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Arts and Culture

Amy Wilentz on Rachel Corrie

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Posted on May 23, 2008
book cover

By Amy Wilentz

By all rights, “Let Me Stand Alone” should not be an easy book to read. Doom hangs over this collection of the journal writings of Rachel Corrie, who was a 23-year-old American peace activist when she was crushed to death by an Israel Defense Forces bulldozer in Gaza five years ago. And yet most of this book whizzes by in a series of delights: in descriptions of autumn football games in Washington state, and ice in the winter mornings, of war seen on television, of the wind, of Corrie’s grandparents’ house in Des Moines, the used-book store in Aitkin, Minn., her mother tending to her dying grandmother, her own face. And this is all before the age of 14. When she was 2 years old, she looked at Capitol Lake in Olympia, Wash., her hometown, and said (famously, in her family): “This is the wide world, and I’m coming to it.”

 

book cover

 

Let Me Stand Alone: The Journals of Rachel Corrie

 

By Rachel Corrie

 

W. W. Norton, 256 pages

 

Buy the book

 

It turns out that Rachel Corrie was first of all a miraculous child; then, an amazing changeling of a girl; later, a difficult, challenging, brilliant teenager, and finally a demanding, charismatic young adult. Most important, she was a very able writer from a remarkably early age—about 10 years old, or 11—an immediate, sensory observer, a good thinker, a rebel eventually. Above all, she was always human, never caustic (though she could be casually cruel to her parents, like all adolescents), and almost painfully alive to the give and take within families, among friends, between lovers, between siblings. She would go on to carry this feeling of connectedness to its logical extreme, because among the many things she was, Rachel Corrie was above all a natural extremist. She felt other people’s pain really and truly. As a grown-up, she feels connected not only to her parents, her sister, her unpredictable boyfriend and to others around her, but also to the mentally ill people with whom she worked in Olympia (“Don’t we all hear voices?” she asks her journal), and to the world. She also felt responsible for mankind’s lapses in humanity. That natural extremism and dedication to goodness took her into activism, and that’s how she ended up in Gaza—her shoulder blades, face, six ribs and spinal cord broken under the blade of that bulldozer.

But this book is not all about Rachel Corrie’s progression toward this terrible fate. It’s really three books in one. It’s a coming-of-age book about a certain kind of American girl, an upstanding, stalwart child of the Pacific Northwest, who loves freedom the way a pioneer child would, as part of the normal course of things. As a child, Corrie is like a Mark Twain character: You would not be surprised to see her in a thin dimity dress or in smocked gingham, with her blond hair in a braid, playing barefoot in the reeds near Huck’s river. As she gets older, she flirts with all the syndromes American girls now flirt with: drinking, smoking, anorexia. “Then she cursed herself for spending so much time thinking about herself,” she writes. But she survives; she’s an American survivor—and if you didn’t know beforehand the wrenching end of her story you would assume she could survive anything. The first half of the book reads like a best-selling Oprah-endorsed literary tell-all memoir (or anyway, almost all ... there is an editorial hand involved in culling the journals, and that hand belongs to the Corrie family), written by an exceptionally creative and gifted girl.

“Let Me Stand Alone” is also a writer’s notebook. One can easily imagine it being read in a workshop. It includes poetry, and a long (some might say too long) half-fiction, half-confessional love story; rapturous descriptions of nature, and loving details about Olympia (having read “Let Me Stand Alone,” I now vote Olympia, Wash., the No. 1 city to visit in the United States, although I haven’t been there). A love poem about driving on the highway with her mother and seeing a flock of herons is particularly accomplished; here’s a bit of it:

anonymous gray herons
their forms slip into your dream vocabulary
your eyes save them deep in linty pockets and amber jars
but their beaks are needles and they don’t notice you pass
eyes with no pupils in constant dialogue, heron with itself
they send messages with their outlines
they glide into the horizon while you’re forming your reply

Here’s another section, from the middle of the book, where Corrie imagines the salmon of Olympia: “There have been so many times over the last several years when I’ve wanted to be anywhere except Olympia. I think I’ll be gone within the next year. It’s hard to explain it. ... The salmon talked me into a lifestyle change. The salmon beneath downtown Olympia are church. Years ago a group of us doing salmon restoration work rode a bus down to the East Bay Marina and observed the hole in the bulkhead. Salmon swim into that hole. Salmon have to make it all the way up Plum Street in that hole. .... Once you know there are salmon down there it’s hard to forget. You imagine their moony eyes while you walk home from the bar in your slutty boots. You’re aware of them down there when you ride around in somebody’s car—fanning their gills. It’s hard to be extraordinarily vacuous when you always have the salmon in the back of your mind: in that pipe down there. ...”

