USC Students for Justice in Palestine

history, analysis, news, and event updates on the struggle for justice in palestine

Rachel Corrie’s Voice

Posted by uscsjp on March 18, 2007

Bessy Reyna, The Electronic Intifada, 16 March 2007

Rachel Corrie was a 23-year-old peace activist killed by a bulldozer driven by an Israeli army soldier. The time, day and place of her death are known, but, the question of whether she was murdered or whether her death was an accident continues to be as controversial today as it was when it happened March 16, 2003. With her death Corrie became an international symbol in the struggle against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. Today, the anniversary of her death, she is being remembered with vigils and readings of her writings in many cities.

Corrie, a member of the International Solidarity Movement, a pro-Palestinian group, had gone to Rafah in Gaza to help defend the houses of Palestinian refugees that were being demolished by the Israeli army. As a student at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, Corrie had participated in anti-war and environmental movements on campus. She was young and idealistic. She thought she could make a difference.

rachel-corrie.jpg


Four members of the International Solidarity Movement, from England and the United States, who were with Corrie at the time of her death, said she stood in front of the Caterpillar bulldozer, waving to the driver to try to get him to stop. They testified that the driver and soldiers in a nearby Israeli tank knew of her presence. Corrie was crushed when the bulldozer went over her body twice. She died at a hospital of her injuries.

While in Rafah, Corrie wrote frequent e-mails to her family describing the living conditions in Palestine. After her death, British actor Alan Rickman and writer Katherine Viner used her letters and journals to create the play “My Name Is Rachel Corrie.” It premiered in London and had a sold-out run for more than a year. Then, it was scheduled to open at the New York Theater Workshop. Six weeks before the opening, however, it was postponed indefinitely.

This sudden postponement of the play ignited a rallying cry against artistic censorship. On March 22, 2006, a letter signed by many Jewish writers including Nobel-prize winner Harold Pinter was published in The New York Times expressing their dismay at the cancellation. They asked “So what is it about Rachel Corrie’s writings, her thoughts, her feelings, her confusions, her idealism, her courage, her search for meaning in life — what is it that New York audiences must be protected from?”

In the end, the theater made meek attempts to defend its decision. It cited Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s coma, the controversial circumstances of Corrie’s death and the recent election of militant Hamas party representatives to the Palestinian Legislative Council. Months later, the play finally found a stage at the Minetta Lane Theater in New York and Corrie’s voice could once again be heard.

In an e-mail to her mother dated Feb. 27, 2003, Corrie wrote about the daily struggles of Palestinians who lost their lands, and of the Israeli-built wall which forced them to drive for 12 hours to get from one city to another when that same trip used to take only 40 minutes. (continued)

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2 Responses to “Rachel Corrie’s Voice”

  1. Ann said

    Being from the Seattle area I celebrate the fact that she was killed in the Middle East instead of coming back to America and becoming a suicide bomber as she probably would have

    Many lives were saved that day. Perhaps those of my friends and family.

    Thank you Israel for dealing with this piece of human trash. We owe you one.

  2. […] Says: March 21st, 2007 at 11:07 am eBeing from the Seattle area I celebrate the fact that she was killed in the Middle East instead of […]

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