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The Rachel Corrie Story: Dying For Peace...A H.O.W. Inspiration
REFLECTIONS BEFORE WE BEGIN
What is the price of peace? If we were to put peace on the open market, and allowed it to be controlled by the free market factors like any other commodity, what do you suppose its price would be?
When is non-violent protest wrong? If you are a United States citizen, remember that this most basic of freedoms is guaranteed by the Constitution.
Those two questions are the foundation of the Rachel Corrie story.
MEET RACHEL CORRIE
Rachel was born April 10, 1979, and she died March 16, 2003. On that March day in 2003 she was crushed to death by an Israel Defense Forces armored bulldozer in Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.
By all accounts Rachel was just your average kid. She attended Capital High School in Olympia, Washington, and she was the youngest daughter of Craig Corrie, an insurance executive, and Cindy Corrie, an amateur flautist.
Rachel eventually attended Evergreen State College, in Olympia, where she took a number of Arts courses while trying to decide which direction to take her life. She took a year off from college to work for the Civilian Conservation Corps and for three years did volunteer work making weekly visits to patients with mental disorders.
Her friends described her as reserved in group settings, never flashy, and an intimate friend in one-on-one interactions. They also stated that her true passion seemed to be working for peace, and true to form during her senior year at TESC she proposed an independent-study program in which she would travel to Gaza and begin a “sister city” project between Olympia and Rafah.
ARRIVAL AT RAFAH
Shortly after the first of the year in 2003, Rachel joined up with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in Gaza and began training in peace activism. This was during the height of the Second Palestinian Intifada. She became involved in non-violent efforts to prevent the Israeli army’s demolition of Palestinian homes.
While there she had befriended the family of local pharmacist Samir Nasralla, and on March 16th she was actively trying to prevent the bulldozing of the Nasralla home. Wearing a bright-orange fluorescent jacket and using a megaphone, she was chanting peace slogans directly in front of that home when she was crushed by a bulldozer operated by an Israeli soldier. She was, in fact, run over twice, leaving her with a fractured skull, shattered ribs and punctured lungs.
Four eyewitness accounts say that the bulldozer operator deliberately ran Corrie down. The Israeli government denied any wrongdoing, stating that the bulldozer operator could not see Corrie and that it was a tragic accident.
The Foundation for Peace
- The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice
The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice was established by members of Rachel’s family and community to continue the kind of work that she began and hoped to accomplish before she was killed in Gaza in 2003.
The parents of Rachel Corrie filed a civil lawsuit against the State of Israel, claiming that Israel failed to conduct a credible investigation into the death of their daughter. Their lawsuit called for a symbolic one dollar in damages.
In August 2012, an Israeli court rejected the lawsuit, stating that the Israeli government was not responsible for Corrie’s death.
Since Corrie’s death, several tributes have been organized for this young woman of peace. A play was written entitiled “My Name Is Rachel Corrie”, and a book of her collected writings was published under the name “Let Me Stand Alone.”
The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice was also established and continues to do her work today.
What is the price of peace? When is non-violent protest wrong?
Of course there are those who state that yes, this was a tragedy, but Corrie precipitated her own death by protesting in a foreign country where she should not have been…..where she should not have been!
As if there are boundaries that limit the search for peace!
I am reminded of an incredible picture I saw back in 1989 taken from the Tiananmen Protests. One protester stood in front of a convoy of army tanks and refused to move aside.
What is the price of peace? When is non-violent protest wrong?
Yes, there are those who have said, and will continue to say, that Corrie had no business meddling in Israeli affairs, that she was a guest of that country and as such should not have been part of a non-violent protest. To those people I would simply ask: when the issue is human rights, why wouldn’t everyone with a conscience protest?
LET’S SET POLITICS ASIDE FOR A MOMENT
I know that the United States has been a strong ally with Israel for a number of decades, but let’s for a moment put those political considerations aside. Let’s also put aside the ongoing struggle between Israel and Palestine, because for the sake of this article , that struggle does not have relevance.
What does have relevance is the violent response to peaceful protest. When is it acceptable behavior to kill a 23-year old woman who is no threat to anyone? When did our greatest ally in the Middle East decide that death is the penalty for speaking out in opposition?
What should Israel have done? Well, the logical and intelligent response to a protest that is blocking governmental business is to simply arrest the protester. In fact, there are several other actions that could have been taken before deciding that she should be crushed beneath a bulldozer for daring to speak out for peace.
And these are our political allies? Thank God they are not our enemies; I hate to think how our enemies would have handled Rachel Corrie….oh, wait…there is no worse fate than death, is there?
The H.O.W. Preamble
- The H.O.W. Preamble
Making this world a better place in which to live; that is the goal of Humanity One World, and it is the responsibility of every single human being.
WHEN ANYONE, ANYWHERE, REACHES OUT THEIR HAND FOR HELP
….I want the hand of H.O.W. to always be there, and for that, I am responsible!
Those are the words of the preamble of H.O.W….Humanity One World, and Rachel Corrie beautifully embraced that preamble and purpose.
Rachel has been dead nine years now, but her story of courage and compassion lives on. In a world that is defined by complacency and greed, a twenty-three year old woman showed us all the most noble side of humanity. In a world divided by political and religious ideologies, a twenty-three year old woman cut through the fine print and showed us the bigger picture, that we are all one world, and whenever one person reaches out for help it is the duty of us all to be there.
This writer did not know Rachel Corrie. I have never met her parents. I remember clearly the news stories immediately following her death, but time does march on, and except for a few posters of Rachel sprinkled around town, her story has fallen into the archives, replaced by more pressing issues like who won American Idol and who will win in the NFL Playoffs.
I suppose this article is a small attempt to keep her story alive, but I admit to a more selfish reason as well. By writing this story I am reminding myself of something I dearly need to hear. I need reminders that there is goodness in the world. I need reminders that despite the mass shootings and the political corruption, despite the slavery and the homelessness, there are people who, like Rachel, still care about others.
What is the price of peace? For Rachel Corrie, the price was her life.
When is non-violent protest wrong?
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)