Israel, Justice

Brian Walt Defends the Corries

brian-waltWonderful news: Rabbi Brian Walt is now officially a blogger. 
Rabbi Walt, who will soon be stepping down from his post as Executive Director of Rabbis for Human Rights – North America, opens his brand-new blog with a sharp rebuttal to Rabbi David Forman’s recent criticisms of the Corrie family in the Jerusalem Post.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Brian. We’ll happily add your courageous voice to the ranks of bloggers eminently worth reading…

17 thoughts on “Brian Walt Defends the Corries

  1. And well he should. I know the Corries, and they’re lovely people. Some Jews are so quick to brand well-intentioned coexistence idealists as Jew-hating terrorist lovers, as has happened with their daughter Rachel. Such a shonde the shit that family gets put through.
    Hip hip hurrah for Rabbi Walt’s defense of the Corries!

  2. It’s heartbreaking to see any parents lose a child.
    Why, though, is Rachel Corrie’s case so unique? She went to Gaza to fight for a cause she believed in, and she was willing to sacrifice here life in order to defend that cause. How can we not respect that she in fact paid with her life, but why does that make her story more tragic than anybody else’s? Haven’t thousands of people died in this conflict–Arab and Jew, Palestinian and Israeli?
    Is the Israeli army expected to surrender to a 24-year-old-American?

  3. Dear Brian,
    I have spent a fair amount of time on this subject. Had literally finished an article on the ISM in Nablus days before Rachel’s death and then spoke with a number of those present as well as her grieving parent’s. They are sweet, smart, dedicated people and Rabbi Forman has written an unfortunate column. However, there are many questions about the activity of the ISM and other more international peace groups who come to Israel and pretty clearly take the side of the Palestinian victims in a war of attrition that has made every resident of the Holy Land a victim in their own right. We have so much to learn and we need to all develop the willingness to listen from deep within our hearts to the pain that emanates from Palestinians and Israelis alike. I believe that understanding the “other” is the key to reconciliation and the beginning of our journey toward a lasting peace. I have great faith in the ability of people of all faiths to listen….
    Larry Snider

  4. Even if you sympathize with the Corries (which admittedly I do not) Rabbi Forman’s article was very respectful. He did not attack the dead 24 year old who was protecting a weapons tunnel. He merely exposed a blatant bias.

    1. Jason, which tunnel? You mean the home of a doctor? If you’ve even read the various eyewitness reports, you’ll see there is no discussion of tunnels anywhere. The IDF was clearing all homes along the route of the wall to create a “buffer zone”. There is no tunnel.

  5. “…..the foundation supports genocide in Darfur, brutal Hamas killings and indiscriminate assaults on Israel’s civilian population.”
    THIS doesn’t sound like an attack to you?!
    And to answer your question, YES there’s going to be a bias when your own child is killed needlessly. And of course, let’s not forget the most egregious bias of American exceptionalism – when foreigners are killed, they’re part of the conflict. When an American gets killed… there’ll be hell to pay! Yes, American deaths are more sailient that Israeli or Palestinian deaths.

  6. If you’ve even read the various eyewitness reports, you’ll see there is no discussion of tunnels anywhere.
    What’s the difference? If a person isn’t prepared to die, perhaps they shouldn’t enter a war zone to fight an army.
    … the Most Moral Army in the World could have done better in not running her over.
    The Israeli military doesn’t search for 24-year-females, to run over with tractors, as we all know.

  7. Thank you for your responses to my blog.
    In response to Jonathan 1:
    “Is the Israeli army expected to surrender to a 24-year-old-American?”
    We are not talking about surrender. She was engaging in non-violent civil disobedience. There were many ways for the Israeli army to remove her without killing her? Would we justify the U.S army or police when they kill people engaged in civil disobedience? Her case is so poignant because she was a young American acting on her convictions and was engaged in non-violent resistance.
    To Jason:
    Let’s assume that she was protecting a weapons tunnel, which as Kung Fu Jew points out that she was not. She was facing soldiers with a bulldozer. Was there no other way to move her? Are you saying that running her over with a bulldozer was the only way to move her?
    As regards Rabbi Forman’s article: Is it respectful to assert that the Foundation supports the massacre in Darfur and the attacks on Israel? It seems to me to be deliberate distortion.
    As I said in my blog post, I know the Corries personally and they are decent people who want justice and peace for both peoples. They, nor their daughter, deserve the kind of unfounded attack that Rabbi Forman published in the Jerusalem Post.

