Some thoughts on the 10-year anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie

RC bulldozers

I was at my home in Olympia, Washington, on the morning of Sunday, March 16, 2003, when I received a call from Will, a friend who had traveled to Rafah. It was a pleasant surprise. I had already heard from Rachel Corrie, whom he had gone to Palestine with, but not from him, so my enthusiasm was pronounced when I asked him how he was doing.

“Um … really bad,” he said. “Rachel’s dead.”

• • •

Rachel did not travel to Rafah with the intention of standing in front of bulldozers or performing direct action. In the initial years of the second intifada, international media focused on the West Bank. Rachel had heard from a friend that the suffering in the Gaza Strip, particularly in Rafah, was being ignored. She thought one way to draw more attention to the situation there was to establish a sister city relationship between her hometown of Olympia and Rafah.

My reaction when she told me her plan in the fall of 2002 was, “Why Rafah?” If she wanted to foster a sister city relationship to expose the humanity of Palestinians, why not go with a more approachable city such as Bethlehem, that would be more photogenic and easier to appeal to an uninformed public?

But it was precisely because Rafah had been so ignored, and because it seemed so unapproachable, that Rachel felt Rafah had to be the one.

• • •

Will had called me to get the phone number for Rachel’s parents. He was with Rachel at the time she was killed and wanted to be the one to break the news to them.

As a precautionary measure before traveling overseas, Rachel had emailed me and a few other people a list of emergency contacts. The biggest concern at the time was that she could be detained or arrested by Israel.

While on the phone with Will, I pulled up her list of contacts and discovered that the list—a very long list—was not in any sensible order. It was just a bunch of names and phone numbers, with no explanation of her relationship to the names. Which ones were her parents?

I told Will that I’d have to call him back after I determined which phone number belonged to her parents.

Thinking back on this ten years later, I can sort of laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation and blame it on Rachel’s character.

• • •

Although Rachel did not travel to Palestine to do direct action, she wasn’t averse to it, and the dire situation in Rafah made it inevitable. She had received training with the International Solidarity Movement to prepare herself for the unexpected, and to familiarize herself with her new surroundings.

Rachel was staying in Jerusalem in late January, waiting for an opportunity to make it down to Rafah. At the time, Israel was conducting a major assault in the Gaza Strip, making it difficult to get in. On January 27, 2003, Rachel wrote from Jerusalem:

We are going to try to make it to Rafah today, to join the internationals there who have set up a tent to stop the blanket fire and demolitions as much as possible. Everything is under strict curfew because of the election. More later.

When she finally made it to Rafah, she learned that some water wells had been destroyed, and the remaining functional wells were at risk of damage by the Israeli military. One of the first tasks she took on was to help guard the water wells.

• • •

On the morning of March 16, 2003, I was at home staring at a long list of emergency contacts for Rachel, trying to determine which number belonged to her parents so they could receive the news of her death. I needed to get them in touch with Will before they found out what had happened to Rachel through the news.

I called a few friends, hoping they would have the answer. That also meant breaking the news to them, which took some time. I then tried a few educated guesses from the list. I got some voice mail responses. Simultaneously, I was checking online news feeds, hoping that reports of Rachel’s death hadn’t traveled too far.

But the reports were spreading fast, and she was being named. By the time I got a hold of a family member, it was too late. They already knew.

• • •

News about the death of a young American woman in the Gaza Strip was the lead story internationally. A single headshot photo of Rachel in the Gaza Strip was circulating.

Seeing this reminded me of a different photo of Rachel in Rafah from the AP news wire in the previous month. Taken on February 15 at a rally against the pending US/UK war on Iraq, the photo showed Rachel burning a drawing of an American flag—taken from a bird’s-eye view—with Rachel looking up and holding the drawing above her head.

When the photo initially made the rounds in February, the accompanying caption misidentified her as “Alice,” who was a different young Caucasian female working in Rafah.

RC angry Rachel

The photo was such an uncharacteristic depiction of Rachel—with the furrowed brows, the squinting eyes, and the mouth wide open while staring into the sky—that along with the misidentification, it made me laugh when I first saw it in February.

On the morning of March 16, however, I knew it would be a matter of time before the photo would resurface and become a focal point. By that afternoon, the news wires were recirculating the photo with the name corrected, and right-wing and Israelist websites were pouncing on it. Finally, they had their smoking gun.

• • •

RC Dorismond

In the early morning of March 16, 2000—exactly three years before Rachel’s death—an off-duty Haitian-American security guard in New York named Patrick Dorismond was approached by an undercover police officer inquiring about purchasing narcotics. Dorismond took offense at the question and an altercation ensued that culminated in a backup officer shooting the unarmed Dorismond in the stomach, killing him.

In the aftermath, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani tried to defend the killing by producing Dorismond’s history of arrests and charges, including two convictions for disorderly conduct and a previously sealed record of an arrest at age 13, when he got in a fistfight over a quarter, and for which he was not convicted. The records suggested, according to Giuliani, that the media

would not want a picture presented of an altar boy, when in fact, maybe it isn’t an altar boy, it’s some other situation that may justify, more closely, what the police officer did.

The media recognized this as a tasteless ploy to absolve the NYPD of responsibility by attacking the character of the victim. According to the logic, somehow several years prior, Dorismond had revoked his innocence and thus his eventual death in the hands of police officers, regardless of the circumstances, was permissible.

Dorismond was either a good person—meaning he had never done anything offensive to anyone in his lifetime—or else he was a bad person. And if he was bad, then one should have no sympathy should he happen to be killed by an arm of the government for unrelated reasons or for no reason at all.

The same logic dictated use of the “Bad Rachel” photo. If Rachel could make an angry face, and if she could allow her white self to do so while surrounded by an Arab horde, and throw in a burning paper flag—well, by golly, she’s just asking to be run over by an armored bulldozer operated by Israeli soldiers.

So when I see the photo of Angry, Nasty, Flag-Burning Rachel being brandished as if it were some trump card, as if that split-second represented All You Need To Know About Rachel Corrie, I find it pitiful for the photo-wavers. As Rachel had told her father, she was given a drawing of an Israeli flag to burn at the rally, but she felt she could not do that. However, she felt she could take responsibility for the actions of her own government.

Here is another photo of the same event—the drama knob turned down:

RC less angry Rachel

Frankly, I couldn’t care less if Rachel had been howling at the moon while biting off the head of a voodoo doll of George W. Bush in the presence of Palestinian children in Rafah. It bore no connection to the circumstances behind her death.

So let’s all agree that Rachel was no “altar boy.”

• • •

I spent the rest of the morning and the afternoon of March 16 on the phone. Some colleagues had issued a press release, and my landline number was included as a contact. Reporters were calling throughout the day. In between, I was calling friends to break the news to them.

In early March 2003, it was already known that the United States would soon invade Iraq. We just didn’t know when. A candlelight vigil against the pending war had already been scheduled that same night at 7 pm, at Percival Landing in downtown Olympia.

Rachel was a prime organizer in the anti-war movement in Olympia before she left for Palestine, so there was no doubt that the candlelight vigil that night would also be the first gathering to remember Rachel.

• • •

Within a few hours after Rachel was killed, I was already seeing attacks against Rachel online. The Seattle ABC affiliate posted a straight news report on Rachel with the headline “Olympia Woman Killed in Anti-Israel Demonstration.”

Commenters on news sites blamed Rachel for her own death. After all, what was she doing in a war zone?

The sentiment was so common by Day One that I felt compelled to address it the following morning when I spoke on Democracy Now:

A lot of people might be asking—because I’ve been hearing this a lot—“What was she doing in a war zone?” Well, she was not in a “war zone.” She was in a residential neighborhood, a Palestinian residential neighborhood. And what we really should be asking is what are Israeli tanks and Israeli bulldozers doing in Palestinian residential neighborhoods?

And almost ten years later, Judge Oded Gershon, ruling from his Haifa courtroom in the Corries’ civil suit, made the same claim: Rachel was responsible for her own death because she chose to enter a “closed military zone” in a wartime situation.

• • •

RC Linder

For some in the Pacific Northwest, Rachel’s death evoked the earlier killing of another Northwest native, Ben Linder.

Linder was a solidarity activist who had traveled to Nicaragua in the 1980s in support of the Sandinista revolution. On April 28, 1987, Linder was overseeing the construction of a small hydroelectric plant to provide power to rural areas of the northern Jinotega province, when he and his local work crew were ambushed by Contras. Linder suffered multiple gunshot wounds, was possibly tortured, and finally shot in the head point-blank. Two others, Sergio Hernandez and Pablo Rosales, were killed by gunshot wounds and knife stabbings.

The next day, White House Spokesperson Marlin Fitzwater stated that activists such as Linder “certainly understand that they put themselves in harm’s way whenever they’re involved in any internal strife in another country.”

Two weeks later, his parents appeared before a Congressional subcommittee hearing on his death and accused the Contras of murder. Representative Connie Mack scolded the parents:

I can’t understand how you can use the grief I know you feel to politicize this situation, or be used to politicize the situation … I don’t want to be tough on you, but I really believe you’re asking for it … Your son chose to go into an area he knew was dangerous.

Elliot Abrams, at the time the assistant secretary of state for Inter-American affairs, blamed the death on the Sandinista government, wondered if Linder “was a communist,” and suggested that his presence in a “combat zone” made him “a legitimate target.”

Mr. Linder’s death is a tragedy which need not have occurred. Our government has repeatedly protested to the Nicaraguan government its practice of permitting and even encouraging Americans believed to be sympathetic to the Sandinista regime to travel in combat zones …

In our view, the assistance US citizens provide to the government of Nicaragua strengthens it and helps it deny the citizens of Nicaragua their political rights …

I would hope that the tragic death of Benjamin Linder will serve to alert other Americans of the dangers they face in areas of conflict. I would also hope that the government of Nicaragua will discourage rather than encourage the travel of Americans into combat zones.

When asked to explain the Contras’ rules of engagement, Abrams stated,

That’s classified information … They have their own guidelines—an elaborate system and a code of behavior.

The rhetoric employed at the Linder hearing should be familiar with anyone who has closely followed the Rachel Corrie story, which follows the same logic:

1. You are politicizing her death.
2. It was her fault for being in a “war zone” or a “closed military zone.”
3. Palestinians cynically put her in danger.
4. By being there, Rachel was providing support to terrorists.
5. Rachel threw herself into an internal conflict of foreign parties that did not concern her.
6. The IDF has a set of rules that we cannot question.

• • •

Rachel’s detractors are ingenious when it comes to ways to stretch the limits of perceived logic to subvert her death. One of my favorite arguments is known as “The Other Rachels.” The premise behind “The Other Rachels” is that there were women who were killed in Palestinian attacks who coincidentally shared the name Rachel.

RC Other Rachels SWU
StandWithUs flyer

I never totally understood the argument (which is perhaps the point?), but if I had to break it down, I believe it would be on these bases:

1. It implies that the significance of Rachel’s death is predicated on the uniqueness of her given name.

2. It implies that remembering Rachel Corrie somehow prevents other people from remember anyone else named Rachel.

3. It implies that you are not allowed to grieve for Rachel Corrie unless you grieve for every person named Rachel.

4. It is dependent on Rachel having been named “Rachel.” If Cindy and Craig Corrie had named their youngest daughter Rapunzel or Mohammed, that alone would invalidate the argument.

5. It’s astoundingly exploitive in a camp way.

6. Coming soon: “The Other Martins”—white men named Martin who were killed by African Americans.

What makes the argument even more comical is how smug Rachel detractors often feel when they wield the questionable power of “The Other Rachels,” as if they had stumbled upon some mind-blowing truth.

RC other Rachels
Amateur theater critics protest the exclusion of all other deceased Rachels “The Other Rachels” at the world premiere of The Skies Are Weeping, a cantata by Philip Munger dedicated to Rachel’s memory.       (Hackney Empire, London, 1 Nov 2005)

• • •

Around 6 pm, the calls from reporters tapered off. I soon left the house and biked over to Percival Landing for the candlelight vigil. When I arrived, Percival Landing was already packed. The sun had gone down, but the area was alight from the candles that people held in their hands.

RC Percival1

There were people holding a large banner honoring Rachel. Others were holding laminated posters with a photo of Rachel, with the word “Peacemaker” underneath. And people were in tears.

I didn’t say much but just gave them hugs. It was my first real contact with people since hearing the news about Rachel, as I had been home by the phone all day. I felt compelled to just walk through the crowd and find friends who knew Rachel and give them hugs to comfort them. I didn’t know what else to do, and I was still on autopilot.

As I worked my way through the silent crowd, I eventually ran into a friend who I knew did not know Rachel. When I saw her, a torrent of grief that I had been holding back was suddenly released. I collapsed into her arms, held her tight, and started sobbing. No—I wailed. I pressed my face against her shoulder in a vain attempt to muffle my cries, but it all came pouring out.

Three days later, the local newspaper printed a letter to the editor by two prominent members of the Olympia community, commenting on the candlelight vigil:

It is Sunday night and we have just returned from what we thought would be a peace vigil at Percival Landing, in an effort to stop an American-led war against Iraq….However, we felt violated and tricked when the rally began to turn into an anti-Israel focus. How divisive….

Are we saddened by Corrie’s death? Absolutely. Do we think there should be peace for Palestinians? Yes, as well as peace for Israelis.

Those who wanted a pro-Palestinian rally could have, and should have, arranged one somewhere else or at a different time…It was disrespectful to the organizers and the attendees to change the rally’s focus…

• • •

Thinking about Rachel also reminds me of her ex-boyfriend, Colin Reese. When I saw him at the candlelight vigil, I told him that Democracy Now was doing a report on Rachel in the morning, and they needed a photo of her. Colin reached into his pocket and pulled out this photo:

RC Rachel Colin

In the subsequent months, I came to know Colin and became friends with him. He was committed to finding justice for Rachel. He died eighteen months after her.

• • •

Conclusion

“There is a possibility I’ll be hurt, even killed. That is our reality that we must recognize. But we must not dwell on that. I have no plans … [to be] a martyr. I know that isn’t my place on this earth.” —Ben Linder

“Emmett Till is dead. I don’t know why he can’t just stay dead.” —Roy Bryant, nearly 40 years after murdering Emmett Till

What to think about the death of Rachel Corrie? For me, there are three Rachels—by which I don’t mean “The Other Rachels.”

Foremost, I think about Rachel the person. Along with that comes the reflexive inclination to think about the things I could have done for her, the things I could have said to her, and the ways in which I feel I failed her.

But there’s a difference between dwelling on the what-ifs and being responsible for her death. A reporter asked me the day after she was killed if I felt responsible for her death—a stupid question—and my answer remains, “No. I didn’t drive the bulldozer, and I didn’t oversee the bulldozing operation.” My feelings of responsibility extend as far as anyone would feel over a sudden, unexpected death—and they’re the same feelings that I have over Colin’s death.

The second Rachel is the fallen activist. Much has been said about how Rachel’s death—the death of a white American woman—has been unfairly given more value than the death of Palestinians. It’s true. But I also see her death as that of a fellow activist, so it is a loss shared by Palestinian activists, activists in solidarity with Palestinians, and activists in other causes struggling against injustice. As an activist, she was one of us.

The third Rachel is the martyr—a term that has been demeaned by Israelists who see martyrdom only in terms of PR—because damn Israelists can only understand things in terms of PR.

Every movement has martyrs. It is not a desired thing, but we can’t pretend our friends aren’t dead, or that they just passed on quietly. Martyrdom is an acknowledgment, not necessarily a glorification. It happens in the scope of a movement. It reminds us of what we fight for, and why we must continue the struggle.

To accuse us of “politicizing” Rachel’s death is to force us to only see her death as “tragic” and to shame those who dare ask why she was killed. It seeks to dismiss the cause of death as irrelevant in order to absolve the perpetrators.

But that’s not how the world sees it. The martyr aspect is the aspect of Rachel that is owned by the world—not owned by her family or her friends.

The martyr aspect is not of Rachel the person. It’s of Rachel the idea, the inspiration, and the reminder. She has become a symbol worldwide for the oppressed—which I would have dismissed as sounding arrogant if it hadn’t been acknowledged repeatedly.

Actually, there’s a fourth Rachel. That’s the Rachel that haunts the supporters of Israel. It’s the one that evokes the words of Roy Bryant quoted above: “I don’t know why she can’t just stay dead.” And it’s the one they can no longer kill, try as they may.

I recently came upon a statement written by one of the organizers of the candlelight vigil in Olympia on March 16, 2003. It was written immediately following the vigil. She wrote:

[W]e had thought that the Olympia vigil would be much like the other 6000 or so vigils around the country and around the world. But this morning we found out that a beloved member of the Olympia peace community, Rachel Corrie, had been killed in the Gaza Strip by an Israeli Army bulldozer….

Over 600 people came to the vigil, along with a large number of local and national news people. An altar was set up for Rachel, a statement from her family was read aloud, a few others spoke, but mostly the vigil was silence or singing. There were fellow Evergreen State College students, families, couples, people coming alone, people crying or standing silently.

There was a feeling that suddenly Olympia was at the center of the world tonight.

RC Percival2

About Phan Nguyen

Phan Nguyen lives in New York and has a Twitter account: @Phan_N
Posted in Activism, Israel/Palestine | Tagged

{ 22 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Cliff says:

    Think of all the disgusting photos we’ve seen via Facebook or Instagram, of Israeli racists/colonists (mostly soldiers as of late).

    Rachel’s actions spoke louder than a single picture. She wasn’t doing the demolishing or harassing or murdering or stealing.

    Israelis were. Zionists were. Like the ones who murdered her. Then the ones who killed her memory or attempted to do so by calling her murder an accident.

    How do you accidentally bulldoze someone to death?

  2. “One Rachel died by accident”
    No, it wasn’t an accident. She intentionally threw herself under the bulldozer in order to make Israel look bad.. Ask, dimadok, olegr and giladg, wallah I’m not lying.

  3. RE: “Although Rachel did not travel to Palestine to do direct
    action, she wasn’t averse to it, and the dire situation in Rafah made it inevitable.” ~ Phan Nguyen

    SEE: “Billy Bragg: The Lonesome Death of Rachel Corrie”, Common Dreams, 8/28/12

    [EXCERPTS]
    “An Israeli bulldozer killed poor Rachel Corrie
    As she stood in its path in the town of Rafah
    She lost her young life in an act of compassion
    Trying to protect the poor people of Gaza
    Whose homes are destroyed by tank shells and bulldozers
    And whose plight is exploited by suicide bombers
    Who kill in the name of the people of Gaza
    But Rachel Corrie believed in non-violent resistance
    Put herself in harm’s way as a shield of the people
    And paid with her life in a manner most brutal . . .

    …Oh, but you who philosophise disgrace and criticise all fears,
    Bury the rag deep in your face
    For now’s the time for your tears.”

    Billy Bragg: “The Lonesome Death of Rachel Corrie” [VIDEO, 04:57] – link to youtube.com

    SOURCE (ENTIRE LYRICS WITH VIDEO) – link to commondreams.org

    P.S.
    • BILLY BRAGG – link to en.wikipedia.org
    • BILLY BRAGG’S WEBSITE – link to billybragg.co.uk
    Blood Of The Lamb, Wilco & Billy Bragg (VIDEO, 04:16) – link to youtube.com

  4. RE: “Rachel’s detractors are ingenious when it comes to ways to stretch the limits of perceived logic to subvert her death. ~ by Phan Nguyen

    MY COMMENT: In particular, Mr. Daniel J. Friedman who was ‘Mr. Congeniality’ NOT at the University of Maryland at the time of Rachel Corrie’s death created an editorial cartoon for the campus newspaper that was disgustingly puerile.

    FROM WIKIPEDIA [Rachel Corrie]:

    [EXCERPT] . . . According to The Boston Globe, “Corrie… has been praised as a heroic martyr and denounced as a misguided, ill-informed naïf.”[50] In a review of Simone Bitton’s documentary “Rachel”, Salon noted that Corrie was subjected to “shocking verbal abuse” on right-wing bulletin boards and Web sites, including “grotesque sexual fantasies and elaborate conspiracy theories”.[51]
    Journalist and Middle East commentator Tom Gross has referred to “the cult of Rachel Corrie.”
    In an article called “The Forgotten Rachels” republished on his website, Gross refers to six other women called Rachel, Jewish victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict whose deaths, he wrote, received little, if any, coverage outside Israel.[52] Gross went on to argue that “Partly thanks to the efforts of Corrie and her fellow activists, the flow of explosives from Egypt into Gaza continued – and were later used to kill children in southern Israel.” The article prompted a National Review editorial arguing that “Corrie’s death was unfortunate, but more unfortunate is a Western media and cultural establishment that lionizes ‘martyrs’ for illiberal causes while ignoring the victims those causes create.”[53]
    In March 2003, the University of Maryland, College Park’s campus newspaper “The Diamondback” published an editorial cartoon by Daniel J. Friedman, depicting Rachel Corrie sitting in front of an approaching bulldozer, with two definitions of the word “stupidity” from the American Heritage Dictionary, along with an additional self-created third line “sitting in front of a bulldozer to protect a gang of terrorists,” resulting in student sit-ins and protests at the University of Maryland the Wednesday after the cartoon appeared.[54] The group Palestine Media Watch published the e-mail addresses and phone number of Diamondback editors, urging readers to contact the newspaper to secure an apology,[55] and thousands of e-mails and hundreds of phone calls were received by the paper in protest. Describing the cartoon as “indecent and anti-American,” over 60 student protesters staged a sit-in at the newspaper’s offices (with 10 staying overnight), demanding that the paper apologize and “publish an article honoring Corrie’s life”.[56] The newspaper refused to apologize, “though many staff members objected to the cartoon’s viewpoint” while “the newspaper had received thousands of e-mails and hundreds of telephone calls protesting the cartoon”, citing the First Amendment. While Friedman did not return the telephone call and e-mail by The Associated Press, editor-in-chief Jay Parsons (who had initially objected to the cartoon when it was first submitted) commented, “The decision was about freedom of speech, and that made the decision easy.”[54] . . .

    SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

  5. RE: Elliot Abrams, at the time the assistant secretary of state for Inter-American affairs, blamed the death on the Sandinista government, wondered if Linder “was a communist,” and suggested that his presence in a “combat zone” made him “a legitimate target.” ~ Phan Nguyen

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    Here comes the helicopter — second time today
    Everybody scatters and hopes it goes away
    How many kids they’ve murdered only God can say
    If I had a rocket launcher . . . I’d make somebody pay
    I don’t believe in guarded borders and I don’t believe in hate
    I don’t believe in generals or their stinking torture states
    And when I talk with the survivors of things too sickening to relate
    If I had a rocket launcher . . . I would retaliate . . .
    ~
    . . . I want to raise every voice — at least I’ve got to try
    Every time I think about it water rises to my eyes.
    Situation desperate, echoes of the victims cry
    If I had a rocket launcher . . . Some son of a bitch would die

    ● Bruce Cockburn, If I Had A Rocket Launcher [VIDEO, 04:58] – link to youtube.com
    ● Bruce Cockburn (live perfomance) , If I Had a Rocket Launcher [VIDEO, 06:09] – link to youtube.com

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    • RE: “If I had a rocket launcher . . . I’d make somebody pay

      FROM WIKIPEDIA [Elliott Abrams]:

      [EXCERPTS] . . . During the Reagan administration, Abrams gained notoriety for his involvement in controversial foreign policy decisions regarding Nicaragua and El Salvador. During Bush’s first term, he served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director on the National Security Council for Near East and North African Affairs. At the start of Bush’s second term, Abrams was promoted to be his Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy, in charge of promoting Bush’s strategy of advancing democracy abroad. His appointment by Bush was controversial due to his conviction in 1991 on two misdemeanor counts of unlawfully withholding information from Congress during the Iran-Contra Affair investigation. . .

      Assistant Secretary of State, 1980s

      Abrams first came to national prominence when he served as Reagan’s Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs in the early 1980s and later as Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs. . .
      . . . During this time, Abrams clashed regularly with church groups and human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch.[12][13] and Amnesty International
      , over the Reagan administration’s foreign policies. They accused him of covering up atrocities committed by the military forces of US-backed governments, such as those in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, and the rebel Contras in Nicaragua.

      El Salvador

      In early 1982, when reports of the El Mozote massacre of civilians by the military in El Salvador began appearing in U.S. media, Abrams told a Senate committee that the reports of hundreds of deaths at El Mozote “were not credible,” and that “it appears to be an incident that is at least being significantly misused, at the very best, by the guerrillas.”[14] The massacre had come at a time when the Reagan administration was attempting to bolster the human rights image of the Salvadoran military. Abrams implied that reports of a massacre were simply FMLN propaganda and denounced U.S. investigative reports of the massacre as misleading. In March 1993, the Salvadoran Truth Commission reported that 5,000 civilians were “deliberately and systematically” executed in El Mozote in December 1981 by forces affiliated with the Salvadoran state.[15] . . .
      …Abrams himself claimed that Washington’s policy in El Salvador was a ”fabulous achievement.”
      [18]

      Nicaragua

      When Congress shut down funding for the Contras’ efforts to overthrow Nicaragua’s Sandinista government with the 1982 Boland Amendment, members of the Reagan administration began looking for other avenues for funding the group. . .
      Abrams flew to London in August 1986 and met secretly with Bruneian defense minister General Ibnu to solicit a $10-million contribution from the Sultan of Brunei.[21][22] Ultimately, the Contras never received this money because a clerical error in Oliver North’s office (a mistyped account number) sent the Bruneian money to the wrong Swiss bank account.[22] . . .

      Iran-Contra affair

      . . . During investigation of the Iran-Contra Affair, Lawrence Walsh, the Independent Counsel tasked with investigating the case, prepared multiple felony counts against Abrams but never indicted him.[22] Instead, Abrams entered into a plea agreement with Walsh. Abrams pled guilty to two misdemeanors of withholding information from Congress.[23] . . .”
      . . . On February 5, 1997, the D.C. Court of Appeals publicly censured Abrams for giving false testimony on three occasions before congressional committees. Although a majority of the court voted to impose a public censure, three judges in the majority would have imposed a suspension of six months, and a fourth judge would have followed the recommendation of the Board on Professional Responsibility that Abrams be suspended for a year. . .

      SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

  6. thank you phan, your article means a lot to me personally. it’s hard to talk about my relationship with rachel, whom i never met in person.

    i don’t know how to answer your question, what i think about her death.

    i will say there is a wall in my room with framed photos of my immediate family, and one extra. rachel. people sometimes ask me who it is. it think of her as my sister and there is something about her, her features and her spirit, that very much remind me of my own sister who died when she was twenty.

    mostly i don’t think of rachel’s death, or rachel in terms of her death. maybe i did the first few years. i think of the life she has brought to this movement and the inspiration her being sparks inside young people who feel something akin in their own being, that allows them to explore and expand their reality and the possibility they too can change the world. and that we are not free until everyone is free. i have no doubt that after hundreds of years when all of us are long gone, it is rachel who will represent the global community that came to free palestine.

    and because, when palestine is free it will mean much much more to the world than merely the freedom of one people, but moreso the understanding of how the power of youth and the global community working together has the power to stop injustice, well then rachel’s memory will not be in limitation, to freeing palestine. in the same way martin’s memory is not limited to our own civil rights movement in one limited era, he belongs to the world now.

    so rachel is living and continuing to grow, and she will keep growing and always stay young. and she does not belong to us, or america or even palestine. she belongs to humanity and the spirit of youth and wisdom.

    and thank you for the link to colin reese’s words.

    • Citizen says:

      @ Annie Robbins

      I feel the same way about Rachel. And, my God, her parents are just wonderful! The apple did not fall far from the tree. If you need to find meaning in life, just look to Rachel Corrie. She stands for the better part of what it means to be a human. One does not even need a God to see this. She gives great and powerful meaning to the adage, “The ends may not justify the means.” Not to mention, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” And, of course, that is also the human critique of God, or no?

