This year is the 10th anniversary of Rachel Corrie's death; she died protesting the Israeli policy of collective policy against the Palestinian people. Her death is a reminder that the rights we take for granted here in this country are set aside regularly elsewhere by many countries who purport to be about basic human rights.
As Jim Kavanagh writes:
Rachel was killed resisting a "policy of mass
collective punishment, and deliberate destruction of civilian
infrastructure, a war crime."
For nine years, Rachel's parents, Craig and Cindy, sought some kind of
justice from the American and Israeli legal and political systems, only
to confront "a powerful and deeply entrenched foreign-policy apparatus
that grants virtual impunity to Israel, even for the killing of an
American peace activist."
We can drop "virtual." And it's not just impunity, it's complicity.
Rachel Corrie was killed not just by American equipment, but by a
regime that could not commit the crimes it does without the
substantively unconditional political, military, economic, and
diplomatic support that the United States provides -- for which every
American (including those who do not want to know or say anything about
all this) is responsible.
The problem is that the Israeli government routinely whitewashes these incidents, similar to the fox guarding the henhouse or the State Department relying on a report commissioned by the very people putting together the Keystone Pipeline to claim that it is safe to use. This whitewashing, as well as the culture of censorship that the Israeli government and apologists practice against Rachel Corrie and other people sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, leads to what former President Jimmy Carter calls "a climate of impunity which facilitates Israeli human rights violations against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Territory."
And as Kavanagh notes, Corrie is not the only American citizen who was killed by the Israeli military:
The response of the US State Department, which has an obligation to protect American citizens who are traveling abroad, has been one of moral cowardice. They have done absolutely nothing to protect either Corrie or Dogan or Saeed Abedini, the pastor imprisoned by the Iranian dictatorship for exercising his god-given right to freedom of speech. This is in contrast to William Dodd, the US Ambassador to Germany who, during the rise of the Nazis, successfully fought for the rights of US citizens who were harassed by that government.
Rachel also joins 18-year-old American citizen Furkan Dogan, who was
shot five times by Israeli commandos on an unarmed civilian ship in
international waters in 2010. Furkan was shot in the face, head, back
thorax, left leg, and foot -- all except the face back-entry wounds,
with the face wound showing stippling indicative of a point-blank shot.
According to the report of the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights on the incident, Furkan had apparently
been "lying on the deck in a conscious, or semi-conscious, state for
some time" before he was shot in his face.
Jefferson's words in 1816 against the tyrants of his time can just as easily apply to Israel's government:
Ever since the tragic death of Rachel Corrie, nothing has changed in Israel. The bulldozers continue to operate and demolish homes in blatant disregard of property rights. Property rights is a cornerstone of our liberties here in the US, as the following quotes from the Founding Fathers indicate:
Their monarchs, instead of wisely
yielding to the gradual change of circumstances, of favoring
progressive accommodation to progressive improvement, have clung to
old abuses, entrenched themselves behind steady habits, and obliged
their subjects to seek through blood and violence rash and ruinous
innovations, which, had they been referred to the peaceful
deliberations and collected wisdom of the nation, would have been put
into acceptable and salutary forms. Let us follow no such examples,
nor weakly believe that one generation is not as capable as another
of taking care of itself, and of ordering its own affairs. Let us,
as our sister States have done, avail ourselves of our reason and
experience, to correct the crude essays of our first and
unexperienced, although wise, virtuous, and well-meaning councils.
And lastly, let us provide in our constitution for its revision at
stated periods. What these periods should be, nature herself
“The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of
every citizen in his person and property and in their management.”
–Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816.
“To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and
that of his father’s has acquired too much, in order to spare to others,
who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is
to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association–’the guarantee
to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired
by it.’” –Thomas Jefferson: Note in Destutt de Tracy’s “Political
The situation in Palestine is a perfect example of what happens when basic property rights are disregarded and the government comes in and bulldozes homes without any kind of due process or compensation.
"Suppose a nation, rich and poor, high
and low, ten millions in number, all assembled together; not more than
one or two millions will have lands, houses, or any personal property;
if we take into the account the women and children, or even if we leave
them out of the question, a great majority of every nation is wholly
destitute of property, except a small quantity of clothes, and a few
trifles of other movables. Would Mr. Nedham be responsible that, if all
were to be decided by a vote of the majority, the eight or nine millions
who have no property, would not think of usurping over the rights of
the one or two millions who have? Property is surely a right of mankind
as really as liberty. Perhaps, at first, prejudice, habit, shame or
fear, principle or religion, would restrain the poor from attacking the
rich, and the idle from usurping on the industrious; but the time would
not be long before courage and enterprise would come, and pretexts be
invented by degrees, to countenance the majority in dividing all the
property among them, or at least, in sharing it equally with its present
possessors. Debts would be abolished first; taxes laid heavy on the
rich, and not at all on the others; and at last a downright equal
division of every thing be demanded, and voted. What would be the
consequence of this? The idle, the vicious, the intemperate, would rush
into the utmost extravagance of debauchery, sell and spend all their
share, and then demand a new division of those who purchased from them.
The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as
sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and
public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If 'Thou
Shalt Not Covet,' and 'Thou Shalt Not Steal,' were not commandments of
Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before
it can be civilized or made free." -- John Adams, Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States, 1787, Chapter 16, Document 15