When Craig Corrie approached a group of pro-Israel activists outside the Hackney Empire before the start of a memorial concert for Rachel Corrie everyone was worried he would be angry. It was 1st November 2005, more than two years after Rachel Corrie, his daughter, was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza. She was 23.
The activists were holding up photos of Israeli Rachels murdered by Palestinian terrorists. Rachel Thaler was 16 when she died. She was also a British citizen. The others were Rachel Levy, 17, Rachel Levi, 19, Rachel Charhi, 36, Rachel Gavish, 50, Rachel Ben Abu, 16, Rachel Kol, 53, and Rachel Shabo, 40.
As Tom Gross wrote in 2005 “Even though Thaler was a British citizen, born in London, where her grandparents still live, her death has never been mentioned in a British newspaper.”
But Mr Corrie was not angry. Instead, he was very polite and after he had looked over the photos of the Rachels he said that they were all in his thoughts.
Sadly, his and his wife’s Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice now engages in the childish, ignorant politics of the average anti-Israel activist. The foundation calls for a boycott of Israel and for “the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes”, which would inevitably mean Israel’s destruction.
When I searched the foundation for mentions of the Israeli Rachels it returned “No posts found”.
Yesterday, I was at SOAS in London for the Not Afraid To Look exhibition, which is based on the photos and quotes of Tom Hurndall, aged 22 when he died from his injuries after being shot by an Israeli soldier in Gaza, and Rachel Corrie.
Both were “trained by” the International Solidarity Movement. ISM, the exhibition states, “provided support through non-violent action against arbitrary house demolitions and land theft by the occupying Israeli forces”.
In a sideroom at SOAS I also attended a four-way Skype session that linked up activists in London, Gaza, Edinburgh and Olympia in Washington state, USA where the Corries are based. Tom’s mother, Jocelyn, was in the room in London.
Sadly, Rachel and Tom’s memories were commemorated by racist, childish songs sung from Edinburgh calling for Israel to be boycotted.
Here are some of the lines:
Don’t buy dates, don’t buy jaffa fruits, don’t buy Israeli wines, there’s a boycott going on.
Just read the labels, no looking back, if made in Israel, it stays on the rack.
Tell all your neighbours, don’t be shy, read all the labels before you shop, Israel’s apartheid’s got to stop.
Afterwards, Cindy Corrie praised those lyrics. Haider Eid, in Gaza, told the four-way Skype audience that Israel’s Operation Cast Lead “happened in response to harmless rockets from Gaza”. Meanwhile, the main guest, Jeremy Corbyn MP, failed to show up.
I can understand that the families of Tom and Rachel want justice but when you read the quotes of their children below, especially Tom’s, one has to question just what they were doing in such a dangerous predicament, especially considering that Tom arrived in Gaza AFTER Rachel had been killed.
The two families will, no doubt, continue their quest against Israel but their children should not have been in Gaza and complicity in their tragic deaths lies not just with Israel but with Yasser Arafat, who launched the bloody Second Intifada, themselves as parents for not dissuading their children from going to a war zone and with the ISM who took them there.
Quotes from Not Afraid To Look:
“It is strange to know that each night people are shot and killed for breaking military curfew. And in the darkness on the north west side there is an Israeli settlement a few hundred metres away with a military sniper in between. Any one of us four could be being watched through a sniper’s sights at this moment. The certainty is that they are watching and it is on the decision of any one Israeli soldier or settler that my life depends. I know that I’d probably never know what hit me, but it’s part of the job to be as visible as possible.” Tom Hurndall 6/4/03
“Two ‘young’ brothers shot at by snipers in the tower. Mustafa hit in leg, Rushdie in throat while in the bathroom (through a misted glass window). Ironically, his best hope of survival is if his family pays $4,000 and apply to take him to Israel for treatment.” Tom Hurndall 11/4/03
“Our job is to keep water pumping machinery on-line during the curfew because Palestinian technicians would be shot at if they came out to do it. We stand a better chance.” Tom Hurndall 6/4/03
“It seems that all over Palestine the strategy is the same…They shoot at water tanks on the top of houses for fun. They destroy wells, give all the water supply to settlements and place the off-switch in settlers’ hands to use as a weapon. Everything is deliberately designed to lower the standards of life for Palestinians so that they just get up and leave.” Tom Hurndall 7/4/2003
“I think it is maybe official now that Rafah is the poorest place in the world.” Rachel Corrie 27/2/03
“Rachel (Corrie) was killed in Rafah a few weeks ago. It seems so unfair. Not just on the surface but looking at the images. I wonder how few or how many heard of it on the news and just counted it as another death, just another number…” Tom Hurndall 3/4/03