Seeing Red at Evergreen

As interested parties digest material related to the Presbyterian Church debate coming up in July, word came across the Divest This Communications Command Center (OK, my AOL account – the last in the nation I believe) that students at Evergreen State College in Washington State had voted to demand their institution divest from Israel.

“But you said divestment always loses!” I hear friends and critics cry out. Well actually, I said divestment is a loser, which does not necessarily mean that loses each and every time it’s introduced into an institution. As I’ve noted before, BDS is an ever-mutating virus, one that enters the body politic of institutions via various mechanisms including behind-the-scenes maneuvering with organizational leaders (as with the Mainline Protestant Churches) or defiantly going around such leaders when they refuse to play ball (as with colleges and universities whose leaders have made it clear they have no intention of following the divestnik’s demands). When a vote goes their way, they’re all aboard for democracy. When it’s reversed by the same body they declare “democracy is dead,” blah, blah, blah.

Now remember that student government (like aging rockers) represents a “soft target” in the BDS wars. For unlike the people who actually run a university or manage its money, student government can make decisions on matters over which it has absolutely no control. Much like delegates at the Model United Nations I attended in high school that voted overwhelmingly to call for a UN Space Fleet, student government bodies can take positions on all sorts of matters beyond their mandate, knowing full well they have no responsibilities beyond striking a pose.

And even in this soft-target category, when the BDSers peddle their poison at the large, well-known schools that are their real target (such as University of California campuses targeted this Spring) they still lose. Thus, their only “victories” after a decade of effort are at institutions where they have unique advantages such as Wayne State in Michigan, home of one of the largest populations of Muslim students in the US. And even at Wayne State, their efforts only led to condemnation by the school’s administration announcing that the institution will never divest from Israel.

Which brings us to Evergreen State which apparently put divestment measures to a student vote this week, a vote which they apparently won by large majorities. Now given that they are only reporting percentages, I could get cute and ask if that is a percentage of the 4800+ student body (which means they received over 3000 votes on each measure) or a percentage of those who actually voted (which means these “overwhelming victories” represent the votes of a much smaller percentage of the actual student body). But let’s take it for given that a democratic win is a democratic win which “counts” as long as people play by the rules (a generosity of interpretation I wish would be reciprocated by divestment backers who never seem to take a democratic “No” for an answer when it’s delivered repeatedly at other institutions).

I could also make a crack about Evergreen’s relative obscurity vs. the fame of the many schools where BDS has lost big. But in addition to being snobby, such commentary would miss the real significance of Evergreen as the former campus home of Rachel Corrie.

Corrie, as some of you may know, was an Evergreen undergraduate who fell in with a really bad crowd. But rather than simply taking up cigarettes or grain-alcohol Jello shots, the habit she picked up was radical politics under the “guidance” of the International Solidarity Movement (or ISM).

ISM’s specialty, in addition to infiltrating various pro-Palestinian and anti-war organizations, involves recruiting students who it then sneaks into Israel and puts into harm’s way. At least one other of its recruits has gotten killed taking part in violent protests against Israeli soldiers, after which his corpse was immediately sanctified as that of a peace activist (sound familiar?).

But Corrie was not killed taking part directly in violent activity. Depending on whom you believe, she was killed while trying to block Israeli bulldozers from either (1) destroying homes in the Gaza Strip for the fun of it; or (2) destroying Gaza houses that covered tunnels used for weapons smuggling.

The reason Caterpillar Tractor is on the top of every divestment list (in addition to it being such a widely held company that it allows the BDSers to bring their campaign to virtually any institution in the country) is that it was a Caterpillar tractor that ran over the aforementioned Ms. Corrie. So for the last eight years, Caterpillar shareholder meetings have become sacred sites where anti-Israel activists gather yearly to demand boycott votes against Israel (which they always lose). And this is why students at Evergreen State, former home of Ms. Corrie, are demanding the school divest from Caterpillar, even though it’s not clear if the school holds a single share in the company.

The interesting thing is that Caterpillar Tractor and the Israeli government, both on their own and in response to lawsuits directed against them over the Corrie affair, have performed investigations of what happened in Gaza the day Corrie perished. While ISM activists have not been happy with the outcome of these investigations, no one can say that they never took place.