In this case, it’s only the pitiable situation of fish that provokes Rachel Corrie’s empathy and political action. For “Let Me Stand Alone” is, as well as a coming-of-age book and a writer’s notebook, also the autobiography of an activist. We watch as Rachel emerges from her lovely, hypersensitive, receptive and involved girlhood, and we’re cheering her: because she is really so good, so kind, so open and sensitive to suffering and injustice—like an old-fashioned saint, a Great Person in the making. I couldn’t help thinking of Joan of Arc as I read along (partly, no doubt, because of the seeming physical resemblance to La Pucelle, a light-haired wisp of furious girlhood). Belief, Christian virtues of selflessness and self-denial, charisma, fervor, a thirst for a cause—Rachel Corrie always had the makings of a martyr.


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By Paracelsus, May 29, 2008 at 3:31 am Link to this comment

I think the Talmudic attack on Jesus is like attacking the Easter Bunny. I am not so sure of the true existence of Moses either. What brought ire against Jews in medieval times was usury. For example the nobles of the York area in the 1190 were able incite a mob that encircled the the Jews in a protective tower. The mob was also able to invade a cathedral where the debts of the nobles were recorded. All records of these debts were burned. Of course as usual most of the Jews died in a Mossada like manner. Those who tried to escape were killed by the mob. The Crusade was an expensive enterprise, and these Jews were the only ones except for the Italians who were able to underwrite it.

As to Jesus, the first witness, was a man who saw a vision of him after he was long dead. Also the Jesus story seems to conform to some solar myth. Three wisemen follow a big star that points to the birth of the son in the month of December. First of all the three wisemen in that time would correspond to the three stars in Orion’s belt which points to the dog star, Sirius. In December the Southern Crux constellation is prominent. The sun at dawn is at its lowest at the solstice. It’s path goes through the Southern Crux. At first the sun dies on the cross, and then it is rises again from the cross.

In general it is not a good idea to degrade another’s mythology, and charging 40% interest is going to get you in trouble eventually. Please don’t take my word for all this. Do your own research. I am just giving a summation of what I had read or seen.

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By Fadel Abdallah, May 28, 2008 at 3:45 pm Link to this comment

Thank you Paracelsus for your insider’s honest observations, and your critical view of Hollywood!

I did recently read a book entitled “Jesus in the Talmud” by Peter Schafer. I was shocked about the so degraded image in which the Talmud portrays Jesus Christ. It almost made me like throwing up. Then I said to myself, “How do Christians, whose whole faith centers around the person of Jesus Christ, can ever have peace with Jews whose second most sacred book has so much degraded image of Jesus Christ and his mother Mary.

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By Paracelsus, May 28, 2008 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment

I believe many of the criticisms of Calvinism, Catholicism, and Baptist fundalmentalism are valid and needed telling. Hollywood did some accurate portrayals of Christianity gone awry like the Lonesome Randi Rhodes, the Night of the Hunter, Cape Fear, and Elmer Gantry. I think an open culture would allow Joe Coletta do his critique of the book review of Rachel Corrie’s autobiography.

I have never seen a Hollywood movie that showed the harshness of the Hebrew schul in the teaching of young boys in Talmudic studies. Also there has been a great deal of silence of the suppression of Jewish wives in strict Talmudic households. Not many reform Jews have a good knowledge of Talmud. I will not reveal what I have read in Talmud. I leave it up to you to look up an English translation of Talmud. I do feel that Israel would in its intransigence would promote a backward form of Judaism. On the whole Judaism has progressed toward a more humane religion. But I do not wish to see a fundmentalist Judaism that holds to a more isolationist and particularistic creed.

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By cyrena, May 28, 2008 at 1:32 pm Link to this comment

Thanks Non Credo. Much obliged.

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By Fadel Abdallah, May 28, 2008 at 7:30 am Link to this comment

They also eliminated my cheers to Coletta’s piece.
Likewise, they eliminated Lee’s posts (which is good since they were off topic) but also my responses to him (which is not good)!

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By cyrena, May 27, 2008 at 9:21 pm Link to this comment

I never saw the Coletta piece either. I’ve only read here that such a piece existed, (because some obviously DID read it) but it was apparently taken down before others could.

So yes, I’d like to read it myself.

Can anyone who DID read it, give us an idea of what he was saying? I think Non Credo has given us a clue to why it may have been taken down, suggesting an hypocrisy in the portrayals by Amy Wilentz. (and I’ve come to that conclusion myself).

