“The Israeli government, which rarely acknowledges the deaths of Palestinian civilians killed during its military operations, went into damage-control mode. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised President Bush a “thorough, credible, and transparent investigation.” Later Israel declared the killing a “regrettable accident” and blamed it on overzealous Corrie and the other activists working as human shields.”
As my colleagues Jodi Rudoren and Danielle Ziri report, an Israeli judge ruled on Tuesday that the state bore no responsibility for the death of Rachel Corrie, an American activist who was crushed to death by a military bulldozer in 2003 as she tried to block the demolition of a Palestinian home in Gaza.
Photographs published by The Electronic Intifada on March 16, 2003, the day she died, showed that Ms. Corrie confronted heavily armored bulldozers that day wearing a bright orange vest and, until a few minutes before her death, using a bullhorn to amplify her voice. The same Web site also published sworn affidavits recorded within days of the deadly incident by three other international activists who were present when Ms. Corrie was killed.
“The verdict in Rachel’s case is saddening for all those who knew Rachel, and for all who believe in what she stood for. It should be disappointing for all those who want to see justice done in Israel and Palestine.On March 16, 2003, Rachel could not have been more visible: standing, on a clear day, in the open ground, wearing a high visibility vest. On that day, she had been in the presence of the Caterpillar D9 bulldozers used by the Israeli army for some hours.She was standing in front of the home of a young family which was under threat of demolition by a bulldozer. Many homes were demolished in such a way at that time, and Rachel was seeking to protect her friends, with whom she had lived.”
American media rarely takes note of the March 16 anniversary of Rachel Corrie’s death.But it will provide ample coverage of AIPAC’s annual celebration of the long time love affair between Israel and the U.S. Congress.
The Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) and their allies have once again mounted initiatives that advance an extremist posture with respect to the Palestinian-Israeli impasse. Their agenda threatens to polarize our community, betray relationships with our Jewish colleagues, and ultimately undermine our credibility as “peacemakers.”
I believe your characterization of my sacred tradition is incorrect ~ and dangerously so. It is prejudicial in the extreme to equate Zionism with Judaism itself.Zionism ~ that is, the movement to create a Jewish nation-state in historic Palestine ~ is in fact a political movement that was born in 19th century Europe.As such, it was a conscious and radical break with centuries of Jewish tradition that strongly cautioned against the establishment of an independent Jewish state in the land.While it is certainly true, as you write, that the yearning for a “return to Zion” is suffused throughout Jewish tradition, it is important to note that this yearning was pointedly directed toward a far off messianic future.
At the very least, there is a growing desire to allow non-Zionist voices to be part of the Jewish communal debate once more.One notable bellwether of this phenomenon may be found in the Swarthmore Hillel student board’s recent unanimous decision to defy the guidelines of Hillel International and declare itself an “Open Hillel.” In a statement accompanying their resolution, these Jewish students noted:“All are welcome to walk through our doors and speak with our name and under our roof, be they Zionist, anti-Zionist, post-Zionist, or non-Zionist. We are an institution that seeks to foster spirited debate, constructive dialogue, and a safe space for all, in keeping with the Jewish tradition.”I trust you would never suggest that these Jewish students are driven by “anti-Semitism.” On the contrary, they are clearly motivated by sacred Jewish values and a courageous refusal to reduce Jewish identity to one political ideology.
The Israel lobby group J Street has launched a blistering attack on the Presbyterian Church USA over its new study guide Zionism Unsettled, claiming that the publication promotes “polarization” and “intolerance.”Zionism Unsettled, published last month by the church’s Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN), is a 74-page study guide examining the role Zionism and Christian Zionism have played in shaping attitudes and events in Palestine and its region.It is intended to help church congregations and others to learn and talk about Zionism and the devastating impact the practice of the ideology has had on Palestinians, as The Electronic Intifada previously reported.In a statement yesterday, J Street said it was “deeply offended” by Zionism Unsettled, asserting that “one has to question the IPMN’s motives in publishing this ‘resource.’”J Street claimed the guide’s authors “had no intention of encouraging thoughtful reflection on Zionism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or Jewish perspectives on Israel. Instead, reductive and divisive thinking of this kind exacerbates polarization and intolerance, both of which are not in short supply in this conflict.”
Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget ~lest we forget!Rachel Corrie, “lest we forget, lest we forget”.