In contrast, I’m not aware of any similar investigation that took place within the ISM about the role they played in leading Ms. Corrie to her death. After all, it was the ISM that “educated” Corrie and others about the evils of Israel and the immediate need to take direct action to confront this evil. It was the ISM that helped Corrie get into Israel on false pretences. And the ISM all but set out cardboard footprints for her to follow that placed her directly in the path of dangerous machinery in a war zone, a situation that led inevitably to her demise.

Now one would think that an organization committed to its members (not to mention justice) would take part in some measure of soul searching before lashing out to blame others for a situation in which ISM played such a key role. But as far as I know, ISM has never mentioned (much less released) results of such an internal investigation, which leads me to believe that no soul searching was necessary since Corrie’s death was an unexpected, but much desired outcome of their activity.

So before decision-makers at Evergreen or anywhere else are asked to take student opinion into account with regard to the school’s investment and divestment choices, especially since the issue of divestment is so bound up in Caterpillar and Corrie at this particular college, I recommend that all information needed to make such a decision be put on the table. This will include the results of investigations by Caterpillar and Israel on the role they may have played in Corrie’s death. And it will include any similar reports generated by the ISM over the last eight years that analyze that organization’s own role (not someone else’s) in the events leading up to Rachel Corrie losing her life.

Fair enough? And if it turns out ISM never created such a report and never engaged in a single minute of soul searching regarding its own activities before it decided to let Israel’s wash away ISM’s own sins, well that tells us a great deal as well.

20 thoughts on “Seeing Red at Evergreen”

  1. Evergreen is not divesting, as you say, “from Israel,” but only from companies that directly benefit from the occupation. This is not a cultural boycott, and if Evergreen money is invested in regular Israeli companies, it will remain there.

    We are not divesting “from” Caterpillar (unless we do invest in the company, which would violate resolution #1, see above, but, like you, I don't know if we invest in the company), we are simply voting for Caterpillar equipment to be removed from campus, as caterpillar equipment is currently used in construction on campus.

    35% of the student body voted. Which is 10% more than voted last year, when similar resolutions were on the ballot, except divestment. And you can be as cute as you want, saying “well that's not an overwhelming majority” but that's how elections are run, my friend. Look at America's presidential elections. How many people actually turn out to vote in those? In 2008, I read 58% of eligible voters actually voted. But 100% of eligible voters is still not 100% of the people. So that's a pretty low amount, too. At least our 35% was 35% of everyone, as everyone who attends Evergreen is automatically eligible to vote.

    Sorry, but divestment really did win this time around. Guess it didn't help that Israel boarded a humanitarian aid ship and killed a bunch of people.

  2. If you read my piece again, you'll see that I'm perfectly clear that “a democratic win is a democratic win,” even if it's by a majority of a minority. As you say, that's how elections work, and representative government means most of the decisions needed to run a society are made by far fewer numbers than these.

    Which means that if we must accept the vote at Evergreen as a “success” for BDS, then it is incumbent on BDS supporters to agree that the hundreds of No votes by citizens and constitional representatives on campuses, churches and other institutions across the country over the decade during which the BDS campaign has been in full swing must be placed on the other side of the scale when we decide if BDS is on the ascendent, or – as I have said in the past – a loser.

    As for your final comment, you might have a case if you were referring to the five ships that did not include weapon-weilding killers with one-million Euros and a bevy of killing instruments sitting on top of that stack of “humanitarian aid.” But, of course, no one was killed on the ships whose crew did not turn into a lynch mob. Death only visited the one ship that created a situation where (just like Rachel Corrie and the ISM) death was as inevitable as the blaming of Israel for the “peace movement's” own murders by negligence.

  3. Wow, I didn't realize your blog full of misinformation and slander had enough clout to tell Evergreen students, Cat, International Solidarity Movement, and school investors what to do! You must be real proud of yourself sitting behind your glowing computer screen and getting red in the face trying to think of slanted adjectives to sling without any references mentioned in your entire article. Since your making advice I hope you'll take mine: Take your diary off the internet and put it back in a flowery notebook under your mattress where it belongs!

  4. Dear Anonymous #1 – I have no illusions that as a single person working alone at my computer, I can make an international organization like the ISM come clean about its role in the Rachel Corrie affair (or make them do anything else for that matter). All I can do is point out that, alone among the players in her death, they are the only group that does not seem to have asked any questions about their own responsibility for a young girl's demise. Readers (such as you) are free to prove me wrong by providing any reports that ISM generated which analyize their own culpability and thus prove me wrong. Absent that, we are all free to draw our own conclusions.

  5. Dear Anonymous #2 – You'll have to point me to the part of their report that says Corrie was killed in some other manner. I'm aware of statements that the driver of the tractor didn't see her, and of theories regarding the timing of her death, but not ones stating that her death was caused by something or someone else.

    In addition to providing primary source material that backs up your claim, can you also point me towards any report genereted by the ISM regarding its own (vs. everyone else's) level of responsibility regarding Rachel Corrie's death? I still can't find it, and no one yet seems to be able to point me towards the existance of such information. Thanks!

    Jon

  6. (This post is broken into 2 parts. This is Part 1 of 2)

    Okay, Jon. This is silly. You have a kneejerk reaction to defend Israel right or wrong. Since this defense of Israel is not based on facts, you decide to fabricate your own “facts.” Then when folks challenge you on your “facts,” you tell THEM to prove you wrong, even though you have provided no evidence to support your obviously false claims.

    In other words, you want other people to do your research for you — research that you should have done prior to spouting off unsubstantiated opinions. Have you ever heard of Google?

    1. You wrote:

    “You'll have to point me to the part of their report that says Corrie was killed in some other manner. I'm aware of statements that the driver of the tractor didn't see her, and of theories regarding the timing of her death, but not ones stating that her death was caused by something or someone else.”

    It's obvious that you don't even KNOW the conclusion of the Israeli investigation. Israel claims that the bulldozer never ran over Corrie. Israel claims that Corrie was likely killed by a falling slab of concrete. See here:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/apr/14/israel1
    “The finding of the operational investigations shows that Rachel Corrie was not run over by an engineering vehicle but rather was struck by a hard object, most probably a slab of concrete which was moved or slid down while the mound of earth which she was standing behind was moved.”

    http://www.hrw.org/en/node/11687/section/9
    “no signs substantiate assertion that Ms Corrie was run over by a bulldozer”
    “Contrary to allegations, Ms. Corrie was not run over by a bulldozer, but sustained injuries caused by earth and debris which fell on her during bulldozer operation.”

    Since you earlier praised Israel for conducting its own investigation, how can you possibly now claim that you didn't know what the investigation concluded? You care so much about the investigation but you don't care about the content of the investigation? (By the way, there were two Israeli investigations.)

    You are so intent on defending Israel's actions, that you have even contradicted Israel's claims behind those actions.

    2. You wrote:

    “The interesting thing is that Caterpillar Tractor and the Israeli government…have performed investigations of what happened in Gaza the day Corrie perished. While ISM activists have not been happy with the outcome of these investigations, no one can say that they never took place.”

    This is wrong. The Caterpillar Corporation has NEVER conducted an investigation “of what happened in Gaza the day Corrie perished.” You just made that up. Can you produce a copy of the investigation? Can you even find a quote or summarize the result of Caterpillar's alleged investigation? No, because there never was one.

    Moreover, can you point me to a copy of Israel's investigation? No, because Israel's own investigation remains classified. It is not available to the public. Immediately after Corrie's death, Ariel Sharon promised George W. Bush that Israel would conduct a “thorough, credible and transparent investigation.” (see http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/general-tried-to-cover-up-truth-about-death-of-rachel-corrie-1965623.html)

    To this day, the US State Dept. insists that Israel has not done so:

    “For seven years, we repeatedly have pressed the Government of Israel at the highest levels to conduct a thorough, transparent and credible investigation into the circumstances concerning her death.” (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2010/03/138498.htm)

    As well, Israel has rejected any independent investigation of the circumstances behind Corrie's death, despite calls from human rights organizations.

  7. (This post is broken into 3 parts. This is Part 2 of 3)

    3. You wrote:

    “Depending on whom you believe, [Corrie] was killed while trying to block Israeli bulldozers from either (1) destroying homes in the Gaza Strip for the fun of it; or (2) destroying Gaza houses that covered tunnels used for weapons smuggling.”

    Wrong. If you want to go by what Israel claims (which is what you're trying to do with claim #2), then here is the actual claim: Israel says that the bulldozers had no intention of demolishing homes that day. Israel also claims that the home of the Nasrallah family (which Corrie was protecting) was not targeted for demolition. Israel NEVER claimed that the Nasrallah home had a smuggling tunnel underneath. Instead, Israel claims that on March 16, 2003, the bulldozers were merely clearing brush and searching for any planted explosives.

    IDF Captain Jacob Dallal: “This was not an operation to demolish houses.”
    http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=13822

    “On the day that Rachel Corrie died, the army was using its giant American-made armored bulldozers to search for explosives that might have been planted in the buffer zone by Palestinians, according to Captain Dallal.”
    http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/Content?oid=13822

    4. You wrote:

    “At least one other of its recruits has gotten killed taking part in violent protests against Israeli soldiers, after which his corpse was immediately sanctified as that of a peace activist.”

    No such thing happened. You don't provide any details, but I assume you're talking about the IDF killing of Tom Hurndall. After Hurndall was shot, Israel claimed that Hurndall was wearing “tiger fatigues” and shooting at an Israeli outpost. Video and photographic evidence contradicted this. After pressure from Britain, Israel finally admitted that neither Hurndall nor anyone else was engaged in violence toward the IDF when Hurndall was shot.

    Instead, Israel pinned the blame on a Bedouin IDF soldier, Taysir Hayb. So when you defend Israel by saying that Hurndall was “killed taking part in violent protests against Israeli soldiers,” you're once again contradicting Israel's own claims.

    5. You wrote:

    “The reason Caterpillar Tractor is on the top of every divestment list (in addition to it being such a widely held company that it allows the BDSers to bring their campaign to virtually any institution in the country) is that it was a Caterpillar tractor that ran over the aforementioned Ms. Corrie.”

    You neglect the fact that activists were protesting Caterpillar even before Corrie was killed. Caterpillar has been put on notice by human rigths groups at least since 2001. In 2001, Caterpillar spokesperson Benjamin Cordani responded to complaints from activists and human rights organizations by saying, “We do not base sales on customer’s intended use for our product.”

  8. (This post is broken into 3 parts. This is Part 3 of 3)

    6. You wrote:

    “And this is why students at Evergreen State, former home of Ms. Corrie, are demanding the school divest from Caterpillar, even though it’s not clear if the school holds a single share in the company.”

    See, you're criticizing the two resolutions passed at Evergreen, but you don't even know what the resolutions say. You seem to have mixed the two resolutions here! So much for your authority.

    7. You wrote:

    “In contrast, I’m not aware of any similar investigation that took place within the ISM about the role they played in leading Ms. Corrie to her death.”

    Notwithstanding the fact that it is not ISM's obligation to conduct an investigation, since ISM didn't kill Corrie, ISM has publicly released photographs and eyewitness testimony. You can find some of the testimony here:

    http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article1263.shtml
    http://www.lovinrevolution.org/rachel_writings.htm
    http://www.hrw.org/reports/2005/iopt0605/8.htm

    Of course, it's people like you who ignore this testimony. Do you want ISM to conduct a more thorough investigation? Then you should tell Israel, because Israel to this day has prevented any independent investigation into Corrie's death to take place. ISM testimony has been more thorough than anything Israel has provided.

    Finally, I think it's funny that you are so intent on declaring that “divestment is a loser” and ridiculing student resolutions on divestment. You pretend not to take it seriously, yet you have an entire blog devoted to bashing it!

  9. Dear PN – I stated that Israel conducted an investigation regard its role in Rachel Corrie’s death. Given that you have citing that information liberally (albeit selectively), you cannot deny that such an investigation took place. You may disagree with it, even violently rejects its conclusions, but you cannot claim such an investigation doesn’t exist.

    Regarding Caterpillar Tractor, as you may know the case of Corrie Vs. Caterpillar required the company to provide not just an argument, but a legal defense of its role regarding responsibility for use of its equipment by customers. The result of that defense was a dismissal of all complaints against the company by a Washington district court (see http://ccrjustice.org/files/Corrie_decision_11_05_0.pdf). Again, you are free to violently disagree with the way Caterpillar defended itself, but unless you are claiming that the Peoria tractor company got a Tacoma court to dismiss charges by slipping them an envelope full of twenties, you cannot claim that the company did not defend its role in the affair to the satisfaction of a US court.