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By rsmatesic, May 27, 2008 at 5:31 pm Link to this comment

To the Editors:

Please repost the Coletta piece, or explain its sudden disappearance from this blog.  I and lots of other folks want to read it, and we don’t think you want to be answering to the folks at Fox after somebody blows a whistle on you for what looks like censorship by ACLU card-carrying liberal types.

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By Paracelsus, May 27, 2008 at 1:02 pm Link to this comment

Why does Amy happen to dislike Rachel’s journal right at the time she is in the rump state of Palestine? I think we can come up with some relevant conclusions.

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By Paracelsus, May 27, 2008 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment

In Internet Land, I remember pronouncing Rachek Corrie a saint not long after her death. A good many confirmed my opinion of her by calling her a luntic, a whore, and a bitch. That is how you know a saint: her enemies know not what they do.

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By Purple Girl, May 27, 2008 at 5:59 am Link to this comment

I have no problem with reconnecting with Cuba- Well past the time to do so. However considering we have NO control over those In power and Those who sponsor them I would not wish Their intervention on ANY other country.
We must Prove to the World We are a country ‘For the People and BY the People’ before we extend any leaf that may be used as a lure!
It may be a blessing we have NOT gotten too involved with Cubas politics, Becasue they too would ahte US as much as the rest of the World
Sociopathic Politicians and Immoral and Unethical Corp CEO’s have used US as Camoflague while they carry out their Crimes Against Humanity. 9/11 was a result of their running amok throughout the world Dressed in OUR FLAG! Using US as their human shields- placing OURcitizens in Harms Way (taking the Beating for their Misdeeds and inhumanities)
Until we Convict these national Traitors and punish them for their actions - we will be doing the rest of the world a favor by staying out of their countries and avoiding an exchange! We are Contaminated, we need not infect others until we are Cured!

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By cyrena, May 27, 2008 at 5:31 am Link to this comment

Good answer. That’s exactly what they’ll say, and probably much worse.

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By cyrena, May 26, 2008 at 9:17 pm Link to this comment

Dear Nahida,

Thank you so very much for this poem. It is outstanding, and I’ve printed it to keep in my own journal.

Love, salutation, and gratitude to you as well.

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By Ooops!, May 26, 2008 at 7:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Joe Coletta or whatever been CENSORED!

SO much for the thought of Freedom already!

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By K, May 25, 2008 at 8:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Nopes we need more active people and less crushed people!

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By Louise, May 25, 2008 at 7:46 pm Link to this comment

Non Credo, May 23 at 7:25 pm #

“How it happened”

“And then, in almost leisurely fashion, knowing that disbelief would cause her to stand there until it was too late, Israel crashed and gouged and ground her casually to death.”

“And then Israel burped with satisfaction, and went to one of its racist Zionist courtrooms and “democratically” excused itself, as if after a heavy meal.”

***

The man who drove the dozer, a frequently out of work nobody with an on-going drinking problem wasn’t about to stop. After all, this was the first “good” money he’d had the opportunity to earn in some time. Doing a “good” job could lead to more “good” jobs. Or so he casually reported when interviewed.

Was he sorry? Sorry for what? He was just doing his job. Did he see her? I think his answer on that one never was specific. Perhaps he did. Perhaps he didn’t. It didn’t seem to matter.

Or maybe the few imbibes he’d had along the way, that day, had dulled his memory.

One can hardly blame an empty head for not thinking. But the lack of care or outcry or even honest acknowledgement of a wrong coming from the official body politic, Israel, screams volumes.

Guilty!

http://www.wakeupfromyourslumber.com/node/6929

“Don’t worry about the exploding national debt, just be happy that much of that debt was incurred helping Israel maintain Middle East dominance.”

“When you visit your kid’s grave site this weekend, give thanks that your son or daughter died fighting a war for Israel.”

“When you drive home on a pothole filled highway, silently utter a prayer for Israel and smile, knowing that the money that should have repaired that road is building state of the art highways in Israel.”

***

“Think not of your recent job loss, nor your inability to make the mortgage payments on your house, nor not having enough money to send your kids to college, what’s wrong with you, chump, feeling sorry for yourself?”

“Think about Israel and the Jewish vote 24/7, that is mandated. Feel for all of those squatters in Hebron and how painful it must be to have to kill the indigenous Palestinians, either thru starvation or by a bullet to the head, so the Hasidic squatters can steal Palestinian land.”

“Send money—even if you have to borrow the money—-to political action committees, like AIPAC, that will help elect more Jewish candidates to Congress so they can vote to send even more of your tax money to Israel.”

***

Somehow it just seems appropriate to throw this in:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident”

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By michael, May 25, 2008 at 6:40 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

May this convoluted world note of the great undertaking and sacrifce of this heroic woman.God grant her peace !

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By thebeerdoctor, May 25, 2008 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment

Where did you find the quote from Menachem Begin?

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By Fadel Abdallah, May 25, 2008 at 12:11 pm Link to this comment

Thank you Nahida for this great poem and for the other informative pieces you posted!

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By nahida, May 25, 2008 at 5:31 am Link to this comment

We are not alone

We –Palestinians- are not alone
The best of humanity is on our side
Mighty truth… Gracious morality is on our side
Justice, dignity, human values, radiant hope are on our side

Soil, sand, and stones
Trees, poppies, lemon zest, and morning mist
Jerusalem sunshine and Jenin’s moonlight
Haifa’s Carmel and Jaffa’s shoreline
Are all on our side

We stand firm
As the stick of Moses
Splitting good and evil
Refusing to bow down
Our tragedy is a sieve
Filtering the wicked away

We all live and die…
Better to die standing on our feet
Than to live crawling on our knees

Better to live with a wounded body and a soul whole
Than to live and die
Inflated by arrogance
Bent by corruption
Twisted by greed
weighed down by oppression
Crawling on your knees
Lusting after power
With a disfigured soul

============================================

Love, salutation, and gratitude
To this great pure soul

============================================
.

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By nahida, May 25, 2008 at 5:00 am Link to this comment

31.  “When only Jews are present we admit that Satan is our God.” (Harold Rosenthal)

32. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau declared ‘America is our Zion.’”

33. “The Bolshevist officials of Russia are Jews. The Russian Revolution with all its ghastly horrors was a Jewish movement.” (Harry Waton)

34. “But the Communist soul is the soul of Judaism. Hence it follows that, just as in the Russian revolution the triumph of Communism was the triumph of Judaism, so also in the triumph of fascism will triumph Judaism.” (Jewish Chronicle)

35. “Our race is the Master Race. We are divine gods on this planet. We are as different from the inferior races as they are from insects. In fact, compared to our race, other races are beasts and animals, cattle at best. Other races are considered as human excrement. Our destiny is to rule over the inferior races. Our earthly kingdom will be ruled by our leader with a rod of iron. The masses will lick our feet and serve us as our slaves.” - Menachem Begin - Israeli Prime Minister 1977–1983

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By nahida, May 25, 2008 at 4:59 am Link to this comment

20. “There are some who believe that the non-Jewish population, even in a high percentage, within our borders will be more effectively under our surveillance; and there are some who believe the contrary, i.e., that it is easier to carry out surveillance over the activities of a neighbor than over those of a tenant. [I] tend to support the latter view and have an additional argument:...the need to sustain the character of the state which will henceforth be Jewish…with a non-Jewish minority limited to 15 percent. I had already reached this fundamental position as early as 1940 [and] it is entered in my diary.” Joseph Weitz, head of the Jewish Agency’s Colonization Department. From Israel: an Apartheid State by Uri Davis, p.5.

21. “Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours… Everything we don’t grab will go to them.” Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of militants from the extreme right-wing Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.

22. “It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism,colonialization or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands.” Yoram Bar Porath, Yediot Aahronot, of 14 July 1972.

23. “Spirit the penniless population across the frontier by denying it employment… Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.” Theodore Herzl, founder of the World Zionist Organization, speaking of the Arabs of Palestine,Complete Diaries, June 12, 1895 entry.

24. “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.”—Rabbi Yaacov Perrin, Feb. 27, 1994 [Source: N.Y. Times, Feb. 28, 1994, p. 1]

25. “We Jews, we are the destroyers and will remain the destroyers. Nothing you can do will meet our demands and needs. We will forever destroy because we want a world of our own.” (You Gentiles, by Jewish Author Maurice Samuels, p. 155).

26. “We will have a world government whether you like it or not. The only question is whether that government will be achieved by conquest or consent.” (Jewish Banker Paul Warburg, February 17, 1950, as he testified before the U.S. Senate).

27. “We will establish ourselves in Palestine whether you like it or not…You can hasten our arrival or you can equally retard it. It is however better for you to help us so as to avoid our constructive powers being turned into a destructive power which will overthrow the world.” (Chaim Weizmann, Published in “Judische Rundschau,” No. 4, 1920)

28.  “Thanks to the terrible power of our International Banks, we have forced the Christians into wars without number. Wars have a special value for Jews, since Christians massacre each other and make more room for us Jews. Wars are the Jews’ Harvest, the Jew Banks grow fat on Christian wars. Over one hundred million Christians have been swept off the face of the earth by wars, and the end is not yet.” Rabbi Reichorn


29. “There is scarcely an event in modern Europe that cannot be traced back to the Jews. We Jews are today nothing else but the World’s seducers, its destroyers, its incendiaries, its executioners.” By Jewish Oscar Levy

30.  “We [Jews] have been at the bottom not merely of the latest great war but of nearly all your wars, not only of the Russian but of every other major revolution in your history. We have brought discord and confusion and frustration into your personal and public life. We are still doing it. No one can tell how long we shall go on doing it…..” by Jewish Ravage (biographer for the Rothschilds)

.

