Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rachel Corrie, Patient Widows, and Having a Home

Justice was denied again yesterday in the case of Rachel Corrie, the U.S. peace activist and advocate who was killed in Gaza in 2003 by an Israeli military bulldozer, a Caterpillar D9. Rachel's parents, who I have had the honor of meeting, had brought a suit against the Israeli military in Israeli courts. The verdict of the case once again completely whitewashes her death. I'm no reporter. You can read about it more at CNN, or read this article in the Guardian, or this press release from Jewish Voice for Peace, which includes information about divestment. I support divestment, with my whole heart. But tonight I don't have the heart to write about it.

Cindy and Craig Corrie remind me of the patient widow in Luke 18, slowly trying to wear down the unjust judge of militarism and the organized destruction of a people. Cindy always speaks with such compassion in her eyes. My heart breaks for them as, once again, they relive the death of their daughter. A few years ago I remember Cindy talking about the trial, then in its early stages. The bulldozer driver testified from behind a screen. "They wouldn't even let us see his face," she said. "He'll stay a machine to us now."

Hearing about Rachel's death reminds me of the house demolitions that continue today in the occupied Palestinian territories. If you've been following this blog long enough you've seen me write about some of the ones that I saw. I remember the noise--I still get tense when those jack-hammer bulldozers dig into the asphalt--and the dust, and the sound of the mother keening. And that deep sunk pit in my stomach, that internal, accusatory voice whenever I opened my mouth to complain: "But you have a home, but you have a home, but you have a home."

I have not been doing advocacy this past year, I think for some understandable reasons. But if anything gets me back into it, it might be that voice. I have a home. I have a home. I have a home. And whether it's bulldozers in Palestine or poverty in DC, something has to be done as long as I have a home and someone else doesn't.

Rachel is dead. She died trying to protect a home from being demolished. What sort of life can we live so that everyone can have a home?


"oh rafah. aching rafah.
aching of refugees
aching of tumbled houses
bicycles severed from tank-warped tires
and aching of bullet-riddled homes
all homes worm0eaten by bullets and then
impregnated through bullet holes by birds" -- Rachel Corrie, as printed in Let Me Stand Alone

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