Today marks the thirteenth anniversary since the passing of fellow ISM activist Rachel Corrie (April 10, 1979 – March 16, 2003). Rachel was tragically crushed to death under the front blade of an Israeli military, American funded, Caterpillar D9R bulldozer near Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Rachel died whilst placing herself in the path of the military bulldozer to protect the family and their home that the bulldozer was on route for and due to be demolished. Rachel’s death created a global outcry towards the Israeli military’s actions and prompted an international investigation under the contested circumstances in which she died during the height of the second intifada.
“Rachel’s case provides yet another example of how the Israeli justice system is failing to provide accountability. We urge the international community, and not least the U.S. government, to stand with victims of human rights violations and against impunity, and to uphold fundamental tenants of international justice.”
— Rachel Corrie’s family, in a statement following the Israeli Supreme Court’s dismissal of the appeal in the wrongful death case
On March 16th, 2003, I was working on the copy desk at the Olympian, a daily newspaper in Olympia, Washington, when news came across the wire that a local woman was killed in Gaza. In an instant the global was localised, American foreign policy and weapons trade had immediate impact.
Since that time, I’ve met a number of people whose lives have been re-organised by this issues. Some of them had no choice in the matter: They live in Palestine, or Israel. Others had little choice in the matter: They were related to Rachel, or others like Tom Hurndall, or went to the place for one reason or another and didn’t come back the same for their experiences. Then there are those who seem to have absolute choice, but looked at the situation placed in front of them and chose to work toward an alternative to the status quo. Theree’s no dout in my mind that the work of these people have helped bring the cause, and even word, ‘Palestine’ seep into international public consiousness. People who say you can’t do anything about something bigger than yourself seldom take the time to step outside of themselves. That’s a small world to confine yourself in. I think Rachel showed a lot of people how to live outside of that.