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Click on this text to watch: Rachel Corrie - Death of an Idealist (2004)

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Click on this text to watch an interview with Rachel two days before she was murdered...

Click on this text to watch a Youtube video: Let Me Stand Alone - The Journals of Rachel Corrie...

                                                                                                                       REMEMBER RACHEL CORRIE                                                                                                                       Rachel Corrie

 

Rachel Corrie was a 23-year-old American peace activist from Olympia, Washington, who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer on 16 March 2003, while undertaking nonviolent direct action to protect the home of a Palestinian family from demolition.

Since her killing, an enormous amount of solidarity activities have been carried out in her name around the world.

Rachel’s journals and emails from her time in Palestine are available in a variety of forms. They have been published in books, turned into plays and dramatic readings, and used around the internet. They are not always reproduced in their entirety and we have collected them here, un-cut, for easier reading.

 

"I should at least mention that I am also discovering a degree of strength and of basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances – which I also haven’t seen before. I think the word is dignity. I wish you could meet these people. Maybe, hopefully, someday you will."


– Rachel Corrie, in an email to her mother, February 28 2003

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“Rachel Corrie, 23 years old from the state of Washington, was killed while she was trying to prevent Israeli army bulldozers from destroying a Palestinian home. Other foreigners who were with her said 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. Another foreigner was also injured in the attack and has been hospitalized - at this stage his nationality is unknown.” (15 March 2003) A press release from the International Solidarity Movement stated that:

 

“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.” (15 March 2003)The photos below clearly show that Rachel was well marked, had a megaphone which removes any doubt that the activists’ presence was somehow invisible to the driver, and she clearly posed no threat to the bulldozer driver.

 

Picture taken between 3:00-4:00PM, 16 March 2003, Rafah, Occupied Gaza. Rachel Corrie (L) and Nick (R) oppose the potential destruction of this home (to the west of the Doctor’s home where Rachel was killed). In the instance pictured, the bulldozer did not stop and Rachel was pinned between the scooped earth and the fence behind her. On this occasion, the driver stopped before seriously injuring her. Photo by Joseph Smith (ISM Handout).

 

 

Picture taken between 3:00-4:00PM on 16 March 2003, Rafah, Occupied Gaza. A clearly marked Rachel Corrie, holding a megaphone, confronts the driver of one of two Israeli bulldozers in the area that were attempting to demolish a Palestinian homes. She was confronting the bulldozer in order to disrupt its work, and prevent it from threatening any homes. Photo by Joseph Smith. (ISM Handout)

 

 

Picture taken at 4:45PM on 16 March 2003, Rafah, Occupied Gaza. Other peace activists tend to Rachel after she was fatally injured by the driver of the Israeli bulldozer (in background). This photo was taken seconds after the bulldozer driver dragged his blade over her for the second time while reversingback over her body. He lifted the blade as seen in the photo only after he had dragged it back over Rachel’s body. This image clearly shows that had he lifted his blade at any time he may have avoided killing her, as the bottom section of the bulldozer is raised off the ground. Photo by Richard Purssell. (ISM Handout)


 

Picture taken at 4:47PM on 16 March 2003, Rafah, Occupied Gaza. Rachel Corrie lies on the ground fatally injured by the Israeli bulldozer driver. Rachel’s fellow activists have dug her a little out of the sand and are trying to keep her neck straight due to spinal injury. Photo by Joseph Smith. (ISM Handout)

 

Rachel in Najjar hostpital, Rafah, Occupied Gaza. Rachel arrived in the emergency room at 5:05PM and doctors scrambled to save her. By 5:20PM, she was gone. Ha’aretz newspaper reported that Dr. Ali Musa, a doctor at Al-Najjar, stated that the cause of death was “skull and chest fractures”.

 


A later report from ISM Media Coordinator Michael Shaik in Beit Sahour offered more details about the events:

“The confrontation between the ISM and the Israeli Army had been under way for two hours when Rachel was run over. Rachel and the other activists had clearly identified themselves as unarmed international peace activists throughout the confrontation.

The Israeli Army are attempting to dishonour her memory by claiming that Rachel was killed accidentally when she ran in front of the bulldozer. Eye-witnesses to the murder insist that this is totally untrue. 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.”

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Rachel Corrie Redux

On August 28th, 2012, an Israeli court dismissed a lawsuit
brought by the parents of Rachel Corrie against the
Israeli Defense Forces for the murder of their daughter.

The Israelis had been flattening Palestinian homes in the
Gaza Strip in 2003
and Rachel bravely stood in the way
of a bulldozer that crushed her to death while flattening
another Palestinian home.
 
Any humane and sensible
bulldozer operator, when seeing a seemingly crazy young
girl in the way, would have stopped his machine and
notified authorities who would have taken the girl away
from harm’s way. But not this murdering cretin who ran
right over her on purpose, and then continued on with his
work... and got away with it; or so it may seem like it to
him, to supportive Jewish-Americans, and to Israelis.

It was an Israeli judge named Oded Gershon who ruled
that the victim (Rachel Corrie) had put herself in harm’s
way and deserved what she got.
 
He also ruled that
destroying homes in the Gaza is a “military necessity.”

I have no doubt that an arrogant swine such as Gershon
has no idea that he personally created multitudes of
enemies who now believe that the rogue-terrorist, false
temporary “state” of Israel should also be erased...
as a “military necessity.”

Cindy and Craig Corrie, Rachel’s parents, will appeal the
verdict; but don’t hold your breath waiting for Israeli
justice, because there evidently is no such thing in Israel
regarding Palestine.

Any God Damned foreign country that willfully kills
Americans such as Rachel Corrie, 34 crewmembers of
the U.S.S. LIBERTY and 2,976 Americans on 9/11 is my
mortal enemy; and I do not care at all what the Zionist
controlled American government thinks of me!
 
                                                               I care even less about what Zionist Jews think of anything at all.
 
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
 

Emails From Palestine

February 7 2003

 

Hi friends and family, and others,

 

I have been in Palestine for two weeks and one hour now, and I still have very few words to describe what I see. It is most difficult for me to think about what’s going on here when I sit down to write back to the United States. Something about the virtual portal into luxury. I don’t know if many of the children here have ever existed without tank-shell holes in their walls and the towers of an occupying army surveying them constantly from the near horizons. I think, although I’m not entirely sure, that even the smallest of these children understand that life is not like this everywhere. An eight-year-old was shot and killed by an Israeli tank two days before I got here, and many of the children murmur his name to me – Ali – or point at the posters of him on the walls. The children also love to get me to practice my limited Arabic by asking me, “Kaif Sharon?” “Kaif Bush?” and they laugh when I say, “Bush Majnoon”, “Sharon Majnoon” back in my limited arabic. (How is Sharon? How is Bush? Bush is crazy. Sharon is crazy.) Of course this isn’t quite what I believe, and some of the adults who have the English correct me: “Bush mish Majnoon” … Bush is a businessman. Today I tried to learn to say, “Bush is a tool,” but I don’t think it translated quite right. But anyway, there are eight-year-olds here much more aware of the workings of the global power structure than I was just a few years ago.

