Stories about slain 'shield' lacking

October 6, 2007

by David Kopel

The front page of the Sept. 28 Denver Postfeatured an article and picture about the Denver opening of the play My Name is Rachel Corrie.Inside the paper, a full page was devoted to the subject, including a separate biographical article about Corrie based mostly on an interview with her parents. The Post'shagiography presented a sanitized and misleading story of why Rachel Corrie died.

Corrie left college to work with the International Solidarity Movement, a group that induces young Westerners to serve as human shields against the Israeli military.

Posttheater critic John Moore's biography of Corrie noted that the Anti-Defamation League accuses ISM of "supporting those who engage in armed resistance against Israel." The article further noted that Corrie's mother "calls that a misrepresentation." A better article would have gone further than the inconclusive "he said/she said," so that readers could assess Mrs. Corrie's reliability.

In The Palestinian Chronicleon Jan. 22, 2002, ISM leaders declared that the "The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics - both nonviolent and violent. But most importantly it must develop a strategy involving both aspects. No other successful nonviolent movement was able to achieve what it did without a concurrent violent movement." As reported by the left-wing magazine Mother Jonesin its September/October 2003 issue, the ISM takes to "Embracing Palestinian militants, even suicide bombers, as freedom fighters."

Eleven days after Corrie's death, a senior leader of Islamic Jihad was captured while hiding in the ISM's office in Jenin. (The ISM claims not to have known who he was.) A few weeks later, ISM members served as human shields for terrorists who had taken over a church in Bethlehem. ISM had previously supplied human shields for Yasser Arafat and other terrorists at a compound in Ramallah.

The Poststated that Corrie died "while trying to stop the demolition of a Palestinian pharmacist's home." Why was the home targeted? The Corries are cited for the assertion that Israel was trying "to create a wider buffer zone between Egypt and Gaza."

The Postdidn't tell you that the bulldozer was searching for hidden explosives, booby traps and tunnels in a region known to harbor an extensive terrorist smuggling network. One can criticize the Israeli tactics, but it's not fair to gloss over the peril that produced those tactics.

A large color photo in thePostshowed Corrie standing with a megaphone a few feet from an immense bulldozer. Immediately after Corrie's death, a similar photo was distributed by the ISM with a caption falsely stating that the picture was taken shortly before the collision. As such, the photo supported the claim that the bulldozer operator deliberately hit Corrie. The Postcaption read, in part, "Rachel Corrie standing in front of the bulldozer that witnesses say ran her down, then backed up. . . . "

Mother Jonesprovided a more complete story: "In fact, the megaphone photo was taken hours before Corrie's death; she had handed the loudspeaker to a colleague some time before she was run over, and she was kneeling, not standing, in front of the machine when she was killed."

The Postcaption failed to note that the witnesses who claim that the bulldozer "ran her down" are Corrie's ISM comrades - part of the same group responsible for the photo fabrication.

Moreover, Mother Jonesreported that the Israeli Defence Forces "compiled a video about the Corrie incident that includes footage taken from inside the cockpit of a D9 [bulldozer]. It makes a credible case that the operators, peering out through narrow, doubleglazed, bulletproof windows, their view obscured behind pistons and the giant scooper, might not have seen Corrie kneeling in front of them." A report by the Israeli government said that the kneeling Corrie was hidden by debris.

The Postfront page featured a huge photo of a scene from the Denver play, with a tiny inset of Rachel Corrie herself. The caption for the inset photo was "Rachel Corrie protesting in Gaza." The photo was so small that it is hard to see what she is doing in it. The caption failed to note that she was burning a paper replica of an American flag, for a crowd of children.

The vast bulk of the Post'spair of articles, relying heavily on an interview with Corrie's parents, credulously repeated the ISM line, and offered readers little of the contrary evidence.

Moore did attempt to provide some balance by contacting the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Anti-Defamation League, and by visiting the ADL's national Web site. Unfortunately, the ADL's comments on the Corrie case were terse and vague, giving Moore little to work with.


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