|US family seeks Israeli damages !|
The family of a US student activist killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza has launched a case against the Israeli government.
Rachel Corrie, whose family is seeking $324,000 in damages from the defence ministry, was one of several foreign activists killed in confrontations with Israel in occupied territory in the past decade.
She was nonviolently protesting against Palestinian home demolitions when the army bulldozer crushed her to death.
The proceedings on Wednesday in the Haifa district court in northern Israel, are likely to stoke controversy over Israel's treatment of pro-Palestinian protesters.
The Israeli army says Corrie, 23, a member of the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, was fatally hit by a concrete slab on March 16, 2003, as a bulldozer cleared a hideout for Palestinian fighters in the Gaza area.
The Israeli government failed to conduct a thorough investigation into Corrie's killing and her family, advised by the US state department, then filed a private lawsuit five years ago.
Corrie's family, citing witness accounts, has charged the Israeli driver must have spotted her before moving the blade in her direction.
But Lieutenant-Colonel Avital Leibovich, an Israeli army spokeswoman, told the Reuters news agency in an interview that "the crew inside the bulldozer did not see her nor hear her".
She said tear gas and stun grenades had been fired to warn protesters to flee.
Cindy Corrie, the victim's mother, said in a statement: "As we approach the seven-year anniversary of Rachel's killing, my family and I are still searching for justice."
Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros, reporting from Haifa, said: "In a very interesting twist, just a few days ago, the state of Israel filed a motion that was accepted by the court, which means that they have 30 days after the end of this two-week period to submit witness testimonies and affadavits.
"Its a very unusual motion to have been granted. It means that the plaintiffs will be giving their testimonies without knowing what Israel has up its sleeves.
"The family lawyer said this is just a way to delay the whole procedure."
Israelis have shown little sympathy for Corrie, whose death occurred at the height of a Palestinian uprising in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank in which thousands of Palestinians and hundreds of Israelis were killed.
The case is expected to fuel anger in a nation facing accusations by a UN report that its army and Palestinian fighters committed war crimes during the 2008-9 Israel-Gaza conflict.
Rachel Aliene Corrie (April 10, 1979 – March 16, 2003) was an American member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). She was crushed to death in the Gaza Strip by an Israel Defence Forces (IDF) bulldozer when she was kneeling in front of a local Palestinian's home, thus acting as a human shield, attempting to prevent IDF forces from demolishing the home. The IDF has claimed that the death was due to the restricted angle of view of the D9 bulldozer driver, while members if the ISM said that "there was nothing to obscure the driver's view." A student at the Evergreen State College, she had taken a year off and traveled to the Gaza Strip during the Second Intifada.
Corrie was born on April 10, 1979, and raised in Olympia, Washington, United States. She was the youngest of the three children of Craig Corrie, an insurance executive, and Cindy Corrie, an amateur flautist. Cindy Corrie describes their family as "average Americans — politically liberal, economically conservative, middle class".
After graduating from Capital High School, Corrie went on to attend The Evergreen State College (TESC), also located in Olympia, where she took a number of arts courses. She took one year off from her studies to work as a volunteer in the Washington State Conservation Corps; other volunteer work included making weekly visits to patients with mental disorders for three years. In her senior year, she proposed an independent-study program in which she would travel to Gaza, join protesters from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), and initiate a "sister city" project between Olympia and Rafah. Before leaving, she also organized a pen-pal program between kids in Olympia and Rafah.
Friends described her as "attractive in a plain-spoken way, the opposite of flashy, not working to call attention to herself. She was reserved in large crowds but intimate one-on-one". Colin Reese, Corrie's roommate, said she had wanted to become a writer and artist. Reese also said she was "not the most punctual or tidy person in the world," but that when it came to peace work, she "would work harder and longer than anybody else".
Activities in the West Bank and Gaza
After flying to Israel on January 22, 2003, Corrie underwent a two-day training course at ISM West Bank headquarters, before heading to Rafah to participate in ISM demonstrations. During her training, Corrie studied tactics of direct action. Basic rules about avoiding harm were given, which a featured article on the Corrie incident summarized as: "Wear fluorescent jackets. Don't run. Don't frighten the army. Try to communicate by megaphone. Make your presence known." On January 27, 2003, Corrie and William Hewitt (also from Olympia), traveled to the Erez checkpoint and entered the Gaza Strip.
While in Rafah, Corrie acted as a human shield in an attempt to impede house demolitions carried out by the IDF using armored bulldozers. On Corrie's first night there, she and two other ISM members set up camp inside Block J, often a target for Israeli gunfire. Israeli troops fired bullets over their tent and at the ground a few feet away. Deciding that their presence was provoking the Israeli soldiers, not deterring them, Corrie and her colleagues hurriedly dismantled their tent and left the area.
Qishta, a Palestinian who worked as an interpreter, noted that: "Late January and February was a very crazy time. There were house demolitions taking place all over the border strip and the activists had no time to do anything else." Qishta also stated of the ISM activists: "They were not only brave; they were crazy." The confrontations were not without harm to the activists; a British participant was wounded by shrapnel.
Palestinian militants expressed concern that the "internationals" staying in tents between the Israeli watchtowers and the residential neighborhoods would get caught in crossfire, while other residents were concerned that the young activists might be spies. Corrie worked hard to overcome this suspicion, learning a few words of Arabic, participating in a mock trial denouncing the "crimes of the Bush Administration." The letter caused the activists to be preoccupied and frustrated, and on the morning of Corrie's death they planned ways to counteract its effects. According to one activist, "We all had a feeling that our role was too passive. We talked about how to engage the Israeli military." With time, the ISM members were taken into Palestinian family homes, and provided with meals and beds. Even so, in the days before Corrie's death, a letter gained wide circulation in Rafah, casting suspicion again on the ISM members. "Who are they? Why are they here? Who asked them to come here?" it asked.
On March 14, 2003, during an interview with the Middle East Broadcasting network, Corrie said:
"I feel like I'm witnessing the systematic destruction of a people's ability to survive ... Sometimes I sit down to dinner with people and I realize there is a massive military machine surrounding us, trying to kill the people I'm having dinner with."
Water well human shielding efforts
According to a January 2003 article by Gordon Murray, in the last month of her life Rachel "spent a lot of time at the Canada Well helping protect Rafah municipalCIDA funding, Canada Well, together with El Iskan Well, had supplied more than 50% of Rafah's water before being damaged, and the city had been under "strict rationing (only a few hours of running water on alternate days)" since. Murray writes that ISM activists were maintaining a presence there since "Israeli snipers and tanks routinely shot at civilian workers trying to repair the wells." In one of her reports, Corrie relates that despite having received permission from Israeli District Command Office, and carrying "banners and megaphones the activists and workers were fired upon several times over a period of about one hour. One of the bullets came within two metres of three internationals and a municipal water worker close enough to spray bits of debris in their faces as it landed at their feet." workers," who were trying to repair damages to the well incurred by Israeli bulldozers. Built in 1999 with According to Murray, the Canadian government refused to "officially protest or denounce the Israeli army actions", yet "quietly agreed to help fund the estimated $450,000 repair costs".
US flag burning at protest for 2003 invasion of Iraq controversy
While in Gaza, Rachel took part in a demonstration as part of the February 15, 2003 anti-war protest against the invasion of Iraq, where she was photographed burning a mock US flag. Robert Spencer criticized Corrie for having burned the flag in front of children, writing that she was “fostering... hatred” of the United States.
After her death, International Solidarity Movement ("ISM") and Corrie's parents wrote about the circulated picture of the incident:
"Trying to use this picture to somehow indicate that Rachel deserved to be run over by a bulldozer is an appalling act of demonization that infers that forms of protest which include flag burning are capital offences. In the words of Rachel's parents: 'The act, while we may disagree with it, must be put into context. Rachel was partaking in a demonstration in Gaza opposing the War on Iraq. She was working with children who drew two pictures, one of the American flag, and one of the Israeli flag, for burning. Rachel said that she could not bring herself to burn the picture of the Israeli flag with the Star of David on it, but under such circumstances, in protest over a drive towards war and her government's foreign policy that was responsible for much of the devastation that she was witness to in Gaza, she felt it OK to burn the picture of her own flag. We have seen photographs of memorials held in Gaza after Rachel's death in which Palestinian children and adults honor our daughter by carrying a mock coffin draped with the American flag. We have been told that our flag has never been treated so respectfully in Gaza in recent years. We believe Rachel brought a different face of the United States to the Palestinian people, a face of compassion. It is this image of Rachel with the American flag that we hope will be remembered most.'"
Corrie's e-mails from Gaza to her mother
Rachel Corrie sent a series of e-mails to her mother while she was in Gaza, of which four were later published by The Guardian (on page 2, comments and features section, March 18, 2003) and in January 2008 in a memorial book entitled Let Me Stand Alone by W. W. Norton & Company, along with her other collected writings. Yale Professor David Bromwich stated, Rachel left "letters of great interest" and she had studied methods of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King with care. Corrie wrote to her mother, "The vast majority of Palestinians right now, as far as I can tell, are engaged in Gandhian nonviolent resistance." Her letters later formed the basis of the theatre play My Name is Rachel Corrie, and some parts of the letters were also used in the cantata The Skies are Weeping.
Corrie's death and subsequent controversy
On March 16, 2003, an IDF operation in the land between the Rafah refugee camp and the border with Egypt was engaged in house demolition, which the IDF says is necessary to destroy guerrilla hideouts and smuggling tunnels. Corrie was part of a group of seven ISM activists (three British and four US) attempting to disrupt the actions of Israeli bulldozers. Corrie, who had positioned herself in the path of a Caterpillar D9R armored bulldozer, was fatally injured. She was transported to a Palestinian hospital. Accounts vary as to whether she died at the scene, in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, or at the hospital.
The events surrounding Corrie's death are disputed. ISM eyewitnesses assert that the Israeli soldier driving the bulldozer deliberately ran Corrie over while she was acting as a human shield to prevent the demolition of the home of local pharmacist Samir Nasrallah. The ISM said she was interposed between the bulldozer and a wall near Nasrallah's home, in which ISM activists had several times spent the night. The Israeli Government and the IDF denied that version of events and described Corrie's death as an accident. The official Israeli response stated that Corrie was killed by debris pushed over by the bulldozer, that the driver did not see her, and that the bulldozer was clearing brush and not engaged in a demolition when Corrie blocked its path. This was the conclusion reached in June 2003 by a military investigation by the Israel Defense Forces Judge Advocate’s Office. “The driver at no point saw or heard Corrie,” an army source told the Jerusalem Post. “She was standing behind debris which obstructed the view of the driver and the driver had a very limited field of vision due to the protective cage he was working in.” Other reports say the Israeli government alleged that the house being demolished contained a tunnel used for smuggling weapons from Egypt.
The major points of dispute are whether the bulldozer driver saw Corrie, and whether her injuries were caused by being crushed under the blade or by the mound of debris the bulldozer was pushing. An IDF spokesman has acknowledged that Israeli army regulations normally require that the drivers of the armored personnel carriersCaterpillar D9 bulldozers have a restricted field of vision with several blind spots. However, the Israeli army commander of the Gaza Strip said in an interview broadcast on Israeli television that on the day of Corrie's death, soldiers had to stay in their armored vehicles and were not able to direct the bulldozer or arrest the protesters, because of the threat of Palestinian sniper fire. He also said that Israeli soldiers may have been handling other ISM activists instead of watching over the bulldozer. In a statement issued the day after Corrie's death, the ISM said that, "When the bulldozer refused to stop or turn aside she climbed up onto the mound of dirt and rubble being gathered in front of it... to look directly at the driver who kept on advancing." (APCs) that accompany bulldozers are responsible for directing the drivers towards their targets, because the
The IDF produced a video about Corrie's death that includes footage taken from inside the cockpit of a D9. It makes a "credible case", Joshua Hammer wrote of this video in Mother Jones, that "the operators, peering out through narrow, double-glazed, bulletproof windows, their view obscured behind pistons and the giant scooper, might not have seen Corrie kneeling in front of them."
ISM and other eyewitness accounts
Joe Carr, an American ISM activist who used the assumed name of Joseph Smith during his time in Gaza, gave the following account in an affidavit recorded and published by the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR):
Still wearing her fluorescent jacket, she knelt down at least 15 meters in front of the bulldozer, and began waving her arms and shouting, just as activists had successfully done dozens of times that day... When it got so close that it was moving the earth beneath her, she climbed onto the pile of rubble being pushed by the bulldozer... Her head and upper torso were above the bulldozer’s blade, and the bulldozer driver and co-operator could clearly see her. Despite this, the driver continued forward, which caused her to fall back, out of view of the diver. [sic] He continued forward, and she tried to scoot back, but was quickly pulled underneath the bulldozer. We ran towards him, and waved our arms and shouted; one activist with the megaphone. But the bulldozer driver continued forward, until Rachel was all the way underneath the central section of the bulldozer.
On March 18, 2003, only two days after Corrie's death, Joe (Smith) Carr was interviewed by British Channel 4 and The Observer reporter Sandra Jordan for a documentary that was aired June 2003 on Channel 4 titled The Killing Zone.
"It was either a really gross mistake or a really brutal murder"
According to the Seattle Times, "Smith, who witnessed Sunday's incident, said it began when Corrie sat down in front of the bulldozer. He said the driver scooped her up with a pile of earth, dumped her on the ground and ran over her twice."