 

Nevertheless, no amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing and word of mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just can’t imagine it unless you see it – and even then you are always well aware that your experience of it is not at all the reality: what with the difficulties the Israeli army would face if they shot an unarmed US citizen, and with the fact that I have money to buy water when the army destroys wells, and the fact, of course, that I have the option of leaving. Nobody in my family has been shot, driving in their car, by a rocket launcher from a tower at the end of a major street in my hometown. I have a home. I am allowed to go see the ocean. Ostensibly it is still quite difficult for me to be held for months or years on end without a trial (this because I am a white US citizen, as opposed to so many others). When I leave for school or work I can be relatively certain that there will not be a heavily armed soldier waiting halfway between Mud Bay and downtown Olympia at a checkpoint with the power to decide whether I can go about my business, and whether I can get home again when I’m done. So, if I feel outrage at arriving and entering briefly and incompletely into the world in which these children exist, I wonder conversely about how it would be for them to arrive in my world.

 

They know that children in the United States don‚t usually have their parents shot and they know they sometimes get to see the ocean. But once you have seen the ocean and lived in a silent place, where water is taken for granted and not stolen in the night by bulldozers, and once you have spent an evening when you haven‚t wondered if the walls of your home might suddenly fall inward waking you from your sleep, and once you‚ve met people who have never lost anyone˜once you have experienced the reality of a world that isn‚t surrounded by murderous towers, tanks, armed “settlements” and now a giant metal wall, I wonder if you can forgive the world for all the years of your childhood spent existing—just existing—in resistance to the constant stranglehold of the world‚s fourth largest military—backed by the world’s only superpower—in it‚s attempt to erase you from your home. That is something I wonder about these children. I wonder what would happen if they really knew. As an afterthought to all this rambling, I am in Rafah: a city of about 140,000 people, approximately 60% of whom are refugees – many of whom are twice or three times refugees. Rafah existed prior to 1948, but most of the people here are themselves or are descendants of people who were relocated here from their homes in historic Palestine—now Israel. Rafah was split in half when the Sinai returned to Egypt.

 

Currently, the Israeli army is building a fourteen-meter-high wall between Rafah in Palestine and the border, carving a no-mans land from the houses along the border. Six hundred and two homes have been completely bulldozed according to the Rafah Popular Refugee Committee. The number of homes that have been partially destroyed is greater. Rafah existed prior to 1948, but most of the people here are themselves or are descendants of people who were relocated here from their homes in historic Palestine—now Israel. Rafah was split in half when the Sinai returned to Egypt.

 

Currently, the Israeli army is building a fourteen-meter-high wall between Rafah in Palestine and the border, carving a no-mans land from the houses along the border. Six hundred and two homes have been completely bulldozed according to the Rafah Popular Refugee Committee. The number of homes that have been partially destroyed is greater. Today, as I walked on top of the rubble where homes once stood, Egyptian soldiers called to me from the other side of the border, “Go! Go!” because a tank was coming. And then waving and “What’s your name?”. Something disturbing about this friendly curiosity. It reminded me of how much, to some degree, we are all kids curious about other kids. Egyptian kids shouting at strange women wandering into the path of tanks. Palestinian kids shot from the tanks when they peak out from behind walls to see what’s going on. International kids standing in front of tanks with banners. Israeli kids in the tanks anonymously – occasionally shouting and also occasionally waving – many forced to be here, many just agressive – shooting into the houses as we wander away.

 

In addition to the constant presence of tanks along the border and in the western region between Rafah and settlements along the coast, there are more IDF towers here than I can count—along the horizon, at the end of streets. Some just army green metal. Others these strange spiral staircases draped in some kind of netting to make the activity within anonymous. Some hidden, just beneath the horizon of buildings. A new one went up the other day in the time it took us to do laundry and to cross town twice to hang banners.


Despite the fact that some of the areas nearest the border are the original Rafah with families who have lived on this land for at least a century, only the 1948 camps in the center of the city are Palestinian controlled areas under Oslo. But as far as I can tell, there are few if any places that are not within the sights of some tower or another. Certainly there is no place invulnerable to apache helicopters or to the cameras of invisible drones we hear buzzing over the city for hours at a time.

 

I’ve been having trouble accessing news about the outside world here, but I hear an escalation of war on Iraq is inevitable. There is a great deal of concern here about the “reoccupation of Gaza”. Gaza is reoccupied every day to various extents but I think the fear is that the tanks will enter all the streets and remain here instead of entering some of the streets and then withdrawing after some hours or days to observe and shoot from the edges of the communities. If people aren’t already thinking about the consequences of this war for the people of the entire region then I hope you will start. I also hope you‚ll come here. We’ve been wavering between five and six internationals. The neighborhoods that have asked us for some form of presence are Yibna, Tel El Sultan, Hi Salam, Brazil, Block J, Zorob, and Block O. There is also need for constant nighttime presence at a well on the outskirts of Rafah since the Israeli army destroyed the two largest wells.

 

According to the municipal water office the wells destroyed last week provided half of Rafah’s water supply. Many of the communities have requested internationals to be present at night to attempt to shield houses from further demolition. After about ten p.m. it is very difficult to move at night because the Israeli army treats anyone in the streets as resistance and shoots at them. So clearly we are too few.

 

I continue to believe that my home, Olympia, could gain a lot and offer a lot by deciding to make a commitment to Rafah in the form of a sister-community relationship. Some teachers and children’s groups have expressed interest in e-mail exchanges, but this is only the tip of the iceberg of solidarity work that might be done.

 

Many people want their voices to be heard, and I think we need to use some of our privilege as internationals to get those voices heard directly in the US, rather than through the filter of well-meaning internationals such as myself. I am just beginning to learn, from what I expect to be a very intense tutelage, about the ability of people to organize against all odds, and to resist against all odds.

 

Thanks for the news I’ve been getting from friends in the US. I just read a report back from a friend who organized a peace group in Shelton, Washington, and was able to be part of a delegation to the large January 18th protest in Washington DC.

 

People here watch the media, and they told me again today that there have been large protests in the United States and “problems for the government” in the UK. So thanks for allowing me to not feel like a complete Polyanna when I tentatively tell people here that many people in the United States do not support the policies of our government, and that we are learning from global examples how to resist.

 

My love to everyone. My love to my mom. My love to smooch. My love to fg and barnhair and sesamees and Lincoln School. My love to Olympia.

 

Rachel

 

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

February 20 2003


Mama,

 

Now the Israeli army has actually dug up the road to Gaza, and both of the major checkpoints are closed. This means that Palestinians who want to go and register for their next quarter at university can’t. People can’t get to their jobs and those who are trapped on the other side can’t get home; and internationals, who have a meeting tomorrow in the West Bank, won’t make it. We could probably make it through if we made serious use of our international white person privilege, but that would also mean some risk of arrest and deportation, even though none of us has done anything illegal.

 

The Gaza Strip is divided in thirds now. There is some talk about the “reoccupation of Gaza”, but I seriously doubt this will happen, because I think it would be a geopolitically stupid move for Israel right now. I think the more likely thing is an increase in smaller below-the-international-outcry-radar incursions and possibly the oft-hinted “population transfer”.

 

I am staying put in Rafah for now, no plans to head north. I still feel like I’m relatively safe and think that my most likely risk in case of a larger-scale incursion is arrest. A move to reoccupy Gaza would generate a much larger outcry than Sharon’s assassination-during-peace-negotiations/land grab strategy, which is working very well now to create settlements all over, slowly but surely eliminating any meaningful possibility for Palestinian self-determination. Know that I have a lot of very nice Palestinians looking after me. I have a small flu bug, and got some very nice lemony drinks to cure me. Also, the woman who keeps the key for the well where we still sleep keeps asking me about you. She doesn’t speak a bit of English, but she asks about my mom pretty frequently – wants to make sure I’m calling you.

 

Love to you and Dad and Sarah and Chris and everybody.

 

Rachel

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________

February 27 2003


(To her mother)

 

Love you. Really miss you. I have bad nightmares about tanks and bulldozers outside our house and you and me inside. Sometimes the adrenaline acts as an anesthetic for weeks and then in the evening or at night it just hits me again – a little bit of the reality of the situation. I am really scared for the people here. Yesterday, I watched a father lead his two tiny children, holding his hands, out into the sight of tanks and a sniper tower and bulldozers and Jeeps because he thought his house was going to be exploded. Jenny and I stayed in the house with several women and two small babies. It was our mistake in translation that caused him to think it was his house that was being exploded. In fact, the Israeli army was in the process of detonating an explosive in the ground nearby – one that appears to have been planted by Palestinian resistance.

 

This is in the area where Sunday about 150 men were rounded up and contained outside the settlement with gunfire over their heads and around them, while tanks and bulldozers destroyed 25 greenhouses – the livelihoods for 300 people. The explosive was right in front of the greenhouses – right in the point of entry for tanks that might come back again. I was terrified to think that this man felt it was less of a risk to walk out in view of the tanks with his kids than to stay in his house. I was really scared that they were all going to be shot and I tried to stand between them and the tank. This happens every day, but just this father walking out with his two little kids just looking very sad, just happened to get my attention more at this particular moment, probably because I felt it was our translation problems that made him leave.

 

I thought a lot about what you said on the phone about Palestinian violence not helping the situation. Sixty thousand workers from Rafah worked in Israel two years ago. Now only 600 can go to Israel for jobs. Of these 600, many have moved, because the three checkpoints between here and Ashkelon (the closest city in Israel) make what used to be a 40-minute drive, now a 12-hour or impassible journey. In addition, what Rafah identified in 1999 as sources of economic growth are all completely destroyed – the Gaza international airport (runways demolished, totally closed); the border for trade with Egypt (now with a giant Israeli sniper tower in the middle of the crossing); access to the ocean (completely cut off in the last two years by a checkpoint and the Gush Katif settlement). The count of homes destroyed in Rafah since the beginning of this intifada is up around 600, by and large people with no connection to the resistance but who happen to live along the border. I think it is maybe official now that Rafah is the poorest place in the world. There used to be a middle class here – recently. We also get reports that in the past, Gazan flower shipments to Europe were delayed for two weeks at the Erez crossing for security inspections. You can imagine the value of two-week-old cut flowers in the European market, so that market dried up. And then the bulldozers come and take out people’s vegetable farms and gardens. What is left for people? Tell me if you can think of anything. I can’t.

 

If any of us had our lives and welfare completely strangled, lived with children in a shrinking place where we knew, because of previous experience, that soldiers and tanks and bulldozers could come for us at any moment and destroy all the greenhouses that we had been cultivating for however long, and did this while some of us were beaten and held captive with 149 other people for several hours – do you think we might try to use somewhat violent means to protect whatever fragments remained? I think about this especially when I see orchards and greenhouses and fruit trees destroyed – just years of care and cultivation. I think about you and how long it takes to make things grow and what a labour of love it is. I really think, in a similar situation, most people would defend themselves as best they could. I think Uncle Craig would. I think probably Grandma would. I think I would.

 

You asked me about non-violent resistance.

 

When that explosive detonated yesterday it broke all the windows in the family’s house. I was in the process of being served tea and playing with the two small babies. I’m having a hard time right now. Just feel sick to my stomach a lot from being doted on all the time, very sweetly, by people who are facing doom. I know that from the United States, it all sounds like hyperbole. Honestly, a lot of the time the sheer kindness of the people here, coupled with the overwhelming evidence of the wilful destruction of their lives, makes it seem unreal to me. I really can’t believe that something like this can happen in the world without a bigger outcry about it. It really hurts me, again, like it has hurt me in the past, to witness how awful we can allow the world to be. I felt after talking to you that maybe you didn’t completely believe me. I think it’s actually good if you don’t, because I do believe pretty much above all else in the importance of independent critical thinking. And I also realise that with you I’m much less careful than usual about trying to source every assertion that I make. A lot of the reason for that is I know that you actually do go and do your own research. But it makes me worry about the job I’m doing. All of the situation that I tried to enumerate above – and a lot of other things – constitutes a somewhat gradual – often hidden, but nevertheless massive – removal and destruction of the ability of a particular group of people to survive. This is what I am seeing here. The assassinations, rocket attacks and shooting of children are atrocities – but in focusing on them I’m terrified of missing their context. The vast majority of people here – even if they had the economic means to escape, even if they actually wanted to give up resisting on their land and just leave (which appears to be maybe the less nefarious of Sharon’s possible goals), can’t leave. Because they can’t even get into Israel to apply for visas, and because their destination countries won’t let them in (both our country and Arab countries). So I think when all means of survival is cut off in a pen (Gaza) which people can’t get out of, I think that qualifies as genocide. Even if they could get out, I think it would still qualify as genocide. Maybe you could look up the definition of genocide according to international law. I don’t remember it right now. I’m going to get better at illustrating this, hopefully. I don’t like to use those charged words. I think you know this about me. I really value words. I really try to illustrate and let people draw their own conclusions.

 

Anyway, I’m rambling. Just want to write to my Mom and tell her that I’m witnessing this chronic, insidious genocide and I’m really scared, and questioning my fundamental belief in the goodness of human nature. This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don’t think it’s an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers. But I also want this to stop. Disbelief and horror is what I feel. Disappointment. I am disappointed that this is the base reality of our world and that we, in fact, participate in it. This is not at all what I asked for when I came into this world. This is not at all what the people here asked for when they came into this world. This is not the world you and Dad wanted me to come into when you decided to have me. This is not what I meant when I looked at Capital Lake and said: “This is the wide world and I’m coming to it.” I did not mean that I was coming into a world where I could live a comfortable life and possibly, with no effort at all, exist in complete unawareness of my participation in genocide. More big explosions somewhere in the distance outside.

 

When I come back from Palestine, I probably will have nightmares and constantly feel guilty for not being here, but I can channel that into more work. Coming here is one of the better things I’ve ever done. So when I sound crazy, or if the Israeli military should break with their racist tendency not to injure white people, please pin the reason squarely on the fact that I am in the midst of a genocide which I am also indirectly supporting, and for which my government is largely responsible.

 

I love you and Dad. Sorry for the diatribe. OK, some strange men next to me just gave me some peas, so I need to eat and thank them.

 

 

Rachel

 

_________________________________________________________________________________________

 

February 28 2003


(To her mother)

 

Thanks, Mom, for your response to my email. It really helps me to get word from you, and from other people who care about me.

 

After I wrote to you I went incommunicado from the affinity group for about 10 hours which I spent with a family on the front line in Hi Salam – who fixed me dinner – and have cable TV. The two front rooms of their house are unusable because gunshots have been fired through the walls, so the whole family – three kids and two parents – sleep in the parent’s bedroom. I sleep on the floor next to the youngest daughter, Iman, and we all shared blankets. I helped the son with his English homework a little, and we all watched Pet Semetery, which is a horrifying movie. I think they all thought it was pretty funny how much trouble I had watching it. Friday is the holiday, and when I woke up they were watching Gummy Bears dubbed into Arabic. So I ate breakfast with them and sat there for a while and just enjoyed being in this big puddle of blankets with this family watching what for me seemed like Saturday morning cartoons. Then I walked some way to B’razil, which is where Nidal and Mansur and Grandmother and Rafat and all the rest of the big family that has really wholeheartedly adopted me live. (The other day, by the way, Grandmother gave me a pantomimed lecture in Arabic that involved a lot of blowing and pointing to her black shawl. I got Nidal to tell her that my mother would appreciate knowing that someone here was giving me a lecture about smoking turning my lungs black.) I met their sister-in-law, who is visiting from Nusserat camp, and played with her small baby.

 

Nidal’s English gets better every day. He’s the one who calls me, “My sister”. He started teaching Grandmother how to say, “Hello. How are you?” In English. You can always hear the tanks and bulldozers passing by, but all of these people are genuinely cheerful with each other, and with me. When I am with Palestinian friends I tend to be somewhat less horrified than when I am trying to act in a role of human rights observer, documenter, or direct-action resister. They are a good example of how to be in it for the long haul. I know that the situation gets to them – and may ultimately get them – on all kinds of levels, but I am nevertheless amazed at their strength in being able to defend such a large degree of their humanity – laughter, generosity, family-time – against the incredible horror occurring in their lives and against the constant presence of death. I felt much better after this morning. I spent a lot of time writing about the disappointment of discovering, somewhat first-hand, the degree of evil of which we are still capable. I should at least mention that I am also discovering a degree of strength and of basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances – which I also haven’t seen before. I think the word is dignity. I wish you could meet these people.

Maybe, hopefully, someday you will.

 

____________________________________________________________________________________

 

February 8 2003

 

I got a number of very thoughtful responses to the email I sent out last night, most of which I don’t have time to respond to right now. Thanks everyone for the encouragement, questions, criticism. Daniel’s response was particularly inspiring to me and deserves to be shared. The resistance of Israeli Jewish people to the occupation and the enormous risk taken by those refusing to serve in the Israeli military offers an example, especially for those of us living in the United States, of how to behave when you discover that atrocities are being commited in your name.

 

Thank you.

 

_______________________________________________________________________________

 

Received by Rachel on February 7 2003

 

I am a reserve first sergeant in the IDF. The military orisons are filling up with conscientious objectors. Many of them are reservists with families. These are men who have proven their courage under fire in the past. Some have been in jail for more than six months with no end in sight.

 

The amount of AWOLS and refusals to serve are unprecedented in our history as a nation as well as are refusals to carry out orders that involve firing on targets where civilians may be harmed. In a time now in Israel where jobs are scarce and people are losing their homes and businesses to Sharon’s vendetta, many career soldiers – among them pilots and intelligence personnel – have chosen jail and unemployment over what they could only describe as murder.

 

I am supposed to report to the Military Justice department – it is my job to hunt down runaway soldiers and bring them in. I have not reported in for 18 months. Instead, I’ve been using my talents and credentials to document on film and see with my own eyes what the ISMers and other internationals have claimed my boys have been up to.

 

I love my country. I believe that Israel is under the leadership of some very bad people right now. I believe that settlers and local police are in collusion with each other and that the border police are acting disgracefully. They are an embarrassment to 40% of the Israeli public and they would be an embarrassment to 90% of the population if they knew what we know.

 

Please document as much as you can and do not embellish anything with creative writing. The media here serves as a very convincing spin control agent through all of this. Pass this on letter to your friends. There are many soldiers among the ranks of those serving in the occupied territories that are sickened by what they see.

 

There is a code of honor in the IDF – it is called “tohar haneshek” (pronounced TOWhar haNEHshek). It’s what we say to a comrade who is about to do something awful, like kill an unarmed prisoner or carry out an order that violates decency. It means literally “the purity of arms”.

 

Another phrase that speaks to a soldier in his own language is “degle shachor” (DEHgel ShaHor) – it means “black flag”. If you say, “Atah MeTachat Degle Shahor” it means “you are carrying out immoral orders”. It’s a big deal and a shock to hear it from the lips of “silly misguided foreigners”

 

At all times possible try to engage the soldiers in conversation. Do not make the mistake of objectifying them as they have objectified you. Respect is catching, as is disrespect, whether either be deserved or not.

 

You are doing a good thing. I thank you for it.

 

Peace,

Danny

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Continuation of her email to her mother, February 28 2003

 

I think I could see a Palestinian state or a democratic Israeli-Palestinian state within my lifetime. I think freedom for Palestine could be an incredible source of hope to people struggling all over the world. I think it could also be an incredible inspiration to Arab people in the Middle East, who are struggling under undemocratic regimes which the US supports.

 

I look forward to increasing numbers of middle-class privileged people like you and me becoming aware of the structures that support our privilege and beginning to support the work of those who aren’t privileged to dismantle those structures.

 

I look forward to more moments like February 15 when civil society wakes up en masse and issues massive and resonant evidence of it’s conscience, it’s unwillingness to be repressed, and it’s compassion for the suffering of others. I look forward to more teachers emerging like Matt Grant and Barbara Weaver and Dale Knuth who teach critical thinking to kids in the United States. I look forward to the international resistance that’s occurring now fertilizing analysis on all kinds of issues, with dialogue between diverse groups of people. I look forward to all of us who are new at this developing better skills for working in democratic structures and healing our own racism and classism and sexism and heterosexism and ageism and ableism and becoming more effective.

 

One other thing – I think this a lot about public protest – like the one a few weeks ago here that was attended by only about 150 people. Whenever I organize or participate in public protest I get really worried that it will just suck, be really small, embarrassing, and the media will laugh at me. Oftentimes, it is really small and most of the time the media laughs at us. The weekend after our 150-person protest we were invited to a maybe 2,000 person protest. Even though we had a small protest and of course it didn’t get coverage all over the world, in some places the word “Rafah” was mentioned outside of the Arab press. Colin got a sign in English and Arabic into the protest in Seattle that said “Olympia says no to war on Rafah and Iraq”. His pictures went up on the Rafah-today website that a guy named Mohammed here runs. People here and elsewhere saw those pictures.

 

I think about Glen going out every Friday for ten years with tagboard signs that addressed the number of children dead from sanctions in Iraq. Sometimes just one or two people there and everyone thought they were crazy and they got spit upon. Now there are a lot more people on Friday evenings.

 

The juncture between 4th and State is just lined with them, and they get a lot of honks and waves, and thumbs ups. They created an infrastructure there for other people to do something. Getting spit on, they made it easier for someone else to decide that they could write a letter to the editor, or stand at the back of a rally – or do something that seems slightly less ridiculous than standing at the side of the road addressing the deaths of children in Iraq and getting spit upon.

 

Just hearing about what you are doing makes me feel less alone, less useless, less invisible. Those honks and waves help. The pictures help. Colin helps. The international media and our government are not going to tell us that we are effective, important, justified in our work, courageous, intelligent, valuable. We have to do that for each other, and one way we can do that is by continuing our work, visibly.

 

I also think it’s important for people in the United States in relative privilege to realize that people without privilege will be doing this work no matter what, because they are working for their lives. We can work with them, and they know that we work with them, or we can leave them to do this work themselves and curse us for our complicity in killing them. I really don’t get the sense that anyone here curses us.

 

I also get the sense that people here, in particular, are actually more concerned in the immediate about our comfort and health than they are about us risking our lives on their behalf. At least that’s the case for me. People try to give me a lot of tea and food in the midst of gunfire and explosive-detonation.

 

I love you,

 

Rachel

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Rachel’s last email

 

Hi papa,

 

Thank you for your email. I feel like sometimes I spend all my time propogandizing mom, and assuming she’ll pass stuff on to you, so you get neglected. Don’t worry about me too much, right now I am most concerned that we are not being effective. I still don’t feel particularly at risk. Rafah has seemed calmer lately, maybe because the military is preoccupied with incursions in the north – still shooting and house demolitions – one death this week that I know of, but not any larger incursions. Still can’t say how this will change if and when war with Iraq comes.

 

Thanks also for stepping up your anti-war work. I know it is not easy to do, and probably much more difficult where you are than where I am. I am really interested in talking to the journalist in Charlotte – let me know what I can do to speed the process along. I am trying to figure out what I’m going to do when I leave here, and when I’m going to leave. Right now I think I could stay until June, financially. I really don’t want to move back to Olympia, but do need to go back there to clean my stuff out of the garage and talk about my experiences here. On the other hand, now that I’ve crossed the ocean I’m feeling a strong desire to try to stay across the ocean for some time. Considering trying to get English teaching jobs – would like to really buckle down and learn Arabic.

 

Also got an invitation to visit Sweden on my way back – which I think I could do very cheaply. I would like to leave Rafah with a viable plan to return, too. One of the core members of our group has to leave tomorrow – and watching her say goodbye to people is making me realize how difficult it will be. People here can’t leave, so that complicates things. They also are pretty matter-of-fact about the fact that they don’t know if they will be alive when we come back here.

 

I really don’t want to live with a lot of guilt about this place – being able to come and go so easily – and not going back. I think it is valuable to make commitments to places – so I would like to be able to plan on coming back here within a year or so. Of all of these possibilities I think it’s most likely that I will at least go to Sweden for a few weeks on my way back – I can change tickets and get a plane to from Paris to Sweden and back for a total of around 150 bucks or so. I know I should really try to link up with the family in France – but I really think that I’m not going to do that. I think I would just be angry the whole time and not much fun to be around. It also seems like a transition into too much opulence right now – I would feel a lot of class guilt the whole time as well.

 

Let me know if you have any ideas about what I should do with the rest of my life. I love you very much. If you want you can write to me as if I was on vacation at a camp on the big island of Hawaii learning to weave. One thing I do to make things easier here is to utterly retreat into fantasies that I am in a Hollywood movie or a sitcom starring Michael J Fox. So feel free to make something up and I’ll be happy to play along. Much love Poppy.

 

 

Rachel

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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THE TYPE OF CRETIN WHO DRIVES A D-9

          Attempting To Erase Palestine...

 

 

 

"I made them a stadium in the middle of the camp" / Tsadok Yeheskeli, Yediot Aharonot



This is a unique document. It was published in Yediot Aharonot, Israel's most widely
circulated tabloid paper, on May 31, 2002. It is the first absolutely sincere Israeli
eye-witness testimony on what actually happened in Jenin, by one of those who did it and are
proud of it.

 Photo

 

Apart from the shocking revelations, this is also a startling human document.

After publication - and in spite of it - the unit to which the man belongs received from the army command an official citation for outstanding service.


"I entered Jenin, driven by madness, by desperation, in the worst condition possible".

"I told my wife: "If anything happens to me, at least someone will take care of you".

"The funny bit was, I didn't even know how to operate the D-9."

"Within two hours, they taught me to drive forwards, and make a flat surface."

"I tied the 'Beitar' football team flag to the back of the bulldozer and told them: "Move away, let me work.".

"For three days, I just erased and erased"

"I kept drinking whisky to fight off fatigue"

"I didn't see dead bodies under the blade of the D-9, but I don't care if there where any."


Moshe Nissim, nicknamed "Kurdi Bear (1) " , the D-9 operator who became the terror of the Jenin refugee camp inhabitants, speaks with no censorship about his time of glory.

 

"I entered Jenin driven by madness, by desperation, I felt I have nothing to loose, That even if I 'get it', no big deal.

 

I told my wife: "If anything happens to me, at least someone will take care of you!".

 

I started my reserve service, in the worst conditions possible. Maybe this is why I didn't give a damn. Not about explosive charges, not about gun fire.

 

"My life was in deep shit for the past one and a half years. For almost half a year I am suspended from work as a senior inspector in the Jerusalem municipality.

 

I worked there for 17 years, till that cursed day, January the 20 th , exactly my 40 th birthday, when the police came and arrested me.

 

They said that I and my colleagues in the inspection unit are suspected for being bribed by contractors and other business owners, that in fact, we are a corrupted bunch.

 

"This is a terrible injustice. I am a very friendly guy, and in this job you mix with people you inspect. But bribery? Me?

 

I am in debt for hundreds of thousands of Shekels long before all this story. Had I taken bribes, I would have money, but I couldn't even pay the lawyer. Since then I am suspended. My wife was fired as well, and I have four children to keep.

 

"This was not the first blow. A few months earlier, I was injured badly in my back, my wife was fired, and my son got run over and had to be operated to save his leg.

 

Today he is OK, but his big dream, and mine, that he will once be a player in the Beitar Jerusalem team, this dream is probably gone forever. Pity. He was really talented. I have already promised him to get him into the children's Beitar team.

 

"For two years, it is just one blow after another. I haven't got a cent, but I love people. I cannot be indifferent. Every holiday, I distribute food packages for the needy. The same at Passover. I ran around like crazy. And just then, I started getting phone calls from the guys: "Kurdi", they said, "we are all being recruited to do reserve service, but you are not called."

 

"Truth is, that I understood my commanders. Hey, I've been doing my reserves duty for 16 years now, and I was useless. I did nothing but make trouble.

 

"During my obligatory Military service (2) I was constantly sentenced to prison, because I refused to be a vehicle electrician. In my unit as well, in the bulldozer unit, I was supposed to be an electrician, but actually, I did nothing, just messed around. I would come to the unit, and immediately open a card table, open a bottle. If any officer would dare send me to guard duty, I would send him first. Kurdi always did his thing.

 

If I felt like going to a Beitar football match, or going home, no one could stop me. I would just start the car and go.

 

"Truth is, they didn't even know me. When I am given responsibility, I can act differently, In the "Versailles" disaster (3) I was in charge of all the inspection team on location. When I was seen by one of the guys of my military unit, he was shocked.

 

He said: "In the army you can't tie your shoelaces, and here you are a big chief!"

 

The truth is that when I finally decide to do something, I am one stubborn guy. I will go for it till the end. This time was one of those moments. What haven ' t I done for them to take me? I sent the guys to twist the battalion commander's arm, I phoned the company commander, I drove them mad. "I promise to work", I pleaded with the battalion commander. Finally, he agreed to give me a chance.

 

"I said to myself: "Kurdi, you can't let them down. No more running wild!".

 

The speaker is Moshe Nissim, AKA "Moshe Nissim Beitar Jerusalem".

 

In the Jenin refugee camp, he was called, over the military radio: "Kurdi Bear".

 

Kurdi, because this is the name he insisted on. Bear, after the D-9 he was driving, demolishing house after house.

There was not one soldier in Jenin that did not hear this name. Kurdi Bear was considered the most devoted, brave and probably the most destructive operator.

 

A man, that the Jenin camp inquiry committee, would want very much to have a word with.

 

For 75 hours, with no break, he sat on the huge bulldozer, charges exploding around him, and erased house after house.

 

His story, which he tells openly and with no inhibitions, is far from being a regular war myth. Medals, so it seems, will not be awarded for it. (Actually, his company was later awarded a citation for outstanding service.)

 

The Experience

 

"The funny bit is, I didn't even know how to operate the D-9. I have never been an operator. But I begged them to give me a chance to learn.

 

Before we went into Shekhem (Nablus), I asked some of the guys to teach me. They sat with me for two hours. They taught me how to drive forwards and make a flat surface.

 

"I took it on with no problem and told them: 'That's it. Move aside and let me work.'.

 

This is what happened in Jenin as well. I have never demolished a house before, or even a wall. I got into the D-9 with a friend of mine, a Yemenite. I let him work for an hour, and then told him, 'OK. I got the idea.'

 

"But the real thing started the day 13 of our soldiers were killed up that alley in the Jenin refugee camp.

 

"When they brought us in, I knew that nobody wanted to work with me. They were afraid to be with me on the bulldozer. Not only did I have a reputation of a troublemaker, but also of a man who knows no fear, and they were right about that. I really have no fear. They knew I had no fear, that I don't give a damn, and that I can go anywhere, without asking questions, without an escort of tanks or APC's or anything. Once, in Jenin, I left the tank that escorted us everywhere. I wanted to have a spin around the camp, see what's going on. Gadi, the other operator who was with me, nearly fainted. He started going mad: 'Get back,' he shouted, 'we have no escort!', but I had to get to know the place better, to find an exit, just in case we needed one. I was not afraid to die. At least I was insured. This would have helped my family.

 

The Flag

 

"When we got into the camp, the D-9's were already waiting. They where hauled from Shekhem (Nablus). I got the big D-9 L, me and the Yemenite, my partner. First thing I did was to tie the Beitar team flag. I had it prepared in advance. I wanted the family to be able to identify me. I told the family and the kids: 'you will see my bulldozer on television. When you see the Beitar flag, that will be me'. And this is exactly what happened.

 

"I know it sounds crazy, but for me, to hang this flag was completely natural. Like eating. Here, look at this Beitar pendant around my neck. It never comes off. Not off me, and not off the kids. I carry the Beitar flags everywhere I go. Look at my car, all covered with these flags. This is the way I am. I always go to the Beitar matches, in a Beitar colored Galabia (an Arab man's dress), and a big drum of the Kurds from the C. Once, after our first national championship, I took a ride on the roof of a car, carrying the drum, all the way to Jerusalem.

 

"Beitar is a kink in my brain. There is no other way to explain it. After my family, it is the most important thing in my life, and the only thing that can kill me. In Jenin, I was not scared for a moment, but I cannot go to the Beitar matches for half a year now. The suspense kills me, and I am constantly afraid of getting a heart attack. Sometimes, I can walk around 'Teddy' (the main Jerusalem stadium) with a ticket in my hand, and I can't go in. In one match, in Beit Shean, I fainted after they scored a goal. I know how this sounds, but that's the way it is. Incurable. At home, they know better than to talk to me if Beitar lost a match.

 

"So now you understand why the Beitar flag was on the bulldozer in Jenin. Someone told me that my commander wanted to take it off. But no way. If I had a say in the matter, there would be a Beitar flag on the top of the mosque in the camp. I tried convincing the Golani (an infantry brigade of the Israeli army) officer I worked with to let me go up there and hang it, but he refused. He said I would be shot if I tried. Pity.

 

"The flag was the most outstanding object in the camp. Reservists who went home on short leave came back with Beitar flags, just to imitate me. It made a lot of noise, my flag. The Golani soldiers were stunned. 'You brought Beitar here,' they told me. And I said: 'I am going to make a Teddy stadium here. Don't you worry.'.

 

"On the radio, they wanted to call me 'Moshe-Bear', but I insisted on Kurdi. I told the Golanis, I am Kurdi, and I won't answer if you call me by any other name.' That is how 'Kurdi Bear' was born. This is my name, and I am stubborn.

 

"In the reserves, they already got used to my signature: 'Moshe Nissim Beitar Jerusalem'.For a while they asked me to stop it, but finally they just gave up.

 

Going in

 

"The moment I drove the bulldozer into the camp, something switched in my head. I went mad. All the desperation, caused by my personal condition, just vanished at once. All that remained was the anger over what had happened to our guys. Till now I am convinced, and so are the rest of us, that if we were let into the camp earlier, with all our might, twenty-four soldiers would not have been killed in this camp.

 

"The moment I went into the camp, for the first time, I just thought of how to help these soldiers. These fighters. Children the age of my son. I couldn't grasp how they worked there, were a charge blows up on you, with every step you take.

 

"With the first mission I was given, to open a track inside the camp, I understood what kind of hell this was.

 

"My first mission, voluntarily, was to bring the soldiers food. I was told: 'The only way to get food in there, is with the D-9'. They haven't eaten in two days. You couldn't poke your nose out. I filled the bulldozer till the roof, and drove the bulldozer right up to the door of their post, so that they would not have to take even one step outside their shelter. One step was enough in order to lose an arm or a leg.

 

"You could not tell where the charges were. They (the Palestinian fighters) dug holes in the ground and planted charges. You would just start driving, and you would hit a 3" pipe, welded on both ends. As you touch them, they go off. Everything was booby trapped. Even the walls of houses. Just touch them, and they blow up. Or, they would shoot you the moment you entered. There were charges in the roads, under the floor, between the walls. As you make an opening, something goes off. I saw a bird cage blow up in some pet shop, where we opened a track. A flying birdcage. I felt sorry for the birds. They just planted charges everywhere.

 

"For me, in the D-9, it was nothing. I didn't mind. You would just hear the explosions.

 

Even 80 Kilos of explosives only rattled the bulldozer's blade. It weighs three and a half tons (4) . It's a monster. A tank can get hit in the belly. It's belly is sensitive. With the D-9, you should only look out for RPG's or 50 Kilos of explosives on the roof. But I didn't think about it then. The only thing that mattered was that these soldiers must not risk themselves just to eat or drink something."

