Thursday, March 15, 2007

Rachel Corrie and Palestine

What Rachel Saw

(founder and president of Women for Palestine in Melbourne, Australia)

"A slip of a girl faced one of Israel's most feared war machines in the Occupied Palestinian Territories--the armed bulldozer--and died. This deliberate killing was no accident. Maybe the Israeli authorities would have preferred it not to happen because of the public relations backlash, but the driver of the bulldozer was wielding power that day. He had a mandate from his government to clear Palestinians out of their homes at a moment's notice and he knew that he would be protected regardless of the crimes he dared to commit. Rachel Corrie was a US citizen, but even the US government closed ranks behind Israel and the bulldozer operator. Being an American did not protect Rachel, and four years later, the US administration still refuses to investigate her death denying her American family justice and closure.

The bulldozer killing of Rachel Corrie was not the only case of such a death in Palestine, but it was the first time a US citizen had become the target of Israel's military. Rachel was a peace activist who had gone to Rafah in Gaza because she wanted to help bring the terrible plight of the Palestinians to the notice of the world. With others in the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), she believed that non-violent resistance was a means of doing that, and tragically, she achieved that with her death more than she could have ever done with her life.......

The highly politicised nature of the conflict and the fact that Rachel Corrie was American has ensured that the controversy of her death continues. Rachel's courage was perhaps born out of the idealism of youth, but it was a courage far greater than nations with bombs and arms and power to wield who have failed miserably to hold Israel accountable for the war crimes it has perpetrated against the Palestinians over decades of brutal occupation. For this reason, Rachel Corrie will always be a symbol of acting out truth to power in the struggle for Palestinian liberation against the Israeli occupier and a world long desensitised to the immorality pervading the corridors of power of all governments.

You will be remembered forever, Rachel and we hope that out of your tragic death will come a better understanding of the inhumanity gripping our world and what we have to do to bring compassion and justice back into our consciousness. Palestine has waited a long time and Palestine deserves some human kindness in its 40th year of occupation. We have no doubt that Rachel Corrie would have campaigned for that too: we feel her spirit with us as the struggle goes on."

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