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posted by Bernice Lipkin.
March 20, 2003

Within the last few days, we've witnessed the incredible growth of a gripping story. A young, attractive American girl was killed Sunday, March 16th, by an Israeli bulldozer in Rafah, a town in the Gaza Strip. While Jews and tourists and visitors continue to die by planned Arab attacks in Israel, these stories seldom get reported. They are too ordinary. They occur too often. They just ain't news. But this story had a lot going for it. The main news media have never stopped reporting the individual deaths of Arabs as Israel tries to stop Arab terrorism. So this fit in. And it was a lot more sexy. The first reports were eye-witness accounts.

Adel Zannoun of Agence France-Presse wrote that Joseph Smith, a fellow activist, said this:

"She was sitting in the path of the bulldozer. The bulldozer saw her and ran over her. She ended up completely underneath it."

"He absolutely knew she was there," added Smith, a 20-year-old student from Missouri. Smith said the group had been active for around an hour, standing on condemned structures and putting themselves in the paths of the bulldozers, one of which had already pushed an activist against a line of barbed wire."

The Washington Post, in an article written by Molly Moore, quoted another eye witness:
"Corrie ... was kneeling in front of the bulldozer and tried to scramble out of its way," said Tom Dale, 18, a British protester who said he was standing several yards away. "She thought they'd stop, but they kept going," Dale said. "She tried to stand up and fell over backwards. The bulldozer dragged her under its blade. About four of the internationals [protesters] gestured to the driver...but it kept going, and she was under the main body of the bulldozer."

Early reports by Reuters' described the facts of her death this way:

"Standing in the path of an approaching military bulldozer, Corrie lost her footing as it drew close and was first hit by a massive load of sand and debris being pushed ahead by its blade, then struck by the blade itself, witnesses said."

"She was carried up with a heap of earth in the shovel of the bulldozer. The driver continued working. She slipped and fell and was run over by the bulldozer." wrote:
"...the driver of the bulldozer was aware that Rachel was there, and continued to destroy the house. Initially he dropped sand and other heavy debris on her, then the bulldozer pushed her to the ground where it proceeded to drive over her, fracturing both of her arms, legs and skull. She was transferred to hospital, where she later died."

Rachel was in Gaza as a member of International Solidarity Movement (ISM), an anti-American, anti-Israeli Marxist group. A press release from the ISM said:

"Rachel had been staying in Palestinian homes threatened with illegal demolition, and today Rachel was standing with other non-violent international activists in front of a home scheduled for illegal demolition According to witnesses, Rachel was run over twice by the Israeli military bulldozer in its process of demolishing the Palestinian home. Witnesses say that Rachel was clearly visible to the bulldozer driver, and was doing nothing to provoke an attack."
Later, the ISM media coordinator, Michael Shaikh, said this:
" Rachel was sitting in the path of the bulldozer as it advanced towards her. When the bulldozer refused to stop or turn aside she climbed up onto the mound of dirt and rubble being gathered in front of it wearing a fluorescent jacket to look directly at the driver who kept on advancing. The bulldozer continued to advance so that she was pulled under the pile of dirt and rubble. After she had disappeared from view the driver kept advancing until the bulldozer was completely on top of her. The driver did not lift the bulldozer blade and so she was crushed beneath it. Then the driver backed off and the seven other ISM activists taking part in the action rushed to dig out her body. An ambulance rushed her to A-Najar hospital where she died."

So what have we learned from the eye witnesses? Rachel was either sitting, kneeling or standing in the path of the bulldozer. The bulldozer was pushing a load of earth and debris. (It was uprooting shrubbery, not houses.) She either climbed up on the mound of earth or fell backwards and/or was carried up with the heap in the shovel of the bulldozer. She either slipped or the driver unintentionally or deliberately dropped sand on her, pushed her to the ground and proceeded to drive over her. The witnesses believed the driver had a clear view of her. She was crushed beneath the bulldozer blade. She later died in Najjar Hospital in Rafeh; Dr. Ali Mussa said she died from skull and chest fractures.

Clearly this could have become - and may yet become - a big boon to the Gaza Arabs' bomb manufacture industry, a thriving cottage industry supported directly by the Palestine Authority and indirectly by the European Union. Rachel will be sanctified if her death leads to the IDF withdrawing from Gaza. The IDF has been trying, carefully and at high risk to its own soldiers, to rid Gaza of these bomb factories while trying to avoid harm to civilians. In Rafah, they have been destroying tunnels dug from Egypt and used to bring rifles and ammunition into Gaza.

It could be the biggest contribution to Arab propaganda since Mohammad al-Dura, who, by coincidence, was also killed in the Gaza Strip.

The pictures are heart-rendering. And peculiar. There is one before picture; it shows her with bull-horn and orange jacket with reflecting stripes. She was highly visible.

She is run over by the bulldozer (not shown).

The after pictures show a woman leaning back against someone. Part of her face is smeared in blood. Miraculously, her clothes are not torn, except what may be a small tear in a pants leg. Her body is rounded and looks unbroken. The dungarees, bellbottoms in the before pix, look slimmer, but that might be just the angle. In one picture, there's what looks like an unbroken cell phone next to her. It isn't present in the canonical photo.