  8. Well, I thought the Jpost piece was ludicrous, but I’m not sure that that totally negates Jonathan1’s points. I’m sure that Rachel Corrie’s parents are good and well-meaning people who desire for their daughter’s death to have some meaning, instead of just being tragic. And heaven knows I don’t have too many illusions about the Israeli Army.
    All that said – and this may be beyond the scope of this post – I’m not entirely sure what to make of the fixation on Rachel Corrie. There are any number of “young Americans acting on their convictions” whom I don’t particularly support. And while I think that Israel should get the hell out of the territories and give in more or less along the line to Palestinian demands, I can’t say that that belief gives me more respect for the ISM, which has a pretty bad reputation among other human rights groups in the territories.
    But does any of that mean anything in the face of a dead 24-year-old? Probably not. I do think, though, that the fact that the Corries lost their child does not make them immune to political criticism, as they have entered the socio-political arena and make political statements. Their position is not a neutral one, and we shouldn’t think that it is. Which, again, doesn’t make the JPost piece more accurate or appropriate. But criticism of the foundation Corrie’s parents have set up is certainly not beyond the pale.

  9. Mr. Walt,
    Would we justify the U.S army or police when they kill people engaged in civil disobedience?
    What is the connection with the U.S. army or police?
    I wish the Israeli amry had moved Ms. Corrie by other means, but, again, it’s no so horrific that an army killed a person fighting it…even if that person is a vivacious American young lady.
    Her case is so poignant because she was a young American acting on her convictions and was engaged in non-violent resistance.
    Obviously, we disagree about whether the ISM uses non-violence.
    If a group of people contiually put themselves in front of an army, in the midst of a conlfict, then that group has engaged in warfare, perhaps by other means (to me, at least.)
    My heart goes out to the Corries, just like my heart goes out to Michael Levin’s (z’l) family….
    ..but, similarly, I wouldn’t argue that he was an idealistic Zionist acting on his convictions, engaged in a just self-defence operation.
    Whether or not that is true is beside the point…he made the decision to risk his life for his beliefs, and he lost his life fighting for those beliefs…
    I wouldn’t argue that Levin’s death was somehow more poignant than anybody else’s, or that Hizbollah revels in killing wide-eyed American Zionists.
    Levin’s death, Corrie’s death–they’re both worlds destroyed as part of this century-long tragedy…but they both volunteered to enter into this tragedy.

  10. Many international civilians chose to put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of protest. It is precisely because an attitude of “they had it coming to them” has pervaded the ethics of (a) the IDF, (b) Jewish society internationally, (c) large apathetic swaths of American society, that such young people have decided to make politics local.
    Israel risks heavy political repercussions and severe negative attention if it kills internationals, specifically Americans. Americans will sit up and listen when an American dies. Why all parties ignore Palestinian deaths (and very seriously also, Israeli deaths, but much lesser) is both symptom and cause of the sickening downward spiral of this conflict.
    I’m sorry that Jonathan can consider such a death anything but horrific. It’s a horror; may no peaceful protester EVER die. Israel has a horrible track record in this matter.
    ISMers should be judged individually, since so many deplorable acts are not under the org’s banner, but as with many orgs, happen by activists acting without the org’s sanction. ISM is also a favorite smear topic of Jewish naysayers. As if their minor hooliganism can be called abetting terrorism. Please. I worked with ISMers in the West Bank.
    Thanks for joining us Rabbi Walt!

  11. “I worked with ISMers in the West Bank.” = For those who rely on hearsay, please substantiate your rumors, because I know them and their work.

  12. I guess we will have to let others rely on the posts above (if anybody actually reads this stuff)… because obvsiously we are having different conversations.

  13. ISM isn’t a pacifist organization by any means. Their public statements endorse the use of violence on civilians as a form of “resistance” so long as the targeted civilians are Israelis. The use of human shields to protect weapons smuggling is clearly not an endorsement of pacifism.
    While I don’t enjoy Rabbi Foreman’s often over-the-top rhetoric, there is at least an attempt to look at some of the more troubling aspects of the conflict that the cult of Corrie tries to ignore, because they wish to paint everything in black-and-white, good-and-evil, us-and-them terms.
    Peace groups work to foster dialogue, either between combatants, between peace-seekers on both sides of a conflict, or between combatants and peace seekers.
    ISM seeks to exacerbate already existing conflict.

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