Rachel Corrie's murder, The real terrorist was an Israeli.
|Rachel Corrie, the US citizen/Palestinian Martyr.|
The real terrorist was an Israeli.
His weapon was not a bomb, but an army bulldozer.
And Rachel Corrie of Olympia, just 23, was the victim, run over and killed by bone-crushing steel, made in the USA.
You could certainly sum up Sunday's tragedy in the Gaza Strip that way. That's in sharp contrast to how Israel is often portrayed in this unending Middle East conflict:
As the bigger victim of an inexcusable Palestinian terror.
Try telling that to Rachel's family and friends.
Tell that to her colleagues in the International Solidarity Movement, who believe in non-violent opposition to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Tell it to the Palestinians who suffer brutality and injustice at the hands of Israel's government.
People here may not know -- or care -- about Palestinians who suffer a daily barrage of bullets and bulldozers.
Then someone like Rachel -- an activist committed to peaceful protest -- is killed and we all sit up and take notice.
After all, Rachel was American.
Looked like the girl next door, which in fact is what she was.
"It's a shame this is what it takes," Peter Lippman of Jewish Voices Against the Occupation told me.
Lippman spoke Sunday at the University of Washington after a screening of a movie that showed the horrors of Palestinian life.
Of course, there is another side to the sobering story.
Israel has been subject to a reign of terror by Palestinian suicide bombers and gunmen.
At least 700 Israelis have died since September 2000, as well as 2,100 Palestinians who've been killed by Israelis over the same period.
Israelis have urged their government to do what it must to protect innocent citizens. And the government has, which explains the ongoing power plays, humiliating confrontations and killings of Palestinians.
Rachel's death, captured on camera, put a local face on the faraway suffering.
"I'm upset," Lippman sighed, "about what happened."
With good reason.
The Israeli military insists Rachel's death was accidental, and that might turn out to be the official ruling.
But it defies the accounts of witnesses and seems to counter common sense.
Rachel was trying to prevent the army from demolishing a Palestinian home in a strip of land near a refugee camp. In broad daylight, she wore a bright-colored orange vest -- with reflective stripes -- that could have been spotted from the moon.
Photos make it clear she was holding a bullhorn and standing in front of the bulldozer. At one point, she began shouting at the driver.
"There's no way he didn't see her, since she was practically looking into the cabin," a fellow activist told Haaretz, a daily newspaper in Israel.
Even if the vehicle had blind spots -- that is a remote possibility -- how does that explain this?
Witnesses say the bulldozer ran over Rachel, and then reversed its path and ran over her again.
Sounds just like the bulldozer stories Palestinians have been talking about for years. Sounds just like murder.
The relative silence of the United States government on Rachel's death is appalling, especially since American tax money cascades into coffers of the Israeli government and allows the military to obtain bullets, and Caterpillar bulldozers.
President Bush, who is preoccupied with war matters, spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Israel says it is investigating, and will get to the bottom of it.
Don't hold your breath.
Do, however, take a moment to remember Rachel -- a brave, vocal, impassioned crusader. She was a doer who found her purpose in life.
Her spirit reminds me of Amy Biehl, a young California woman who became so incensed by injustice blacks were suffering under apartheid in South Africa that she picked up and moved there.
Amy wanted to be an agent of positive change -- and paid with her life. In 1993, a group of black youths beat and stabbed her because of something so ridiculous -- the color of her skin. They thought she was an Afrikaner.
Amy's death put the international spotlight on the plight of South Africa's dispossessed. Rachel's death ought to do the same for the Palestinian situation.
Otherwise, her life will have been lost in vain.
Rachel was not naive. She knew the risks of acting as a human shield for Palestinians. She realized the rewards, too.
"I don't know if many of the children here have ever existed without tank-shell holes in their walls and the towers of an occupying army surveying them," Rachel wrote in an e-mail. "No amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing and word of mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just can't imagine it unless you see it."
Rachel did, and Rachel died. We can only hope the blood she shed on bulldozed soil sows change.
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