Smith also observed:
"We were horribly surprised. They had been careful not to hurt us. They'd always stopped before."
British ISM activist Tom Dale, who was standing yards away from Corrie, told journalist Joshua Hammer, Jerusalem bureau chief for Newsweek:
The bulldozer built up earth in front of it... She tried to climb on top of the earth, to avoid being overwhelmed. She climbed to the point where her shoulders were above the top lip of the blade. She was standing on this pile of earth. As the bulldozer continued, she lost her footing, and she turned and fell down this pile of earth. Then it seemed like she got her foot caught under the blade. She was helpless, pushed prostrate, and looked absolutely panicked, with her arms out, and the earth was piling itself over her. The bulldozer continued so that the place where she fell down was directly beneath the cockpit... The whole [incident] took place in about six or seven seconds.
An individual giving the name Richard, who stated that he witnessed Corrie's death, as recorded by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz:
There's no way he didn't see her, since she was practically looking into the cabin. At one stage, he turned around toward the building. The bulldozer kept moving, and she slipped and fell off the plow. But the bulldozer kept moving, the shovel above her. I guess it was about 10 or 15 meters that it dragged her and for some reason didn't stop. We shouted like crazy to the driver through loudspeakers that he should stop, but he just kept going and didn't lift the shovel. Then it stopped and backed up. We ran to Rachel. She was still breathing.
British ISM activist Richard Purssell gave the following account, in an affidavit made in a manner similar to Carr's:
As the bulldozer reached the place where Rachel was standing, she began as many of us did on the day to climb the pile of earth. She reached the top and at this point she must have been clearly visible to the driver, especially as she was still wearing the high visibility jacket ["orange fluorescent... with reflective strips"]. She turned and faced in my direction and began to come back down the pile. The bulldozer continued to move forward at [5-6 mph]. As her feet hit the ground I saw a panicked expression on her face... The pile of earth engulfed her and she was hidden from my view.
Some eyewitness accounts indicate that when Corrie slipped and fell, the driver may have been looking behind him.
The bulldozer driver, a Russian immigrant to Israel, was interviewed on Israeli TV and insisted he had no idea she was in front of him:
You can't hear, you can't see well. You can go over something and you'll never know. I scooped up some earth, I couldn't see anything. I pushed the earth, and I didn't see her at all. Maybe she was hiding in there.
Autopsy and investigation
Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon, promised President Bush a "thorough, credible, and transparent investigation." Later, Capt. Jacob Dallal, a spokesman for the Israeli army, called Corrie's death a "regrettable accident" and said that she and the other ISM activists were "a group of protesters who were acting very irresponsibly, putting everyone in danger — the Palestinians, themselves and our forces — by intentionally placing themselves in a combat zone."
An autopsy was conducted on March 24 at the Israel's National Center of Forensic Medicine in Tel Aviv. The final report was not released publicly, but in their report on the matter Human Rights Watch asserts a copy was provided to them by Craig Corrie, with a translation supplied by the U.S. Department of State. In the report they quote Professor Yehuda Hiss, who performed the autopsy, as concluding that "her death was caused by pressure on the chest (mechanical asphyxiation) with fractures of the ribs and vertebrae of the dorsal spinal column and scapulas, and tear wounds in the right lung with hemorrhaging of the pleural cavities."
According to a correspondent for Gannett News Service, the IDF document, "The Death of Rachel Corrie" made no mention of the pathologist's conclusion, though, according to Corrie's parents, the entire document has not been released.
On June 26, 2003, the Jerusalem Post quoted an Israeli military spokesman as saying that Corrie had not been run over and that the driver had not seen her:
"The driver at no point saw or heard Corrie. She was standing behind debris which obstructed the view of the driver and the driver had a very limited field of vision due to the protective cage he was working in... The driver and his commanders were interrogated extensively over a long period of time with the use of polygraph tests and video evidence. They had no knowledge that she was standing in the path of the tractor. An autopsy of Corrie's body revealed that the cause of death was from falling debris and not from the tractor physically rolling over her. It was a tragic accident that never should have happened."
"The International Solidarity Movement, to which Corrie belonged, was directly responsible for illegal behavior and conduct in the area of Corrie's death and their actions directly led to this tragedy."
