The Rachel Corrie myth
Op-ed: Killed ‘peace activist’ one of the most powerful tools in anti-Israel propaganda campaign
March 16 is the anniversary of Rachel Corrie’s death. She is the American college student killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza while attempting to block a house demolition. Israeli authorities claim that the driver was unable to see Corrie, given the restricted vision from his perch, and that she acted recklessly by inserting herself into the path of the bulldozer. But as always happens in the Middle East, lies trumped truth.
The Corrie myth has been one of the most powerful tools in the anti-Israel propaganda campaign. She inspired literary works, boycotts and political memorials all around the world. Her story constituted bad press for Israel that was even worse than the fabricated martyrdom of Mohammed al-Dura.
A few days ago, a lawsuit seeking to overturn Olympia food co-op’s boycott of Israeli goods was dismissed in Washington’s Superior Court. Olympia is the hometown of Rachel Corrie. After her death, Caterpillar has been targeted by a series of initiatives and even the Church of England divested from the company. Fatah mourned Corrie as “the martyr of freedom and peace,” Hamas adopted her face as a mascot and Iran named a street after her.
The mythology presented Corrie as “a peaceful protester,” “a young woman who had dedicated her life to the non-violent defense of others” and as “a new Joan of Arc.” One Gazaflotilla ship was named after her. She was not just an unarmed, idealistic Western girl.
However, Corrie was in the Gaza Strip to serve as a human shield for the Arab terrorist campaign. Her death constituted a devastating blow to Israel’s policy against the terrorists. In Gaza, Israel destroyed homes hiding tunnels used as conduits for weapons, or the homes of Palestinian suicide bombers responsible for slaughtering innumerable civilians. After Corrie's death, this policy became more difficult to pursue and rarer.
A martyr and hero
Meanwhile, Corrie became a martyr and hero. Her hagiography has been exploited by anti-Semites all over the world. For zealots of chaos, Corrie’s death helped to denigrate the State of Israel and its people for their simple desire to stay alive. At Evergreen State University, her professors wore khakis and kaffiyehs at graduation ceremonies.
For Western media, NGOs, legal forums, the United Nations, some churches and ordinary public opinion it was very easy to mythicize the American girl and forget the Israeli Rachels: Rachel Teller, blown up in a shopping mall; Rachel Levy, blown up in a grocery store; Rachel Levi, shot while waiting for the bus; Rachel Gavish, killed with her husband, son and father while celebrating a Passover meal; Rachel Shabo, murdered with her three sons aged 5, 13 and 16 while at home.
Let’s hope that one day these Western peaceniks will ride on Israeli buses to experience the homicidal fear of terrorist attacks, or demonstrate on the streets of Haifa and Sderot, destroyed by rockets. Yet until that day comes, we can say that the human rights industry is rooted in the equality of humankind, with the exception of the Jews.
Giulio Meotti, a journalist with Il Foglio, is the author of the book "A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism"