Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Violence Of The International Solidarity Movement And The Death Of Rachel Corrie

During the past few days she [Rachel Corrie] and the nine other ISM activists had become preoccupied with an anonymous letter circulating through Rafah that cast suspicion on the human shields. "Who are they? Why are they here? Who asked them to come here?" it asked. The letter referred to Corrie and the other expatriate women in Rafah as "nasty foreign bitches" whom "our Palestinian young men are following around." It was a sobering reminder that outsiders -- even international do-gooders -- were untrustworthy in the eyes of some Palestinians.

That morning, the ISM team tried to devise a strategy to counteract the letter's effects. "We all had a feeling that our role was too passive. We talked about how to engage the Israeli military," Richard "Fuzz" Purssell told me by phone from Great Britain...That morning, team members made a number of proposals that seemed designed only to aggravate the problem. Purssell, for instance, suggested marching on a checkpoint that had been the site of several suicide attacks. "The idea was to more directly challenge the Israeli military dominance using our international status," Purssell told me.
Joshua Hammer, The Death of Rachel Corrie, in Mother Jones

Left unsaid in the mindless rush to condemn the verdict in the Rachel Corrie death is that the pro-terrorist group International Solidarity Movement that encouraged Rachel Corrie and others to put themselves in harms way have acted, and will continue to act, with impunity -- never having to answer for the deaths and injuries they have caused to their members.

Is the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) really a non-violent group?

Here is the ISM in their own words:

  • Back in 2004, The Daily Telegraph described the International Solidarity Movement as The 'Peace' Group That Embraces Violence:
    In a 2002 article, the movement's co-founders, Adam Shapiro, a New York Jew, and Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian Christian, urged: "The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics, both non-violent and violent."

    Mr Shapiro and Miss Arraf predicted that "yes, people will get killed and injured" and suggested that the casualties "would be considered shaheed", using the Arabic term for martyrs applied to suicide bombers. [emphasis added]

  • The Washington Post wrote that the ISM sees itself as an army where some will die:
    "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." [emphasis added]

  • Richard Purssell, ISM member, acknowledges the danger they put themselves in:
    For two hours we attempted at great risk to ourselves to obstruct and frustrate the bulldozers in their work.

  • In 2002, ISM themselves wrote that the International Solidarity Movement encouraged volunteers to put themselves in danger -- and saw value in it.
    Without a doubt the level of risk dramatically increased in this latest ISM campaign with internationals on the receiving end of shrapnel, live fire over their heads, tear-gassing, rubber bullets, sound bombs, beatings, interrogations, arrests and deportations. Without sounding crass, the benefits were many and obvious. [emphasis added]

  • Corrie’s ISM colleague and handler, Joseph Smith justified sacrifying the lives of its volunteers:
    “The spirit that she died for is worth a life. This idea of resistance, this spirit of resisting this brutal occupying force, is worth anything. And many, many, many Palestinians give their lives for it all the time. So the life of one international, I feel, is more than worth the spirit of resisting oppression.” [emphasis added]

Here is Rachel Corrie, before and after imbibing that "spirit of resisting oppression"
Rachel Corrie in 2002. Credit NY Times
Rachel Corrie burning a mock US flag in 2003. Credit LGF

So, Mr. Smith: Was the propaganda value of Rachel Corrie's life worth it?
  • How much did the International Solidarity Movement have to do with turning Rachel Corrie into what the media glibly calls a "peace activist"?
  • How much did the International Solidarity Movement have to do with Rachel Corrie -- and other members -- putting themselves in harms way?
  • How much longer will the International Solidarity Movement continue to put its members in harms way with impunity?
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1 comment:

Daled Amos said...


I broached the idea to some people, but I don't have a consensus that in the long run this is as pressing as some other issues.