Remembering Rachel Corrie: A martyr for human rights

Words like martyr are used all too loosely these days. If there ever was one, Rachel was a martyr for justice and human dignity in Palestine/Israel. And as hard as it is to state this publicly, Rachel's blood is on our hands for having supported the Israelis' brutal occupation of Palestine.

Today, we pause to honor and reflect on the life, murder, and legacy of a beautiful soul killed too early.   rachel
Rachel Corrie, a young American woman was murdered 10-years ago today.

We member and honor all the victims in this deliberately perpetuated,
unacceptable situation of violence and occupation.

Read up on Rachel’s legacy, here.

There are many powerful interviews with Rachel that portray her commitment to human life,
to human rights, and to the combination of peace and social justice.

 Here is but one example.



Who was Rachel?
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.

The image to the right gives an indication of who she was:  standing up to Israeli bulldozers hellbent on demolishing Palestinian homes.   This image is from the day before she was killed by the same kind of Caterpillar bulldozer.

Here is an inspiring quote from her, a few weeks before her murder:

“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

Here is another email about her hopes for peace, justice, and democracy in Palestine/Israel.

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.

Inna lilah wa inna ilayhi raji’un.
May your memory be blessed .

Words like martyr are used all too loosely these days.
If there ever was one, Rachel was a martyr for justice, for human rights and dignity,
for the rights of Palestinians and for the ability of Israelis to liberate themselves from their occupation.

There are thousands of civilians in Palestine who have been killed by the Israelis, and hundreds of Israelis killed by Palestinians.    Rachel in that case was not unique at having lost her life in this conflict that is perpetuated and paid for by the United States and our tax dollars.
Rachel story is so public and heartfelt, and her life so luminous that she continues to inspire.

Rachel_CorrieThe bulldozers that crushed Rachel to death demolish Palestinian homes each and every day, as documented by groups like ICAHD and Amnesty International.

Next week President Obama will be in Israel, and we will hear all about America’s closest ally in the Middle East and the “beacon of democracy in a turbulent region.”  Those who live on the ground there, and brave souls like Rachel who stand where the politically weak but morally courageous stand, know better, know different.

We know that the Israeli state has been involved in the brutal occupation of another people, the Palestinians.

Rachel knew, and we know, that this occupation and all the violence associated with it is supported and indeed paid for by our tax dollars in the United States.

Mr. Obama, will you dare mention Rachel’s name?
Will you visit those whose homes continue to be bulldozed by the Israelis?
Will you sit with the Palestinians with whom Rachel sat?

Rachel’s blood is on our hands.

These are the words of Rachel’s mother, Cindy, the woman that Rachel wrote all those heartfelt letters to.

 “Ten years on I want answers for my daughter Rachel Corrie – On March 16, 2003, my daughter Rachel Corrie was crushed to death under a bulldozer driven by an Israel Defense Forces soldier.
The bulldozer was manufactured in the United States by Caterpillar, Inc.
and paid for by U.S. foreign military financing aid.

My tax dollars paid for the machine used to kill my daughter.”

Cindy and Craig, our ongoing condolences to you.   So many of us were touched to see your message about Rachel’s legacy. 
You raised a brave, saintly daughter; a light onto the world, and an inspiration to me and so many of us.

You raised a girl who at age 10 said this.  Watch the video as well.

By Rachel Corrie, aged 10 — 1990

I’m here for other children.
I’m here because I care.
I’m here because children everywhere are suffering and because forty thousand people die each day from hunger.
I’m here because those people are mostly children.
We have got to understand that the poor are all around us and we are ignoring have got to understand that these deaths are preventable.We have got to understand that people in third world countries think and care and smile and cry just like us.
We have got to understand that they dream our dreams and we dream theirs.
We have got to understand that they are us. We are them.My dream is to stop hunger by the year 2000.
My dream is to give the poor a chance.
My dream is to save the 40,000 people who die each day.
My dream can and will come true if we all look into the future and see the light that shines there.
If we ignore hunger, that light will go out.If we all help and work together, it will grow and burn free with the potential of tomorrow.

The 10-year old Rachel that spoke those words was the same Rachel that sat with Palestinians.

May we be participants in ending this chapter, and writing a new story for all of us to live together.
Palestinians deserve it.
Israelis deserve it.
Rachel’s memory deserves it.

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