Monday, July 11, 2011

11-Jul-11: Suggesting some context for the media's focus on the Corries

Malki, our daughter, spent the last week 
of her life in the summer of 2001 as a 
volunteer counselor at a camp for
cognitively-challenged special-needs
children on the shores of the Sea
of Galilee. She was murdered in the 
Hamas massacre deliberately targeting
women and children at Jerusalem's
Sbarro restaurant two days later.
The CiF Watch blog is "dedicated to monitoring antisemitism and combating the assault on Israel’s legitimacy in the Guardian newspaper’s ‘Comment is Free’ blog".

‘Comment is Free’ is the online home of the Guardian and Observer newspapers that carries articles designed to engender debate and discussion through a post-moderated comment thread. The Guardian is one of the most influential media outlets in the world and the ‘Comment is Free’ blog is among the most popular blogs on the internet.

The article below appeared yesterday on the CIF Watch site.
If Arnold Roth held a news conference at the American Colony Hotel, would the Guardian cover it?

CIF Watch July 10, 2011
On the heels of her CiF essay, (US collusion in the Gaza blockade is an affront to human rights, July 8th), the mother of slain International Solidarity Movement activist Rachel Corrie, Cindy, held a news conference at Jerusalem’s American Colony Hotel today to discuss the conclusion of testimonies in her family’s civil case against the State of Israel for their daughter’s death.

While I hope I never have to know the pain of losing a child, and plain decency demands that Cindy’s loss not be minimized, demeaned, or sanitized, it is equally fair to ask, in the context of the extraordinary amount of press the story has received, that some perspective be provided and some degree of fairness honored.

While I’ve never met Cindy Corrie, I have met Arnold Roth, whose daughter 
Malka was murdered by a Palestinian suicide bomber at the Sbarrro bombing in Jerusalem.

On August 9, 2001 a resident of the village of Aqaba, north of Tulkarm, Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri, son of a well-to-do land-owning family, entered the busy Sbarro restaurant at the corner of King George Street and Jaffa Road at lunchtime on a school vacation day in Jerusalem. The restaurant was filled with customers, most of them children and mothers. 
15 Jews, including Arnold’s daughter Malka, were killed, and 131 were injured in various serious degrees when the explosive device – containing screws and nails added to maximize the carnage - al-Masri was carrying (in a guitar case) was detonated.

The massacre was coordinated and planned by Hamas’s Ramallah branch.

Six weeks later,
 a triumphal exhibit at Al Najah University, the largest in the West Bank, featured a mock-up of the Sbarro restaurant including gnawed pizza crusts and bloody plastic body parts suspended from the ceiling as if they were blasting through the air.

The accident which led to Corrie’s death was indeed tragic, and while the facts of the civil trial haven’t all been revealed some things are clear.

Though the ISM, the group Rachel Corrie was working with at the time of her death, tries to maintain the veneer of a “peace group,” they have a  history of actively aiding terrorist movements.

The bulldozers Rachel and her fellow “internationals” were trying to stop on March 16, 2003 in Rafah were working to uncover part of the underground  tunnel network used to smuggle explosives from Egypt, into Gaza. These tunnels had been built under civilian Arab homes and structures in order to smuggle weapons and explosives into Israel. What Rachel and many of her “international” companions did not likely consider, and were not told by their ISM handlers, was that for every tunnel they succeeded in saving many more Israelis and Palestinians would suffer due to increased terrorism and Israeli military responses.

The ISM intentionally placed Rachel and other “internationals” between 50 ton bulldozers and Rafah homes and so, along with the Hamas terrorist movement they were protecting, would seem to bear a large measure of moral responsibility for her death.

When you search for Rachel Corrie in the Guardian’s search engine you get 
over 150 results, some referencing the play which toured internationally named, “My Name is Rachel Corrie.”

When you search for Malka Chana Roth, you get two – one in 2002 dryly noting her death in the context of a list of Palestinian and Israeli children killed during the Intifada till that time, and the other containing a partial list of the victims in the aftermath of the Sbarro attack, which noted:

“Malka Roth, 15, from Ramot, on the western edges of Jerusalem, was the 15th victim to be identified yesterday morning.”

That’s it.  A mere twenty words.

There were no plays and no international media interest in the innocent teenage girl murdered by a movement so cruel as to venerate the murderer as a Shahid, a righteous martyr for the cause.

I don’t think it exploitative, nor insensitive, to simply ask if, under any circumstances, the Guardian would ever offer Arnold Roth, or his wife Frimet, the chance to express their grief, describe their family’s unimaginable pain, or pay
 tribute to their daughter’s memory in a manner similar to what they continue to provide for the family of Rachel Corrie.
We're not planning any news conferences, and if we were then frankly the American Colony in East Jerusalem would not be top of the list of possible venues. That aside, we support Adam Levick's thesis.

UPDATE Monday 11-Jul-11 at 9pm: A Polish-language translation of this article is posted on the website of Racjonalista.

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