The Israeli army's report [seen by the The Guardian], claimed:
The army was searching for explosives in the border zone when Corrie was "struck as she stood behind a mound of earth that was created by an engineering vehicle operating in the area and she was hidden from the view of the vehicle's operator who continued with his work. Corrie was struck by dirt and a slab of concrete resulting in her death ... The finding of the operational investigations shows that Rachel Corrie was not run over by an engineering vehicle but rather was struck by a hard object, most probably a slab of concrete which was moved or slid down while the mound of earth which she was standing behind was moved," (The Guardian, April 14, 2003).
Howard Blume told that IDF claimed:
"[a bulldozer with 2 crews] was engaged in "routine terrain leveling and debris clearing," not building demolition. Quoting from the IDF report, Corrie died "as a result of injuries sustained when earth and debris accidentally fell on her ... Ms. Corrie was not run over by the bulldozer", he added, IDF also claimed she was possibly "in a blindspot for the bulldozer operators and "behind an earth mound," so they did not see that she was in harm's way."
In later IDF operations, the house was damaged (a hole was knocked in a wall) and was later destroyed. By that time, the Nasrallah family had moved into a different house. It was reported in 2006 that the house that Corrie was trying to protect was rebuilt with funds raised by The Rebuilding Alliance.
A spokesman for the IDF told the Guardian that, while it did not accept responsibility for Corrie's death, it intended to change its operational procedures to avoid similar incidents in the future. The level of command of similar operations would be raised, said the spokesman, and civilians in the area would be dispersed or arrested before operations began. Observers will be deployed and CCTV cameras will be installed on the bulldozers to compensate for blind spots, which may have contributed to Corrie's death.
The IDF gave copies of the report, entitled "The Death of Rachel Corrie," to members of the U.S. Congress in April 2003, and Corrie's family released the document to the media in June 2003, according to the Gannett News Service. In March 2004 the family said that the entire report had not been released, and that only they and two American staffers at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv had been allowed to view it. The family said they were allowed to look at the report in the Consulate General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest in San Francisco. The ISM rejected the Israeli report, stating that it contradicted their members' eyewitness reports and that the investigation had been far from credible and transparent.
Reactions and subsequent events
Corrie's death sparked controversy and led to international media coverage, in part because she was an American, and in part because of the highly politicized nature of the conflict itself.
U.S. Representative Brian Baird introduced House Concurrent Resolution 111 in the U.S. Congress on March 25, 2003, calling on the U.S. government to "undertake a full, fair, and expeditious investigation" into Corrie's death. The House of Representatives took no action on the resolution. The Corrie family joined Representative Baird in calling for a U.S. investigation. Baird, though reelected in 2004, 2006, and 2008, has not reintroduced the resolution in the Congress.
Yasser Arafat offered his condolences and gave the blessings of the Palestinian people to Corrie. Arafat promised to name a street in Gaza after Corrie; according to Hammer this however was not done. According to Cindy Corrie Arafat told Craig Corrie, "She is your daughter but she is also the daughter of all Palestinians. She is ours too now.” on the phone.
In March 21, 2003, Green Party of the USA, called an investigation for "murder of American Peace Activist Rachel Corrie by Israeli Forces".
Former New Democratic Party Member of the Parliament of Canada Svend RobinsonNobel Peace Prize, praising Brian Avery, Tom Hurndall and Rachel Corrie for their attempts. nominated ISM for 2004
Human rights organisations' reactions
Amnesty International USA called for an independent inquiry, with Christine Bustany, their advocacy director for the Middle East, saying that "U.S.-made bulldozers have been 'weaponized' and their transfer to Israel must be suspended."
In 2005, Human Rights Watch published a report titled Promoting Impunity: The Israeli Military's Failure to Investigate Wrongdoing, raising several issues related to the impartiality and professionalism with which the Military Police investigation was conducted. Among them were what Human Rights Watch described as the investigators' lack of preparation; "hostile," "inappropriate," "mostly accusatory" questions they asked witnesses; omitting to get witnesses to draw maps or identify locations on a map of how it occurred; and their asserted uninterest in reconciling soldiers' testimonies with those of other eyewitnesses. The report was not limited in scope to Corrie's death; it described a number of similar instances in which one-line summary findings were reported to the media after closed investigations in which neither non-military witnesses nor victims or their families were involved.
In the news
There were reports that because she was an American, her death attracted the kind of attention that the deaths of Palestinians fail to garner. The Observer wrote that: "On the night of Corrie's death, nine Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip, among them a four-year-old girl and a man aged 90. A total of 220 people have died in Rafah since the beginning of the intifada. Palestinians know the death of one American receives more attention than the killing of hundreds of Muslims."
