Blame the ISM, not Israel, for Rachel Corrie’s death

The death of 23-year-old American Rachel Corrie in Gaza in 2003 was indeed tragic. Her death was an accident, however, not intentional on the part of the IDF and Israel or the result of IDF negligence, as the Haifa court concluded this week. The court also ruled that Israel used proper procedures in investigating Rachel’s death.

Rachel Corrie’s parents have brought suits against Israel , the IDF, and the Caterpillar Corporation, accusing them of responsibility for their daughter’s death. Rachel had joined the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), and intentionally entered a closed military security zone near the Philadelphi Corridor in Gaza where she tried to stop an IDF bulldozer from destroying arms-smuggling tunnels. She knelt in the path of the bulldozer, and was accidentally killed by debris that it dislodged. The driver reported that he did not see Rachel, who was below his line of vision.

It is a tragedy when a young person dies, and it is understandable that Rachel’s parents want to hold someone responsible. They should be filing a lawsuit against the ISM (International Solidarity Movement), however, not against Israel.

The ISM, a Palestinian-organized group, recruits young internationals to come to Gaza or the West Bank, and instructs their followers to obstruct Israel’s counter-terrorism measures, thus putting them directly in harm’s way. Rachel came during the height of the Second Intifada and, influenced by ISM’s propaganda, ended up trying to protect Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas, which calls for the murder of Jews, the “obliteration” of Israel and its replacement with an Islamist caliphate. ISM has boasted that injuries to “internationals” like Rachel help it spread propaganda demonizing Israel. Israel refused to allow ISM members into the country after they assisted a Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist and hosted the two terrorists who blew up Mike’s Place, a popular bar on the beach in Tel Aviv in 2003.

It’s clear that poor Rachel was a victim of hateful propaganda. The ISM led her to a war zone and encouraged her to act as a human shield to protect the tunnels used for smuggling weapons to kill Israelis. What is a young American girl doing supporting Hamas’s goals to murder Israeli civilians through suicide bombings? It is unfortunate that she didn’t realize how many young Israeli Rachels were murdered by Hamas and other suicide bombers; it might have changed her perspective. Her parents should be taking their grief and anger out on ISM, the group that recruited and misled Rachel, and urged her to violate a closed military zone.

Israel’s judiciary is one of the most respected in the world. We hope that this verdict closes a chapter for the Corries. It is a shame that they and some media outlets mistakenly refer to Rachel as a “pro-Palestinian peace activist” when ISM and those it tries to protect are simply anti-Israel and anti-peace. After the verdict, the Corries claimed that they at least had recourse to Israeli courts while Palestinians do not. That is false. Palestinians regularly use Israeli courts.

We wish the Corries would channel their energy into finding and assisting moderate Palestinians who want peaceful coexistence, instead of supporting those who want to see the destruction of Israel and who participate in terrorist campaigns against Israeli civilians. By ignoring the dangerous agenda of the ISM, the Corries are promoting more conflict and more deaths of innocents. Perhaps the time they spent in Israel showed them how much Israel works to meet the highest legal standards, and how much Israelis want peace.

About the Author
Roz Rothstein is the co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs, an Israel education organization founded in 2001 which now has 18 offices in the US, Canada, Israel, the UK and Paris. The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Rothstein and her husband Jerry, together with lay leaders such as StandWithUs President Esther Renzer, sought to share the inspiring story of modern Israel with the world, and educate the public about Israel’s achievements and challenges. StandWithUs’ goal is to empower Israel’s supporters globally to be Israel-educators by providing them with training, innovative educational materials, and programs. Prior to founding StandWithUs, Roz spent two decades as a family therapist, licensed in the state of California.  She also worked as the director of family programs at the Westside Jewish Community center and has served on a variety of boards in the Los Angeles area.    StandWithUs has become a leader of Israel advocacy in social media, effective print materials, conferences, and in mobilizing young adults in high school and college who want to educate their campuses about Israel. StandWithUs has also become a leader in organizing missions and conferences in Israel that bring international participants. Rothstein has authored multiple articles and spoken to groups around the world.  In 2007 and then again in 2012, the Forward named Rothstein one of America's 50 most influential Jews, and in 2011, the Jerusalem Post listed her as number 29 of the 50 most influential Jews in the world.