed a disregard for the foreseeable consequences of the actions.
From where we sit, the International Solidarity Movement’s decision to allow or encourage Rachel Corrie to kneel in front of a bulldozer after she had almost been killed by one a mere hour earlier constitutes “a disregard for the foreseeable consequences of the action.” We also note that the ISM and the Palestinians with whom it was working expressed a motive for wanting Rachel Corrie dead; her death would gain enormous publicity for their cause. We don’t think the ISM actually set out to make a snuff film with Rachel as its unwitting star but, when her dangerous form of civil disobedience began to go horribly wrong, it made little or no effort to prevent it from turning out that way.
None of the following material is from a pro-Israel or Zionist source. All is from the International Solidarity Movement, sources friendly to the Palestinians and the ISM or, at worst, neutral sources like newspapers, and all of it underscores the ISM’s reckless disregard for the safety of Rachel Corrie and perhaps of its other volunteers. The repeated theme of how wonderful Rachel’s martyrdom for the Cause exhibits, from where we sit, a callous and depraved indifference to this young woman’s life. Let us begin with the manner in which the ISM knowingly, willfully, and deliberately put her life at risk. From “Making of a Martyr” by Sandra Jordan,
Her British friend and fellow activist, Tom Dale, 18, from Lichfield in Staffordshire, said he saw her die. First, he said, there was fear on her face as she realised that her defiant gesture was going wrong. Joe Smith, 21, who went to college with Corrie, said that, although they acknowledged the danger, they saw death as a ‘small, unlikely, potential risk’.
‘We knew there was a risk,’ Smith said, ‘but we also knew it never happened in the two years that we (the ISM) have been working here. I knew we take lots of precautions so that it doesn’t happen, that if it did happen it would have to be an intentional act by a soldier, in which case it would bring a lot of publicity and significance to the cause.’
Joseph Smith, who was present when Rachel was killed, stipulated that the ISM knew there was a risk, and also note his expression of a motive for hoping that something bad would happen to her: “It would bring a lot of publicity and significance to the cause.” Recall that a definition of recklessness (the legal definition doubtlessly varies from one jurisdiction to another) is behavior that shows “a disregard for the foreseeable consequences of the actions.” The argument that it never happened in two years goes out the door with Smith’s own acknowledgment, as reported by the Electronic Intifada, that it almost happened a mere hour or so before the fatal encounter.
- Picture taken between 3:00-4:00PM, 16 March 2003, Rafah, Occupied Gaza. Rachel Corrie (L) and Nick (R) oppose the potential destruction of this home (to the west of the Doctor’s home where Rachel was killed). In the instance pictured, the bulldozer did not stop and Rachel was pinned between the scooped earth and the fence behind her. On this occasion, the driver stopped before seriously injuring her. Photo by Joseph Smith (ISM Handout).
Right, Mr. Smith, your group takes “lots of precautions so that it doesn’t happen” but you yourself claim to have taken a photo of it almost happening the very same day. You say that Rachel was “pinned between the scooped earth and the fence behind her,” a situation that should have made the potential consequences glaringly obvious to any reasonable human being. A reasonable person would have said at this point, “This could go bad; we had better stop and try something else.” The International Solidarity Movement, however, allowed or encouraged Rachel to do the same thing yet again, thus acting “in a way that showed a disregard for the foreseeable consequences of the actions.”
If we had been an ISM leader at the scene, we would have never allowed this form of protest in the first place. The “something else” we might have chosen would have been to make videos of Israeli bulldozers leveling Palestinian houses and then post them to the Internet–but photos of actual house demolitions are glaringly absent from the ISM’s picture story despite its claims that the IDF was demolishing homes. None of the bulldozer pictures on the Electronic Intifada page show a bulldozer demolishing a house or even in a position to demolish one. If that is what the IDF was doing, why did the ISM not take numerous photographs of, for example, bulldozers actually going through houses? As Sherlock Holmes once pointed out, the fact that the dog did not bark in the night–or, in this case, the ISM produced no photographs of actual house demolitions–is highly significant.
