What her death still represents

This week marks the sixth anniversary of the death of American peace activist Rachel Corrie by an Israeli bulldozer.

Her mother spoke recently on the Rafah/Gaza border about her daughter’s legacy:

You asked about Rachel and how people respond to her here, and I—most everybody, at least if they—you know, they know her name when they hear it, most all of them. If somebody points out that we’re Rachel Corrie’s parents, you know, they’re very kind, and they want to talk to us.

I think I can only explain that because, you know, this—it is a prison here, and when someone comes from the outside, as Rachel did and as others do, other ISMers, other internationals come to Gaza and the West Bank, and then pay the ultimate price, which is what they feel Rachel has done, I think it gives them some hope. I think it probably strengthens their resolve, you know, to know that there are people on the outside that care as much as Rachel did. And I think that also it means a lot to them to see that we continue, in a way, continue some of her journey, not doing the same kinds of work, but that we haven’t forgotten them, that we’re back again, and that we’re doing what we can in the United States.

Rachel brought us to the issue. We, certainly—if we had an allegiance before that, it was really to the Jewish Israeli story and narrative. That’s what we knew about. And we learned—she was very good about bringing us material, pointing us to websites and so forth, and she really tried to bring us along, even before she came here. She didn’t just abruptly one day get up and go. She did some planning and preparation for it, and she tried to include us in that process. But, of course, we learned much more as she was there, particularly when she wrote the emails to us. It was eye-opening, because we knew about her as a writer and as an observer. So, it’s one thing to read about things on a website or in a newspaper article or a book, not knowing the people who are doing that; it’s another thing to hear about it from someone that you know and trust. And so, immediately we started to learn things, and so did our entire extended family and Rachel’s friends, because the things that she was writing about were being shared.

When we came here after she was killed, you know, our knowledge, you know, just developed more and more. And there really is no better way to learn about a situation than to come and see it for yourself.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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