Issue No.
175, November 2012 Latest update 9 2014f August 2014, at 4.39 am
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In solidarity with Rachel Corrie, Gaza.

Nine Years of Sumud
By ST McNeil
Good news hasn’t come often to the Corrie family since March 15, 2003, when their daughter Rachel was killed by a militarised bulldozer.

They have pursued justice and accountability ever since, crossing the globe demanding answers from governments and corporations complicit in her death. When the US court system failed them in 2007 in their claims against the company that built the deadly steel behemoth that crushed Rachel, the Corries sued the Israeli government. They asked for one American dollar in compensation, information surrounding her death, and accountability for those responsible.

One out of three might sound bad.
The two-year-long trial in Haifa was a showroom of authoritarian impunity. Israeli state witnesses testified before no jury, behind a wall, and faced no deep questioning after they changed their stories or contradicted themselves and others. A military commander stated that the original military investigation was cut short. Reporters were sometimes barred from the proceedings. Key video evidence was selectively edited to remove footage of Rachel’s death. Judge Oded Gershon often favoured the defence attorneys. Audio recordings revealed Israeli soldiers joking in Arabic about the fallen American non-violent activist.

Yet, during the proceedings more became known of Rachel’s death. New evidence and witnesses’ testimonies disproved the twin justifications used to absolve the military of responsibility. Gaza was not, by Israeli, American, or international reckoning, a “war zone” in 2003 - therefore no activists there should’ve been considered enemy combatants - and the driver himself said he saw Rachel on top of a dirt pile moments before he bulldozed her, counter to previous official statements of accidental death.

Despite these revelations and expositions of lies, Judge Gershon exonerated the state, blamed the victim, and promoted military impunity.

Rachel’s mother Cindy called the verdict “deeply disturbing.” It did not shock her father Craig - it appalled him. International indignation sparked across the globe: former President Jimmy Carter, UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, Amnesty International, Avocats Sans Frontières, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, and Human Rights Watch denounced the acquittal.

However, an indignant world, once again, did not obviously impact the situation. But now the fallacy of the “only democracy in the Middle East” is starkly inane. What other nation kills Americans, repeatedly, with such impunity?

The Corries’ tragedy is the tragedy of countless Palestinian families if not the entire people. To be Palestinian is to lose, lose, and lose - yet remain steadfast. Sumud, resistance, is the key trait of the tribe of the Nakba and Naksa; the Corries embody it. They continue to enact Rachel’s vision despite the injustice and years of disregard of the American and Israeli governments.

This year their foundation hosted the first annual Arab Fest to promote intercultural understanding. They were awarded the Lennon Ono Grant for Peace in October. The family continues to get water to Gaza, grant the Rachel Corrie Memorial Scholarship for college students, support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, and broaden international solidarity across the world.

They are doing exactly what Rachel knew must be done.
“Just hearing about what you are doing makes me feel less alone, less useless, less invisible,” she wrote two weeks before her death. “The international media and our government are not going to tell us that we are effective, important, justified in our work, courageous, intelligent, valuable. We have to do that for each other, and one way we can do that is by continuing our work, visibly.”

With tracks across Africa and the Middle East, multimedia journalist ST McNeil focuses his lens on immigration, deportation, climate change, and other burning social justice issues through freelance reporting and blogging on stmcneil.com.



i. Corrie et al v. Caterpillar, Center for Constitutional Rights, http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/corrie-et-al.-v.-caterpillar.
ii. “The deeply disturbing Israel court ruling on Rachel Corrie,” by Cindy Corrie in The Seattle Times, 
http://seattletimes.com/html/opinion/2019291362_guestcindycorriexml.html.
iii. Craig Corrie interview after the verdict on CNN, 
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2012/08/28/pkg-pleitgen-rachel-corrie-verdict.cnn.
iv. Arab Fest:
http://rachelcorriefoundation.org/peaceworks/arab-fest-2012.

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