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March 16: The Death of Rachel Corrie

Lawrence Bush
March 16, 2010

rachel_corrieRachel Corrie died on this day in 2003 when she was crushed by demolition debris pushed onto her by an Israeli military bulldozer that she believed was sent to destroy a Palestinian home in Rafah on the Gaza Strip. Corrie, 23 (not Jewish), was an American active with the Palestinian-led International Solidarity Movement and had been serving as a non-violent “human shield” in Gaza for nearly two months, in a zone where the Israel Defense Forces was seeking to destroy smuggling tunnels and guerrilla hideouts. The Israeli government considers her death accidental — ”I scooped up some earth, I couldn’t see anything,” the driver told Israeli television — but witnesses have sworn that Corrie was visible to him in her orange fluorescent jacket. Corrie’s death and beliefs have been dramatized, reported on in documentary films, featured on You Tube, and sung about in more than 30 songs, all of which has brought international scrutiny but little change to Israel’s harsh policies in Gaza. [Update: Corrie’s parents brought a civil suit against the Israeli Defense Ministry for their daughter’s death. In August, 2012, Civil Court Judge Oded Gershon dismissed their suit and issued a 62-page ruling that Corrie’s death was a “regrettable accident” and the state of Israel was not responsible.]
“Just want to tell my mom that I’m really scared, and questioning my fundamental belief in the goodness of human nature. This has to stop. I think it’s a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop.” —Rachel Corrie

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.