Rachel Corrie Was Killed Twice
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Bad guys seldom have names or addresses. More often than not they hide behind some kind of formal organization. In March 2003, Rachel Corrie, an American citizen aged twenty-three, was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to defend a Palestinian house in Gaza from destruction. For the fifty days prior to her death, she was in the Middle East as a member of the International Solidarity Movement and served as a human shield against Israeli aggression. In a related matter, the Israeli courts ruled against the use of Palestinians as human shields by the Israeli army; such an action by any military standards is an act of cowardice.
In March 2003, the glorious Israeli army was bulldozing houses to create a wide, clear space between Egypt and Gaza, so that any movements across the border would be visible. On the 16th, a bulldozer was advancing toward a pharmacy, when Rachel, wearing a bright orange vest, bravely tried to stop it. The bulldozer driver didn't stop. Despite the fact that the crime was committed by one bulldozer with one driver, the official investigation by the Israeli army concluded that no one was accountable. As a former officer of the Israeli army, I refuse to accept that his immediate superiors did not know the identity of the driver, no vehicle can be moved in the IDF without filling a special form with the driver and passengers' names. An officer must sign it and leave a copy at the base from where the vehicle was taken. Hence, the official stand of the army can only be seen as supportive of the soldier's crime. Maybe he was ordered by his commanding officer to crush Rachel's bones.
That was Rachel's first death. Later, a play was published in Britain, but finding it in the USA is hard even today. The play is called "My Name Is Rachel Corrie" and was written based on her emails and journals. The play had two successful runs last year in London after which a New York theater company bought the rights, only to postpone its American premiere indefinitely, blaming Jewish sensitivities. As an Israeli citizen I would like to see the same Jewish sensitivities used in the defense of innocents like Rachel. The English producers declared the decision an act of censorship. A House bill calling for a US investigation of her killing by the Israelis died in committee with no attention from the media. Does the American Constitution allow sensitivities to delimit Freedom of Speech? I read it thrice and found none. Isn't buying the rights in order to bury the play a way of imposing legalized censorship? That was Rachel's second death, in her own home, at the hands of people who could not bear an unpleasant truth about Israel.
More than twenty years ago, Aisha Adnan Al-Bahsh was shot dead by an Israeli soldier rampaging through her hometown, Nablus in the West Bank. She was eight years old. The story was in the newspapers for a while and then we forgot about it. Her murderer - Mr. Yosef harnoi from Eilon More - is walking free in Israel, under the protection of the Israeli government and law after being just a few months in jail.
Maybe - just maybe - if we hadn't forgotten Aisha, if we had decided to do something, for example to shout loudly until the criminal faced justice, we could have saved Rachel and others. Maybe then, we wouldn't be facing the ugly face of censorship in America. The lives of others can still be saved.
Forgetting these kind of atrocities because they are undersigned by the Israeli government, because we feel we have nothing to do with them, is an error that allows criminals to indefinitely pursue their murderous path. They have shown more than once that they do not stop at the red lights.
Since this article was published for the first time, the play was allowed. Yet, Rachel's assassin still walks free under the protection of the Israeli government.
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