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Remembering Rachel, Recognizing Oppression

by Eric David Stein Thursday, Mar. 17, 2005 at 3:30 PM
thesteinasaurus@mediamonitors.org none Santa Cruz

SUMMARY:The West Coastrecently hosted a visit by Amy Goodman, spurring some debate but widespread admiration. On Wednesday March 16, Democracy now spotlights the Corrie killing, also hotly debated in these parts. Stein asks if we recognize "sowing of bitterness, suspicion and intolerance as crimes in themselves".


On March 16, 2003, two years ago today, Rachel Corrie was
crushed and killed under an American-made bulldozer operated by the
Israeli governement. This tragic event took place less than a week
before the first bombs fell on the City of Bagdad. Indeed, some
regard Rachel as the first casualty of that war.

Amnesty International is calling on Condolezza Rice for a State Department investigation but as yet Rice has not acted. Tommorow the Corries' attorney will be contacting US DOJ officials in this regard. The y are also suing the State of Israel and Catepillar, manufacturer of the bulldozer that was used to kill Rachel.

Amy Goodman is today featuring an interview with Rachel
Corrie's parents, their attorney, and Washington State US Congressman Adam Smith, who delivered a letter to the Israeli government requesting a thorough investigation of the matter. Smith has co-sponsored a bill with Bill Baird for the US to conduct it's own investigation, as the Israeli government was dismissive of the whole matter.

Rachel was an intense young activist who was deeply concerned
with the demolition of Palestinian homes, and the growing violence
directed toward Palestinian civilians, many of them children. The
policy of the (IDF) Israeli Defense Forces of destroying the homes
of Palestinian civilians has been held responsible for rendering
whole families homeless and contributing to high infant mortality
rates and other consequences. Rachel paid with her life for her
concern, and thereby joins the ranks of Mohandas Ghandi, Martin
Luther King, and Chico Mendes in the ranks of martyrs to the cause
of non-violence and justice.

Her parents have announced that they are now suing Caterpillar,
manufacturer of the deadly armored bulldozer, and the State of
Israel. On her nationally syndicated Democracy Now radio program,
available at www.democracynow.org, Goodman features this litigation
and speaks with Rachel's family and a US Congressman about the
suit and a transcript is posted on the website.

While Rachel's tragic death has been almost universally met
with grief and anger, a small coterie of individuals, who some would
characterize as extremists, have taunted the mourners with
suggestions that Rachel somehow deserved her fate. Sadly, some
otherwise peaceful and progressive individuals seems to have
generated often furious and even vituperative debate over the
matter. Often this is part of a pattern of highly emotional defense
of virtually every act of the Israeli government as essential to the
safety and security of Israelis and even of Jewish people in
general. Parties espousing those emotionally-charged defenses of IDF
actions often ignore harm done to Palestinian civilians and peace
activists, choosing to focus single-mindedly on that small fraction
of the Palestinian population which engages in armed struggle.

That minority viewpoint is that the incident was entirely
accidental and that contributory negligence on Rachel's part is as
much to blame as any callousness on the part of the Israeli Defense
Forces. But the majority of discussants in informed forums point out
that the Israeli government never adequately investigated the
incident, and the mainstream media has quietly swept the matter
under the rug. Others allege that the killing was deliberate and
authorized at the highest levels of the Israeli government,
to "teach a lesson" to international activists. Such persons point
to the pattern wherein other international activists from nominally
nuetral countries have been beaten, shot and even killed by IDF

Rachel was a charismatic and intelligent college student who
sacrificed a great deal for her beliefs. Certainly no one can deny
that she will remain a noble figure in the eyes of history, whether
or not one supports her specific priorities. And reasonable persons
can differ on priorities in the region - for instance, whether the
guerilla tactics of the Palestinian armed factions should be
condemned equally, greater than, or less than the predations of the
IDF (Israeli Defense Forces).

But would any reasonable person would let a shrill tone
suggest disrespect to someone who has sacrificed themselves in such
a striking manner?

The tragedy is compounded by the occurence of her death at the
commencement of hostilities in Iraq. The run-up to the Iraq war was
marked by a never-ending series of disgraceful revelations: Bush
lies in the State of the Union speech, the outing of a CIA agent,
the inexcusable neglect of Condolezza Rice, who alleged that the
aluminum tubes imported to Iraq "could only" be used for nuclear
weapons, etcetera.

In a climate of saber rattling, Bible thumping and spurious
allegations, Rachels' spirit and her testament were run over with
rhetoric as ruthlessly as her body was run over by a Catepillar

George F. Kennan, former US ambassador to the USSR and Yugoslavia,
wrote, "until peoples learn to spot the fanning of mass emotions and
the sowing of bitterness, suspicion and intolerance as crimes in
themselves- as perhaps the greatest disservice that can be done to
the cause of popular governement - this sort of thing will continue
to occur."

Hopefully, we will, and it won't.

- The Steinasaurus

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