A Hamas activist told the newspaper: "[Corrie's] death serves me more than it served her. Going in front of the tanks was heroic. Her death will bring more attention than the other 2,000 martyrs."
Corrie's photograph has been carried during protests against Israel's actions in Gaza and the West Bank. On July 15, 2003, the Chicago Tribune reported that: "To the people of Rafah, Rachel Corrie will always remain a very special martyr, their American martyr."
In 2006, Haaretz political columnist Bradley Burston, asserted Corrie's death was accidental, yet "incidental killing is no less tragic than intentional killing", he criticized both the pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli sides for excessive rhetoric, noting that:
"Of all of the tragedies and casualties of the intifada, in which more than 4,000 people were killed over five years, the case of Rachel Corrie still stands apart, the subject of intense world interest and fierce debate. ... Part of it starts with us. "They had no business being there" is no excuse for what the Pentagon long ago christened collateral damage. We've learned much. But we're still not there. We should have saved Rachel Corrie's life that day, either by sending out a spotter or delaying the bulldozer's work. Right now, somewhere in the West Bank, there's an eight-year-old whose life could be saved next week, if we've managed to learn the lesson and are resourceful enough to know how to apply it."
Criticism of Corrie's actions
According to The Boston Globe, "Corrie... has been praised as a heroic martyr and denounced as a misguided, ill-informed naïf." In a review of Simone Bitton's documentary Rachel, Salon noted that Corrie was subjected to "shocking verbal abuse" on right-wing bulletin boards and Web sites, including "grotesque sexual fantasies and elaborate conspiracy theories".
Journalist and Middle East commentator Tom Gross has referred to "the cult of Rachel Corrie." In an article called "The Forgotten Rachels" republished on his website, Gross refers to six other women called Rachel, Jewish victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict whose deaths, he wrote, received little, if any, coverage outside Israel. Gross went on to argue that "Partly thanks to the efforts of Corrie and her fellow activists, the flow of explosives from Egypt into Gaza continued – and were later used to kill children in southern Israel." The article prompted a National Review editorial arguing that "Corrie’s death was unfortunate, but more unfortunate is a Western media and cultural establishment that lionizes 'martyrs' for illiberal causes while ignoring the victims those causes create."
In March 2003, the University of Maryland, College Park's campus newspaper The Diamondback published an editorial cartoon by Daniel J. Friedman, depicting Rachel Corrie sitting in front of an approaching bulldozer, with two definitions of the word "stupidity" from the American Heritage Dictionary, along with an additional self-created third line "sitting in front of a bulldozer to protect a gang of terrorists," resulting in student sit-ins and protests at the University of Maryland the Wednesday after the cartoon appeared. The group Palestine Media Watch published the e-mail addresses and phone number of Diamondback editors, urging readers to contact the newspaper to secure an apology, and thousands of e-mails and hundreds of phone calls were received by the paper in protest. Describing the cartoon as "indecent and anti-American," over 60 student protesters staged a sit-in at the newspaper's offices (with 10 staying overnight), demanding that the paper apologize and "publish an article honoring Corrie's life". The newspaper refused to apologize, "though many staff members [including Jay Parson] objected to the cartoon's viewpoint" while "the newspaper had received thousands of e-mails and hundreds of telephone calls protesting the cartoon", citing the First Amendment. While Friedman did not return the telephone call and e-mail by The Associated Press, editor-in-chief Jay Parsons commented, "The decision was about freedom of speech, and that made the decision easy."
Activities of Corrie's parents
Since their daughter's death, Corrie's parents, Cindy and Craig, have spent time trying to "promote peace and raise awareness about the plight of Palestinians," and continue what they believe to be her work. The Corries have worked to set up foundations, launch projects in memory of their daughter, and advance investigation into the incident, approaching the US Congress and the courts for redress.
Corries' parents have several times visited the region since their daughter's death, and have twice visited Gaza. Following their daughter's death, they visited Gaza and Israel, seeing the place where Rachel died, and meeting ISM members and Palestinians who she had known. They also visited Ramallah in the West Bank, where Arafat met them and presented them with a plaque in memory of their daughter. On March 28, 2008 they addressed a demonstration in Ramallah at which Craig Corrie said: "This village has become a symbol of nonviolent resistance. I call for solidarity with the people of Palestine in resisting the conditions imposed by the Israeli occupation to prevent the establishment of their state."
The Nasrallahs, the Palestinian family whose home Rachel believed she was preventing from destruction, joined the Corries on a cross-country tour in the United States in June 2005. The aim of the trip was to raise funds to rebuild the Nasrallah home, and other homes destroyed in Rafah with the cooperation of the Rebuilding Alliance. The 22-city, 7 state tour made stops in Iowa and California among other locations.
