This coming week the verdict will be given in the civil law suit brought by the parents of ISM volunteer Rachel Corrie against the Israeli government. Already the Rachel Corrie Foundation (run by her parents and others) has scheduled a publicity event and is using the occasion to add leverage to its anti-Israel campaigning.
“We ask our friends and allies to take the following actions as you are able:
1. From Sunday, August 26th until Sunday, September 2nd, deliver a letter to TIAA-CREF offices, and remember Rachel as you do. Combine this with a larger event, or designate a few people to deliver the letter. Register your planned action here so we can post it on our website. Download a copy of our sample TIAA-CREF letter and we will e-mail you a poster of a Palestinian family impacted by demolitions using CAT equipment. Our goal is to deliver letters to half of the 60 TIAA-CREF offices. Can you help us exceed our goal? With photos and videos from your actions we will launch a nationwide social media campaign with images that show the level of support for TIAA-CREF divestment.
2. Print this image of Rachel. Photograph yourself with it, and post it on our new Tumblr blog. Deliver the photo to the nearest Israeli Consulate demanding accountability and an end to home demolitions. We will gather images worldwide and also send them to the U.S. Department of State.
3. Take part in a live conference call with the Corrie family, Wednesday, August 29th, 6:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time/ 9:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. To participate in the call, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Host a house party or community gathering for those who want to join the call.
4. Sign the petition in support of the campaign to pressure TIAA-CREF to divest.”
When Rachel Corrie was accidentally killed nine and a half years ago, public awareness of the nature of the organization (also known as the Palestine Solidarity Movement – PSM – in the US) which sent her and many others to endanger their lives in a war zone (and still does) was perhaps limited. The International Solidarity Movement had, after all, only been in existence for a short while at the time, having been founded in 2001 – several months after the second Intifada commenced.
In 2002 its members had made some headlines by trying to act as ‘human shields’ for terrorists holed up in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and for the Intifada’s instigator, organizer and financer Yasser Arafat in his muqata compound, but frankly, there was just too much going on at the time for much media attention to be paid to a group of foreigners deliberately placing themselves in the middle of a terror war. Hence, statements endorsing Palestinian terror by the ISM’s founders – such as the one below – received limited attention in much of the mainstream media.
“Let us reiterate, we accept that Palestinians have a right to resist with arms, as they are an occupied people upon whom force and violence is being used. The Geneva Conventions accept that armed resistance is legitimate for an occupied people, and there is no doubt that this right cannot be denied.
The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics – both nonviolent and violent. But most importantly it must develop a strategy involving both aspects. No other successful nonviolent movement was able to achieve what it did without a concurrent violent movement..”
Over the years, however, the ISM’s name has kept cropping up in connection with various security-related issues, as part of the ‘Free Gaza’ campaign which organizes the flotillas aimed at breaching the naval blockade on Gaza and as one of the organisers of the recent ‘flytillas’ and the ‘Global March to Jerusalem’ . Hence both its methods and its goals have become more visible.
The ISM’s aim – as expressed below by its co-founder and leader Adam Shapiro – is to transform the Arab-Israeli conflict into a battle against Israel by the rest of the world.
“What we’ve been doing over the last ten years with the International Solidarity Movement, Free Gaza, and all the other outgrowth organizations and movements and groups is to …work with Palestinian society to ramp up the resistance. This is all part of a Palestinian movement for Palestine... This is truly an international movement … It’s only Palestine, this cause that has been going on for over 60 years, that generates this kind of activism, this kind of resistance… Free Gaza is but one tactic of a larger strategy, to transform this conflict from one between Israel and the Palestinians, or Israel and the Arab world…to one between the rest of the world and Israel…”
Some of the ISM’s volunteers are undoubtedly naïve young people who arrive in the Middle East with little understanding either of the conflict itself or the manner in which they are cynically exploited by the organisation’s extremist leaders. The ISM, however, is rarely – if ever – held to account by the families (or countries) of those injured or killed as a result of its having encouraged and facilitated their unnecessary entry into a conflict zone and their collaboration – knowingly or not – with proscribed terrorist organisations, even despite statements from ISM leaders such as this one concerning Rachel Corrie’s death:
“It’s possible they [the protesters] were not as disciplined as we would have liked,” Thom Saffold, a founder and organizer of the International Solidarity Movement, said in a telephone interview from the group’s base in Ann Arbor, Mich. “But we’re like a peace army. Generals send young men and women off to operations, and some die.”
One can, of course, comprehend the perhaps subconscious defence mechanism which lies behind the need of some parents to make sense of their child’s unnecessary tragic death or injury by believing that it was for ‘a cause’ and the urge to blame parties other than the organization which put their loved one in such a position so as not to ‘betray’ their child’s ideals.
But the inevitable and predictable utilization of the upcoming court verdict in order to leverage the continuing publicity and propaganda campaign in aid of a fringe cult, which collaborates with terrorist organisations to try to undermine a sovereign country and prevent a peaceful solution to a long and painful conflict, is somewhat more difficult to accept. It is, in fact, just as disturbing as the other, original, cynical exploitation of a young woman nearly a decade ago.
Rachel Corrie’s parents being presented with a framed portrait of their
daughter by Yasser Arafat, at Arafat’s compound in Ramallah, Sept. 2003
Associated Press: Cindy and Craig Corrie, right, parents of late American peace activist Rachel Corrie display the Bethlehem 2000 medal awarded by the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at his office in the West Bank town of Ramallah Thursday Sept. 25, 2003.