Friday, January 18, 2008

A Tale of Two Deaths

Carlos Chavez was murdered this week, another foreigner who put himself in harm's way and became a casualty of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Of course, the other foreigner I refer to was Rachel Corrie, an idealistic young American student who chose to go to Gaza out of solidarity with the Palestinian people. The differences in the circumstances of their presence in the Middle East, and of their deaths, are noteworthy not only for what they teach us about the conflict itself, but what they teach us about the manipulation of public opinion.

Rachel Corrie of Washington State, as any observer of the issue is undoubtedly aware, has been canonized by the opponents of Israel into an amalgam of Mother Teresa and Joan of Arc. Of course, the fact that she was photographed burning a paper American flag in front of a group of Palestinian children isn't seen as anything detracting from her reputation (or that of the Palestinian children, who are quite used to indoctrination into hatred thanks to their own media). We really don't know much about the political leanings of Carlos Chavez of Quito Ecuador, except that he, unlike Ms Corrie and her memorial choir, thought it perfectly acceptable to spend time in a Jewish state planting potatoes on a communal farm.

Rachel Corrie died while trying to interfere with an Israel Defense Forces action against a house used for smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip. While accounts of the actual incident vary, there is no doubt that she deliberately placed herself in harm's way and was attempting to block the IDF from demolishing the structure. Carlos Chavez, it could be said, also placed himself in harm's way just by being in the state of Israel; he was shot in the back by a sniper while working in the fields near the border with Gaza. His murderer didn't know who he was; didn't care whether he was Jewish, Christian, Buddhist or atheist; didn't ask his opinion on the two-state solution, or settlements, or the so-called "right" of return. Chavez was targeted because he was in the state of Israel. Just like the 12 civilians in Sderot who were killed by Qassam missiles--(of which the raw materials are smuggled in through houses in Gaza like the one Rachel Corrie was trying to protect):

June 28, 2004 - Afik Ohion Zehavi, 4, killed when a rocket lands in his nursery school in Sderot.
June 28, 2004 - Mordechai Yosephus, 49, killed when a rocket lands in a kindergarten in Sderot.
Sept. 29, 2004 - Dorit Inso, 2, killed when two rockets hit her residence building.
Sept. 29, 2004 - Yuval Abeva, 4, killed when two rockets hit his residence building.
Jan. 15, 2005 - Ayala Haya Abukasis, 17, killed when a rocket hits Sderot.
July 15, 2005 - Dana Gelkowitz, 22, killed by a Qassam that strikes a home in Moshav Nativ Ha'asara.
March 28, 2006 - A Bedouin father and son, Salam Ziadin and Khalid, 16, killed when a Qassam rocket they find in the Nahal Oz area explodes.
Nov. 11, 2006 - Faina Slutzker, 57, killed when a rocket hits the street where she is walking near the home of Defense Minister Amir Peretz.
Nov. 21, 2006 - Yaakov Yaakobovich, 43, killed while at work in a Sderot poultry processing plant.
May 21, 2007 - Shir-el Friedman, 35, killed in Sderot when a rocket hits a car she is walking near.May 27, 2007 - Oshri Oz, 36, is killed in Sderot when a rocket hits the car he is driving.

Sderot is a civilian town; there are no Israeli army installations, no missiles are launched from the town. But it's a town full of Israelis, and that's reason enough for Hamas and Islamic Jihad to try to indiscriminately slaughter them.

The Consul General of Israel in San Francisco personally contacted Rachel Corrie's parents to express his country's regrets. As far as we know, nobody from Hamas or Islamic Jihad has contacted the family of Carlos Chavez to apologize (and what would they say? "We're sorry, we assumed he was a Jewish son of apes and pigs so therefore deserved a bullet in his chest; if we had known he was just a Christian infidel then we would have only winged him"?).

Rachel Corrie is the subject of adorational prose, theatre, websites, and even songs. But those in Israel, and those who support Israel, don't like to use tragic deaths for political "gotcha" points. They don't take photos of casualties who then stand up and walk away, and they don't claim that victims of their own mines were the result of attacks from the other side. They don't celebrate the deaths of their civilians as "martyrs" and they don't celebrate the deaths of civilians on the other side, either. So I don't think we're going to see any plays or songs about Carlos Chavez.

In America and Europe, Rachel Corrie's visage is prominently displayed at a variety of anti-Israel events. Of course, those exploiting her death in support of the elimination of Israel wouldn't have cared a whit about her had she been gunned down while planting potatoes at Ein Hashlosha, any more than they care about Carlos Chavez, or about Afik Zehavi and the others who died in Sderot. Because for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, being in Israel is enough of a reason to be killed; and for too many of those around the world who rally around Rachel Corrie's picture, it's enough of a reason not to care.


  1. Go to where we have a television show shot in 2005 and we show how Rachel Corrie was not
    1) protecting a house
    2)was in a trench as part of a weapons smuggling tunnel
    3)dong what the ISM claimed (we show how the ISM doctored photos so people would think she was protecting a house.
    Corrie wrote home to her mom two weeks before her death that she had helped remove a dead terrorist from one of the weapons smuggling tunnels. She also called terrorists and suicide bombers incredibly brave martyrs.
    How sad that Jews are still repeating at least the calumny of her protecting a house.

  2. Blue Truth - You ask in another of your blogs: "Is Israel perfect? Of course not" and then point out that there is no perfect country.

    This is healthy and realistic. If you showed even more of this open minded attitude, you would win more people over to your arguments. Just because those you rail against are extreme in their arguments and language, doesn't mean you have to copy their worst traits.

    You are right to stand up against the hypocrisy and double standards you see with regard to how Israel is regarded by many in the west,and with regard to how quickly the shortcomings of some Palestinians are immediately overlooked - especially the hateful brainwashing of the young in many Palestinian schools.

    Surely it is your humanity that drives you to point out these wrongs. Therefore you list the innocent civilians killed by missiles. You are right to do so. For the period between 2004 and 2007 you list 10 names - each death a tragedy.

    So equally your humanity must lead you also to point out the wrongs of the state of Israel too? The list of Palestinians killed by Israeli troops listed on the B'Tselem website shows that 10 Palestinians who were not participating in hostilities were killed between 15th and 31st January 2008 alone. Each one a tragedy.

    Why do you not list these too? When observers around the world see these kinds of figures (10 innocent Israelis killed in 3 years - 10 innocent Palestinians killed in 2 weeks) are you really surprised that many people point out these wrongs done by Israel?

    James Barrow

  3. Mr. Barrow,

    Every death of a civilian is a tragedy.

    Unfortunately, the deaths of Israelis are discounted or justified by our opponents, even when those civilians are deliberately targeted.

    Palestinian civilians are not deliberately targeted by the IDF. When there is evidence of wrongdoing by IDF soldiers, they are investigated and often prosecuted.

    Meanwhile, rhetoric from anti-Israel agents claim that no Israeli is killed by the fire from Gaza and that the rockets are harmless. This is simply not true.

    Israeli advocates will never claim that people are not killed as a result of Israli operations. The difference is that military facilities in Gaza are in civilian areas and Palestinian terrorists deliberately engineer the deaths of civilians.

    Palestinians can stop the civilian deaths by ending the terror.