Israeli Forces Keep Killing Americans While U.S. Officials Give Them a Pass
Rachel Corrie stands in front of an Israeli bulldozer to protest the destruction of Palestinian homes along the Rafah-Egypt border on March 16, 2003. Corrie was killed later the same day.
Photo: Courtesy of the Corrie family
Nearly two decades before Israeli forces killed Palestinian American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, shooting a single bullet into her head while she was reporting from the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, an Israeli soldier drove a bulldozer over American peace activist Rachel Corrie, crushing her to death.
Both killings left little real doubt about the dynamics at play. Abu Akleh was standing with a group of colleagues, wearing a vest clearly marked “PRESS,” nowhere near the fighting that had taken place earlier that morning. Corrie was nonviolently protesting the demolition of a Palestinian family’s home in Gaza. She was wearing a fluorescent orange jacket with reflective stripes and had been on the scene for several hours, at times speaking into a megaphone.
In the moments before her death, Corrie was standing in the path of the bulldozer as other activists had been doing throughout the day. As the driver pushed the machine forward, she climbed onto a mound of dirt so she would be clearly visible, according to witness testimony reviewed by The Intercept. The driver kept advancing. When she fell to the ground, the dirt engulfed her, but the driver moved several feet forward before backing off, effectively crushing her twice. The possibility that he did not see her, as he later claimed, defies all credibility. Still, the Israeli government never took responsibility for her death, and while the U.S. government rejected the results of the Israeli investigation, it did nothing to ensure that such a killing would not happen again. So it did.
Rachel Corrie lies in the dirt, waiting for medical help with three other International Solidarity Movement activists, after she was crushed under an Israeli bulldozer in Rafah, Gaza, on March 16, 2003.
Photo: International Solidarity Movement/Getty Images
Corrie was killed on March 16, 2003, when she was 23. Twelve years later, on the anniversary of her death, her parents and sister met with Antony Blinken for the last time. The deputy secretary of state spoke to them in the sincere way they had come to know well. “Come back anytime,” he told them as the meeting came to a close.
The Corries didn’t want to come back. They had been meeting with Blinken for years, and they were tired. When he asked, earnestly, “What can I do for you?” they felt frustrated. “I appreciate your kindness,” Craig Corrie told Blinken. “I’m glad you are personally engaged. But unless you engage your institution, it doesn’t do me any good.”
“He’s asking, what can I do for you,” Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother, told The Intercept. “But there’s a point at which it’s like, what are you guys going to do?”
“I can’t tell you what tools you have to use,” echoed Sarah, Rachel’s sister. “You need to be telling us.”
Rachel’s killing had brought the Corries to hundreds of offices like Blinken’s over the years but nowhere closer to the accountability they were seeking. Blinken, today the secretary of state, was one of several senior U.S. officials who worked closely with the family during their yearslong crusade for justice and one of a number who now occupy top positions in the Biden administration. The Corries liked him, and they appreciated his efforts and warmth. In emails, he signed himself “Tony.” He always responded to their letters and regularly met with them for longer than scheduled.
Ultimately, however, Blinken failed them.
As they prepared to leave his office for the last time, Sarah told him: “There was a promise made to the president of the United States from Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon of a thorough, credible, and transparent investigation. Your government said that that never happened; that promise was never fulfilled,” she recalled. “You’ve still got a problem here.”
Blinken nodded. “I know.”
“I think in some way I needed them to say no. If they weren’t going to do anything, that’s what I needed to hear out of that meeting.”
“Holding Israel Accountable” is the theme of the Rachel Corrie Commemoration sponsored by the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice and the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project. The commemoration honors the 19th anniversary of the death of the U.S. peace activist crushed by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to peacefully prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home.
How do we hold Israel accountable for decades of oppression, displacement, land theft, occupation and loss? At this moment, what are the avenues for seeking peace with justice for Palestinians and Israelis? Five guests, representing many years of experience with this issue, will share their work and current perspectives.
Meet our speakers who represent years of experience with this issue and will on March 16th share their current work and perspectives on the question of Israeli accountability.
Amnesty International recently published a report calling “Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians a cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity.” Rachel Corrie Foundation March 16th observances are about education, community building, and action. There is work for us all to do – locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. With perspectives as Palestinians in the diaspora, representatives of solidarity organizations, and scholars, our guest speakers will help those of us at the grassroots level think how to effectively challenge Israel’s apartheid system and crimes against humanity that Amnesty International, other human and legal rights organizations, the Palestinian people, and Israeli activists have called out.
If you can’t make the March 16th event but wish to contribute to our support for GCMHP in remembrance of Rachel Corrie and the many others lost, Donate Here. Under “Apply my donation to” select Gaza Community Mental Health Programme. Thank you!
