Monday, December 28, 2009

Best of Decade part 6

So today's entry isn't really a "best of", "worst of", or "biggest".  Today's entry is just an opportunity to honor the memory of a fallen ally.

In memory: Rachel Corrie

On March 16, 2003, Rachel Corrie lost her life to the blade of an Israeli Bulldozer. (Actually it was an American Bulldozer, made by Caterpillar Inc. based in Peoria, IL.) She was an activist in Palestine, acting in solidarity with the Palestinian people to prevent the demolition of homes in Gaza.  As any activist, she was an idealist.  I would imagine that she was both aware of the fact that she was in danger and simultaneously unclear as to how severe the danger was. I also assume that she felt like she could truly make a difference by utilizing her privilege as an American Citizen to prevent the Israeli Military from destroying the homes and livelihoods of countless Palestinians.

Unfortunately the brutality of war became a reality for Rachel and subsequently her family and friends.  The Israeli government claims that it was not responsible for her death.  They assert that the driver of the bulldozer never saw her and that it was a terrible accident.  Several eye witnesses dispute that claim and state that Rachel climbed on a mound of dirt and rubble to see the driver at eye level, seconds before being run over by the destructive machinery. 

You can read more about her story at her memorial website as well as Wikipedia.

After Rachel's death, Yasser Arafat told her parents "She is your daughter but she is also the daughter of all Palestinians. She is ours too now.” In this regard, I would say that Rachel is the sister of all of us that struggle for justice in the belly of the beast.  In her memory it is our duty to continue to support the struggle of the Palestinian people.  Their struggle is no different than the struggle of Black Americans in the United States, Tibetans in China, and Black Africans in South Africa.  Each of these struggles have benefited from the support of committed allies.

When I think of Rachel I'm always close to tears.  I did not know her, but I know people that knew her.  She seems like she could have been one of my friends, one of the people that I sat in organizing meetings with.  Her death reminded me of what it means to be an ally.  You don't have to die to be an ally but you have to really care and challenge your own privilege.  I believe Rachel embodies those principles and gave up her life for them.  Most of us that work for social justice understand that it could have been any one of us.  This is why we have to remember Rachel.

We will never forget you Rachel, in fact remembering you is the least we can do.

No comments:

Post a Comment