    The ISM, in contrast (and as you illustrate), has published a great deal about the Corrie affair, but all of it (including everything you cite) involves placing the blame on anyone other than themselves. And so your response merely supports my original statement that: Caterpillar built the tractor, Israel bought it, but the ISM recruited Rachel Corrie, trained her, snuck her into Israel, brought her into Gaza, and told her exactly where to stand and what to do during a day in which she was killed following the ISM’s instructions. Israel looked at its role in Corrie’s death, Caterpillar examined its corporate responsibilities regarding where and to whom it sells its equipment, and ISM has spent the last eight years blaming everyone but itself for a young girl’s death.

    Unless and until you or someone else unearths what I have been unable to find, that is an investigation by ISM into its own substantial role in the death of Rachel Corrie, I think we can assume that such an investigation never took place which means the organization may be more than ready to martyr new recruits (potentially new Evergreen students) in order to continue its ongoing propaganda war.

  10. Jon — again, you don't know what you're writing about. You're contradicting yourself, and you're still making stuff up.

    1. Previously, you wrote:

    “You'll have to point me to the part of their report that says Corrie was killed in some other manner. I'm aware of statements that the driver of the tractor didn't see her, and of theories regarding the timing of her death, but not ones stating that her death was caused by something or someone else.”

    Thus I cited relevant parts of the report to the extent that I could. Because of that, you now accuse me of “citing that information liberally (albeit selectively).”

    Wrong. I cited the part that you challenged people to cite. Now that I cited it, you accuse me being selective.

    As I've said before, THE ISRAELI INVESTIGATION REPORT IS NOT AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC. You accuse me of “selectively” citing information from the Israeli investigation, but that's because the entire investigation is not available!

    You, on the other hand, have not bothered citing ANYTHING from the Israeli investigation. The fact that there was an internal investigation that remains secret (and thus we cannot judge the validity of its methodology) is inconsequential to you.

    Moreover, you denied that Israel's investigation concluded that Corrie was NOT run over by the bulldozer. I cited parts of the investigation that said so.

    I show you where you have made false statements, yet you fail to concede. Do you or do you not accept the fact that Israel has officially declared that Corrie was never run over by the bulldozer?

    2. You wrote:

    “Regarding Caterpillar Tractor, as you may know the case of Corrie Vs. Caterpillar required the company to provide not just an argument, but a legal defense of its role regarding responsibility for use of its equipment by customers. The result of that defense was a dismissal of all complaints against the company by a Washington district court (see http://ccrjustice.org/files/Corrie_decision_11_05_0.pdf).”

    “…unless you are claiming that the Peoria tractor company got a Tacoma court to dismiss charges by slipping them an envelope full of twenties, you cannot claim that the company did not defend its role in the affair to the satisfaction of a US court.”

    You cite the 9th Circuit Court's dismissal order, but you obviously haven't read it. The case was NOT dismissed because of any close investigation into Corrie's death. Caterpillar NEVER conducted an investigation into Corrie's killing. Instead, the court dismissed the case because it found varying regional laws inapplicable to the locations and considered the circumstances of the case were beyond the court's jurisdiction:

    “For this Court to order Caterpillar to cease supplying products to Israel would certainly invade the foreign policy prerogatives of the political branches of government. As Caterpillar states and this court agrees: 'This lawsuit challenges the official acts of an existing government in a region where diplomacy is delicate and U.S. interests are great.'”

    See also: http://www.exportlawblog.com/archives/226

    You still have not shown me Caterpillar's investigation, because Caterpillar made no investigation. That was not what they argued over in in the 9th Circuit Court.

    3. You wrote:

    “Unless and until you or someone else unearths what I have been unable to find…”

    The problem is that you “have been unable to find” anything at all. That's not my problem. That's yours. I can provide you with source and citation after citation. You provide nothing. And yet you ignore all citations and continue to fabricate arguments with no qualification.