Sanctimonious neutrals and Leftists could, and did, tell us how terrible it is to kill an innocent bystander. After all, she was only trying to protect someone's home from the brutal soldiers. Judging from past experience, Jews and Christians should feel guilty and taken vows that from now they will put the rights of the poor persecuted Palestinians above all else.

But an interesting thing happened to many of us early into this guilt trip. Oh sure, the main news media played it up as if Yasser's AgitProp Minister had written the story for them. The Peacenikers saw another opportunity to bloody Israel's nose and wrote it up as if the IDF used this as R and R  pour le sport. But the rest of us didn't cower and go hide, shamed to the core that `our side' had done such a heinous deed. Indeed, we did not.

True, we had experienced the emotions engendered by the Mohammad al-Dura shooting, a shooting the IDF immediately admitted. But we'd also felt the emotions of the conned and snookered when it was discovered that the Israelis had NOT shot the lad. Geometric analyses showed, months after the damage had been done, that the shots could not have come from the distance and angle where the IDF soldiers were positioned. The shots would have to have come from the Arab snipers. Maybe accidently. Maybe not. Indeed, the suspicion has grown that the Arabs had quick-wittedly shot him on purpose to juice up their deadly street theater. His shooting was likely staged by sharpshooters and the TV cameraman, Talal Abu Rahma, who lives in Gaza. The evidence for this? Ballistics proved the shots came at a perpendicular, from the direction of the camera and close by. A sharpshooter standing near the camera man would leave bullet holes in the wall behind Mohammed just like the ones found. Furthermore, media people in the area, who are mostly Arab, do what the PA tells them to. The camera man just happened to be in place before the action began. The father is shielded by a cement brick on the cement pipe next to him, but there's no protection from bullets shot at a right angle. The video shows evidence of being spliced from different sources but France 2, who own the video, has refused to let investigators see the originals.

It was only in hindsight that many wondered why the father thrust his son behind him, leaving him partially exposed. The normal way to protect your child from stray bullets is to cover him with your body. Isn't that what you'd do?

Then too, we'd been treated to the movie taken by the IDF of an Arab funeral procession. The Arabs have graduated from street theater to corpse theater. The corpse fell off the stretcher. He picked himself up and hopped back on. Again he fell off. In all other recorded cases, return from the dead is a singular event, but this corpse stood up yet again. This time he stomped off. And we've found that in Jenin, contrary to Arab and pro-Arab eyewitness accounts, there was no massacre. The dead, 50 not 500, not 5000, were mostly terrorists. Of course, if we wanted historical precedence, there was the picture of the Arab baby in bandages that the Israelis were supposed to have burned. President Reagan was outraged. His emotions when he learned the photo was a fake rigged by the Arabs were not, as far as I know, recorded.

So this time, our brains didn't freeze. We actually looked at the scene. And at the evidence.

David Bedein, Bureau Chief of the Israel Resource News Agency, sent an email entitled Mis-captioned Reuters photo transforms accidental death into homicide. Bedein writes:

"The picture distributed by the Reuters News Agency showed Rachel Corrie standing in front of the Bulldozer with a megaphone. That is the picture that appeared on page three of the New York Times on March 17, 2003.

The next photo distributed by Reuters showed Rachel lying in front of the bulldozer.

The lighting of the Gaza sky was different in both pictures of what were supposed to be sequential shots. The landscape in each picture was different.

I checked with Reuters to find out about the discrepancy of the picture sequence. The Reuters photo editor said, however, that these were NOT their pictures. They were sent by the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Indeed, these pictures did appear on the ISM web site at The Reuters photo editor assured me, however, that the pix were clearly labeled as ISM pictures. A check with the Reuters web site showed that they were labeled as Reuters pix.

A call back to Joe Smith about the sequence of the pix revealed another unknown fact. Smith said that no one was on the spot with a camera before Rachel Corrie was mauled by the bulldozer, and that the picture of Rachel with the megaphone had been taken many hours earlier.

I placed a call to Tim Heritage, bureau chief of Reuters, and asked him about Reuters policy in using pictures from political groups that might manipulate the media....

Heritage said that he would look into the matter and asked for a call back. I called back an hour later. Heritage was not available. However, all of the Rachel Corrie/bulldozer pix had been wiped off of the Reuters web site.

Yet the damage was done. The indelible image of a mauled `peace activist standing with a megaphone' will not leave people's minds for many years to come."

You can write David Bedein at for a copy of the Reuters pictures.

