Sunday, October 22, 2006


My own feelings about the International Solidarity Movement aside, I feel obliged to defend Rachel Corrie from the likes of Martin Peretz:
Here's the case of another forthcoming book, The Diaries of Rachel Corrie. The book is being published by the highly respected house, W.W. Norton. Shocked word from inside the house is that Norton plans to sell this as a latter Diary of Anne Frank. Anne Frank Rachel Corrie was not. The thought that she might be made over to be boggles the imagination.

Rachel Corrie was the young American woman who was killed in confronting an Israeli Caterpillar bulldozer in Gaza in March of 2003. The rest of the story is very much in dispute, its circumstances having been hyped up by the International Solidarity Movement. The root of the story is really the roots of ISM, a virulently anti-Israel "peace" group that has fronted for Palestinian terrorism ever since it was started. In fact, ISM was complicit in the visit of two Pakistani-descended British Muslims who blew up a jazz club, Mike's Place, on the Tel Aviv beach.

"Complicit in the visits"? What the heck does that even mean? The extent of the terrorists' connection to ISM is this: They attended a memorial ceremony for Corrie, which was open to the public, and they told some people that they were "with" ISM. That's it. I suspect that Peretz is aware of this, covering his ass as he does with such imprecision.
Anne Frank had a tormented familial psychological life. But, in her place of hiding and in her arrest and deportation and in her innocent dream to go to Palestine (a part of the play that Lillian Hellman insisted be cut, but that's another matter), she was an innocent teenager. On the other hand, Rachel Corrie was a "peace tourist," inserting herself bodily on the murderous side of a deep historic dispute and feeling that she is nonetheless protected from fate. That is arrogance.

Not so much arrogance, I think, as naivete. It was naive for Corrie to believe that a country whose partisans trumpet its righteousness as vigorously as do Israel's wouldn't simply murder her in cold blood, that it might hit the brakes on the bulldozer before it buried her body under a mound of rubble.

Then again, part of me thinks she knew exactly what she was getting into. She'd spent several months living in Israeli-occupied Palestine, so it's likely that she was well aware of the brutality of which the IDF was capable.

Rachel Corrie was a young woman who put her body where her beliefs were. She gave up the comfortable life of an American college student in order to go and share the life of Palestinians under occupation. She felt responsible for the violence that was underwritten, continues to be underwritten, by the taxpaying citizens of the United States. Her activism, her willingness to put herself in harm's way because of her beliefs, both inspires and shames me, as it should inspire and shame us all.

I agree with Peretz, however, that the comparison to Anne Frank is inapt (though let's remember that Marty is basing his entire rant on "shocked word" from "inside" W.W. Norton, no doubt left for him at a secret dead drop where he gets all his hot tips.) Anne Frank was a child, a victim of circumstance. Rachel Corrie was an adult who made a moral decision to risk her life in the cause of justice. It would be more appropriate to compare Corrie to Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman, two northeastern American college students who travelled to the Jim Crow South to help register African Americans to vote, and were murdered, along with civil rights worker James Chaney, by racist thugs in Mississippi, 1964. Like them, Corrie left a comfortable life because she couldn't sit still for the violence being done in her name. Like them, Corrie was killed for it.

Rachel Corrie was "arrogant" like Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were "arrogant." She was a "tourist" like Goodman and Schwerner were "tourists."

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