Sunday, March 16, 2008

Rachel Corrie: Five Years Later

An eyewitness account of what happened:
"[Between 13:00 and 13:30, activists] noticed that two Israeli Army bulldozers and one tank [had] entered onto Palestinian civilian property near the border and [were] demolishing farmland and other already damaged structures. The military machine was severely threatening near-by homes, so the 3 activists went up onto the roof of one home, and then called for others to come.

"[Between 13:30 and 14:00], I arrived, and one of the three activists in [sic] the house joined me on the ground ... [W]e began to disrupt the work of the bulldozers ... At this point, Rachel and the two other activists joined us ... Rachel and a British activist were wearing jackets that were fluorescent orange and had reflective stripping [sic] ... [Between 14:00 and 15:00], Rachel and two other activists began interfering with the other bulldozer, which was attempting to destroy grass and other plants on what used to be farmland. They stood and sat in its path, and though it would drive very close to them, and even move the earth on which they were sitting, it always stopped in time to avoid injuring them ... [Between 15:00 and 16:00], one bulldozer pushed Will, an American activist, up against a pile of barbed wire. Fortunately, the bulldozer stopped and withdrew just in time to avoid injuring him seriously, but we had to dig him out of the rubble, and unhook his clothing from the wire. The tank approached to see if he was ok. One soldier stuck his head out of the tank to see, and he looked quite shocked and dumbfounded, but said nothing ...

"[Between 16:45 and 17:00], [o]ne bulldozer, serial number 949623, began to work near the house of a physician who is a friend of ours ... Rachel sat down in the pathway of the bulldozer ... [It] continued driving forward headed straight for Rachel. When it got so close that it was moving the earth beneath her, she climbed onto the pile of rubble being pushed by the bulldozer. She got so high onto it that she was at eye-level with the cab of the bulldozer ... Despite this, he continued forward, which pulled her legs into the pile of rubble, and pulled her down out of view of the driver ... We ran towards him, and waved our arms and shouted, one activist with the megaphone. But [he] continued forward, until Rachel was underneath the central section of the bulldozer ... Despite the obviousness of her position, the bulldozer began to reverse, without lifting its blade, and drug [sic] the blade over her body again. He continued to reverse until he was on the boarder [sic] strip, about 100 meters away, and left her crushed body in the sand. Three activists ran to her and began administering first-responder medical treatment ... She said, "My back is broken!" but nothing else ..."

-- Joseph Smith, ISM activist
Learn more at Rachel's Words and Rachel-Corrie.com. The anniversary of her death is a stark reminder of just how dark the days were just as the war on the Iraqis was about to begin, and how dark they've been since. While right-wingers in the US and Israel would no doubt find her death to be a source for endless amusement (and for "respectable" liberals and moderates something not even worthy of so much as a shrug), for those of us who still give a damn about human rights there was (and still is) a sense of mourning and anger.

For a better understanding of the context in which Rachel was murdered, see Sonja Karkar's article from last year in CounterPunch, What Rachel Saw: Rachel Corrie and Palestine, as well as this year's article by Tom Wright and Therese Saliba, Five Years Later: Rachel Corrie's Case for Justice.

Finally, an interview from two days before Rachel was killed:


Never forget. As time permits, I'll try to point out other blogs that commemorate Rachel Corrie and of course the struggles faced by Palestinian activists and their allied activists in civil society.

First Update - The following bloggers have remembered Rachel:
Fear is Tyranny - "The are us. We are them."
Above and Beyond - Remembering Rachel Corrie
Grateful Dissident - Remembering Rachel Corrie
Karmalized - March 16th - 5th Year
Hands Up! Guns Up! - Oh, Gaza
FrOm Here TO There - God Bless you Rachel
Palestine News - Rachel Corrie play debuts in Israel
Java Corner - In Memoriam of Rachel Corrie (1979 - 2003)
Rachel's Words - March 16, fifth anniversary of Rachel Corrie's death