Born and raised in Olympia, Washington, human rights activist and observer Rachel Corrie went to Gaza in 2003 with the International Solidarity Movement, a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the long-entrenched and systematic oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian population, using non-violent, direct-action methods and principles. While standing in front of a home threatened with demolition by the Israeli military, Rachel was killed when run over by an armored Caterpillar D9R bulldozer operated by two Israeli soldiers. With annual March 16th remembrances, we at the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice seek to bring attention to the loss of lives, lands, freedoms, and opportunities that have continued since Rachel’s stand in Gaza in 2003 and to build and strengthen the community of constructive, nonviolent resisters of which she was a part.
Madison-Rafah Sister City Project
We are delighted to again co-host our March 16 observance with friends at the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project. MRSCP was founded in 2003 by concerned citizens in Madison, Wisconsin, to forge person-to-person relationships with Rafah, Palestine, to increase public awareness of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and to influence public policy for the benefit of both peoples. Until COVID-19, MRSCP annually hosted an in-person Rachel Corrie commemorative event in Madison.
We are grateful for the support of the following partners who have helped with technical support and getting the word out!
On the 19th anniversary of the killing of American peace activist Rachel Corrie by Israeli soldiers in Rafah, MRSCP will again join with the Rachel Corrie Foundation to honor Rachel’s life and work, and to raise funds to benefit the people of Rafah.
Join Rachel’s parents Craig and Cindy and a panel of distinguished speakers as we explore the theme of Holding Israel Accountable, and raise funds for a project benefiting Gaza families.
This event with Tarek Abuata has been cancelled by coronavirus precautions.
You can still listen to an interview with Tarek from Gaza on WORT 89.9 FM’s A Public Affair with host Esty Dinur on Friday, March 27 from noon to 1 pm. Call in at 256-2001 or listen live on line.
Tarek Abuata grew up in Bethlehem and moved with his family to Texas during the first Intifada when he was 12. After graduating from the University of Texas Law School, he worked in Ramallah researching legal and policy issues. From 2004 to 2007, he trained Palestinian youth in grassroots organizing and activism, and from 2007 to 2016 he was the coordinator of the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron. He has been the Executive Director of FOSNA since 2016. In his work in the U.S., Tarek is most interested in connecting struggles at home and abroad for peace, justice and freedom.
Co-Sponsors: Madison-Rafah Sister City Project; FOSNA; First United Methodist; Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison; Jewish Voice for Peace-Madison; UW Madison Students for Justice in Palestine; The Crossing; Bright Stars of Bethlehem-Madison Chapter; WI United Church of Christ Bethlehem Partnership; Interfaith Peace Working Group; Pax Christi Madison; First Unitarian Society Social Justice Ministry; Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ Mission Team; American Friends Service Committee of Madison Friends Meeting; and James Reeb UUC Justice Leadership Team. Welcomed by WORT Radio.
Join us for the 2019 tribute to Rachel Corrie with Ahmed Abu Artema Writer, refugee and peace activist from Rafah
First Unitarian Society
900 University Bay Drive
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Ahmed Abu Artema wrote a Facebook post on January 7, 2018 from his home in Rafah, Gaza that echoed an idea that has reverberated throughout Palestinian history: What would happen if Palestinians marched nonviolently and in large numbers towards the boundary fence with Israel to demand respect for their rights and call attention to the Israeli-imposed blockade that has created hardship for millions of people for more than a decade?
On March 30, 2018, the #GreatMarchofReturn became a reality, grabbing headlines around the world. Ahmed Abu Artema will share his experience with the Great March of Return, his views on the future of nonviolent actions in Palestine, and his vision for a just and lasting peace. He will be joined by fellow Gaza native Jehad Abusalim, Chicago-based scholar and program associate for the American Friends Service Committee’s Gaza Unlocked campaign.
Free and open to the public. Refreshments and desserts including baklawa will be served. Palestinian olive oil, olive oil soap, crafts, and food items will be for sale. Please join us as we honor Rachel Corrie and welcome Ahmed Abu Artema to Madison.
Sponsors: American Friends Service Committee, First Unitarian Social Justice Ministry, and Madison-Rafah Sister City Project.
Co-sponsors: American Friends Service Committee-Madison; Amnesty International Group 139; Bright Stars of Bethlehem-Madison; Colombia Support Network; East Timor Action Network-Madison; Interfaith Peace Working Group; James Reeb Peace, Justice and Sustainability Group; Jewish Voice for Peace-Madison; Madison Friends Meeting (Quakers); Pax Christi-Madison; Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison; UNA-USA Dane County; Wisconsin Network for Peace, Justice and Sustainability: and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom-Madison.