  7. broadside says:

    The Zionists sink pretty low in their arguments and verbiage, there being no defense for Zionism, but don’t know that I’ve ever read anything quite so absurd, as said in that poster, as a “counter-terrorism bulldozer.” It is simply another indication of the contempt the Zionists have for the rest of us, how stupid they think we are.

    Young man standing up to a tank in Tiananmen Square: hero to the Western world.

    Young woman standing up to a bulldozer in the occupied West Bank: terrorist.

  8. yourstruly says:

    rachel corrie
    an angel by birth
    peace activist by choice
    at age 23 martyred for pursuing her calling
    justice for palestine
    that there be no war no more
    never again
    instead the just & peaceful world
    which, seemingly miraculously
    is the where we’re headed
    bless you, rachel corrie

    • yourstruly says:

      what’s more,

      given, that, rachel was born an angel
      that she lived a life of selflessness
      that the word of her being martyred spread far and wide
      woke people up
      about the need to change the world
      & so effective was she
      that in the pantheon of humanist deities?
      at the entrance?
      stands a statue of rachel corrie?
      blessed goddess of the just & peaceful world?

  9. Thanks once again, Phan.

    A minor error in this article, is in the caption to the photo of the woman and girl standing outside the Hackney Empire Theatre on November 1, 2005. They are indeed outside that theatre on November 1, but My Name is Rachel Corrie had closed four days previously at the Royal Court Theatre’s downstairs Jerwood Theatre. What was occurring at the Hackney Empire on November 1 was the London premiere of my cantata dedicated to Rachel’s memory, The Skies Are Weeping. One can see the corner of one of the event’s posters in the upper right of the photo.

    The women were part of one of three demonstrations outside the event on that evening. All three demonstrations were organized by Jewish groups, yet two of them were in a sense counter demonstrations, in support of my music and other music being presented in the concert, a benefit for the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions and the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme.

    I invited the two women in the photo and several others from their “All the Other Rachels” protest group in to attend the concert. I offered to pay their tickets. They refused. Too bad.

    I posted this yesterday:

    link to my.firedoglake.com

    • Citizen says:

      Thanks, Philip, for sharing. Geez, this is all getting ever more glibly gruesomely fatalistic. The US is going to the hell in a hand basket, carried by Israel Firsters, the Jewish kind, and the fundy Christian kind, and the bigger beneficiaries of the industrial/security/war complex Ike warned us about.

  10. Cliff says:

    Once again, amazing article Phan.

    You remind me of Glenn Greenwald in your research.

  11. W.Jones says:

    Excellent example with Patrick Dorismond.

  12. Phan Nguyen says:

    Thanks, Phil. Sorry for the confusion. I’ll get the caption corrected.

  13. W.Jones says:

    the local newspaper printed a letter to the editor by two prominent members of the Olympia community, commenting on the candlelight vigil:

    It is Sunday night and we have just returned from what we thought would be a peace vigil at Percival Landing, in an effort to stop an American-led war against Iraq…. However, we felt violated and tricked when the rally began to turn into an anti-Israel focus.

    Is it amusing that they are upset that a peace vigil mourns one of its members who died resisting the actions of one of the two militaries in a conflict they claim to want peace in?

  14. MK_Ultra says:

    Time to boycott Carterpillar. In insurance terms, they are the “peril” that caused the loss even if Zionism is the cause. A good boycott would stop everyone engaged in this travesty cold in their tracks from the manufacturers of construction equipment to those who manufacture the weapons.

  15. Neish says:

    Good job Phan. Good to see you are still in the struggle. The last time I saw you was Easter 2002 with the ISM in that roof top suite in Azza refugee camp in Bethlehem, with the Israelis rocketing and shelling everything around us. I was in Gaza last week and they certainly haven’t forgotten Rachel there.
    Kevin
    kevinneish.ca

    • Phan Nguyen says:

      Good to hear from you, Kevin! I saw some footage of your exploits on the Mavi Marmara. When I last vistited ‘Azza—a long time ago—the Abu S. family were asking about you.

      —Phan