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A replay of tired lies

By Huwaida Arraf and Neta Golan, Seattle Post Intelligencer

It is sad that J.L. Greenberg recycles discredited propaganda to defame the memory of Rachel Corrie and the ongoing, important work of the International Solidarity Movement (“Corrie ignored Muslim atrocities,” May 23). It is shocking that he does so on behalf of the larger Seattle Jewish Committee.

Greenberg repeats tired lies that the ISM is a “Muslim organization” affiliated with the PLO and Hamas, focused on the “annihilation of the Jews” and unconcerned with other conflicts and repression around the world. The ISM is a non-violent resistance movement founded on the principles of Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. It is not a religious movement and, in fact, a significant number of ISM volunteers are Jewish and Christian. Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, Pagans, Confucians and many other religions have also been represented in the movement. The ISM is totally funded by private donations from civil society around the world. It receives no money from Palestinian political parties or organizations. The ISM is focused on ending Israeli occupation and oppression, a precondition for fair negotiations to end this conflict and secure peace for both Palestinians and Israelis.

The ISM rejects all forms of racism absolutely, including anti-Semitism.

Greenberg takes specific aim at Corrie’s memory. Again, he repeats ridiculous claims — that Corrie was “supporting terrorists,” uninterested in protecting Israelis from Palestinian attacks (and thus a de facto anti-Semite) and preventing the destruction of weapons-smuggling tunnels.

In the series of e-mails Corrie sent home while in Palestine, she discussed in eloquent prose the anguish she felt about the violence she was witnessing. Corrie instinctively humanized all people involved in the conflict, Palestinian and Israeli.

Seattle P-I readers are well aware that the house Corrie was trying to protect when she was killed was the home of a pharmacist and his family. As the Israeli army was eventually forced to concede, there was no weapons-smuggling tunnel under the house. Had the Israeli soldiers present that day listened to what the non-violent ISM volunteers were telling them, that there were no tunnels, no terrorists, no violence at that house, Corrie would be alive today. Her death was no “tragic accident” as Greenberg wants us to believe. It was the predictable outcome of Israeli occupation, Israel’s wholesale policy of house demolition, and the kind of demonization of Palestinians and Muslims that Greenberg engages in.

Greenberg also attacks Mairead Corrigan Maguire, the Irish Nobel Peace Prize recipient, who was recently wounded by the Israeli army at a non-violent demonstration in Bil’in village in the West Bank. Maguire was participating in the weekly nonviolent protests in Bil’in against the construction of Israel ‘s apartheid wall and the expansion of an illegal settlement onto the village’s farmland. Greenberg, extraordinarily, labels Maguire a “Jew hater” without a single bit of evidence.

Greenberg’s essay overflows with distortions bordering on, if not crossing unabashedly into, racism and Islamophobia. He labels all Palestinians, whether Muslim or Christian, as “Muslims” and calls Bili’n’s weekly protests “Muslim demonstrations” though they have no religious character and feature participants of all religions. Greenberg’s laughable claim that Israeli military attacks on non-violent protesters are justified because “guns, grenades or sticks of dynamite might be under the flowing robes” of male and female Palestinian protesters also plays on ugly stereotypes of Palestinians and Muslims.

To achieve real, lasting and just peace for Palestinians and Israelis, extreme voices such as Greenberg’s, which demonize and undermine all those standing for human rights and non-violent change in Israel and Palestine, must be rejected. On the contrary, the non-violent resistance represented by Rachel Corrie in Rafah, and the joint Palestinian, Israeli and international protests in Bil’in are examples deserving respect, praise and support.

Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian American living in Washington D.C., and Neta Golan, an Israeli living in Ramallah, Palestine, are co-founders of the International Solidarity Movement.