They counted on the bulldozer to stop.
"I couldn't believe it. I was sure the bulldozer would stop," said Tom Dale, 18, a member of Rachel Corrie's group. "When we arrived she was still alive but had blood all over her face."
They counted on the Israelis' basic human values.
"[The Israeli troops] have shot over our heads, and shot near our feet — they have fired tear gas at us," said Michael Shaik, the group's media coordinator. "But we thought we had an understanding. We didn't think they would kill us."
They dared to protest because they know the Israelis play by civilized rules, rules not binding on the people they came to support. But no rule can protect people from their own foolishness.
On March 16, 2003, in the town of Rafah in southern Gaza, Rachel Corrie, 23, an "international peace protester," dropped to her knees in front of an Israeli bulldozer. The bulldozer was clearing away foliage used to hide bombs. She expected it to stop, but it kept moving, trapping her under its tracks. An ambulance took her to Ajar hospital, where she died.
The protesters called it murder, even though they repeatedly defied warnings to leave the area, and even though a preliminary investigation determined that the driver of the bulldozer could not see Rachel Corrie. According to the inquiry, "the windows of the bulletproof bulldozer are very small and the visibility is very limited, and the bulldozer operator did not see the woman."
Nevertheless the murder charge has persisted. The group to which Rachel Corrie belonged, the International Solidarity Movement, even published "before" and "after" pictures claiming to show that the bulldozer operator could in fact see her.
These pictures have been shown to be a hoax. The "before" picture shows Rachel standing in front of the bulldozer with a megaphone, some distance away and foreshortened by perspective, making her appear to be in clear sight of the bulldozer. The presentation also makes it appear that this took place immediately before the incident. However, the photographer himself later admitted that no one with a camera had been present at the site just before Rachel's accident, that the picture with the megaphone had actually been taken hours earlier, and that at the time of the accident Rachel was not in sight of the driver. An examination of the pictures themselves, noting, for example, the difference in the color of the sky, shows they could not have been taken close to the same point in time.(1) In addition, the bulldozers shown in these supposed "before" and "after" pictures are not the same.(2)
Indeed both CNN, which ran the two pictures, and the New York Times, which ran the first one, published the following corrections:
CNN, March 25, 2003:
Caption clarification: Photos by an International Solidarity Movement eyewitness show Rachel Corrie protesting earlier, and then later, after she was hit by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza on Sunday.(3)
The New York Times, March 26, 2003:
A picture caption on March 17 with an article about an American protester who was crushed by an Israeli Army bulldozer in Gaza referred incorrectly to the bulldozer shown. It was one that the protester, Rachel Corrie, had earlier tried to stop from destroying a Palestinian home. It was not the one that killed her.(4)
Nevertheless pro-Palestinian web sites, including the International Solidarity Movement's own web site, continue to present the two pictures with incorrect and misleading labels.
Another photo in the photographer's own report, posted on pro-Palestinian web sites, shows Rachel's true proportion in relation to the enormous size of the bulldozer, making it clear how the driver could easily have missed seeing her.
Furthermore, what those who accuse Israel never mention is that the bulldozer's task was to eliminate tunnels the Palestinian terrorists were using to smuggle weapons illegally from Egypt into Gaza.(5)(6)
Who are these "international peace protesters" to whom Rachel Corrie belonged?
The group calls itself the International Solidarity Movement. They are a group of European and American activists founded and led by Palestinians. Their agenda is not peace but the Palestinian cause.
They are enablers of terrorism. Because they know that Israel, unlike the Palestinian terrorists, cares about civilian casualties, they present themselves as "human shields," entering combat zones against orders and hindering Israeli efforts to restrain terrorism. And so the previous May members of the group entered the Church of the Nativity, where known Palestinian terrorists were taking a stand against Israeli forces.
They describe themselves as a "peace army." They claim to use only nonviolent tactics. But how nonviolent can one claim to be if one's actions help those who do resort to violence to continue doing their work?
They say they are trying to stop Israel from destroying Palestinian homes. They do not mention that these are buildings that Palestinian gunmen use as cover, or that these buildings hide tunnels used for arms smuggling. They do not mention that Gaza is the center of operations for Hamas, where terrorists are trained, where attacks are launched, and where terrorists hide. They do not mention that Israeli troops entered Gaza after a series of increasingly bloody attacks on civilians planned and executed by Hamas.
Rachel Corrie, an American college student from Olympia, Washington, was a pro-Palestinian activist and member of the International Solidarity Movement. She worked with Palestinian children in Gaza. She felt for their poverty and their suffering. She also helped teach them how to hate. On February 15, 2003, at a rally in Rafah, surrounded by Palestinian children, Rachel Corrie burned an American flag, her face torn with hatred.
I would like to ask these "peace" activists some questions:
If you care so much for children, why do you try to prevent Israel from stopping the activity of terrorists who intentionally murder children as well as other innocent civilians?
Why do you care more about Palestinian property than about Jewish lives?
If you truly stand for peace, will you have the honesty and the courage not only to resist Israeli troops, who obey the laws of civilization, but to ride an Israeli bus and take your chances with those who do not?
Or does "peace" mean trying your best to make sure that terrorists can operate freely?
Perhaps the world at large can also try to answer these questions.
The International Solidarity Movement has this quotation on its web site: "The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it" (Albert Einstein).
And perhaps also because of the people who don't do evil but who make it easier for others to do it.
Or is there really any difference?
CNN News Staff. "Israeli Bulldozer Kills American Protester." March 17, 2003.
Moore, Molly. "American Is Killed By Israeli Bulldozer." The Washington Post, March 17, 2003.
Myre, Greg. "Israeli Army Bulldozer Kills American in Gaza." The New York Times, March 17, 2003.
1. David Bedein, "When Reuters Miscaptioned a Photo, They Changed an Accidental Death into a Murder
," Israel Resource Review, March 21, 2003.
2. David Bedein, "Rachel Corrie, Continued," HonestReporting.com, March 25, 2003.
3. "Israeli Bulldozer Kills American Protester," CNN.com, March 25, 2003.
4. "Corrections," New York Times, March 26, 2003.
5. "Bulldozer Accident," HonestReporting.com, March 20, 2003.
6. "Excerpts: Bulldozer Death of Human Shield Activist," Independent Media Review Analysis, March 18, 2003.
Peace with Realism