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March 19, 2003

         Rachel Corrie will be forgotten soon. She might command another headline or two: her funeral, a soundbite of a tearful parent, a smarmy "Dateline" segment. . .
        But the big headline of this past weekend, "American Woman Peace Activist Killed By Israeli Army," will be eclipsed by tales of kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart's sex life, the bombs that rain down on Iraq, and of course, who's- wearing-what at the Academy Awards.
        Rachel will be forgotten, just as will this headline from two days ago:
        "Nine Palestinians Dead in Israeli Raids."
        Including a four-year-old girl.
        Or this headline from months ago, in The Independent, UK:
        "Israeli bulldozers crush woman, 65, in her house."
        Rachel was twenty-three, a lank blonde kid from Olympia, Washington. She was wearing a bright orange jacket with reflector strips when she stood  in front of an Israeli Army bulldozer, just as she had done many times before. She wanted to stop the machine from leveling a shanty that was home to Palestinian refugees in a sad place called Rafah, in the Gaza Strip.
        Rachel waved her arms and yelled through a bullhorn at the driver of the bulldozer.  When the driver ignored her, she sat down. A witness said that she was scooped up with a bunch of dirt, dropped, run over---and then backed over, for good measure. Her chest and skull were crushed, her legs broken. She lay rumpled, twisted, bloody, eyes big with shock.
       An official Israeli Army statement claimed the driver didn't see Rachel because the cab windows are small. Photos taken minutes before show that the girl was about as hard to spot as sand on a beach.
        Maybe the Israeli Army didn't see the 65-year-old woman in that house they flattened, too. After all, there were walls in the way. And maybe they didn't see that four-year-old girl who got a bullet in the chest, either.
        It's hard to see details when you are busy terrorizing.
        Rachel Corrie died promoting peace. Pure and simple. She died promoting compassion. She died promoting civilization.
        Let the Limbaugh/Savage/O'Reilly crowd snort and rant about what a fool she was, or "well-intentioned, nave kids" who "willfully put themselves in the line of fire," or whatever inconsequential things they are saying. The fact is that this woman---girl, really---laid down her life to stop killing.
        That's unbelievably brave, by any measure.
        Of course, Associated Press reported that Rachel was a "member of the International Solidarity Movement, a Palestinian-backed group that has been protesting Israeli military strikes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip." She was also a member of something called the Olympia Movement for Peace and Justice, which organized such subversive events as "family-friendly"candlelight vigils in her home town, opposing military action in Afghanistan and Iraq.
        This makes it tidy for the Limbaugh/Savage/O'Reilly ilk. She was a "radical," an "anarchist," a nutty young person who didn't know what she was getting into, and injected herself right in the middle of a war. A fanatic. You expect these people to get killed. . .
        Well, no. You expect lunatic Palestinian terrorists to blow themselves up on Israeli buses. You expect Israeli tanks and bulldozers to go into refugee camps and wipe out a family or two.
        You don't expect a 23-year-old college student from the green, leafy, monied Pacific Northwest---due to have graduated this year from Evergreen State College in Olympia---to fly to the deserts of the Middle East and take a stand against madness. A stand that cost her everything.
        For there will be no graduation for Rachel. No marriage for Rachel. No kids, or grandkids. No apple pie and ice cream. No tweeting birds at dawn. No full moons to marvel at.
        She gave it all away.
        Did she know the risks? Well, there was pain and worry in her face, in the portrait photo that A.P. carried. And she seemed keenly aware of her circumstances, judging by a cogent account of the situation in Rafah that she wrote and published on the Internet in February.
        February, the last month of her life. . .
        In that document, "Internationals and Palestinians Demonstrate in Rafah, Gaza," Rachel reported about being one of eleven "internationals" on hand. . . .how Rafah is a city and refugee camp of 140,000, right near the Egyptian border. . .how Israel is busy building a wall ten meters high paralleling the border. . .how over 600 houses have been flattened on the Rafah side of the wall by Israeli Army bulldozers.  . .how there is "ceaseless shelling" from Israeli tanks on the outskirts. . .
        How the Palestinians darkly refer to the shelling and "larger bomb blasts" as "music."
        How Palestinian children rarely have any contact with the outside world, and "they have never seen Israelis except inside of tanks and sniper towers."
        How during the Gulf War, Israeli citizens had gas masks, while Palestinians were left to pathetically stretch nylon over their windows.
        How the United Nations Relief Works Agency says that funds for food and tents for 1.1 million Palestinian refugees will be gone by the end of March. . .
        How a UNRWA request for $94 million in emergency funds from the U.S. has gone unanswered.
        How all the money is going for the Iraq war. . .
        Rachel also interviewed a Palestinian who organized a protest in support of the Iraqi people. Here is his quote, which she printed anonymously:
        "We make protest here for Iraq, but we need to think about ourselves. Things are bad enough here. Nobody here likes Saddam Hussein. We make protest for Iraq because we know what this is like and we do not want this for the people of Iraq. Saddam Hussein is a king. He will not die. He will not be hungry. He will not suffer. We make a protest for Iraq. Because we have experienced this. Who makes protest for us?"
        A girl from from the green, cozy suburbs of the Pacific Northwest did.
        A girl named Rachel Corrie.
        Remember her.





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