Rachel Corrie was a 23 year old activist, killed in Gaza whilst trying to prevent the destruction of Palestinian homes. I’ll let that sink in a little. At 23-years-old, this woman gave her life to protect the rights of others.
The rights of virtual strangers.
Today, an Israeli court made their final decision on her death. They summarised that her demise was not the fault of the State of Israel. They have refused to give Rachel’s parents peace. I have a lot of feelings about this decision, but I don’t think a lengthy article about the unjustness of her death is what Rachel would want. Her own mother said it perfectly. After hearing the ruling, she simply said, “This is a bad day for humanity”.
Let’s just take a second and think about the awesome things that this woman achieved in her lifetime. I am 23-years-old; I have a flat and a degree. But I’ve never saved lives, or protected the rights of others. I’ve never stared a bulldozer in the face. It’s the size of her dedication and the lengths she was prepared to go to that make this woman an inspiration.
Rachel arrived in Israel in January 2003, two months before her death. In emails exchanged with her mother, she documented the methods she was taught to prevent harm: wear florescent coats, don’t run away from or shock the army, communicate loudly. With this knowledge alone she entered the Gaza strip with epic determination to right wrongs.
Rachel guarded workers attempting to fix a damaged well that had led to water rationing and deaths. Due to the efforts of herself and her colleagues in the International Solidarity Movement, the Canadian government quietly offered to fix the $450,000 damage and restore safe water to the Palestinian people.
Rachel Corrie was not the first to die in protest, and she probably will not be the last. But it is true that this young, strong woman will be remembered.
Even in death, she is changing the world. The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice has been erected and, in her death there is hope. In her name, the foundation awards scholarships to students working to gain a better understanding of the problems in the Middle East, and they raise money and awareness for water purification, which in turn saves lives.
Whether the courts choose to acknowledge it or not, Rachel was killed. But Rachel was not a victim.