I am a 22-year-old student from Kansas City who last year spent four months doing peace work with the International Solidarity Movement in Palestine.
Movement volunteers began taking nonviolent direct action against Israel after the United States vetoed a Security Council resolution that would have sent in professional peacekeeping troops. I had the privilege of working with Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old student from Olympia, Wash.
Little did I know that I would witness her death.
One year ago, our group was opposing Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes. According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, Israel has demolished more than 11,000 Palestinian homes since 1968, fewer than 5 percent of them for security reasons. On March 16, 2003, we were in Rafah, Gaza Strip, where Israel was demolishing homes to construct a massive wall. We used our bodies to physically block bulldozers. A Palestinian would be shot for even going near a bulldozer, but our white skin and Western passports provided us a measure of protection ”” but not quite as much as we’d thought.
Rachel, wearing a fluorescent jacket, knelt in front of the family home Of a Palestinian physician with whom Rachel had stayed. Though she was clearly in his view, the bulldozer driver continued forward until he was moving the earth underneath her. She climbed onto the mound he was pushing, elevating to eye-level with the driver..