Almost immediately many neutral and pro-Israel blogs filled with comments, many of them sensible comments, intelligent observations. (There's a reason these blogs are fast becoming the premiere alternates to the New York Times and the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, all of which percolate the news from Israel through their pro-Arab filters.) Using the Little Green Footballs blog as example, the story on the little green footballs website ( elicited over 100 comments, with unihibited squabbling between the pros and the cons. Some wondered why Rachel felt nothing for the innocent Jewish victims of her Palestinian friends. Some made this point:

They accuse the Israelis of being inhuman killers, but then they cynically rely on the Israelis' sense of humanity in expecting them not to run them over with bulldozers. And they're right - this was an accident - the bulldozer operator would not have rolled over her deliberately.
Some noted that the houses in Rafah are "likely used to store weapons, house terrorists, or hide transport tunnels from Egypt." Some ignored details and just stressed Rachel's nobility and the nastiness of Israel - did I mention that Amnesty International finally condemned a death in Israel? Many comments were practical and pointed out discrepancies. These are two of them.
"...there seems to be some significant images missing from the photo of the bulldozer approaching her and the photo of her laid out and being looked after by her friends. Was the photographer reloading his/her film immediately before she was run over? [Or was] she doing something galatically stupid." (Some one commented on this comment: "Stupider than getting in front of a bulldozer?")

"Look at the second and third photos with dozer and red sweater, neither have the same dozer (lights on top), background (smokestack in upper left of frame 3), or nor lay of the land (#2 slopes down to the right). Furthermore, the red sweater in frame #3 is all one sees, if our Darwin of the Year nominee were there she would be nothing more than track grease."

Many of these comments reconstructed what happened based on the limited view possible from inside a bulldozer and its noisiness. These are two such. They assume different blade positions.

"The girl who was killed, inserted herself into a military situation after being warned to stay away. The truth is, she tripped while positioning herself in front of a VERY LARGE bulldozer with the blade UP! I can vouch for the fact thet with the blade up, the iperator could NOT SEE anyone in front of the dozer, as the blade blocked his view. The enclosed and armoured cab also would prevent his hearing any screams from her or anyone else."

"Do you want to know what I think happened here? She stands on the bulldozer's blades and is screaming at the driver, who probably (a) couldn't hear her over the noise of what was going on around him (in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he was wearing something over his ears to protect his hearing, as many drivers of heavy equipment do); (b) couldn't figure out what this lunatic was screaming at him in English. Then she disappears from his very limited view. He assumes she is done with her piece of theater and jumped down. He shrugs and goes on with his job. He has no idea that she is in front of the bulldozer. After all, what person in her right mind would do that? The Palestinian rock-throwers certainly don't put themselves in front of tanks and bulldozers."

Many made the obvious point, ignored, as far as I know by the big dailies: Rachel would not be 3-dimensional and whole as she certainly is in the after pix after being rolled over by a bulldozer. One put it graphically this way: "Now, if only they can find a couple of stamps and an envelope big enough, they can send her home by air mail."

I have two personal footnotes.

(1.) I'd been in Gaza in early November and wrote about it in "The Settlements Revisited" (see November-December articles). I'd seen where Mohammad al-Dura had been killed. I was near Rafah, where the Palestinian Arabs dig tunnels from Egypt to bring in armaments, which they then use to kill Jews, Americans, Thai and anyone else they can murder, the younger the better. The media stories made much of the fact that the IDF was destroying houses. They forgot to mention that the tunnels exit into the Rafah houses. There may have been a tunnel in the house where Rachel stayed. Ironically, the best tunnel detectors are the Bedouins, who are members of the IDF. What makes it ironic is that these Bedouins are the 'real Arabs' ethnically, whereas the Arabs, including the Palestinian Arabs, are a hodge-podge, some 50 ethnic groups, all of whom speak Arabic.

(2.) I was annoyed by the letters in the Jerusalem Post from people who were appalled at Rachel's death and had rushed to condemnation of the IDF without knowledge even of what little is known. So I wrote them a group email suggesting they get their facts straight. I told them about the Bedouins in the IDF who are good at finding the tunnels.

I was surprised on Monday, March 17th, to receive two letters from the group: from Sally O'Malley and Sandra Ray. The letters were pretty much identical and explained that their hostile letters were part of a psychological experiment at SUNY, NYC. I assume Sally and Sandra are the same person, whose name, she says, is Claire. Sally's letter read:

My project measures the balance of responses from emotionally charged situations, and rates people and their perceived value groups accordingly. In this case, we sent two posts with measured content on opposite sides of political and emotional spectrum to public venues.

This post, and the associated companion email (from another email address) were both placed in within the last week. Similar experimental posts went to publications that serve predominantly Arab, American, Chinese, Israeli, Indian, and European populations and interest groups.

Each of you only responded to only one of the letters and showed significant subjectivity. Each of your replies will be processed by Psycheval' software to determine other significant components and personal psychological factors. The sample size and venues choosen are large enough to account for people who may have only seen one of the companion letters, or did not have a fully significant emotional response.

Be assured you have made a valuable contribution to the study of emotional responses and associated ethnic groups. Thanks again for helping me achieve my Masters in Psychology! I hope you have found this as interesting in your response as I have putting it together.

It is remarkable that Claire was so well-organized that she sent presumably well-thought out experimental material to the Post so soon after Rachel died. I am appalled by the cavalier manner in which she helped perpetuate ugly lies about the IDF and Israel. The IDF always bends over backwards to avoid hurting civilians, often at the cost of the lives of their own soldiers. Is her Master's Degree worth the potential damage to the reputation of the IDF? Was her unannounced project sanctioned by her Department?

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