FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Struggle for Rachel Corrie’s Legacy

by PATRICK O. STRICKLAND

Ramallah.

Two weeks ago, an Israeli court ruled that the death of Rachel Corrie, a Palestinian solidarity activist crushed by an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) armored bulldozer in Gaza in 2003, was her own fault and not the result of military negligence. Brendan O’Neill, blogging for The Telegraph, wrote a scathing critique of Rachel Corrie, her posthumous supporters, and the broader Palestinian solidarity movement.

According to O’Neill, Corrie’s “cheerleaders,” as he smugly describes them, have engaged in her “secular beatification” and “turned [her] into Saint Rachel of the Put-Upon Palestinians” which “captures everything that is wrong with the modern day solidarity with Palestine.”

O’Neill does not spare Corrie herself either, launching a full on assault on her character as well as her legacy—he is, after all, a self-proclaimed warrior, battling “misanthropy, priggishness, prejudice, luddism, illiberalism and irrationalism in all their ancient and modern forms.”

He dismisses her motivations for joining the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and suggests that she was nothing more than a present day Rudyard Kipling, solemnly carrying out what she perceived as her moral duty to protect an oppressed people which she felt were incapable of surviving on their own.  “The transformation of Corrie’s life and death into a black-and-white morality tale…sums up the boneheadedness of modern-day Palestinian solidarity,” he concludes.

Throughout his exaggerated and nauseatingly self-righteous polemic, O’Neill never once addresses the actual issues surrounding Corrie’s death: was she truly invisible to the soldier behind the wheel of the bulldozer, who proceeded to back up over her lifeless cadaver? Did the Israeli military conduct a satisfactory investigation, as it assured the US government it would? Should the international community stand with folded arms as Israel demolishes civilian homes in the occupied territories?

In other words, Israel’s ostensibly endless policy of ethnic cleansing is exempt from criticism. The 23-year-old American activist who felt a moral obligation to protest the crimes in which her government was complicit, however, is the truly guilty party.

Rather than attacking Palestinians, the strategy employed by Israel’s advocates within the corporate media establishment is to launch a thorough smear campaign against those who support Palestinian rights, whoever they may be: journalists, academics, politicians, intellectuals, activists. In order to do so, they consciously ignore the possibility of Israeli injustice or Western complicity.

These supporters tout the country’s Supreme Court as a bulwark of its democratic institutions. Yet, it is the exception and not the rule that the Supreme Court condemns state violence—in any case, the IDF has a long history of noncompliance with court rulings that the military elite deemed unfavorable. Indeed, the old trope originally applied to Algeria—rather than a state with a military, it was a military with a state—paints a stunningly accurate portrait of Israel today.

The besieged Gaza Strip, a regular target of Israel’s lengthy carpet bombing campaigns and frequent land incursions, is now an open air prison, a place from which news of dozens of civilian casualties alights each week. In the West Bank, settler violence has soared over the last few years, and the daily theft of private Palestinian property is rendering a two-state solution closer and closer to impossibility. The Palestinian economy, a market shackled by asymmetrical agreements to its Western benefactors and its much larger Israeli counterpart, is in ruins.

According to O’Neill, it is the late Rachel Corrie and those who demand justice for her death, however, who deserve condemnation. When she died, she was acting as a human shield to prevent the demolition of homes and water wells in the Rafah refugee camp—O’Neill dismisses this as a brand of Western racism akin to Christian missionaries in Africa; Judge Oded Gershon, who rejected  the Corrie family’s lawsuit, describes this as “de-facto violence.”

The IDF, on the other hand, justifies the ongoing expansion of West Bank settlements on security grounds, arguing that they serve as barriers between Palestinians and the state of Israel.  Settlers, in other words, are Israel’s frontline human shields. As they decry the ISM’s strategy of using international activists to prevent home demolitions and settler violence, neither O’Neill nor Judge Gershon mention the IDF’s use of over 350,000 Israeli citizens as human shields.

“We will continue,” said Craig Corrie, Rachel’s father, addressing a crowd of Palestinians and internationals last week at the Alternative Information Center in Beit Sahour.  “The judge accepted the testimony that the bulldozer had a blind spot. The real blind spot is Israel’s towards humanity.”

It appears that Brendan O’Neill, along with likeminded pundits, also lacks 20/20 vision. His longwinded assault on Rachel Corrie’s legacy “sums up the boneheadness” of Israel’s modern-day allies in the corporate media establishment.

Patrick O. Strickland is a freelance journalist living and traveling on both sides of the Green Line in Israel and Palestine. He is a weekly Israel-Palestine correspondent for Bikya Masr.
May 05, 2016
David L. Glotzer
Welcome to Fortified Europe: the Militarization of Europe’s Borders
Adam Szetela
Beyoncé’s “Formation” and the Boutique Activism of the Left
Bruce Lerro
Lost at Sea: Left Liberals Have No Party
Paul Cochrane
Hot Air in the Saudi Desert: a Kingdom in Descent?
Brian Terrell
My Visit to a Las Vegas Jail
Judith Deutsch
The Military’s “Securitization” of Climate Change
Phyllis Bennis
Kunduz Bombing: Proof the Pentagon Should Not Be Allowed to Investigate Itself for War Crimes
Chad Nelson
When Compassion is Terrorism: Animal Rights in a Post-911 World
Dan Arel
Making Sanders’ Dream a Reality Through Political Activism
Kent Paterson
Ten Years Later: Reflections on the Legacies of Immigrant Spring
Serge Halimi
Why Firefighters are Against Free Trade
Andrew Stewart
Green Bernie or Green Party Machine?
Binoy Kampmark
Yuri Gagarin in Space: the Politics of Cosmic Discovery
Hayes Rowan
This Naming of Things
May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s China-Bashing
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail