FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Struggle for Rachel Corrie’s Legacy

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.
More articles by:

January 16, 2019
Patrick Bond
Jim Yong Kim’s Mixed Messages to the World Bank and the World
John Grant
Joe Biden, Crime Fighter from Hell
Alvaro Huerta
Brief History Notes on Mexican Immigration to the U.S.
Kenneth Surin
A Great Speaker of the UK’s House of Commons
Elizabeth Henderson
Why Sustainable Agriculture Should Support a Green New Deal
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion
Jeff Mackler
Trump’s Syria Exit Tweet Provokes Washington Panic
Barbara Nimri Aziz
How Long Can Nepal Blame Others for Its Woes?
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: When Just One Man Says, “No”
Cesar Chelala
Violence Against Women: A Pandemic No Longer Hidden
Kim C. Domenico
To Make a Vineyard of the Curse: Fate, Fatalism and Freedom
Dave Lindorff
Criminalizing BDS Trashes Free Speech & Association
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party: Part Two
Edward Curtin
A Gentrified Little Town Goes to Pot
January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail