If Arnold Roth held a news conference at the American Colony Hotel, would the Guardian cover it?

On the heels of her CiF essay, (US collusion in the Gaza blockade is an affront to human rights, July 8th), the mother of deceased International Solidarity Movement activist Rachel Corrie, Cindy, held a news conference at Jerusalem’s American Colony Hotel today to discuss the conclusion of testimonies in her family’s civil case against the State of Israel for their daughter’s death.

While I hope I never have to know the pain of losing a child, and plain decency demands that Cindy’s loss not be minimized, demeaned, or sanitized, it is equally fair to ask, in the context of the extraordinary amount of press the story has received, that some perspective be provided and some degree of fairness honored.

While I’ve never met Cindy Corrie, I have met Arnold Roth, whose daughter Malka was murdered by a Palestinian suicide bomber at the Sbarrro bombing in Jerusalem. 

On August 9, 2001 a resident of the village of Aqaba, north of Tulkarm, Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri, son of a well-to-do land-owning family, entered the busy Sbarro restaurant at the corner of King George Street and Jaffa Road at lunchtime on a school vacation day in Jerusalem. The restaurant was filled with customers, most of them children and mothers. 15 Jews, including Arnold’s daughter Malka, were killed, and 131 were injured in various serious degrees when the explosive device – containing screws and nails added to maximize the carnage – al-Masri was carrying (in a guitar case) was detonated.

The massacre was coordinated and planned by Hamas’s Ramallah branch.

Six weeks later, a triumphal exhibit at Al Najah University, the largest in the West Bank, featured a mock-up of the Sbarro restaurant including gnawed pizza crusts and bloody plastic body parts suspended from the ceiling as if they were blasting through the air.

The accident which led to Corrie’s death was indeed tragic, and while the facts of the civil trial haven’t all been revealed some things are clear. 

Though the ISM, the group Rachel Corrie was working with at the time of her death, tries to maintain the veneer of a “peace group,” they have a  history of actively aiding terrorist movements.

The bulldozers Rachel and her fellow “internationals” were trying to stop on March 16, 2003 in Rafah were working to uncover part of the underground
tunnel network used to smuggle explosives from Egypt, into Gaza. These tunnels had been built under civilian Arab homes and structures in order to smuggle weapons and explosives into Israel. What Rachel and many of her “international” companions did not likely consider, and were not told by their ISM handlers, was that for every tunnel they succeeded in saving many more Israelis and Palestinians would suffer due to increased terrorism and Israeli military responses.  

The ISM intentionally placed Rachel and other “internationals” between 50 ton bulldozers and Rafah homes and so, along with the Hamas terrorist movement they were protecting, would seem to bear a large measure of moral responsibility for her death.

When you search for Rachel Corrie in the Guardian’s search engine you get over 150 results, some referencing the play which toured internationally named, “My Name is Rachel Corrie.”

When you search for Malka Chana Roth, you get two – one in 2002 dryly noting her death in the context of a list of Palestinian and Israeli children killed during the Intifada till that time, and the other containing a partial list of the victims in the aftermath of the Sbarro attack, which noted:

“Malka Roth, 15, from Ramot, on the western edges of Jerusalem, was the 15th victim to be identified yesterday morning.”

That’s it.  A mere twenty words.

There were no plays and no international media interest in the innocent teenage girl murdered by a movement so cruel as to venerate the murderer as a Shahid, a righteous martyr for the cause.    

I don’t think it exploitative, nor insensitive, to simply ask if, under any circumstances, the Guardian would ever offer Arnold Roth, or his wife Frimet, the chance to express their grief, describe their family’s unimaginable pain, or pay tribute to their daughter’s memory in a manner similar to what they continue to provide for the family of Rachel Corrie.

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