March 17, 2013
Rachel Corrie, a 22-year old peace activist from Washington State, was killed on March 16, 2003 by a Caterpillar bulldozer operated by the Israeli military while trying to stop a Palestinian family’s home from being destroyed. Some witnesses claimed she was struck deliberately, but an Israeli inquiry found her death to be an accident.
According to the March 3, 2013, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions Report, “Israel’s Policy of Demolishing Palestinian Homes Must End,” to the to the UN Human Rights Council, Israel has destroyed more than 24,000 Palestinian homes since 1967 and more than 1,500 orders exist for future demolitions in East Jerusalem alone.
I highly recommend “Rachel,” a 2009 documentary about the 2003 incident. The film depicts the circumstances surrounding her death. The documentary is not just about Corrie’s death. It is also about activists who fight injustice without hope of winning, but do so without despair.
The film is also about the ongoing conflict in Gaza, which stretches back to the creation of Israel in 1947. Then, the United Nations partitioned the land, allotting the Jews 55 percent of Palestine. The Arabs did not agree to this partition. In the 1948 “war of independence” (called the “El Naqua,” the catastrophe, by the Arabs), Israel ended up with 78 percent of the area of Palestine. This war displaced 750,000 Palestinians and over 450 Arab villages were erased.
In the war of 1967, the remaining Palestinian territory was captured by Israel. Out of this captured land, Israel created the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by chopping up the land into isolated enclaves surrounded by Jewish settlements and Israeli occupation forces. The Palestinians lost 78 percent of their land to Israel and are left with 22 percent. Israel has erected a wall or fence, which cuts deep into Palestinian territory, joining large Jewish settlement blocks to Israel, further confining the Palestinians to isolated enclaves. Israel continues to establish new settlements (called outposts), demolishing homes and uprooting plantations in the process. And the Israeli-Palestinian conflict goes on and on.
It would be a fitting remembrance of Corrie’s death if a Bay Area theater group would stage the play “My Name Is Rachel Corrie,” which is composed from Rachel Corrie’s journal entries and e-mails. The play was edited by Katherine Viner and Alan Rickman and directed by Rickman. It had a successful run in London at the Royal Court Theatre where it went on to win the Theatregoers’ Choice Awards for Best Director and Best New Play, as well as Best Solo Performance for actress Megan Dodds. The play has been performed around the United States and the world, but not to my knowledge, by a Bay Area theater group.
Ten years later Rachel’s fight to end injustice continues by others and will continue until the end of the occupation of the Palestinian Territory and the realization of Palestinians’ right to national self-determination.