12 years ago, in Rafah, occupied Gaza, Israel killed 23-year-old American Palestine solidarity peace activist Rachel Corrie. Israeli forces crushed her with a bulldozer while they were destroying one of the thousands upon thousands of Palestinian homes they have demolished since 1947. (In 2014 alone, Israel demolished the homes of 1,177 Palestinians in the West Bank.)
On the day Corrie was killed, 16 March 2003, The Electronic Intifada published a photostory depicting the last moments before her untimely death.
Over a decade later, Israel continues to desecrate her memory.
In 2013, Israeli soldiers held a “Rachel Corrie pancakes” event, taunting Corrie’s death, having been crushed “flat as a pancake” by an Israeli bulldozer.
The event was held at the Heritage House, an illegal settlement in occupied East Jerusalem inhabited by “lone soldiers”—foreign men recruited to join the Israeli occupation forces. The men posted photos of the event on Facebook, insisting they had a very “fun” time gloating over the death of an innocent young woman.
In order to commemorate Corrie’s memory exactly 12 years after her death, Palestinians gathered for a peaceful demonstration in Qariyut, near Nablus, where they planted olive trees. The Israeli military responded by brutalizing them.
Middle East Eye reports that the Palestinian protesters hung photos of Corrie on the newly planted trees, along with pictures of fellow activists in the International Solidarity Movement who were killed or injured in occupied Palestine. Among those included were British activist Thomas Hurndall, who was killed by an Israeli sniper in January 2004, and Tristan Anderson, a US citizen who was shot in the head with a high-velocity tear gas grenade by Israeli police at a protest against the separation wall in the West Bank in March 2009, leaving him permanently paralyzed, with brain damage.
Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters and live bullets, trying to disperse the peaceful protesters. They also arrested a Palestinian who was unconscious. The soldiers prevented Palestinian medics from treating the man, and shouted “I know you are trying to mislead us. You will be arrested” as they carried him away on a stretcher. They dropped him twice.
Activists with the ActiveStills collective filmed the Israeli soldiers dropping the unconscious Palestinian man and firing live bullets into the air. A woman who appears to be an international activist can be heard on camera saying “You can’t take him without a medic; it’s illegal!” The soldiers try to prevent her, and the individual capturing the video, from filming the event.
The US Government Has Done Nothing
Over a decade has passed, and yet the US government has done nothing to hold Israel accountable for murdering its own innocent citizen.
On multiple occasions, the US has threatened to invade entire countries if US citizens are killed in terrorist attacks carried out by people who reside in those countries. Yet when these crimes are acts of state terrorism carried out by Israel, the US is completely silent.
One of the principal tenets of the so-called “Bush Doctrine” is that the US will crack down on states that support or engage in terrorism. In his 20 September 2001 address to a Joint Session of Congress, George W. Bush insisted
We will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.
Yet when it is an ally who harbors or supports terrorists, or even engages in acts of terrorism itself—such as Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mexico, and countless others—the Bush Doctrine appears to no longer apply.
Israel Won’t Even Pay $1 to Corrie’s Family
Corrie’s family sued the Israeli government for a symbolic $1, in an attempt to hold it accountable for killing their daughter. The case crawled through Israel’s courts for years. Finally, in February 2015, the Israeli Supreme Court denied any liability and threw the case out.
Israel did not just take away Rachel Corrie’s life; it even denied her her own victimhood—just as it has done to countless Palestinians. (In perhaps the most prominent and racist example, in 1957, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir told the US National Press Club that “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.” This infamous quote has been dragged back up ever since, in insistence that it is the Palestinians’ fault that their children are massacred by Israel, denying the dead children their own victimhood.)
Responding to the news, Corrie’s family said they were “disappointed but not surprised.” “We had hoped for a different outcome,” they explained, “though we have come to see through this experience how deeply all of Israel’s institutions are implicated in the impunity enjoyed by the Israeli military.”
The truth is they are peaceful, and have been for decades. Palestinians and their supporters have tried peaceful means of resistance for as long as there has been resistance. And they have been crushed to death by Israeli bulldozers, shot in the face by Israeli occupation forces, and bombed while sleeping in their beds in Gaza.
“Where is the Palestinian Gandhi?” Israel’s supporters often ask.
Countless Palestinian Gandhis are in myriad unmarked graves throughout historic Palestine. And Israel continues to desecrate their memories.