Remember Rachel Corrie

By Billy Wharton, co-chair Socialist Party USA

March 16, 2010 -- Today marks the anniversary of the tragic death of International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist Rachel Corrie. On March 16, 2003, Corrie was killed by an Israeli Defence Force (IDF) bulldozer while non-violently resisting the destruction of a Palestinian home. Her death came to symbolise the daily violence faced by Palestinians in the occupied territories as well as the spirit of international solidarity that democratic socialists throughout the world draw political strength from.

Rachel Corrie was so moved by the struggle of the Palestinian freedom struggle that she took leave from Evergreen State College and joined the ISM in Palestine. After spending a few weeks in the Gaza Strip, Corrie described the Palestinians as “surrounded by murderous towers, tanks, armed ‘settlements’ and now a giant metal wall”. House demolitions and military incursions by the IDF intensified throughout early 2003. ISM activists and their Palestinian counterparts countered this repression with daily acts of heroic non-violent direct action by placing their bodies in front of bulldozers and heavily armed military units.

On March 16, 2003, acting under the pretense of eliminating guerilla hideouts and smuggling tunnels, the IDF attempted to destroy the house of Palestinian pharmacist Samir Nasrallah. Rachel Corrie, along with several other ISM activists, formed a human shield in front of the house. Witnesses from the ISM, in a report compiled by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, testified that the IDF bulldozer driver could clearly see Corrie, who was dressed in the standard ISM fluorescent vest, yet proceeded to crush her to death with the blade of the bulldozer.

Corrie’s death became an international news event that helped to shed more light on the daily brutality of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Many more Palestinians have died since 2003. Most perish in anonymity – nameless and faceless victims of a never-ending cycle of occupation and repression. They are known only to family members who are left to bury and mourn them, wondering how many more victims there will be. While Corrie’s death drew international outrage, the loss of life on the part of Palestinians is seldom recognised.

Still Rachel Corrie’s life and sacrifice should be commemorated. It gives testimony to the capacity of youth in the United States take action in support of greater freedom and justice in the world. Too often, young people accept the position created for them by late capitalism – to live empty lives centred on consumption with no hope for political change. Rachel Corrie became an active participant in history and her death contributed to the continuing struggle for Palestinian freedom.

She reminds us that Americans have a special responsibility to help end the conflict between Israel and Palestine. We can continue the work of Rachel Corrie by raising the demand for an immediate end to all US aid to Israel. As she said so clearly in an email to her parents: “I am in the midst of a genocide which I am also indirectly supporting, and for which my government is largely responsible.”

Remember Rachel Corrie by supporting the creation of a new foreign policy built upon socialist values of international solidarity and peace.

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Read the words of Rachel Corrie here:

[Billy Wharton is the co-chair of the Socialist Party USA and the editor of The Socialist and the Socialist WebZine.]


The SPUSA is right to speak out, even as unprecedented new repression against Palestinians mounts and violence rages in Jerusalem, precisely on March 16. The Socialist Party USA could well consider going beyond calling for an an end to lavish US aid financed by the American taxpayer to the rogue political, military and corporate elite running Israel. The next step is endorsing and actively promoting the international call for BDS *BOYCOTT * DIVESTMENT * SANCTIONS against Israel. BDS is now a reasonable progressive response to an apartheid 'folk state' guided by an ideology that belongs in the dust bin of Jewish history.

Socialist Martin Buber warned long ago that it was illusory to build an exclusionary ethnocratic state in someone else's country. He was right. His 'Zionist' call was for a bi-national unitary commonwealth of solidarity in Palestine in the 1920s, '30s and '40s, organized within Brit Shalom. And even long after the creation of Israel, in the group Ihud (Unity). That call was suppressed and went unheeded.

I imagine today he would be in the forefront of those to say Jewish nationalism in Palestine was wrong. As a libertarian socialist in the German tradition of Gustav Landauer, he'd probably be standing with Anarchists Against the Wall in their ongoing direct-action struggle against precisely the abominations Rachel was fighting in March seven years ago, and the extreme wave of repression against Palestinians opposing the unending Ihtilal /Occupation of Suffocation over the past several months:


This Israel is a tyrant, it must leave the places of Palestinians and should withdraw its troops and should respect the media persons at least!


March 17, 2010 -- Morning Star
Rachel Corrie's family

Rachel Corrie's family.

Ramallah residents have named a street after an activist who was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer in 2003 while protesting against Tel Aviv's demolition of Palestinian homes in Gaza.

Family, friends and supporters including students from a local secondary school participated in the dedication ceremony on Tuesday - the seventh anniversary of Rachel Corrie's death.

Ms Corrie's mother Cindy, who is visiting Israel and the Occupied Territories to take part in a wrongful death lawsuit against the Israeli government, thanked the Palestinian people for continuing to provide her family with unfailing support.

Addressing a crowd of about 50 Palestinians, including the mayor of Ramallah, Ms Corrie said: "I just wanted you to know that you do not stand alone - people are stepping up, we will not be silent."

The coming weeks also mark the seventh anniversaries of the killing of British activist Thomas Hurndall, who was shot in the head while shielding children from Israeli sniper fire in Rafah and died in hospital nine months later, and the shooting of US citizen Brian Avery in Jenin, who survived.

Last weekend was the first anniversary of the shooting of US citizen Tristan Anderson, who was hit in the head by a high-velocity tear gas canister fired by Israeli soldiers in Nilin.

Mr Anderson is still recovering in an Israeli hospital.

Elsewhere, Israel has lifted a five-day closure that it imposed on the West Bank following the Interior Ministry's approval of new housing for Jewish settlers in occupied east Jerusalem.

On Tuesday police and soldiers used stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of stone-hurling youths in the city, wounding scores of Palestinians.

Ten police officers sustained minor injuries.

I can't believe it's been that long ago that Rachel was killed. If others do not stand up for what she believed in, she will have died in vain.

Although, small groups do pay attention, too many forget Ms Corrie and that she made the ultimate sacrifice to defend the helpless.