Second Update (and bumped) - Some more bloggers who've remembered Rachel:
Around The World - Still Gaza!
Hold that thought - This is for you, Rachel
American Street - Sad Anniversary (h/t skippy)
TheZoo - The "open prison" of Gaza
BitterGrace Notes - Today is the fifth anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie
International Solidarity Movement - 5 years on, we remember Rachel Corrie
Homeless on the High Desert - Five years ago today
The Heathlander - Another sad anniversary
Suburban Guerrilla - Five Years Ago Today
MUNICH - AND A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING - RACHEL CORRIE ... 1979 - 2003
SandBabe - In Remembrance of Rachel Corrie
IntLawGrrls - On this day
Liberal White Boy - Rachel Corrie...Murdered Five Years Ago Today By Apartheid Israel
Progressive Alaska - On the Fifth Anniversary of Rachel Corrie's Death
kenny's sideshow (two posts) - Why Does Starbucks and its Founder Support the Racist Apartheid State of Israel? and Rachel Corrie ~~ Murdered By the State of Israel 5 Years Ago
Desertpeace - Rachel Corrie Remembered With Love
PhillySound: new poetry - The Death of Rachel Corrie - Five Years Ago Today

Third Update (and bumped once more) - yet another roundup of bloggers remembering Rachel:
Obama Evening News - Rachel Corrie Remembered
The Truth Behind the Mask - Seed of Hope
No Empires - The death of Rachel Corrie, and the invasion of Iraq, five years on
Uranias 9th House - Message from Starhawk
roGER's RaNtS - Rachel Corrie 1979-2003
Green Left Infoasis - Rachel Corrie: Five Years Later
Listics - Rachel Corrie - Five Years Later h/t onegoodmove
Ten Percent - Anniversaries
The Zachary Jones Band - The Ballad of Rachel Corrie (h/t to Tim in the comments)
Rock The Truth - Rachel Corrie: The Girl With The Dream
staticbrain.com - In Memory of Rachel Corrie
Clipmarks - In Memory of a Brave American
International Solidarity Movement - Denied Entry (h/t Dove's Eye View)
Action Center For Justice - Rachel Corrie Memorial and "The Unrecognized" film
Liberty Street - Rachel Corrie: April 10, 1979 - March 16, 2003

Fourth Update (and bumped one last time) - another batch of bloggers willing to honor Rachel's memory:
Left I on the News - My Lai + 40
mary_j_59 - For Peace
Real Hartford - Reflections on Rachel's Words
Carol For Peace - Social Justice Activist in Denver - On This Day
stop the siege on gaza - Action of silence and peace for Gaza and Rachel Corrie
scribe (commenting on my identical post at Political Fleshfeast) - For Rachel

Fifth and final update - some more good folks willing to remember Rachel and her cause:
Lincoln Writer - Peace in the Mideast ... When?
Olympia-Rafah Mural Design - "From Palestine to Puget Sound: The Olympia-Rafah Mural Project"
thedashcat - (no title)
American Everyman - Rachel Corrie Play Opens in Haifa
Madison-Rafah Journal - Rachel Corrie and Mai Lai
Sky Star - Fifth Anniversary of Death of Rachel Corrie
Psyche, Science, and Society - Remember Rachel Corrie!
'Imagine' A World Of Peace, Understanding, Tolerance - The other romantic war Bush missed
Laughing as I go... - Hrrm
Tricycle Editors' Blog - Tibet Protests Continue
Radioactive Quill - Five years is a long time.
Rock the Truth - Rachel Corrie: Remembered With Love
Defending the Truth - Rest In Peace!
Palestinian Pundit - Action of silence and peace for Gaza and Rachel Corrie
The Arab Advocate - Remembering a Martyr for Palestine, Rachel Five Years On

That pretty well covers the English-language blogs as of the moment - once we add in the Spanish-language bloggers, French-language bloggers, etc., there are undoubtedly a good number of others who payed homage as well to Rachel. For some, her senseless murder was mentioned in passing while covering other anniversaries and other actions (such as what's going down in Tibet); for others (the vast majority), Rachel's life and death were the main focus. We may not necessarily know one another, or even knew Rachel personally, but on some level this show of solidarity is comforting - a reminder that, as another leader for human rights, Subcomandante Marcos might say, "you are not alone."

Peace, and God Bless.

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