On April 9, nearly a month after American peace activist Rachel Corrie, 23, met a gruesome end beneath an armored Israeli bulldozer, the Jerusalem Post noted that the international media were "surprisingly'' mute about her fate which, depending on your view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was either murder, a "regrettable accident,'' or "suicide by bulldozer.''
While the death meant "bad press for Israel,'' Erik Schechter wrote, it had "not yet generated the political firestorm that ensued, in October, 2000, after the death of Muhammad al-Dura, the 12-year-old killed in a Gaza clash between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen.
"This might be due to the world's preoccupation with the war in Iraq, which began four days after Corrie's death,'' he continued. "Two or three more American deaths might just peek out from behind the Baghdad headlines."
Since Corrie's death, two of her fellow members of the International Solidarity Movement also met grisly fates. American Brian Avery, 24, had his face shot off by Israel Defense Forces and Briton Thomas Hurndall, 21, is clinically dead after he took a bullet to the head. This week, a British cameraman was shot dead as well, adding to the string of journalists who have been killed in Israel in recent years.
So where is the outrage?
After a flurry of headlines in the days after her death, virtual silence, at least in the mainstream news organs. Her memorial service, broken up by Israeli forces, got scant notice in the U.S. There's been no word on Israel's investigation into her death. Meanwhile, a resolution, introduced by her congressman, calling on Washington to conduct a "full, fair and expeditious investigation'' goes ignored.
Was Corrie's death media collateral damage, forgotten in the bombing of Baghdad, Jessica Lynch, SARS, Laci Peterson and other news? Was she political fallout, best left unmentioned by a U.S. on the cusp of war? Is the world simply tired of the carnage in Israel, where thousands of civilians, Israeli and Palestinian, men, women and children, have been killed since the second intifada broke out in 2000? Or is something else at play here?
As American conservative columnist Charley Reese wrote last month, Corrie was victimized "by a news media so adamantly determined to play the three monkeys (see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil) when it comes to Israel. After all, merely telling the truth will get you labeled an anti-Semite.''
And he should know, as he has been labeled just that many a time, especially by such media activism groups such as the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. (CAMERA once threatened to sue me but never followed through.) But I won't dwell on that here except to note that they portray Corrie as having been out to "justify terrorism.''
Bad enough that Corrie was crushed to death, but now she is being buried again, a victim of media neglect and Blogistani justice. Cruise the net and you'll find many Likudnik hardline blogs, or web logs, and web forums, where Corrie has been crudely excoriated.
On idiotarian.com: "I nominate the Bulldozer for the Nobel Peace Prize! It improved society; and now with blood on its hands, I mean blade, it'll fit in with past recipients such as: Terrorfat, Mandela, Carter." On littlegreenfootballs.com, where she's known as "the flat bitch:'' "How 'bout we all get together at Rachel's grave and stage a vomit-in on it?'' while on usefulwork.com, "I hope that Rachel's parents read this site. I just want to say hi; and that at least you have the knowledge that she died painfully."
Reading sites, where Arabs and Muslims are described in the most hateful terms, I can't help but wonder what the reaction would be if they referred to other minorities in similar ways. But to go on about that would dull my point.
Last week, Israel's Ha'aretz reported the IDF has "declared war on ISM members.'' This week it was revealed that two British suicide bombers, one of whom blew himself up in a Tel Aviv bar last week, attended Corrie's memorial service. Despite ISM denials that the terrorists — one escaped — had anything to do with their peace group, ISM members are to be deported.
And so, in yet another way, the world's eyes on the Occupied Territories are closed.
The Jerusalem Post was wrong and Reese got it right.
There are some stories to which the media are deaf, dumb and blind.
Antonia Zerbisias can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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