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By nahida, May 25, 2008 at 4:58 am Link to this comment

12. “Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that . . . I want to tell you something very clear: Don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it.” - Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, October 3, 2001, to Shimon Peres, as reported on Kol Yisrael radio. (Certainly the FBI’s cover-up of the Israeli spy ring/phone tap scandal suggests that Mr. Sharon may not have been joking.)

13. “We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz Israel… Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours.” Rafael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces - Gad Becker, Yediot Ahronot 13 April 1983, New York Times 14 April 1983.

14. “We must do everything to ensure they [the Palestinian refugees] never do return” David Ben-Gurion, in his diary, 18 July 1948, quoted in Michael Bar Zohar’s Ben-Gurion: the Armed Prophet, Prentice-Hall, 1967, p. 157.

15. ” ... we should prepare to go over to the offensive with the aim of smashing Lebanon, Trans-jordan and Syria… The weak point in the Arab coalition is Lebanon [for] the Moslem regime is artificial and easy to undermine. A Christian state should be established… When we smash the [Arab] Legions strength and bomb Amman, we will eliminate Transjordan, too, and then Syria will fall. If Egypt still dares to fight on, we shall bomb Port Said, Alexandria, and Cairo.” ” David Ben-Gurion, May 1948, to the General Staff. From Ben-Gurion, A Biography, by Michael Ben-Zohar, Delacorte, New York 1978.

16. “We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.” Israel Koenig, “The Koenig Memorandum”

17. “Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushua in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.” Moshe Dayan, address to the Technion, Haifa, reported in Haaretz, April 4, 1969.

18. “We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, What is to be done with the Palestinian population?’ Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said ‘Drive them out!’” Yitzhak Rabin, leaked censored version of Rabin memoirs, published in the New York Times, 23 October 1979.

19. Rabin’s description of the conquest of Lydda, after the completion of Plan Dalet. “We shall reduce the Arab population to a community of woodcutters and waiters” Uri Lubrani, PM Ben-Gurion’s special adviser on Arab Affairs, 1960. From “The Arabs in Israel” by Sabri Jiryas.

.

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By nahida, May 25, 2008 at 4:56 am Link to this comment

zionist “pearls” of “wisdom” :


1. “There is a huge gap between us (Jews) and our enemies not just in ability but in morality, culture, sanctity of life, and conscience. They are our neighbors here, but it seems as if at a distance of a few hundred meters away, there are people who do not belong to our continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy.” Israeli president Moshe Katsav. The Jerusalem Post, May 10, 2001

2. “The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they want more”.... Ehud Barak, Prime Minister of Israel at the time - August 28, 2000. Reported in the Jerusalem Post August 30, 2000

3. ” [The Palestinians are] beasts walking on two legs.” Menahim Begin, speech to the Knesset, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, “Begin and the Beasts”. New Statesman, 25 June 1982.

4. “The Palestinians” would be crushed like grasshoppers ... heads smashed against the boulders and walls.” ” Isreali Prime Minister (at the time) in a speech to Jewish settlers New York Times April 1, 1988

5. “When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.” Raphael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces, New York Times, 14 April 1983.

6. “How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to.” Golda Maier, March 8, 1969.

7. “There was no such thing as Palestinians, they never existed.” Golda Maier Israeli Prime Minister June 15, 1969

8. “The thesis that the danger of genocide was hanging over us in June 1967 and that Israel was fighting for its physical existence is only bluff, which was born and developed after the war.” Israeli General Matityahu Peled, Ha’aretz, 19 March 1972.

9. David Ben Gurion (the first Israeli Prime Minister): “If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Anti - Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault ? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?” Quoted by Nahum Goldmann in Le Paraddoxe Juif (The Jewish Paradox), pp121.

10. Ben Gurion also warned in 1948 : “We must do everything to insure they ( the Palestinians) never do return.” Assuring his fellow Zionists that Palestinians will never come back to their homes. “The old will die and the young will forget.”

11. “We have to kill all the Palestinians unless they are resigned to live here as slaves.” Chairman Heilbrun of the Committee for the Re-election of General Shlomo Lahat, the mayor of Tel Aviv, October 1983.

.

