Rachel Corrie who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer operator in 2003 while trying to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian doctor's home.
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Eleven years later, March 16, 2014, on the anniversary of her death, Rachel Corrie (above) will be remembered by her family and friends.
She will also be remembered on this anniversary, by those who celebrate and cherish a young American woman who said no to Israel's occupation and no to the constant attacks on Palestinians and the destruction of Palestinian homes.
What happened when an American citizen is killed by an Israeli soldier driving an American-built bulldozer? Mother Jones had Israel's official reaction in 2003:
"The Israeli government, which rarely acknowledges the deaths of Palestinian civilians killed during its military operations, went into damage-control mode. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised President Bush a 'thorough, credible, and transparent investigation.' Later Israel declared the killing a 'regrettable accident' and blamed it on overzealous Corrie and the other activists working as human shields."
Subsequent calls for Congress to investigate Rachel Corrie's death were ignored. A civil lawsuit brought by her family against the Israeli military, was introduced in Israeli courts, March 15, 2005. The Israeli justice system responded slowly.
Seven years after the suit was filed, and nine years after Rachel Corrie's death, an Israeli court reached a final verdict. Robert Mackey, a New York Times blogger reported:
"As my colleagues Jodi Rudoren and Danielle Ziri report, an Israeli judge ruled on Tuesday that the state bore no responsibility for the death of Rachel Corrie, an American activist who was crushed to death by a military bulldozer in 2003 as she tried to block the demolition of a Palestinian home in Gaza.
"Ms. Corrie, who was a student at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., joined the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement in January 2003, and was killed two months later in the Gazan town of Rafah, which straddles the border with Egypt.
"Photographs published by The Electronic Intifada on March 16, 2003, the day she died, showed that Ms. Corrie confronted heavily armored bulldozers that day wearing a bright orange vest and, until a few minutes before her death, using a bullhorn to amplify her voice. The same Web site also published sworn affidavits recorded within days of the deadly incident by three other international activists who were present when Ms. Corrie was killed.
"One of those witnesses, a Briton named Tom Dale, sent the following statement to The Lede on Tuesday from Cairo, where he now works as a journalist:
"'The verdict in Rachel's case is saddening for all those who knew Rachel, and for all who believe in what she stood for. It should be disappointing for all those who want to see justice done in Israel and Palestine.'
On March 16, 2003, Rachel could not have been more visible: standing, on a clear day, in the open ground, wearing a high visibility vest. On that day, she had been in the presence of the Caterpillar D9 bulldozers used by the Israeli army for some hours.
She was standing in front of the home of a young family which was under threat of demolition by a bulldozer. Many homes were demolished in such a way at that time, and Rachel was seeking to protect her friends, with whom she had lived."
The juxtaposition of the anniversary of Rachel Corrie's death and AIPAC's annual Policy Conference, March 1-4, is repeated each year in Washington, DC. It is a coincidence of timing that epitomizes our nation's shame.
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James Wall served as a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois, from 1999 through 2017. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced (more...)