Corrie's family and several Palestinians filed a lawsuit against Caterpillar Inc. alleging liability under various Federal statutes over the death of Corrie in connection with the bulldozers, alleging Caterpillar supplied them to the Israelis despite having notice they would be used to further "a policy plaintiffs contend violates international law." The case was dismissed by a Federal judge in November 2005 for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, citing, among other things, the political question doctrine. The judge found, alternatively, that the plaintiffs' claims failed on the merits.
The ruling was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On September 17, 2007, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal on political question grounds, and did not reach the merits of the suit. The Court found that as the bulldozers were paid for by the U.S. Government as part of its aid to Israel, that the Judicial Branch could not rule on the merits of the case without ruling on whether or not the government's financing of such bulldozers was appropriate, a matter it felt was not entrusted to the Judicial Branch.
A lawsuit was also filed against the Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli Defense Ministry. In February 2010, after pressure from the USA, Israel gave entry visas to four ISM witnesses so that they could testify. However it refused entry permission to the Palestinian physician from Gaza who had examined Corrie's wounds on the scene, and also rejected an application for him to testify by video link. The case will begin in Haifa on March 10, 2010.
Kidnapping attempt controversy
During a visit in January 2006, two Palestinians, one armed, entered the home of Samir Nasrallah, the Palestinian pharmacist whose former home Rachel Corrie had been trying to protect when she was killed. Corrie's parents were staying overnight there, and it was reported that the gunmen had tried to kidnap them, but had abandoned their plans when told who his guests were.Kate Burton and her parents. According to Nasrallah, the gunmen were seeking Americans as bargaining chips to secure the release of Alaa al-Hams, a Palestinian militia leader arrested by Palestine intelligence on suspicion of ordering the abduction of British human-rights activist
The ISM issued a statement asserting that the actual targets whose home the gunmen came to were three Americans staying nearby, and that the Corries helped talk the men out of their plan. By the ISM's account, "the Corries were never threatened with kidnapping, nor did gunmen burst into the house where the Corries were staying."Jerusalem Post reported Craig Corrie as saying: "There was never a threat made against us and the gun was never pointed at anyone." According to the Post, Craig Corrie said that when he entered the room and saw the man with the gun, he feared it might be a kidnapping attempt, but that the situation was never described to him that way by his host. Corrie added that the media accounts over-dramatized the incident. The
Immediately after her death, posters and graffiti praising Corrie were posted in Rafah, with one graffiti tag reading, "Rachel was an American citizen with Palestinian blood." To most Palestinians, everyone killed by the Israeli army is considered a shaheed (martyr), and hundreds of local residents came to express their condolences. The day after Corrie died, about thirty American and European ISM activists with 300 Palestinians began protests during the public memorial service over the spot where she was fatally injured in Rafah, Jordan states that IDF sent a representative to the memorial as the service "got under way". However, Murray asserts that the same bulldozer that killed Corrie, identified by its army serial number 949623, suddenly appeared at the memorial. According to Jordan, "A bizarre game of cat-and-mouse began as the peace activists chased the tank around", with protesters covering the tank with posters of Corrie and throwing flowers on it. In response, it is alleged that "Israeli soldiers inside threatened, in return, to run them down", a tank sprayed the mourners with tear gas and later armoured personnel carriers [APC] fired guns along with percussion bombs. Murray further claimed IDF fired "concussion grenades, tear gas, warning shots" over the protesters while they were choking on diesel smoke. The escalating danger caused the memorial service to be halted.
In 2008, Corrie's parents commemorated the fifth anniversary of her death at an event held in the West Bank town of Nablus. About 150 Palestinians and foreigners joined them to dedicate a memorial to Corrie on one of the city's streets.
More than 30 songs were written about and dedicated to Rachel Corrie since 2003 by various musicians including Patti Smith, Alice Shields, Mike Stout, Billy Bragg, Philip Munger, David Rovics, Christy Moore, Jim Page, Dawud Wharnsby, Elizabeth HummelPaul LaBrecque, Ben Ellis with Lawrence WilliamsKlimt 1918, Ten Foot Pole, The Can Kickers, Project Qua Project and Casa del Vento, internationally. with Carl Dexter, Valerie Webb with and music groups including
In 2004, Alaskan composer Philip Munger wrote a cantata about Corrie called The Skies are Weeping, which was scheduled to premiere on April 27 at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where Munger teaches. Many objected to the upcoming performance, including members of the Jewish community, and a forum was held, co-chaired by Munger and a local rabbi, who described the work as bordering on anti-Semitic and said it "romanticized terrorism." Munger later related that he had received threatening e-mails "[just] short of what you'd take to the troopers", and that some of his students had received similar communications. After the forum "disintegrate[d]", Munger announced, "I cannot subject 16 students... to any possibility of physical harm or to the type of character assassination some of us are already undergoing. Performance of The Skies are Weeping at this time and place is withdrawn for the safety of the student performers.” The cantata was eventually performed at the Hackney Empire theatre in London, premiering on November 1, 2005.