    In other words, you're incorrigible and impossible. “Divest this!” What a joke…

  11. Dear PN – You are not the first ISM apologist to employ the “Rumplestiltzken Defense” of hoping that if you stamp your feet hard enough and long enough, the required amount of dust will be kicked into the air to avoid having to answer the question that still sits out there (no matter how much you try to push blame onto others). To wit:

    (1) Did the Israelis investigate their role in the Rachel Corrie affair? Yes (not to your liking, not drawing the conclusions you want, not reporting to the degree you would prefer, but yes, unquestionably yes)
    (2) Did Caterpillar investigate the relevant issues related to the use of equipment it sells to third parties: Again, unquestionably yes (even thought that meant a legal defense that focused specifically on the legal matters at hand)
    (3) Did the ISM ever investigate its responsibility for Rachel Corrie’s having recruited her, snuck her into Israel, drove her into a war zone and told her to stand in front of a tractor: After eight years of looking into it and asking this question to any ISM member or apologist I come across, I think it’s safe to say that the answer is NO, that ISM has been more than ready to attack everyone else involved with Rachel Corrie’s death, but has NEVER ONCE been willing to admit its own responsibility for getting her killed

    Presuming you’re not a member of ISM yourself (and thus not privy to the internal communication that could prove my last point wrong), perhaps you can give us your thoughts about what you think ISM’s responsibility is for the Corrie tragedy? It’s no substitute for the genuine documented soul searching by the ISM itself (that I think is safe to say by now does not exist), but it could give readers a valuable insight into whether those who claim concern about people like Rachel Corrie really care enough to place responsibility where it might prevent a repeat of such tragedies in the future.

  12. Part 1 of 2:

    Feet stamping? I provided you with facts and citations. You either change the subject subtly to make it seem like you've been addressing a different issue, or else you ignore everything I've written.

    I called you out on a lot of falsehoods, and you haven't acknowledged them (for instance, the circumstances behind Tom Hurndall's death).

    I show how you even contradict Israel's statements, and you ignore that.

    Let's see. What now?

    1. You wrote:

    “(1) Did the Israelis investigate their role in the Rachel Corrie affair? Yes (not to your liking, not drawing the conclusions you want, not reporting to the degree you would prefer, but yes, unquestionably yes)”

    The problem is not that the investigation is not to my liking. The problem is that the investigation is not available and is therefore worthless. Even the US State Dept. declares it worthless (see my citation above). Neither YOU nor I have seen the actual report. The most that I have seen is what has been cited by news reports and human rights groups, which is not much.

    I don't dispute the investigation because I can’t SEE the investigation. Neither can you.

    Again, the problem is not that the Israeli investigation does “not draw[] the conclusions [I] want,” the investigation does not draw the conclusions YOU want. That is, you STILL refuse to accept that Israel claims that the bulldozer never ran over Corrie, ACCORDING TO THE INVESTIGATION.

    2. You wrote:

    “(2) Did Caterpillar investigate the relevant issues related to the use of equipment it sells to third parties: Again, unquestionably yes (even thought that meant a legal defense that focused specifically on the legal matters at hand)”

    Here you change the issue after I called you out on it.

    Remember, you originally claimed that “Caterpillar…performed investigations of what happened in Gaza the day Corrie perished…[N]o one can say that they never took place.”

    Since I proved you wrong, you change the focus to “Did Caterpillar investigate the relevant issues related to the use of equipment it sells to third parties: Again, unquestionably yes (even thought that meant a legal defense that focused specifically on the legal matters at hand).” This is DIFFERENT from what you originally claimed!

  13. Part 2 of 2:

    3. “Did the ISM ever investigate its responsibility for Rachel Corrie’s having recruited her, snuck her into Israel, drove her into a war zone and told her to stand in front of a tractor…perhaps you can give us your thoughts about what you think ISM’s responsibility is for the Corrie tragedy?”

    Sure, I will give you my thoughts. See, Jon. This is where you and I differ. I'm willing to answer your questions. I'm willing to answer you directly. I quote you fully and then make direct responses.

    On the other hand, you ignore my citations. You ignore my questions and challenges to you. Instead, you change the subject.

    But I will answer your question:

    Unlike your omniscient self, I happen to have known Rachel Corrie. I spoke with her frequently before she left for Palestine. I spoke to her by phone and we communicated to each other by email when she was in Rafah. I know for a fact that she specifically chose to go to Rafah. ISM did not ask her to do so. In fact, she made that plan to go to Rafah before she even decided to connect with ISM. (I know that's hard for you to believe, because it doesn't fit into your perception of the world.)

    ISM did not sneak her into Israel. She entered Israel through Ben Gurion Airport like tons of people do every day. She traveled to Gaza by car. She went through an official Israeli checkpoint. ISM did not tell her to stand in front of a D9 bulldozer. The circumstances that Israel initiated called for it. See, she was defending the home that she had been staying in. As I stated before (with citations), Israel never claimed that it was targeting that home. Yet months after they killed Rachel, they demolished the home. Again, they never claimed the home was targeted, but they demolished it anyway. Israel did not even arrest any of the residents of the home. They just demolished it.

    No one claimed that Israel demolished the home “for the fun of it,” which was your straw man argument. If you want to know why they did it, you'll have to ask the Israeli authorities, because they have never explained it.

    What's ISM's responsibility? They provided full disclosure. Their intentions have been public the whole time. Rachel was a guest of Rafah. The Israeli bulldozers were not. The Israeli bulldozers were the invaders. Rachel had every right to be there, and the bulldozers had no rights at all. ISM has as much responsibility for Rachel's death as CORE and COFO had responsibility for the deaths of Andrew Goodman, James Chaney, and Michael Schwermer — which is nothing.

    Go ahead and keep blaming ISM and keep using vapid descriptors like “Rumplestiltzken Defense,” “cardboard footprints,” “propaganda war,” “martyr new recruits,” and heh-heh, “Divest This!” (ooh, snap!) It only shows how much you try to cover up how little you know. It covers up the fact that you're going to defend the actions of the Israeli government, right or wrong. You'll defend them with made-up “facts,” and you'll defend them by ridiculing and dismissing critics. You'll come up with devious motives for the critics.

    The fact that you even have a blog dedicated to ridiculing divestment shows how obsessed you are.

    You'll do anything but accept the possibility that maybe what Israel is doing is wrong. I would hate to face that conundrum, so good luck.

  14. PN – I must say that I’m finding this exchange extremely edifying. Clearly you are intimate with details of Rachel Corrie and her interaction with the ISM. And whether your explanation that ISM has provided “full disclosure” of their involvement with the Corrie Affair represents inside or informed opinion, I think it confirms my original assertion that the Alpha and Omega of ISM’s response to Corrie’s death was to blame others for it.

    No doubt the ISMers would fully agree with you that the organization only represents light and goodness, comparable to Martin Luther King’s civil rights movement and, who knows, Gandhi and Jesus Christ throw in for good measure. But this simply confirms something that’s been demonstrated throughout history: that those who cause the most mayhem do so convinced of their own absolute virtue.

    You’ve added another important point to this discussion regarding responsibility for Corrie’s death. So far we’ve been talking about the people who made the tractor (Caterpillar), the people who bought the tractor (Israel) and the people involved with risky campaigns to confront the tractor in a war zone (the ISM). But as you point out, Rachel Corrie also made independent decisions during the run up to her demise. On the infrequent occasional when I’ve had to confront the Corrie affair as part of my anti-BDS work, I’ve avoided this subject since it invariably springs a trap where anyone mentioning Corrie’s personal responsibility is accused of insensitivity to a young girl’s death. But since it is you who brought up that subject and not me, let me simply say that I agree with you that those responsible for this tragedy go beyond Caterpillar, Israel and ISM.

    And as long as we’re on the subject of responsibility, the 25,000 gorilla in the room on that subject would have to include the Palestinians. I understand that as a paid-in-full, lifetime member of the “Palestine Right-or-Wrong” brigade, mentioning Palestinian responsibility for their own suffering is the equivalent of speaking an alien language, but there were tractors in Gaza because there were weapons tunnels in Gaza that smuggled missiles and bombs and continue to do so.

    While ISMers and their supporters would like to pretend that such smuggling is just a pretext for Israel to visit unfair suffering on Gazans, there are thousands of missiles as well as at least a half dozen dead Rachels who will never get plays written about them (http://www.somervillemejustice.com/rachels.html) that prove them wrong.

