The Corrie case: Reckless choices

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 death.

August 28, 2012 21:45
4 minute read.
Rachel Corrie Trial

Rachel Corrie Trial 370. (photo credit: Reuters)


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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 death.

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 intentional.

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 venues.

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 under the auspices of Palestinian terrorist organizations.”

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 Movement.”

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 initiatives.

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 justice.

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 killed.

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.

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