The Electronic Intifada page makes the libelous accusation that an Israeli bulldozer driver (identifiable person) murdered (felony) Rachel Corrie; that is, it accuses him of aiming the bulldozer at her (intention) and then deliberately running her down. Even the ISM accuses him at most of deliberately failing to stop when she went in front of the bulldozer blade. Even if this were true, it could not be murder because of the decedent’s share of the responsibility. When we are talking about murder, though–an accusation raised by the ISM and its allies–it is heap bad judgment to express a motive for wanting the victim dead. As shown above, Joseph Smith talked about how much publicity the death of an ISM activist (preferably one other than himself of course, just as the mullahs who tell teenage boys about Allah and seventy-two virgins are never in a big hurry to blow themselves up) would gain for the Cause. This is not the only such statement he made, and another ISM leader and the Palestinians also said that Rachel was far more useful to them dead than alive. This from FreePalestineCampaign.org, which is hardly a news organ of the “Zionist entity.”
- “The spirit that she died for is worth a life. This idea of resistance, this spirit of resisting this brutal occupying force, is worth anything. And many, many, many Palestinians give their lives for it all the time. So the life of one international, I feel, is more than worth the spirit of resisting oppression.“
Right, Joe, it was worth Rachel’s life but not yours. We savvy. We savvy plenty. This from the San Francisco Chronicle:
- Rishmawi said the ISM’s main purpose is to increase international awareness of Palestinian suffering through the involvement of foreign activists, who pay their own way to the West Bank, where they are trained in various methods of nonviolent direct action.
“When Palestinians get shot by Israeli soldiers, no one is interested anymore,” Rishmawi said. “But if some of these foreign volunteers get shot or even killed, then the international media will sit up and take notice.”
Note that the ISM trains the volunteers–in Rachel’s case, to interact with heavy construction equipment without a hard hat, and to kneel in front of a heavy construction vehicle below the driver’s line of vision–and also that Rishmawi also expressed a motive for wanting her to come to harm. To this a Hamas terrorist adds (per “Making of a Martyr”), “” ‘Her death serves me more than it served her,’ said one activist at a Hamas funeral yesterday. ‘Going in front of the tanks was heroic. Her death will bring more attention than the other 2,000 martyrs.’”
We remind our readers that Hamas is in the business of murdering people and, had Rachel not been run over by a bulldozer, she could well have gotten a bullet through her spine: a bullet of the same caliber as used by the Israeli Army, but fired by a Hamas sniper in the presence of the IDF. The reason that Israel was using armored bulldozers was, in fact, that terrorist snipers sometimes took potshots at the drivers.
“Making of a Martyr” adds that Joseph Smith’s apparent priority was to take pictures of Rachel being run over as opposed to doing anything to try to get her out of the bulldozer’s path (the latter also goes for his fellow activists), and that a Palestinian journalist is sorry not that she was killed but that no one had a video camera with which to make a snuff movie. The latter, Mr. and Mrs. Corrie, is one of the people your daughter was trying to help.
- A traumatised Smith [why was he traumatized before she was run over?] raised his camera and took photographs: Rachel standing in front of the bulldozer [i.e. he began to take pictures when her life was in imminent danger]; then her bloodied body being pulled from the freshly turned soil; being cradled in the arms of her friends.
‘If only they’d had a video camera,’ one Palestinian journalist lamented. ‘A film of the Israelis killing an American in cold blood would have ended the intifada.’
It is disturbing that none of the ISM members attempted to pull Rachel out of the bulldozer’s path when it became clear that her protest was going “horribly wrong,” as one source put it. We would think that an able-bodied man would have been able to pull a relatively light woman aside before the construction vehicle could endanger her or him. If what society once defined as a gentleman had encouraged her to take this risk (which he would not have done), he would have had an obligation to do so. Rachel’s real problem was that no gentlemen were present. We can think of words for men who encourage a woman to take a reckless chance and then fail to help her when it goes bad, but “gentlemen” and even “men” are not among them.
The ISM members do claim that they yelled at the bulldozer driver to stop–a driver in an armored compartment on top of an engine. We have heard car horns while sitting in an unarmored passenger car with its windows rolled up, and we had to look around to see whether they were being blown at us. We recently yelled to a neighbor (inside his vehicle with the windows rolled up) that his headlight was burned out, and we are not sure he heard us. Furthermore, the ISM members had been yelling at the bulldozer drivers all day, and the drivers had probably tuned them out completely by the time they had anything of genuine value to say; Aesop’s fable of the boy who cried “Wolf!” too many times comes to mind.
The bottom line is as follows from where we sit: The ISM lied and Rachel Corrie died.
We also note that the International Solidarity Movement is taking donations via the 501(c)(3) tax exempt A. J. Muste Memorial Institute, and says that donations via Muste are tax deductible. As far as we know, the ISM is not eligible to receive tax exempt money, and the Muste Memorial Institute needs to question whether this is appropriate.