Shlicha's/Shaliach's View

Anti-Israel cynics led Rachel Corrie to tragic death

Guy Gelbart

After nine long years in which self-appointed “peace activists” used Rachel Corrie’s tragic and accidental death to bash Israel and Israelis in any way they could, the saga came to an end on Aug. 28 with a very clear court ruling: Rachel Corrie negligently ignored ongoing warnings from both the Israel Defense Forces and the U.S. State Department and entered a dangerous war zone.

In the month prior to her death, there were 6,000 instances of grenades thrown at Israeli soldiers in the area, 1,400 instances of Palestinian snipers shooting at Israelis and 150 instances of bombs used against the Israeli forces. Rachel recklessly positioned herself in a location that was invisible from the bulldozer driver’s seat (as an expert brought to court by her parents testified) and it was this act that led to her tragic, accidental death.

The court, after reviewing all the evidence from the scene and hearing all the expert testimonies, concluded that the IDF did everything in its power to avoid any casualties. The bulldozer was not demolishing a Palestinian house, as claimed, but rather was flattening an area in which booby traps were set to kill Israeli soldiers. The death of Rachel Corrie was not a deliberate, cold-blooded murder — as presented by those who try to delegitimize Israel — but rather a tragic accident. The bulldozer driver had no reason whatsoever to want to harm Rachel. He could not have seen her and he took all the security and safety measures possible within the limitations of an extremely hostile and violent area.

Throughout the last nine years, the story of Rachel Corrie became one of the leading symbols of the fight against Israel, with a film and a play based on her diaries, a provocative flotilla boat named after her and numerous articles presenting her as an innocent, compassionate young lady fighting for what was right against the supposed horrible bullies of the IDF.

Here’s the reality: not long before her death, Rachel took part in burning a U.S. flag during demonstrations against the United States and Israel. She was assisting the International Solidarity Movement, a group known for assisting terrorists, in what was at the time the Gaza Strip’s main corridor for weapons smuggling. Like many young adults, she thought she knew what was right and wrong, despite a significant lack of knowledge in the complexities of the situation, the culture of the people in the region and the danger of being in a war zone.

Rachel should not be blamed for her own death; she was a victim. She was a victim of inflammatory, anti-Israel hate propaganda, which cynically used her as a tool in a horrible war. Her youthful spirit, energy and the tendency of young adults to see the world in black and white were used to motivate her into irrational acts, which ended with her painful death. Ironically, those cynical voices will not let the facts confuse them, they will not take the time to reflect on their own responsibility in this senseless death and they will continue spreading lies and hatred.

I see the picture of her parents refusing to accept the court ruling regarding the death of their daughter, and I feel so sorry for them. I wish I could hug them and try to comfort them; let them rest and mourn her death. If there is anything more painful than losing a child, it is learning that the child’s death was an avoidable accident, a wasted unnecessary death. As humans we always seek meaning; we seek someone to blame for our pain. It seems that in this case the real blame should be on those who talked poor Rachel into doing what she did. It is so sad to see how many people continue to use her story in order to poison other young adults with hatred for Israel, motivating them to follow in her footsteps. May she rest in peace.

Guy Gelbart is Tucson’s shaliach (emissary from Israel) and director of the Weintraub Israel Center.