 

"I fell in love with those children. I was willing to do with my bulldozer anything they would ask for. I begged for work: 'Let me finish another house, open another track.'

 

They, in return, protected me. I would leave the bulldozer without weapons, nothing. Just walked in. They told me I am mad, but I said: 'Leave me alone. Anyhow, the armored vest will not save me.' This is how I worked. Even without a shirt. Half naked.

 

"Do you know how I held out for 75 hours? I didn't get off the bulldozer. I had no problem of fatigue, because I drank whisky all the time. I had a bottle in the bulldozer at all times. I had put them in my bag in advance. Everybody else took clothes, but I knew what was waiting for me there, so I took whisky and something to munch on.

 

"Clothes? Didn't need any. A towel was enough. Anyhow I could not leave the bulldozer. You open the door, and get a bullet. For 75 hours I didn't think about my life at home, about all the problems. Everything was erased. Sometimes images of terror attacks in Jerusalem crossed my mind. I witnessed some of them."

 

The purity of our weapons

 

"What is 'opening a track'? You erase buildings. On both sides. There is no other choice, because the bulldozer was much wider than their alleys. But I am not looking for excuses or anything. You must 'shave' them. I didn't give a damn about demolishing their houses, because it saved the lives of our soldiers. I worked where our soldiers were slaughtered. They didn't tell all the truth about what happened. they drilled holes in the walls, holes for gun barrels. Anyone who escaped the charges, was shot through these holes.

 

"I had no mercy for anybody. I would erase anyone with the D-9, just so that our soldiers won't expose themselves to danger. That's what I told them. I was afraid for our soldiers. You could see them sleeping together, 40 soldiers in a house, all crowded. My heart went out for them. This is why I didn't give a damn about demolishing all the houses I've demolished - and I have demolished plenty. By the end, I built the 'Teddy' football stadium there.

 

"Difficult? No way. You must be kidding. I wanted to destroy everything. I begged the officers, over the radio, to let me knock it all down; from top to bottom. To level everything. It's not as if I wanted to kill. Just the houses. We didn't harm those who came out of the houses we had started to demolish, waving white flags. We screwed just those who wanted to fight.

 

"No one refused an order to knock down a house. No such thing. When I was told to bring down a house, I took the opportunity to bring down some more houses; not because I wanted to - but because when you are asked to demolish a house, some other houses usually obscure it, so there is no other way. I would have to do it even if I didn't want to. They just stood in the way. If I had to erase a house, come hell or high water - I would do it. And believe me, we demolished too little. The whole camp was littered with detonation charges. What actually saved the lives of the Palestinians themselves, because if they had returned to their homes, they would blow up.

 

"For three days, I just destroyed and destroyed. The whole area. Any house that they fired from came down. And to knock it down, I tore down some more. They were warned by loudspeaker to get out of the house before I come, but I gave no one a chance. I didn't wait. I didn't give one blow, and wait for them to come out. I would just ram the house with full power, to bring it down as fast as possible. I wanted to get to the other houses. To get as many as possible. Others may have restrained themselves, or so they say. Who are they kidding? Anyone who was there, and saw our soldiers in the houses, would understand they were in a death trap. I thought about saving them. I didn't give a damn about the Palestinians, but I didn't just ruin with no reason. It was all under orders.

 

"Many people where inside houses we stto demolish. They would come out of the houses we where working on. I didn't see, with my own eyes, people dying under the blade of the D-9. and I didn't see house falling down on live people. But if there were any, I wouldn't care at all. I am sure people died inside these houses, but it was difficult to see, there was lots of dust everywhere, and we worked a lot at night. I found joy with every house that came down, because I knew they didn't mind dying, but they cared for their homes. If you knocked down a house, you buried 40 or 50 people for generations. If I am sorry for anything, it is for not tearing the whole camp down.

 

Satisfaction

 

"I didn't stop for a moment. Even when we had a two-hour break, I insisted on going on. I prepared a ramp, to destroy a four-story building. Once I steered sharply to the right, and a whole wall came down. Suddenly I heard shouting on the radio: 'Kurdi, watch it! It is us!' Turns out there where our guys inside, and they forgot to tell me.

 

"I had plenty of satisfaction. I really enjoyed it. I remember pulling down a wall of a four-story building. It came crashing down on my D-9. My partner screamed at me to reverse, but I let the wall come down on us. We would go for the sides of the buildings, and then ram them. If the job was to hard, we would ask for a tank shell.

 

"I couldn't stop. I wanted to work and work. There was this Golani officer who gave us orders by radio - I drove him mad. I kept begging for more and more missions. On Sunday, after the fighting was over, we got orders to pull our D-9's out of the area, and stop working on our 'football stadium', because the army didn't want the cameras and press to see us working. I was really upset, because I had plans to knock down the big sign at the entrance of Jenin - three poles with a picture of Arafat. But on Sunday, they pulled us away before I had time to do it.

 

"I bitched them to give me more work. I would tell them, over the radio: 'Why are you letting me rest? I want more work!' All this time, I was really sick. I had fever. I got back from Jenin wiped out. Torn to bits. The next day, I went up again. One of the guys was ill, and I volunteered to help. I got back there. The battalion-commander was in shock when he saw me. The other operators all cracked up and needed rest, but I refused to leave. I wanted more.

 

"I had lots of satisfaction in Jenin, lots of satisfaction. It was like getting all the 18 years of doing nothing - into three days. The soldiers came up to me and said: 'Kurdi, thanks a lot. Thanks a lot'. And I hurt for the Thirteen (5) . If we had moved into the building where they were ambushed, we would have buried all those Palestinians alive.

 

" I kept thinking of our soldiers. I didn't feel sorry for all those Palestinians who were left homeless. I just felt sorry for their children, who were not guilty. There was one wounded child, who was shot by Arabs. A Golani paramedic came down and changed his bandages, till he was evacuated. We took care of them, of the children. The soldiers gave them candy. But I had no mercy for the parents of these children.

 

I remembered the picture on television, of the mother who said she will bear children so that they will explode in Tel Aviv. I asked the Palestinian women I saw there: 'Aren't you ashamed?'

 

"After I finished the work, I got out of the bulldozer, piled up some clothes on the side of the road, and fell asleep. They looked after me, so that I won't get run over by a tank or something. All the fatigue of the past 75 hours just landed on me. There was a lot of excitement in what I did. The fact that I did a good job operating the bulldozer, the soldiers who came to me, after it was all over, and said: 'thank you'. This was enough for me. I miss them. I've invited all of them for Kubeh at my place. Their commander, Kobi, the one I worked with throughout the 75 hours, was amazed by the invitation.

 

'Do you want the entire company to come over to your house?'

 

I told him: 'As far as I am concerned, bring the whole battalion.'

 

I phoned my mother, from the D-9, and told her that the whole battalion was coming. She said: 'no sweat'. I am waiting for them".

