In words that were astonishingly cruel and unfeeling, an Israeli Judge ruled that American activist Rachel Corrie’s death while trying to stop the bulldozing of a house in Occupied Palestine was “accidental.” The incident occurred, he suggested, because Corrie “did not distance herself from the area, as any thinking person would have done. She consciously put herself in harm’s way,” Judge Oded Gershon said.
Rachel’s mother, Cindy Corrie of Olympia, Washington, had a different reaction.
“I believe that this was a bad day not only for our family but a bad day for human rights, for humanity, for the rule of law and also for the country of Israel… [there exists] a well-heeled system to protect the Israeli military, the soldiers who conduct actions in that military to provide them with impunity, at the cost of all the civilians who are impacted by what they do.” U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, reportedly said last week (before the verdict) that the Israeli government’s investigation into Rachel’s death, despite promises, had not “been thorough, credible, and transparent.”
There is a sadly ironic reminder for all who seek to bring peace today. This, the 39th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s speech “I Have a Dream,” now also becomes another reminder of just what such a battle can cost those daring to engage in it. Both Rev. King and Rachel Corrie paid that price. I suppose neither of them was, to use Judge Gershon’s words, “a thinking person.” Perhaps Ms. Corrie was too busy empathizing, feeling the pain of others as if it were her own, to “think.”
I do pray that the peculiar unthinking way of peace will catch on in the Middle East… what Gandhi found in India and Rev. King found in America is that the cost can be ultimate, but the prize — perhaps after many pay that cost — is in part attainable.
Today we remember Dr. King…. and Rachel Corrie.
More links on Rachel Corrie’s story:
International Solidarity Movement – ISM is the group with whom Rachel worked at the time of her death
“A Regrettable Accident” – ABCNews
Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice (site run by family members and others)
“Israeli Army Cleared in Rachel Corrie Death” – Al Jazeera
“Profile: Rachel Corrie” – BBCNews