Another Death in Palestine

Rachel CorrieRachel Corrie was a beautiful, kind, young woman. She was an artist and peace activist. She was going to graduate from college this year. She was 23 years old, and she was murdered on March 16th, 2003 in Palestine by an Israeli bulldozer.

Rachel was my friend.

We met in Olympia, WA, her hometown, when we were both students at Evergreen State College. I was a freshman and she was a high school senior. She begun her senior year taking classes at the local community college, through the Running Start program, and transfered to Evergreen partway through the year.

From the beginning of the year she was a frequent presence on campus. I would go over to my friends' place and she would be there drawing, painting, listening to music, or chatting while the rain fell outside.

Rachel was a friendly, open person, who was enthusiastic for life. She had deep blue eyes that conveyed intensity and passion. She was often smiling, and engaged in conversation and activity with everyone with equal compassion.

Rachel had a gift for empathy. Her sensitivity for injustice to humanity called her to work for social change on an active level. She worked to bring communities to action in positive, sustainable ways.

We danced together until sunrise at raves in Seattle, Olympia, and Portland. She read tarot cards for me in front of the fireplace. She created a huge colorful painting for me. We sat up all night talking, huddling under blankets, and laughing. We enjoyed life together, among the trees, under the stars, in the dorms, and at parties.

Rachel was vibrant. She was eager to take charge of life and seek her dreams.

We lost touch when I moved to Seattle and she went into the Conservation Corp, working long hours on the Olympic Peninsula to save money to continue school. I last saw her at a party in Olympia four years ago where we hugged, talked, danced, and promised to keep in touch.

I always think of Rachel with loving thoughts and hope that we will reconnect soon. Now, I'll never see Rachel again. Neither will her family, or her close friends, or the activists she was working intimitely with through the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace and the International Solidarity Movement.

Rachel traveled to Israel this fall as a member of the International Solidarity Movement with hopes of setting up a sister-city relationship between Olympia and Rafah.

bulldozerThe Israel army is attempting to dishonor Rachel by claiming that she was acting irresponsibly, yet many believe her death was deliberate. The driver of the bulldozer drove forward over Rachel after she had climbed down from speaking with him. She was wearing a bright fluorescent coat, was holding a megaphone, and was standing in front of the bulldozer. She was trying to stop the illegal demolition of a Palestinian doctor's home.

The bulldozer began driving towards her. She waved for the bulldozer to stop and climbed onto the pile of rubble in front of her. The bulldozer continued to advance, burying her in the pile of rubble before driving over her twice.

The seven other ISM activists yelled for the driver to stop as they listened to Rachel's screams. Once the bulldozer had driven completely forward over Rachel, then backed over her again, they ran to dig her body out of the rubble and dirt. She was taken to the hospital where she was proclaimed dead of injuries to her head and chest.

Rachel was engaged in her work because she was truly dedicated to cultivating peace and compassion for all humanity. She hoped to contribute to creating a peaceful resolution to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

From one of her first emails home to Olympia from Rafah:

"Even then you are always well aware that your experience of it is not at all the reality: what with the difficulties the Israeli Army would face if they shot an unarmed US citizen, and with the fact that I have money to buy water when the army destroys wells, and the fact, of course, that I have the option of leaving. Nobody in my family has been shot, driving in their car, by a rocket launcher from a tower at the end of a major street in my hometown. I have a home. I am allowed to go see the ocean. Ostensibly it is still quite difficicult for me to be held for months or years on end without a trial (this because I am a white US citizen, as opposed to so many others). When I leave for school or work I can be relatively certain that there will not be a heavily armed soldier waiting half-way between mud bay and downtown olympia at a checkpoint with the power to decide whether I can go about my business, and whether I can get home again when I'm done. So, if I feel outrage at arriving and entering briefly and incompletely into the world in which these children exist, I wonder conversely about how it would be for them to arrive in my world.

They know that children in the United States don't usually have their parents shot and sometimes get to see the ocean. But once you have seen the ocean and lived in a silent place, where water is taken for granted and not stolen in the night by bulldozers, and spent an evening when you didn't wonder if the walls of your home might suddenly fall inward waking you from your sleep, and met people who have never lost anyone -- once you have experienced the reality of a world that isn't surrounded by murderous towers, tanks, armed 'settlements' and now a giant metal wall, I wonder if you can forgive the world for all the years of your childhood spent existing -- just existing -- in resistance to the constant stranglehold of the world's fourth-largest military apparatus -- backed by the world's only superpower -- in its attempt to erase you from your home. That is something I wonder about these children. I wonder what would happen if they really knew."

Read an article written by Rachel Corrie for the Palestine Monitor.

Kara Spencer, 24, is the producer of Yo Mama Says the Parental is Political, www.yomamasays.org, and the publisher of the radical parenting zine Viva la Mama! Her writing has appeared in hipMama.com, scarletletters.com, SageWoman, and Bare Your Soul: The Thinking Girl's Guide to Enlightenment (Seal Press).

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