Recalling a Young American’s Sacrifice

From the Archive: An Israeli court has ruled that Rachel Corrie “put herself in danger” and thus Israel bears no blame for the 23-year-old American being crushed by an Israeli bulldozer as it leveled Palestinian homes in Gaza in 2003. Last March, the ninth anniversary of her death, her parents recalled her sacrifice.

By Cindy and Craig Corrie (Originally published March 16, 2012)

It has been nine years since our daughter Rachel was crushed to death under an Israeli-driven, U.S.-funded-and-built Caterpillar D9 bulldozer in Gaza.

In March 2003, the news was full of talk of war with Iraq a preemptive war to protect the West, particularly the U.S. and Israel, from the weapons of mass destruction then alleged to have been amassed by Saddam Hussein.

Rachel Corrie, a peace activist who was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer as she tried to block it from destroying homes in Gaza.

When Rachel traveled to Gaza that year, the world was not watching. According to Human Rights Watch, from September 2000 until September 2004, 1,600 Palestinian homes in the city of Rafah were destroyed by the Israeli military as it occupied the Gaza Strip. One-tenth of the population lost their homes.

Rachel chose to be in Gaza when the ground attack against Iraq broke out. She feared an escalation of the violence and a tightening of the isolation against people there, as the world looked to the northeast and watched for the expected carnage in Iraq.

In 2003, Rachel wrote: “I went to a rally a few days ago in Khan Younis in solidarity with the people of Iraq. Many analogies were made about the continuing suffering of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation and the upcoming occupation of Iraq by the United States not the war itself but the certain aftermath of the war.

“If people aren’t already thinking about the consequences of this war for the people of the entire region then I hope they will start.”

Now, in 2012, we listen to similar news calls for bombing Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. The preemptive war has already begun with the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists.

Our government tells us sanctions against Iran will pressure their government to abandon any program to develop these weapons, but experience tells us sanctions only increase the defensiveness of repressive regimes and tighten their control over their populations.

The news from our politicians is discouraging and even frightening, but in the meeting places and streets in our communities, we are making the kind of change that Rachel envisioned.

It is happening in Olympia, Washington, with continuing support for the Olympia Food Co-op’s boycott of Israeli products until the rights of Palestinians are addressed.

Throughout Puget Sound, we have successfully challenged efforts by the Israeli government to use members of the Israeli gay community to distract from the continuing oppression of Palestinian people.

Churches in our region are conversing about divestment from corporations like Caterpillar Inc. for their refusal to address their continuing participation in human rights abuses and the illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

In 2002, Rachel wrote, “I think it’s important for people who oppose war and repression to speak about who we are as a community in addition to speaking about war and racism and injustice. We are not outside. I think it’s important that human rights and resistance to oppression be included in the way we define ourselves as a community.”

As the threat of war with Iran, the disintegration of the situation in Afghanistan, and the bombing of Gaza continue, the work we are all doing in our hometowns at the grassroots level is powerful and critical.

Today, as we remember Rachel’s stand nine years ago, we encourage our friends across the country and world to strengthen your own communities, educate, educate, educate, support each other in taking action, and walk with peace, love, and forgiveness in your hearts as you work for change.

5 comments for “Recalling a Young American’s Sacrifice

  1. elmerfudzie
    August 30, 2012 at 20:05

    One look at her countenance, you can see that the “life force” had already left such a youthful body-but her beliefs and determination stood above life and the will to live. At first glace, that photo really hit me. Rest in peace, Rachel.

  2. Mike H
    August 29, 2012 at 18:50

    Poor St Pancake!

  3. John
    August 29, 2012 at 16:24

    Borat, Just what right does Israel have to institute settlements on the West Bank and in the past Gaza. International law forbids it, and also the demolition of citizens homes is forbidden. And I know you will say that the homes are destroyed of those who perpetrate mischief against Israel. Well excuse me, but many of the homes are destroyed and no charges have ever been proven in a court of law.
    And while you are pondering an answer, the UN is saying that by 2020, the Gaza strip will no longer be habitable. That is thanks to Israeli policy where by infrastructure cannot be repaired or developed. That is pure wickedness on a civilian population deprived of their international rights. Are you proud of that? Is that what you want the world to understand down the road?
    What is Israel going to do about settlers burning Palestinian crops, shooting farmers, using KKK like tactics to scare Palestinian farmers off their land, settlers harassing school children? What’s it all for Borat ?
    The world today, is too small to treat people that way. The era of empire building or displacement is about over with the speed of communication today. After the horrors of what Jews went through, you wish to put others through a similar experience? Really !
    Most Palestinian Muslims and Christians want peace and equity. They lived with Jews before the exculsivity or inequities of Zionist thinking developed.

    • John
      August 30, 2012 at 21:44

      Well Borat, avoid the question. I don’t condone violence but as I have said before, the first Palestinian suicide bomber came after an Israeli-American reserve soldier, a Kach and a doctor at that, Baruch Goldstein shot dead 29 Palestinians and wounded 170 at a Hebron Mosque. Only two Western news sources called him a terrorist. What do you call him, and what would you call him if he was a Palestinian killing Jews?
      You displace 750,000 Palestinians in 48, many still live in refugee camps, don’t expect sympathy from them, are are you too blind to see that ?! I hate violence but you reap what you sow because not all people have the same dislike.
      I have met several Palestinians in North America, a young girl attending university over here because Israel closed her Palestinian options. I met two brothers from Haifa whose family fled the terrorism in 48. The older boy escaped the refugee camp and made it to Egypt and in time called for the family. From there they immigated to North America one became a doctor the other a teacher with a PhD.
      You call me a veiled anti-Semite, I’m not (I’m uneasy with the mix of religion and politics even in the USA), but I think the reverse label fits you perfectly, anti-Palestinian. You never answered any questions especially on the illegality of the settlements and war is no excuse. Arafat, willing to accept secularism, thought he had a country with Oslo, it turns out he was wrong when illegal settlement building and infrastucture for the same continued. Put yourself in their place mate ! I don’t think you capable of doing that. So as I said reap what you sow. Try to get over your fears, other people when you treat them well are generally good company. I wish you success.

  4. Hillary
    August 28, 2012 at 12:36

    Notice the Wikipedia page on Rachel Corrie says that ” She died while ” NOT was killed.

    On 28 August 2012, the Haifa District Court ruled that Corrie’s death was unintentional and that the IDF was NOT responsible.

    Eyewitnesses disagree but many were not allowed to give evidence. As Palestinians they were not allowed travel permits to testify.

    Americans gradually get the true story years later and know that she is another American hero who was killed by the IOF (Israeli Occupation Force) while defending indigenous people in their own homes.

    When the former Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade Commander Colonel Pinhas (Pinky) Zuaretz – in charge in 2003 – was questioned in court, he affirmed these instructions.

    Q: And on the level of principle, a person who comes to this [Philadelphi] route in the daytime, it is permissible to kill him.

    A: Affirmative.

    Israeli veterans have spoken out, describing a degrading culture of abuse and harassment of Palestinian children in the West Bank and Gaza. A report containing 30 veterans’ testimonies details numerous cases of violence committed by Israeli soldiers.

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