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By Fadel Abdallah, May 24, 2008 at 8:32 pm Link to this comment

Since Amy Wilentz has the audacity to use sugar-coated language to psychologically analyze the personality of Rachel Corrie, I would like her to demonstrate her psychological skills in analyzing the Masada episode, where 960 Jews committed homicide /suicide, against the dictates of the Jewish law, with the men killing their own children and wifes first, and then the men killing each others. I would like her also to compare this to the individual suicide-bombers of today, whether Palestinians or Iraqis, as a method to liberate their countries from foreign occupation. I want her to tell us specifically which these two types of suicide / homicide is more abhorrent! Especially in light of the Zionist propaganda against Palestinians who don’t love their children because they commit suicide! I can also pose as a psychological analyst if I wish, but I’d rather leave this to the “honest insiders” like Ms. Wilentz. 

What follows is taken from the official Jewish site on the the Masada, for the benefit of those who might have not heard about this, or had no chance to reflect on the so-called “Masada complex” inherent in the Jewish psyche.
===========================================
“After this oration, the men killed their wives and children, and then each other.”

“I suspect there are two reasons the Talmud omits the story of Masada. First, many rabbis still felt a lingering anger toward the extremist Zealots who died at Masada. We know that Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai had to flee Jerusalem secretly to avoid being killed by the sort of people who died there. Furthermore, at a time when the rabbis were desperately attempting to reconstruct a Judaism that could survive without a Temple and without a sovereign state, they hardly were interested in glorifying the mass suicide of Jews who believed that life without sovereignty was not worth living.”

“The story of Masada survives in the writings of Josephus. But not many Jews read Josephus, and for well over fifteen hundred years, it was a more or less forgotten episode in Jewish history. Then, in the 1920s, the Hebrew writer Isaac Lamdan wrote “Masada,” a poetic history of the anguished Jewish fight against a world full of enemies. According to Professor David Roskies, Lamdan’s poem, “more than any other text, later inspired the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto.” In recent years, Masada became widely known through the excavations of the late Israeli archaeologist Yigael Yadin. In addition to finding two mikvaot (ritual baths) and a synagogue used by Masada’s defenders, he uncovered twenty-five skeletons of men, women, and children. In 1969, they were buried at Masada with full military honors.”

“The term “Masada complex” is sometimes applied critically to advocates of right-wing policies in the Israeli government. Political scientist Susan Hattis Rolef has defined this “complex” as “the conviction ... that it is preferable to fight to the end rather than to surrender and acquiesce to the loss of independent statehood.”

SOURCES AND FURTHER READINGS: Yigael Yadin, Masada. The quote about the “Masada complex” is found in Susan Hattis Rolef, ed., Political Dictionary of the State of Israel, p. 214. See also David Roskies, The Literature of Destruction, p. 358.
Source: Joseph Telushkin. Jewish Literacy. NY: William Morrow and Co., 1991. Reprinted by permission of the author. Masada photo courtesy of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism. All rights reserved to Itamar Greenberg and to the Ministry of Tourism.

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By Fadel Abdallah, May 24, 2008 at 7:36 pm Link to this comment

Thank you levity for your observations regarding Amy Wlientz’s review. Since I only read the first page of that review in my first reading, I did not observe much of what you’re saying. Now, your comments forced me to go and reread the whole thing, and I have to concur with what you say, for most of it comes in the second page of the review.

Now, that I know also that she was a former correspondent for the New Yorker in Jerusalem, I understand that she was naturally brainwashed to toe the line of the Zionist propaganda, at least in a subtle way!

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By levity, May 24, 2008 at 4:37 pm Link to this comment

Amy Wilentz’s review typifies the working philosophy of a certain kind of east coast liberal, sensitive to all the right issues yet drawing a line when it comes to Israel. When she begins to address Rachel’s fury at the injustice she sees in Gaza, she refers to Israel as “a nice, broad target for negative emotions”- using an amazingly condescending and obnoxiously understated phraseology to say, in effect, that Israel takes a lot of unfair hits from angry people. Presumably, this would include Rachel’s family and the thousands of other families whose lives have been shattered by Israel’s “self-defense”. Then, of course, comes the put down of Rachel’s sentiments vis a vis the Israeli occupation; a put down underlined by her saying she couldn’t even be bothered to read all of the dead woman’s writing because it was of inferior quality.
What Ms. Wilentz does, in the end, is dehumanize and belittle Rachel and, in this manner, is able to avoid the central issue of her brutal death and the larger conext within which it occurred.
Were Rachel an Israeli woman who was bulldozed by a Palestinian (an unlikely occurence given the fuel cutoff to Gaza), I can only imagine the passionate, furious, grief stricken wailing of Ms. Wilentz and others like her. But, then again, we all know that one Jewish life is worth the lives of many goyem, be they Arab or, in this case, American.

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By thebeerdoctor, May 24, 2008 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment

Amy Wilentz’s review is a terrible account of a very courageous person. Nowhere in the piece does she given any sense of who Rachel Corrie was.

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By msgmi, May 24, 2008 at 11:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In Tianem Square, China, a military tank stopped short of turning a Chinese ‘democracy’ demonstrator from being crushed into a pancake and the world media sounded the horn of victory. When Corrie, a U.S. citizen, was crushed by the ‘democratic’ bulldozer, her own media capitulated.

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By Fadel Abdallah, May 24, 2008 at 9:06 am Link to this comment

By David, May 23 at 4:53 pm #
(Unregistered commenter)

“Rachel Corrie, and most of Rachel Corrie, and most of you posters here, are nothing more than racist bigots,”
============================
Let me first tell you that you’re no David. The David described in Islamic sources, including the Qur’an, was an upright young lad who naturally was on the side of justice and truth. Then he was honored by God and made a Prophet. People like you who are called David are both a misnomer and a disgrace for the memory of this great Prophet of God.

You, whoever your name is, is a typical example of the ugliness and crude chauvinism of political Zionism. Political Zionist are masters in two things: Terrorism (physical, mental, thought etc.) and blaming the victims. For you to call one of your victims “racist, bigot” speaks volumes that you have lost your moral compass, if not the little brain that you have. Corrie’s crime was that she was a little in the way of your marauders, occupiers! People like you are dangerous whose right place is in a mental hospitable.

Well, let me quiz you about your bragging knowledge, versus us the ignorant who don’t know any thing about history:

1. Who are the Irgun, Lehi, Haganah, Gush Emunim Undergroud, Jewish Defense Leage, Kahanist Terrorist Groups, to mention few of the most notorious Zionist terrorist.
2. Who is Baruch Goldestien whom you made a saint?!
3. What do you know about the massacres of Deir Yassin, Acre, Al-Tantura, Lydda-Ramleh, Sugrir, Ad-Dawayima, Safsaf, Sahila, Eilabun, Majd Al-Krum, Hulla, Arab Al-Mawasi, Qibyah, Mosque of Ibrahim in Hebron, Sabra, Shatila.
4. What do you know about the 400 Palestinian villages which were erased from the surface of the earth because they happened to exist and be in the way of the your marauder occupier army, known as IDF?!
5. Who killed :ord Moyne in July 1946 and Court Bernadote in September 1948?
6. Who killed over 4000 children and women during the two Intifada’s?!

These are just samples of what will appear and documented in a book I hope to bring up in a couple of years. I know in advance the kind of attacks I will be subjected to by irrational fanatics like you.

Are you aware of all the hate directed against Jimmy Carter, who did Israel the greatest favor in its short history by bringing peace between Israel and Egypt, thus neutralizing Egypt in its support for the Palestinian cause?! Why all this hate? Just because he wrote, “Palestine:Peace Not Apartheid.” The same venomous hatred was directed against John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt who wrote “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.”

I conclude with a question based on an Arabic maxim which says, “God’s Glory! God’s Glory, for every monkey, there’s a Houri.” Corrie, Jimmy Carter, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt are examples of the beautiful Houris, now do you know who are the monkeys?!

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By Expat, May 24, 2008 at 7:46 am Link to this comment

^ up with Israel and demands an accounting; what can they possibly say?

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By NEJ, May 24, 2008 at 6:40 am Link to this comment
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I fail to see how anyone who feels for the plight of the Palestinians cannot be angry at their oppressors. Rachel Corrie had every right to feel angry at the Israel’s criminal policies towards the Palestinians. So for Wilentz to reduce Corrie’s anger to being “propagandist” or dull is downright ludicrous. I loved this book and have recommended it to at least 20 people. And I hope they pass it on to others. Propagandist and horatory my foot! Get a grip on reality Wilentz! May God rest this beautiful young lady’s soul. She is my inspiration.

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By Klas, May 24, 2008 at 6:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Human perception is a strange thing.

After Rachel Corrie had been killed the newspaper Guardian in London approached her family asking for permission quote her letter in an article.

Her father, Craig Corrie e-mailed them Rachel’s dispatches from Gaza.

He immediately got a reply from the editor of Guardian who said that this was the strongest, the most personal writing anybody had ever produced from the Gaza strip.

That was their perception.

The Royal Court Theater picked it up Rachel Gaza dispatches and created the play My Name is Rachel Corrie in witch the Gaza dispatches formed an important part.

It played for full house for several seasons, it won the Theatergoers’ Choice Award for best new play, best actress and best director in 2006.

That was the perception of the London theatre audience.

In Truthdig 2008 Amy Wilentz approves all of Rachel’s writing… except the Gaza dispatches. The writing becomes “becomes so rote, so predictable, so propagandistic, so meaningless” in her view that it almost ruins the whole book.

That’s her perception.

Why, she seem to ask herself, couldn’t Rachel just have stayed put in Olympia and continued to write harmless little essays about Moxlie Creek and poems about her grandmother?

Why did she have to have to go to Rafah and write about what the Israeli army was doing against the Palestinians on the Gaza strip?

Human perception is a strange thing.

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By JC, May 23, 2008 at 7:34 pm Link to this comment
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Corrie’s death is tragic and a mere blip on the radar of the conflicts consuming and destroying the middle east. Whatever the circumstances of her death, it was a hopeful life lost. She was clearly over her head but questioning her motives and intent is pointless. She was passionate about the issues of her day, chiefly of which is turmoil in the middle east. That she literally laid her body down in belief of a cause is something few of us would do. Whether this act was in vain is yet to be known. Let us pray that it wasn’t.

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By Fadel Abdallah, May 23, 2008 at 2:08 pm Link to this comment

A drop of Corrie’s noble blood is worth more than the all the much-bragged-about glories of Zionism!

Those of us who appreciate the ultimate sacrifice she made for the cause of justice and freedom should pitch in monetarily, so we can establish a scholarship in her honor.

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By Fadel Abdallah, May 23, 2008 at 1:45 pm Link to this comment

“But then Gaza is full of abominations and degredations.”
====================
Did you mean to say, “the Israeli marauders occupiers in Gaza made it a place full of abominations and degradations?!”

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By writeon, May 23, 2008 at 11:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We know, or think we know, a lot about Corrie, because she was one of us, but what of all the others who have died in Gaza? How many of them can we name? How many of them were young and equally gifted in their own way? Yet they are the unknown dead, the forgotten dead, the ungrateful dead.

Still I think if Corries prose ‘suffered’ because she was in Gaza, this perhaps indicates that when faced with an appaling reality, even Corrie found herself at a loss to find words to describe her feelings and observations, after all words are only an approximation of realty. A bulldozer crushing bone to splinters is not the same as being crushed or witnessing such an abomination. But then Gaza is full of abominations and degredations.

In another time Corrie would probably have been called a saint.

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By Gadees, May 23, 2008 at 11:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Corrie’s murder was a precurser of the coming decline of the Israeli empire.Palestinians will always cherish her memory as one who offered her soul and body to pave the way to liberty for all oppressed people regardless of their color,race and religion.Regretfully though,this majestic self sacrifice at the alter of freedom, had passed unnoticed by the dying senses of Western civilizatio.

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By cd, May 23, 2008 at 10:08 am Link to this comment
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The last refuge of a scoundrel:  to criticize Corrie’s prose when she names an evil that this “reviewer” will not. 

And, pray tell, what is the “difficult target,” if the govt of Israel is an “easy target”?

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By Expat, May 23, 2008 at 10:00 am Link to this comment

^ the bottom line is, she was murdered in cold blood and nothing was done about it; what does this say about us?  What does this say about the Israel’s?  We’ll all be aboard the express to hell!

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By don knutsen, May 23, 2008 at 8:44 am Link to this comment
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If this had happened in any other middle eastern country except Isreal the media would’ve not let us or our goverment forget it. But it happened in Israel, our supposed “best friend” ( to quote king george ). It appeared as a brief by line and sunk below the surface to be replaced by the usual pablum were all dished up by our goverment controlled media propoganda machine. She obviously was a brave and good person, willing to put herself out on the line, showing more courage then our fearless leaders to be sure. All thru history people like this, pushing against the tide of tyranny, have been done away with disregard by the people in power. In this case the country that by its actions has inflamed the middle east for 5 decades now. If you can’t destroy a peoples aspirations easily, you destroy their voice. What price did the Israeli dozer driver pay for this murder ? What price will our leaders in the white house pay for their mass murders in Iraq ?

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By Ed, May 23, 2008 at 7:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The whole world suffers when we lose people like Rachel.

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By still confused, May 23, 2008 at 6:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The story was reported when it happened. I remember hearing about it.

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By Allan Krueger, May 23, 2008 at 6:01 am Link to this comment

The world could use many more like her. Rachel’s death was certainly a senseless, waste.

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By John, May 23, 2008 at 5:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is the sort of thing that our cowed, censored press would never normally report on. Her sad fate is, unfortunately, not “PC” enough to sell pharmaceutical ads, and of course “democracies” don’t bulldoze dissenters. Did her story ever get any airtime on CBS, ABC, or NBC?

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