The photograph is pitiful.
She’s dying in the Gaza Strip on a tract of earth. Her legs look like twigs. Blood streams from her nose.
"My back is broken," she says.
Rachel Corrie doesn’t survive. Why did her life end like this?
Corrie was a 23-year-old senior at Evergreen State College in her hometown of Olympia, Washington. To gain a sense of Evergreen’s ideological orientation, its main area is called Red Square and cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal has been a commencement speaker. (A "Brownshirt Square" would be inconceivable on a campus, but it’s ok to name a quad after another genocidal dogma.)
Corrie went to the Gaza Strip in 2003 as part of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Founded in 2001, ISM refers to a "right" of Palestinian "armed struggle" and seeks "to establish divestment campaigns in the US and Europe to put economic pressure on Israel the same way the international community put pressure [on] South Africa during the apartheid regimes."
ISM’s online photo album includes a member shaking hands with Yasser Arafat—ISM member Adam Shapiro had breakfast with Arafat last year—and members leading protests in the Middle East with signs such as "America, Stop Supporting Apartheid" and "Ethnic Cleansing in Progress." Another photograph features graffiti by the terrorist Palestinian Liberation Front.
ISM members entered the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem last April to shield terrorists including members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Israel deported ISM member Susan Barclay this year after she worked with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the West Bank.
Corrie did her part to incite anti-Americanism in the Gaza Strip, 70 percent of whose residents support suicide bombings according to a recent poll by the Gaza-based Palestinian Society for Culture, Science and Development. At a February 15 rally with schoolchildren, Rachel Corrie burned a paper version of the American flag.
Referring in February to "fighters" who "killed two of the illegal occupying force," Corrie wrote that "more Martyrs are ready to defend the honor of Palestine."
Corrie operated in the town of Rafah on the Egyptian border. Rafah contains what the Israel Defense Forces calls "an underground city of weaponry" through residential tunnels used to smuggle weapons from Egypt for terrorists.
The IDF notes, "The smuggling tunnels are often elaborate, and may contain wood-paneling, electrical infrastructure, communications equipment, and elevators. Small tunneling machines, imported with the full knowledge of the Palestinian Authority, are used to dig these subterranean passages."
The IDF demolishes such houses complicit in terrorism. Middle Eastern scholar Mitchell Bard explains this collective punishment as follows: "By demolishing homes, the objective is…to demonstrate that terrorists bring destruction not only to their victims, but to their own families and communities. The hope is that before engaging in terrorism, a Palestinian might think twice about the consequences."
On March 16, the IDF demolished some homes in Rafah as a preventive measure against weapons smuggling. Corrie confronted a bulldozer that afternoon with a bullhorn and later knelt in front of it on a mound of earth. She lost balance as it proceeded and was crushed.
Arafat’s Fatah movement organized a wake for Corrie attended by members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.
This is the story of one American in the Middle East. Marla Bennett’s is another.
Bennett grew up in San Diego and first visited Israel at 16. She reflected at the time, "Have you ever been somewhere with others, just thinking ‘This is so right?’"
Bennett graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in May 2000 and returned to Israel in the fall to attend the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and graduate school at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Her arrival coincided with the beginning of the current intifada against Israel.
She wrote in May 2002, "I am extremely cautious about where I go and when; I avoid crowded areas and alter my routine when I feel at all threatened." Despite this everyday peril, Bennett also wrote that "Life here is magical" and "There is no other place in the world where I would rather be right now."
On Wednesday, July 31, Bennett was at Hebrew University for a final exam. She planned to return to San Diego on Friday for a friend’s wedding.
Shortly after 1:30 that afternoon, a member of Hamas detonated a bomb in Hebrew University’s cafeteria that murdered nine and injured 85. Five Americans were among the dead, and Marla Bennett was one of them.
She was 24, and she never set America’s flag on fire.