In early 2005, My Name is Rachel Corrie, a play composed from Corrie's journals and e-mails from Gaza and directed by British actor Alan Rickman, was presented in London and later revived in October 2005. The play was to be transported to the New York Theatre Workshop, but when it was postponed indefinitely, the English producers denounced the decision as "censorship" and withdrew the show. It finally opened Off-Broadway on October 15, 2006, for an initial run of 48 performances. The play has also been published as a paperback, and performed in ten countries worldwide, including Israel.
In 2006, Australian playwright Ben Ellis wrote Blindingly Obvious Facts, a 10-minute fugue composed of "ugly" verbatim excerpts from right-wing blogs discussing Corrie's death. It was performed as part of the 2007 Melbourne season of the Short and Sweet short play competition. In early 2008, Sydney composer Lawrence Williams mixed a recorded version of Ellis' play for the play's Sydney Short and Sweet production.
In 2003, British Channel 4 and The Observer reporter Sandra Jordan and producer Rodrigo Vasquez, made a documentary that was aired June 2003 on Channel 4 titled The Killing Zone, about ongoing violence in the Gaza Strip. Jordan said: "There has been a lot of interest in Britain and around the world about what happened to Rachel, I find it highly disappointing that no serious American investigative journalist has taken Rachel's story seriously or questioned or challenged the Israeli Army version of events."
In 2005, the BBC produced a 60 minute documentary entitled When Killing is Easy aka Shooting the Messenger, Why are foreigners suddenly under fire in Israel?, described as "a meticulous examination of" the shooting to death of James Miller, who was "a British cameraman with considerable experience of filming in war zones", by Israeli soldiers in May 2003; the shooting of British photography student Tom Hurndall as "he tried to rescue a terrified Palestinian child from a hail of Israeli bullets" in April 2003 and the death of "American peace activist" Rachel Corrie after "she was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer" in March 2003, while trying to find an answer to the question: "Were the attacks random acts of violence, or do they represent a culture of killing with impunity which is sanctioned by the higher echelons of the Israeli army?"
In 2005 Yahya Barakat, who lectures on TV production, cinematography, and filmmaking at al-Quds University, filmed a documentary in Arabic with English subtitles, named Rachel Corrie - An American Conscience.
In 2009, a documentary film titled Rachel is produced by Morocco born, French-Israeli director Simone Bitton detailing the death of Rachel Corrie from "an Israeli point of view". Its first North American public screening was at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.
MV Rachel Corrie
On 30 March 2010, a 1800-tonne vessel was bought at auction in Dundalk, Ireland for €70,000 by the Free Gaza Movement. It was outfitted for use in a voyage to Gaza, named in honour of Rachel Corrie and launched 12 May 2010. It sailed to join a flotilla intended to directly confront Israel’s blockade of Gaza and take in basic supplies. The flotilla was intercepted (see Gaza flotilla raid) however the MV Rachel Corrie had not reached the other ships and continues "...ploughing ahead with its attempt to deliver aid to Gaza..."
- Let Me Stand Alone collected writings and memoirs of Rachel Corrie published in January 2008 by W.W. Norton & Company
- My Name is Rachel Corrie, a theatre play drawn from Rachel Corrie's writings and edited by British actor Alan Rickman and Guardian editor Katharine Viner, published by W.W. Norton & Company
- Peace under fire Israel/Palestine and the International Solidarity Movement, by Josie Sandercock, Nicholas Blincoe, Radhika Sainath, Marissa McLaughlin, Hussein Khalili, Huwaida Arraf and Ghassan Andoni, Foreword Edward W. Said, by Verso Books, 2004, , 9781844675012, 297 pages
- Human shield
- ISM casualties in Palestine and Israel
- Iain Hook - British UNRWA project manager shot and killed by IDF in Jenin, November 22, 2002.
- James Miller - British film-maker shot and killed by the IDF in Gaza, May 2, 2003.