The seven Rachels and Israel
A new play entitled "My Name is Rachel Corrie" opened in a London theater this month to rave reviews. The play is based on the diaries and e-mail messages the real-life Ms. Corrie sent to her family in the U.S. from the Gaza Strip during the two months she was there before her death in March 2003.
Her associates have described Rachel, who was 23, as a "peace activist." She had come to Gaza to protest the Israeli occupation and to demonstrate her concern about the suffering of its inhabitants. She was accidentally killed by an Israeli army bulldozer that was attempting to demolish an Arab home suspected of concealing tunnels used for smuggling weapons from Egypt.
Ms. Corrie might also be described as a naive and idealistic radical apparently ignorant of local history that would explain why Gaza is under Israeli occupation.
Twenty years before she was born, Egypt ruled the Gaza Strip. It was occupied by Israel only after Egypt, which was mobilizing to invade Israel, was defeated in the 1967 Six-Day War. It remained under Israeli control until 1993 when Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed the so-called Oslo Accords. The treaty provided for the transfer of governing power to the Palestinians and a halt to terrorist attacks on Israel. But Palestinian violence did not cease, and Israeli military forces again occupied Gaza.
The situation has been complicated, I concede, by the creation of Israeli civilian settlements in the Strip. I believe Israel was unwise in building Jewish communities in such a densely populated and hostile region. The settlements are scheduled to be closed in upcoming months and the residents moved out. The event has generated serious civil strife in Israel.
Shortly before Ms. Corrie was killed by falling into the bulldozer's path, she was photographed burning a mock-American flag at a Hamas rally. Hamas is the Palestinian political/military movement that refuses to accept Israel's very existence and is dedicated to its destruction. The International Solidarity Movement, an anti-Israel organization with ties to Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups, sponsored Ms. Corrie's presence in Gaza. According to ISM and Ms. Corrie's family, her death was not accidental and that she was deliberately killed. Since her death, ISM has been engaged in promoting Ms. Corrie as a martyr in the so-called "peace movement." One result of their campaign is the new play in London.
Rachel Corrie's death was indeed a great tragedy. But six other women named Rachel, each an Israeli, were also killed within a few months of Ms. Corrie's death. They were murdered by the Palestinian terrorist groups with whom Rachel Corrie has been linked. Conceivably, the murder weapons were the kind the Israel army tries to block from entry into Gaza.
The murder of Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists has become so commonplace, however, that their deaths have been overshadowed by the death of an American so-called "peace activist."
In a recent article in the Jerusalem Post, Tom Gross, former Jerusalem correspondent for Britain's Sunday Telegraph, wrote that "unlike [Rachel Corrie..the Israeli Rachels] died in circumstances that weren't disputed. They were deliberately murdered."
In February 2002, Rachel Thaler, 16, was blown up by a suicide bomber at a pizzeria in an Israeli shopping mall.
Rachel Levy, 17, was blown up in a grocery store.
Rachel Levi, 19, was shot while waiting for a bus.
Rachel Gavish was killed with her husband, son and father while at home celebrating a Passover seder.
Rachel Charhi was blown up while sitting in a Tel Aviv cafe, leaving three young children.
Rachel Shabo was murdered with her three sons, aged 16, 13 and five while at home.
The six dead Israeli Rachels have only cemetery markers, not a highly-touted London play as a memorial.