Ahmed Abu Artema is a 34-year-old Palestinian journalist, poet and peace activist. He is the author of the book “Organized Chaos” and his writings have been published in the New York Times, 972 Magazine, The Nation, Common Dreams and Mondoweiss. One of the founders of the Great March of Return, he has been interviewed by NPR, Middle East Eye, Al Jazeera, and CNN. His family was forced from Al Ramla village in Palestine in 1948 and he was born and grew up as a refugee in Rafah Camp in the Gaza strip, unable to even visit his ancestral home in what is now Israel. He lives in Gaza with his wife and four children. He is on a speaking tour of the U.S. during March 2019 at the invitation of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).
Featuring Rachel’s parents, Craig and Cindy Corrie
Sunday, April 8
St. James Catholic Church
1128 St. James Court, Madison, WI
2:00 – 5:00 pm
Joe Catron and Islam Maraqa from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) will also be presenting. Rachel was volunteering with this group on March 16, 2003 when she was killed by an Israeli soldier driving a Caterpillar bulldozer as she protested the demolition of a Palestinian family home in Rafah.
A clip from from the new film, Radiance of Resistance, about Palestinian youth activists Ahed Tamimi and Janna Ayyad will also be shown.
PLUS hummus and tabbouleh; desserts including baklawa; and the ever-popular DOOR PRIZES. Palestinian olive oil, olive oil soap, zaatar & maftool, embroidery and other crafts will be available for purchase.
The event is free and open to the public, with a $5 suggested donation to cover cost of food. Donations will be gratefully accepted to help support the Samira Remedial Education Project for disadvantaged and traumatized children in Rafah, the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, and the ISM tour.
Co-sponsored by Madison-Rafah Sister City Project; Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison; Jewish Voice for Peace-Madison; Good Shepherd Parish Social Justice Committee; Amnesty International Group 139; Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom-Madison Branch; Colombia Support Network; Students for Justice in Palestine-UW Madison; and Bright Stars of Bethlehem. Welcomed by WORT Radio.
If possible, please RSVP to rafahsistercity at yahoo.com so that we are sure to have enough food.
Thursday, April 5, 12-1 pm, WORT 89.9 FM: A Public Affair host Allen Ruff will interview Craig and Cindy Corrie, parents of Rachel Corrie, about their daughter’s legacy and their work on behalf of peace and justice in Palestine during the 15 years since Rachel’s death in 2003. Call in at 256-2001 with your questions and comments, or listen live online.
Joe Catron and Islam Maraqa from the ISM will be speaking and showing the Radiance of Resistance film clip on the UW-Madison campus on Monday, April 9 from 7-9 pm, at the Multicultural Students Center in the Red Gym, 716 Langdon Street, Madison. See UW-Madison Students for Justice in Palestine for more details.
Please join us for our Annual Rachel Corrie Commemoration and Benefit
Sunday, April 8
St. James Church
1128 St. James Court
Madison 2-5 pm
2018 marks 15 years since MRSCP was founded, and 15 years since Rachel Corrie was killed by Israeli soldiers in Rafah, where she was deliberately run over by a Caterpillar® bulldozer as she protested the demolition of a family home. Each year between March 16, the day of Rachel’s killing, and April 10, Rachel’s birthday, MRSCP celebrates her life with an event that benefits Palestinian children.
This year’s program will feature a visit by Craig and Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s parents, and a presentation by Palestinian and U.S. representatives of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), the group that Rachel was volunteering with when she went to Rafah. The event also includes a clip from from the new film, Radiance of Resistance about Palestinian youth activists Ahed Tamimi and Janna Ayyad.
Interfaith Peace-Builders Delegation, Gaza, November 2012
Refreshments including baklawa, hummus and tabbouleh will be served, and the ever-popular DOOR PRIZES will be awarded. Palestinian olive oil, olive oil soap, zaatar & maftool, embroidery and other crafts will be available for purchase.
The event is free and open to the public, with a $5 suggested donation to cover the cost of food. Donations will be gratefully accepted to help support the Samira Remedial Education Project for disadvantaged and traumatized children in Rafah, the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, and the ISM tour.
Please RSVP to rafahsistercity at yahoo.com so that we are sure to have enough food.
Can’t make it to the event? Consider a donation to the Samira Project in Rachel’s name. You can mail a check with the note “Samira” to
The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and all donations are tax deductible. Checks to MRSCP will receive a letter at the end of the year acknowledging your contribution. Contributions made online will receive a receipt from MECA.
As always, we appreciate your support and we hope to see you there!