By Vic Rosenthal
Last August, Rachel Corrie’s parents came to Fresno to speak about their daughter. Rachel Corrie was the young International Solidarity Movement (ISM) volunteer who was killed in Gaza in 2003 by an IDF bulldozer. Corrie’s parents and others (ISM leader Adam Shapiro was scheduled but did not appear) presented her death as martyrdom for the cause of peace, and claimed that she was trying to protect a Palestinian home when she was deliberately murdered by the IDF.
The real story is that Corrie’s death was accidental, and ISM photos that allegedly showed Corrie in full view of the bulldozer were taken at a different time and with a different bulldozer. Rather than demolishing a home, the bulldozer was clearing brush near an unoccupied building which sat over the entrance to a tunnel used for smuggling weapons and explosives through the Egyptian border. The ISM is a Palestinian-run organization which recruits young people around the world (but particularly in the US) and uses them to directly obstruct the IDF’s anti-terrorism activities.
Anti-Israel forces have cynically used the tragedy (like they used Corrie and her parents) to establish Israel’s brutality and culpability for war crimes. An entirely one-sided play called My Name is Rachel Corrie featuring readings from her diary and emails has been quite successful in some venues. However, in other places, such as New York and Toronto, productions were canceled due to protests.
A very good site at which to read about the events of 2003, the ISM, and My Name is Rachel Corrie, is RachelCorrieFacts, created by pro-Israel activists in Seattle where the play is now being presented. They also purchased several full-page ads in the play’s program. You can read about the Seattle response to the presentation here.
The Corrie events and exhibits in the Valley were held in multiple locations: Fresno City College, CSUF, KFCF radio and KNXT television (the station of the Catholic diocese!), the Mennonite Brethren Church, Arte Americas (I’m not sure what the relevance was supposed to be), the Center for Non-Violence (Peace Fresno), the Reedley Peace Center, and of course several events at the Islamic Cultural Center, which appears to have been the primary sponsor of these events.
Pro-Israel answers were muted at the time (I can imagine telling Mr. and Mrs. Corrie that their daughter was a dupe of murderous terrorists and not a martyr for peace at all).
I wonder if we’ll see the play here? And I wonder — why isn’t there a play about any number of Israelis who’ve also been killed, not as a result of deliberately entering a war zone, but while on their way to work or eating a pizza?