Rachel Never Died
By Aisha Aijaz, Mar 16th, 2012
Rachel Corrie, beautiful soul, born in Olympia, Washington was no ordinary child, no ordinary 23 year old student and no ordinary human being. And people, who are extraordinary, never die. They live for ever in the hearts and minds of their followers. They give direction to many and because of them, hope never dies. Because of such crazy and courageous, the ugliness of injustices is exposed.
Her 5th grade speech ‘I am here because I care’ revealed no small dreams. At such a tender age, she talked of the oppressed, the poor and hungry and resolved to eradicate the ugly realities by the year 2000. As a student, she was different and wanted to explore the world especially after 9/11, year 2001. Ditching a beautiful and colourful American dream which she could have lived like many of her age, she travelled thousands of miles to Gaza to act as a human shield, where mercy and humanity is butchered every day and night, where men, women and children are murdered as a part of ethnic cleansing program, where houses are bulldozed, olive trees are cut, help including food and medicines from the rest of the world is denied and flotillas travelling to help humanity are attacked.
‘’Anyway, I’m rambling. Just want to write to my Mom and tell her that I’m witnessing this chronic, insidious genocide and I’m really scared, and questioning my fundamental belief in the goodness of human nature. This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don’t think it’s an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my co-workers. But I also want this to stop. Disbelief and horror is what I feel. Disappointment! I am disappointed that this is the base reality of our world and that we, in fact, participate in it. This is not at all what I asked for when I came into this world. This is not at all what the people here asked for when they came into this world. This is not the world you and Dad wanted me to come into when you decided to have me.’’ (28.02.2003)
On the day she died (16.03.2003), she was 23, dressed in a fluorescent orange vest and with a megaphone in her hand she was trying to stop the demolition of a Palestinian home where she lived with the children who were considered family by her and vice versa. She was mercilessly crushed under a military Caterpillar bulldozer which came towards her, knocked her down, crushed her with its blade, backed up, and ran her over again and she died shortly afterwards. ’My back is broken’ were her last words.
What did she have in common with the Palestinian; faith, ethnicity, skin colour, language, social background? Absolutely nothing! What was common was humanity. She had eyes that could appreciate the truth, mind that wasn’t closed because of any bias, heart that would cry on injustice and brutality and a soul that would feel the pain of Nazi-style genocide.
”I think, although I’m not entirely sure, that even the smallest of these children understand that life is not like this everywhere. An eight-year-old was shot and killed by an Israeli tank two days before I got here, and many of the children murmur his name to me, “Ali”–or point at the posters of him on the walls. The children also love to get me to practice my limited Arabic by asking me “Kaif Sharon?” “Kaif Bush?” and they laugh when I say “Bush Majnoon” “Sharon Majnoon” back in my limited Arabic. (How is Sharon? How is Bush? Bush is crazy. Sharon is crazy.)”
In 2003, Rachel’s news opened a new aspect of Palestinian cause to me. I learnt humanity existed above the boundaries of faith, ethnic origins and languages. I came to learn there are people on this earth who would risk their lives and everything for some other people despite absolutely no worldly strings attached between them. And it’s to date that I have explored a world that is cruel, unjust and merciless, but such people are a reason to live and resist. They give you direction, motivation and energy to challenge the ugly forces of the world.
For me Rachel Corrie is not the name of a person. It’s a phenomenon which embodies humanity, resistance, courage and craziness. Yes, she was as crazy as it needs to be to shake the world and stir the plans of the handful of unjust men ruling this world. And it’s this craziness and madness which is the ultimate requirement to challenge falsehood and malice. Human beings live and die, but phenomena, missions and ideas never die. They’re like beacons of light for generations to come. Rachel Corrie, an American, a peace activist and a trailblazer, will always be my hero.
“Love you. Really miss you. I have bad nightmares about tanks and bulldozers outside our house and you and me inside. Sometimes the adrenaline acts as an anaesthetic for weeks and then in the evening or at night it just hits me again – a little bit of the reality of the situation. I am really scared for the people here’..“When I come back from Palestine, I probably will have nightmares and constantly feel guilty for not being here, but I can channel that into more work. Coming here is one of the better things I’ve ever done. So when I sound crazy, or if the Israeli military should break with their racist tendency not to injure white people, please pin the reason squarely on the fact that I am in the midst of a genocide which I am also indirectly supporting, and for which my government is largely responsible. “I love you and Dad…” Email to parents ~ 27.02.2003
Aisha Aijaz is a medical doctor and student of History in London, United Kingdom. A writer who loves photography and Urdu poetry. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.