    Taking things one step further, it’s interesting to note that of all the Palestinians that ISM, Rachel Corrie, and most recently the IHH Flotilla could support in both the West Bank and Gaza, sympathy and action are always directed at locations that provide militants their best chance to increase their weapon supply, the very weapons smuggling that made last year’s military clash in Gaza inevitable (and will likely trigger a new clash in the future).

    In other words, with regard to creating situations which will lead inexorably to the death of thousands and then blaming others for the mayhem you have just caused, ISM et al are simply a fourth generation Xerox of the Palestinians (although only the most militant of them) they unquestioningly support.

  15. First of all, the ISM had no culpability whatsoever in Rachel Corrie's death, and I've never heard any suggestion to the contrary from among her family or friends, the people who cared most about her.
    Every activist who decides to work with the ISM knows that he/she is engaging in non-violent activities that are frequently met with violence by settlers and Israeli police and military forces. Every ISM training in which I have been involved has been very clear about this, and every activist is encouraged to decide for him/herself what level of personal risk is acceptable, and is fully supported in choosing his/her activities accordingly. Some people stand in the front lines of demonstrations, some take video from safer vantages, some work on web postings, etc.

    As regards BDS, for someone so confident that the movement is doomed, you certainly invest a great deal of effort in attacking it. Ignoring the growing success of BDS in Europe probably makes your arguments sound more plausible, at least to readers without better sources of information. Fortunately (or otherwise), the real world continues to function quite independently of your (or anyone else's) predictions.
    As MLK once said, the arc of history is long, but it tends towards justice. In the decades to come, we will all see for ourselves who was right and wrong about BDS.

  16. Sorry for not being able to respond sooner (I had to take care of the kids this weekend – thumbs up on Karate Kid, BTW everyone – especially Jackie Chan’s performance).

    Anyway, Aaron provides another inside voice confirming that, as far as it is concerned, ISM bears zero responsibility for the death of Rachel Corrie, or any harm that’s ever been visited upon anyone else for that matter. Humanitarian concern is the only thing that motivates its activities (as Aaron and any ISM supporter will tell anyone who will listen).

    Which brings up an interesting point. After all, now more than ever, ISM and like-minded organizations are in a position to do genuine good for real Palestinians. The West Bank economy is showing signs of life, and many of the dreaded checkpoints they decry have come down, at least enough to allow life to achieve a level of normalcy that’s not been enjoyed since the death of Arafat.

    But in its choice of “humanitarian” activities, ISM seems to focus almost exclusively in places that would allow (1) weapons to flow to those Palestinians more freely (such as protecting hidden weapons tunnels in Gaza, or trying to storm Israel’s legal blockade of the Gaza shore which has already stopped tons of Iranian arms from reaching port); and (2) easier access of people carrying those weapons into Israel proper (as happened during the bus/pizzeria bombing-a-day that took place in 2002 before the “Arafat Barrier” was built).

    Even in Gaza, it now turns out that the only thing preventing the flotilla-carried humanitarian aid out of the Strip is Hamas which refuses to accept this aid for political/propaganda reasons. Perhaps, as an insider, Aaron can tell us how ISM is using its good offices to try to get Hamas to change their mind and allow in the aid that ISM members risked their lives to bring to the people of Gaza.

  17. As a final aside, both ISM visitors seem to be somewhat bothered by the fact that I dedicate time to blogging about the subject from a different perspective than they would prefer.
    To which I would say, please don’t worry.

    Unlike ISM and their Turkish partners in the IHH, I do not possess the resources needed to fund a flotilla of ships to sail across the Mediterranean. I cannot fly people to Israel to take part in my projects, nor fund national conferences supporting my priorities.

    All I have is a voice, a laptop and some free blogging software to work with. But if this continues to bother the BDSers so much, I can provide a simple way to end the pain. After all, I wrote nothing (or very little) on the subject of BDS during the years 2006-2008 when divestment seemed to have temporarily slunk back into the closet. And the day that the BDSers decide to call it a day will be the day I hang up my keyboard and get back to my real work, reviewing pop-up and coloring books for various children’s magazines.

  18. I saw your critique of one of the BDS victory announcements and mistook this for a serious, albeit highly partisan, blog on the issue. I don't normally post to propaganda / disinformation sites; my mistake.

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