Rachel Corrie: American Hero, American Conscience
As the Republicans were wending through their convention last Fall, and as the Democrats were preparing for theirs, yet another horrid court decision was handed down. No, it was not the US Supreme Court’s appointing the US president, as was the case in December of 2000. Nor was it a Pennsylvania court’s jailing kids for cash, but it was just as reprehensible. Instead, this determination was delivered from an Israeli court in Jerusalem, but it has wrenching implications here in the US. The decision was a dismissal of the civil suit filed against the State of Israel and Israeli Ministry of Defense for the wrongful death of 23-year-old American peace activist, Rachel Corrie.
Rachel found herself in the Gaza Strip in March of 2003 serving with the International Solidarity Movement as a witness to the ever growing and long running humanitarian crisis in that war zone. On March 16th she was brutally killed by an Israeli soldier when the soldier ran her over with an American-made bulldozer. Rachel was protesting the destruction of Palestinian homes in the Occupied Territory. The incident was captured on video, so the blatant act is hard for even the most strident supporters of Israel to spin. In the moments prior to her death, Rachel spoke directly to the soldier who would take her life only minutes later. Despite Rachel’s being clad in bright orange, carrying a bullhorn, and having made her presence known to the bulldozer operator, she was smothered and crushed in cold blood. It is hard to imagine the aches which must reside deep in the hearts of Cindy and Craig Corrie, Rachel’s grieving parents.
In her sacrifice she represents the best that America can, and should, be.
In an attempt to shine light on such a horrible abuse the Corrie family filed suit. They were not seeking the millions of dollars one would expect such a lawsuit to bring, but rather merely sought an admission of responsibility and a cash award of one dollar. Sadly, but not unexpectedly, as every day in Palestine is a day of justice denied, the Istaeli court ruled that there was no culpability on the part of the Ministry of Defense and that Rachel’s murder was a “regrettable accident” that she had brought upon herself. Any parent can surely relate to grief and fury that Craig and Cindy continue to experience regarding the loss of their exceptional and courageous daughter. Yet the Corries continue to forge ahead, not with bloodlust, but with dignity and a determination to bring awareness of the continuing hardships of the Palestinian people, and with a passion to help the ones for whom Rachel’s brief life was expended.
Truly, the Corries represent a rarity in today’s America. Most Americans are aloof and indifferent to the plight of others around the world, and even here at home. Rachel was raised to be aware of the world around her. She refused to bask in her privilege as a white, middle class American. Instead, she used her talent and resources to defend victims of institutional oppression and shine a light on the problems that are preventable, if we choose to understand and to care. Hers are parents who deserve recognition for a job well done. At this moment in time these parents should have the support of the world and of their country. Unfortunately, such support is not likely to come their way in a country in which self-enrichment is valued far more than honor. Despite being a land laden with media, too few outlets are even willing to approach such thorny subjects as the decades-old Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
During the recent presidential election, neither legacy party candidate would comment on the Corrie decision or on the tragedy of Rachel’s murder. Rather, and predictably, they continued jockeying to see which one could throw the larger portion of US tax dollars at Israel, allowing for more of the same brutality and injustice that is the harsh reality for Palestinians every day. There was to be no pressure from a silent collection of party faithful, or from the American media. As a matter of fact, the only articulate political voice in America on this issue was and still is the US Green Party, itself regularly ignored or diminished by the US “mainstream” media. And, like Rachel, we Greens seek solidarity, in this case solidarity with the Corrie family symbolized by the following proposals. We are demanding that President Obama immediately summon the Corries to the White House to accept an award of the Presidential Medal of Freedom for Rachel. Surely, she is deserving of this award and such a gesture would go a long way toward increasing awareness of issues in the Middle East, and may even offer some comfort to Rachel’s family. As an alternative, we call upon the Nobel Committee to strip the President of his Nobel Peace Prize, and re-award it to Rachel Corrie, posthumously. In her sacrifice she represents the best that America can, and should, be. Rachel is truly a hero and she will always be indicative of a much needed American conscience. As such, we can all learn from the wisdom and courage of Craig, Cindy and Rachel Corrie.
We Greens understand that we are not likely to see either of our suggestions for posthumous recognition fulfilled, so one may ask why we make such proposals at all. In the words of fifth grade Rachel Corrie, we Greens do this “because we care.” At the very least, may Craig and Cindy understand that the US Green Party respects the values that they instilled in their daughter, the same child who as a ten-year-old encouraged us to look to the future and see a light shining there. We have, and that light is Rachel Corrie, a radiant spirit of peace and justice.
To learn more about Rachel and the continuation of her work, please visit www.RachelCorrieFoundation.org