Today, the District Court in Haifa handed down its long-awaited verdict in the
Rachel Corrie trial. The court found that Corrie’s own negligence led to her
Corrie was killed in Gaza in 2003 after kneeling in front of an
IDF bulldozer during a military operation. At the time, the bulldozer was
clearing brush near the Rafah border crossing to prevent illegal weapons
smuggling by terrorists from Egypt.
Corrie, a US college student and
member of the radical International Solidarity Movement (ISM), traveled to Gaza
to serve as a human shield and to directly participate in hostilities between
Israel and Palestinian combatants.
Numerous Israeli investigations as
well as an exposé in Mother Jones, now affirmed by the court, showed that the
driver of the bulldozer did not see Corrie and that her death was not
Nevertheless, immediately following the incident, Corrie
became an instant martyr in the political war against Israel aimed at negating
the Jewish right to national self-determination. In particular, Corrie
became the symbol of the BDS movement and lawfare initiatives; one of the boats
in the violent 2010 Gaza flotilla was also named after her.
Caught up in
the denial, her parents transformed their grief by playing lead roles in the
Israel-bashing delegitimization campaign, and in 2005 launched a high-profile
lawsuit in US federal court against Caterpillar for “aiding and abetting Israeli
war crimes” because the company had built the bulldozer used by Israel (after
modifications) that killed Corrie.
The Corries’ case was thrown out for
attempting to interfere with US foreign policy and because the judge found
Israeli courts were the appropriate venue. The Corries then turned to the
Israeli courts by filing the case in Haifa. As a reflection of the family’s
politicized goals, Corrie’s father admitted that the Israeli suit was initiated
in order to bolster future accusations against Israel in international
NGO superpowers Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as
well as many European government- funded groups, promoted the Corries’ legal
efforts, along with promoting divestment from Caterpillar for its alleged
complicity in the incident.
In so doing, these NGOs routinely obscured
the truth about Rachel Corrie’s activities in Gaza as well as ISM’s involvement
in confrontations with the Israeli military.
For instance, ISM activists
attempted to meet with terrorists who had occupied the Church of the Nativity in
Bethlehem in 2002. In 2003, suicide bombers originating from the UK attacked the
Mike’s Place bar in Tel Aviv, murdering three people.
An official Israeli
report showed how the bombers covered their tracks “by forging links with
foreign left-wing activists and members of the International Solidarity Movement
(ISM).” According to this report, “ISM members take an active part in
illegal and violent actions against IDF soldiers. At times, their
activity...is under the auspices of Palestinian terrorist
Similarly, around the time of Corrie’s death, senior
Islamic Jihad terrorist Shadi Sukiya was arrested while he was hiding in ISM’s
Jenin office and being assisted by two ISM activists. In 2008, ISM member
Richard David Hupper was convicted by a US federal jury for “giving about
$20,000 to Hamas while working in Israel with the International Solidarity
These activities are as far from the principles of human
rights and humanitarian law as one can get, but this did not matter to HRW,
Amnesty and the NGO network that promoted Corrie and other ISM
The anti-human rights agenda of ISM resonates most in its
response to the incident: ISM founder Thom Saffold to The Washington Post, “It’s
possible they [the protesters] were not as disciplined as we would have liked.
But we’re like a peace army. Generals send young men and women off to
operations, and some die.”
Strangely, Corrie’s parents never initiated
legal action against the ISM for its role in Rachel’s death, a failure that
clearly highlights their preference for politics over
Predictably, over the past few weeks, in anticipation of the
Israeli verdict, the hardcore Israel-bashing NGO network began a massive PR
blitz to promote the case and delegitimize the Israeli justice system. As soon
as the court issued its opinion, these activists flooded social media and began
issuing hysterical press releases calling the court decision a whitewash and
decrying supposed Israeli “impunity.”
Despite the Corries’ getting their
day in court, in a transparent and thorough legal process in which they actively
participated, there will no doubt be calls for further lawsuits in European
courts or other international venues, all for immoral political objectives. The
BDS movement will attack the court as a basis for more campaigns and violent
confrontations with the Israeli military.
The sad but undeniable truth is
that Rachel Corrie was reckless and needlessly put herself in danger when she
decided to join the ISM, travel to a war zone, and directly participate in the
Gaza hostilities. When Corrie chose to engage in that extremely high-risk
activity, the chances were high that she would get imprisoned, hurt, or
Though the Corries, HRW, Amnesty and the dozens of European
government-funded NGOs that are active in campaigning against the Jewish state
will continue to accuse Israel of cold-blooded murder and malign its justice
system, after 10 years, it is time to come to terms with the fact that Rachel
was responsible for her own poor choices.
The writer is the Legal Advisor
of NGO Monitor, the Jerusalem-based research institution, and the author of NGO
‘Lawfare’: Exploitation of Courts in the Arab-Israeli Conflict.