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Aug-02-2009 22:05printcomments

Remembering Rachel Corrie and Her Mission for Peace

Rachel Corrie may be dead, but her mission continues.

Rachel Corrie s friend looking at her passport, shortly after hour violent death
Rachel Corrie's friend looking at her passport, shortly after hour violent death.

(SALEM, Ore.) - As Israeli forces evicted the Hanoun and al-Ghawe families from their homes in Palestine this morning, I thought about the way Israel, heavily subsidized by the American taxpayer, continues to mistreat the Palestinian people, and I thought about a brave young woman named Rachel Corrie who was killed by the Israeli's a few years ago, and how few Americans probably even know about it.

The 23-year old had left her comfortable surroundings to help the Palestinian people, only to be murdered by an Israeli military heavy equipment operator on March 16th 2003. After a long standoff; Rachel Corrie, armed only with a bullhorn, was run down in cold blood by an Israeli with a bulldozer.

To this day the Israeli Defense Forces deny that the operator knew Rachel was there, but every witness on the ground says it is painfully clear that her presence was known. The entire event is photographed.

Rachel Corrie belonged to a group called The International Solidarity Movement. The ISM is a Palestinian-led organization that focuses on assisting the Palestinian side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Their techniques utilize non-violent protest activities aimed at an international audience.

Rachel could have been any American girl; blond hair, pretty, great personality. She could have spent her life in such a different way, but her heart was heavy from the long struggle of the Palestinian people.

Shortly after she was killed, posters and graffiti praising Corrie began appearing in Rafah, where her death occurred, with one graffiti tag reading, "Rachel was an American citizen with Palestinian blood."

Another American ISM activist named Joe Carr, who used the assumed name of Joseph Smith during his time in Gaza, offered testimony that shattered the Israeli version of the story.

"Still wearing her fluorescent jacket, she knelt down at least 15 meters in front of the bulldozer, and began waving her arms and shouting, just as activists had successfully done dozens of times that day... When it got so close that it was moving the earth beneath her, she climbed onto the pile of rubble being pushed by the bulldozer..."

Carr, other activists and local Palestinians say Rachel's head and upper torso were above the bulldozer’s blade, and the bulldozer driver and co-operator could clearly see her.

"Despite this, the driver continued forward, which caused her to fall back, out of view of the diver. [sic] He continued forward, and she tried to scoot back, but was quickly pulled underneath the bulldozer. We ran towards him, and waved our arms and shouted; one activist with the megaphone. But the bulldozer driver continued forward, until Rachel was all the way underneath the central section of the bulldozer."

Another witness who only used the name "Richard" was quoted by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz:

"There's no way he didn't see her, since she was practically looking into the cabin. At one stage, he turned around toward the building. The bulldozer kept moving, and she slipped and fell off the plow. But the bulldozer kept moving, the shovel above her. I guess it was about 10 or 15 meters that it dragged her and for some reason didn't stop. We shouted like crazy to the driver through loudspeakers that he should stop, but he just kept going and didn't lift the shovel. Then it stopped and backed up. We ran to Rachel. She was still breathing."

Not Politically Convenient

When nations ignore the sacrifices of their own, the sacrifices ultimately mean much less. President George W. Bush should have been outraged by Rachel Corrie's death.

Instead, Bush accepted Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon's promise of a "thorough, credible, and transparent investigation."

Captain Jacob Dallal, a spokesman for the Israeli army, called Corrie's death a "regrettable accident" though the IDF has never admitted responsibility.

The problem is that Rachel's sacrifice hasn't moved enough ground. Around 5:30 a.m. this morning, Israeli police broke into the Hannoun family home through the windows like thieves and forcefully removed Maher Hanoun, his wife Nadia and their 3 children.

This family was reportedly violently separated from the international and Israeli solidarity activists that were staying in the home, hoping to keep it from being demolished. This is a nice neighborhood where Palestinian people have always lived.

Israeli developers decided they wanted to build apartment buildings for Jewish settlers. These are Zionists who most believe want to simply expand Israeli presence in the better Palestinian neighborhoods.

The activists say there is nothing fair or right about Israel's military machine that consistently undermines the people whose families have lived here for hundreds of years, before the formation of Israel in 1948.

To add insult to injury, Israeli police also arrested the international and Israeli solidarity activists that were staying with the family.

There are only a few stories as sad as this one. People take on their missions in this world and some are successful and some are not. I want to help make Rachel Corrie's mission more important because even if she is dead, her mission continues.

To learn more about the forced evictions of the two Palestinian families, see this article by Daniel Johnson, also published 8-2-09: Ground Shifting Under Israel's Feet - Daniel Johnson

Special thanks to Wikipedia for information in this article.

Don't let her death be in vain, learn more about Rachel Corrie by visiting:

Footage from Rachel's interview conducted by Middle East Broadcasting Company on March 14th, 2003, two days before she was murdered by the Israeli Defense Forces.

Rachel Corrie - La İsrael
by chd26

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as's Executive News Editor.
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Arielski August 4, 2009 1:12 pm (Pacific time)

"Murdered by Israel"? No. In the US and most other countries, responsible journalists report, for example, that "a crime" was committed by an individual or group. For example: "Iraqi civilians killed by Marines at Haditha." Would it be more accurate to say "Civilians in Haditha murdered by America?" I don't think I have ever before seen a headline accusing an entire country of killing one person - deliberately or accidently. Rachel's death, the circumstances of which are in dispute, was done by ONE person - ONE IDF soldier, not by Israel. I know Rachel was young, idealistic and capable. I also think she got in over her head in Gaza and deliberately placed herself in danger by using herself as a "human shield". Read this article, with statements from Rachel's own group, the International Solididarity Movement. Even some ISM members believe her death was an accident. But heck, it's always easier to blame Big Bad Israel than to place responsibility where it belongs, right? Just another varient of "The Jews Did It!"

Anonymous August 3, 2009 9:37 pm (Pacific time)

To Daniel--Ariel Sharon died April 14, 2006. Towards the end of his life he broke with the conservative Likud party and helped to found the more centrist Kadema party who advocate a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians. Kadema obtained a slight plurality in the last Israeli elections, but was unable to form a government. While hardly favorable to the Arabs, they are at least a little bit more reasonable than the Likud. I'm not suggesting that Sharon redeemed himself by this, but it add least established the reality of the situation had sunk through to him about fair dealings with the Palestinians.

a friend August 3, 2009 1:22 pm (Pacific time)

What a sad story, though I wouldn't say her life was wasted. Rachel was an incredible individual and if people were just a little bit more like her, the world would be a better, safer and more peaceful place.

Daniel Johnson August 2, 2009 10:24 pm (Pacific time)

So "Bush accepted Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon's promise of a 'thorough, credible, and transparent investigation.'" We now know that the words thorough, credible and transparent, mean different things to people like Bush and Sharon. Is he even still alive?

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