 

Politics

 

"I know many people will think that my attitude stems from me being a 'Beitar' and 'Likud' member (6) . It is true. I am heavily on the right. But this has nothing to do with what I have done in Jenin. I have many Arab friends. And I say, if a man has done nothing - don't touch him. A man who has done something - hang him, as far as I am concerned. Even a pregnant woman - shoot her without mercy, if she has a terrorist behind her. This is the way I thought in Jenin. I answered to no one. Didn't give a damn. The main thing was to help our soldiers. If I had been given three weeks, I would have had more fun. That is, If they would let me tear the whole camp down. I have no mercy.

 

"All the human rights organizations and the UN that messed with Jenin, and turned what we have done there into such an issue, are just bullshitting, lying. Lots of the walls in those houses just exploded by themselves, at our slightest touch. It is true, though, that during the last days we smashed the camp. And yes, it was justified. They mowed our soldiers down. They had a chance to surrender.

 

"No one expressed any reservations against doing it. Not only me. Who would dare speak? If anyone would as much as open his mouth, I would have buried him under the D-9. This is the reason I didn't mind seeing the hundred by hundred (7) we've flattened. As far as I am concerned, I left them with a football stadium, so they can play. This was our gift to the camp. Better than killing them. They will sit quietly. Jenin will not return to what it use to be."

 

Epilog

 

Two days after getting out of Jenin, 'Kurdi Bear' was admitted into hospital, suffering from pneumonia. As it turned out, the 75 straight hours in the D-9 took their toll. Some days after he had returned home, a phone call woke him up in the middle of the night.

 

"I got home one night, and for some reason, I couldn't sleep. I was uncomfortable.

 

 

Till 4 AM I just wandered about, suddenly the phone rings: 'Are you Nati's father?'

 

I sked what happened. 'Get over here, to the hospital.' 'Tell me the truth' I told her.

 

'I must know'. She said that: 'Things are not good. Come'. I speeded to Tel Hashomer hospital. A nurse and a social worker waited for me there. They wanted to tell me that my son had died. That he came in, dead already. Finished. Serious brain damage. They had planned to ask me to donate his organs.

 

"Suddenly she ran to the surgery, came back and said that they drained blood from his brain, and that she hopes he will survive. We will know within 72 hours. We hurried to get an amulet from Rabbi Caduri. It helped with the Beitar team, when we almost dropped to a lower league. On Friday, they called us back to the hospital. They were in shock: The kid just tore the respiration tubes off. He woke up."

 

20 year old Nati Nissim is lying on a bed, in the fifth floor of the Beit Levinstein hospital, draped from head to toe in the black-yellow uniform of the Beitar football team. "Daddy," he says suddenly "Don't forget. I need to get to the semi finals." Kurdi Bear, with a bristly chin and red eyes, freezes for a second, and tries to get his son back into reality. "Nati", he says softly, "I've already told you, Beitar has lost."

 

Nati laughs. "No way! I am going to the match!" he says and tries to get up. The father suppresses his frustration, gives up the struggle. The accident has caused the son to lose his short-term memory. Just like in the movie "Momento", he can recall, with astonishing precision, any Beitar goal going ten years back or even more, but forgets within minutes who he is talking with. "Why am I here?" he asks his parents again and again, and bows his head with embarrassment when an acquaintance reminds him of a conversation they had just the day before.

 

Kurdi sits in the ward and tries to look as optimistic as possible. The doctors are talking about a lengthy recovery process. They say that there is no telling if and when Nati's memory will return to normal. The financial situation is not brieither. He and his wife, Ronit, can hardly buy gas for his battered Subaru that tries to make the journey from the Castel neighborhood to the hospital. Kurdi wants to build himself a tent in front of the hospital. For the time being, he sleeps in the car.

 

"Jenin has strengthened me," he says. "It helped me forget my troubles. I had hoped it would be some turning point, until this hit me. But what happened to Nati taught me what really is important. I am living now for my son. The rest is really not important."

 

The friends from his reserves unit are helping him.

 

"He stood up when it really counted. He was there, in the most trying moment", says Haim Tamam, a soldier serving with him. "No one has functioned like he has. And I don't know if any of us could go through the nightmare he went through without putting a bullet through his head. We are all amazed by him."

 

Yeffet Damti, his bulldozer partner from Jenin, says that one thing is certain: "On the next mission, I am only going with Kurdi".

 

Kurdi, for his part, thanks his commanders that gave him the chance.

 

For the time being, they are wrapping him with attention and sympathy. They came here, to the hospital, just to be with him. Just so he won't be lonely. They are talking about raising funds to help him. When they meet him next to his son's bed, back come the memories from those 75 hours.

 

The chats around the son's bed continue till the management of the hospital called and begged them to stop bragging about destroying Jenin. There are Arab therapists who might be hurt, and one of the Arab patients has already complained.

 


GUSH SHALOM COMMENTS:

 

This is the incredible, self-told Story of Moshe Nissim, a fanatic football fan

and a permanent troublemaker, who begged his commanders in the reserves unit for a chance to take part in "the action".

 

By "action" he was referring to the wide scale destruction carried out by the Israeli army in many Palestinian locations, especially in the Jenin Refugee camp.

 

He was sent into Jenin, riding a 60 ton demolition bulldozer - and equipped with 16 years of pent-up personal frustration, plenty of whisky and only two hours of training on that armored tool.

 

"Enough training to drive forwards and make a flat surface", as he himself testifies in the interview.

 

His story may be extreme, and this man must answer to many serious questions, but Moshe Nissim is not much different from thousands of other frustrated and violent football fans, who terrorize cities in Europe after a football match.

 

But then again, Of course, it is unconceivable, that the British army would send a drunken and frustrated Manchester fan into Belfast riding a D-9 bulldozer.

 

Therefore, the really troubling questions must be directed at the system that sent him into Jenin on this mission of destruction. This system is the Israeli army.

 

1 - What kind of army puts a 60 ton, multi-million dollar demolishing bulldozer in the hands of such a person, who has not operated one before?

 

2 - How could his rampage go on, without being stopped by any of the officers, at any rank?

 

3 - How can such an army insist it is the "most moral army in the world"?

 

4 - Does this interview shed more light on Israel's refusal to have it's actions in Jenin investigated?

 

5 - What did happen in Jenin?

 

We hope that after reading this sickening interview, you will find ways of sending these questions, and others you might have, to the Israeli government through it's ambassadors, to the Israeli army, who, we are sure, will not tolerate it's fine tools being used in such a brutal and unlawful manner.

 

Notes:

 

1 ."Bear" is the army code for the D-9 bulldozers. Kurdi means a person of Kurdish origin.

 

2 . In Israel, men are recruited at the age of 18 for 3 years of obligatory military service. After being released, at the age of 21, they enter the reserve corps. The reserve duty usually demands 30 days of service each year, till the age of 45.

 

3 . In January 2001, a building in Jerusalem collapsed during a wedding in a hall named Versailles. Some 25 people were killed.

 

4 . The D-9 actually weighs 48.7 tons, without Armor. The armor brings the weight closer to 60 tons.

 

5 . The operator is referring to the day in which 13 Israeli soldiers were killed by Palestinian fighters in an ambush in Jenin.

 

6 . Two right-wing movements. Beitar, the youth movement, is more nationalistic. Likud is the major right-wing party.

 

7 . This is the size, in meters, of the part of the camp that was totally demolished.