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Posts Tagged ‘rachel corrie’

From my journal and letters, my dispatches from the field and now from home in Cambridge Massachusetts, as I photograph internally expelled Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza (once I can enter Gaza), plus their ancestral homelands.

PHOTOS 

I am here because I care.

—Rachel Corrie

My Own Housing is at Risk

I am a low-income photographer, reliant on Social Security, photographic project funding, and until recently slender earnings from teaching (I left teaching due to enrollment decline and complicated scheduling). For many of my 30 years in a decent section of Cambridge I’m able to afford my 700 square feet apartment thanks to a Section 8 Housing Voucher. However, funding this benefit depends on city, state, and federal administrations. Each change of leadership—the current federal leadership terrifies me—reminds me of how precarious my situation is. A friend I’d shared this home with for a few years always declared, if they boot me out, I’d find a shelter to live in. I feel somewhat the same way, even tho shelters are chronically overcrowded and dangerous.

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My home in Cambridge Massachusetts (click here for enlargement)

My neighborhood in Cambridge, and also the Boston metro area, as well as much of our country, is currently gentrifying at an alarming rate. Gentrification means displacement, much as Israel displaced Palestinians during the Nakba. Less violent here perhaps, with some meager means of redress, but thousands are pushed from their homes as entire regions become too expensive to live in. A national crisis, a result of income and wealth inequality, exacerbated by the current federal government.

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My neighborhood, looking west

Because of the uncertainty of my housing I feel more sensitive to the precariousness of the housing of others. In East Jerusalem and in Area C, which constitutes 60% of the West Bank, Israel constantly demolishes Palestinian homes.

What about housing in the refugee camps in Gaza and the West Bank? Currently the United States administration calls for the United Nations Refugee Works Administration (UNRWA), the main agency providing housing, food, and medical and legal assistance to the camp residents, to be defunded. The possible result—maybe intentional—is killing the refugee programs in Palestine, including housing, thereby squelching the demand for the right of Palestinian return.

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Gaza, 2010, photo by Skip Schiel © 

In 2002 during Operation Defensive Shield, purportedly in response to suicide operations by Palestinian militants, Israel invaded the 7 most populous regions in the West Bank, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jenin, and Nablus among them. They destroyed much of the infrastructure, including housing. During that spring I recall going to bed thinking—fantasizing of course, but deeply concerned—that during the night, someone would demolish my home. Then awakening, my home intact, I offered thanks for another night and perhaps day in my home. I might not be able to afford increasing rents or the loss of my housing subsidy, but no one’s going to demolish it—yet it is a constant threat and a connection with Palestinians.

Context of my Palestine-Israel Work

I have studied, visited, photographed, filmed, written about, and presented about Palestine-Israel since the fall of 2003 when I participated with a delegation from the Fellowship of Reconciliation. I felt compelled to witness for myself the reality of life in Palestine-Israel, to pass thru checkpoints, to be harassed by Israeli soldiers, to confront the Separation Wall. Initially the reasons I offered for why I am so attached to this project were four:

  • Oppression: during my experience in South Africa in 1990 and 1998 I began to understand the parallels between the two apartheid systems—and the close links between the two countries, South Africa and Israel. Which helped open my eyes to the brutal and illegal injustice perpetrated on the Palestinians by the Israelis. I was outraged, angry, burned inside. I needed to channel my anger, and decided, well I photograph, let’s try it there.
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South African during the Interfaith Pilgrimage of the Middle Passage, 1999, photo by Skip Schiel © 

  • Jesus: I’m a follower of that great Jewish mystic and teacher, Yeshua, aka Jesus Christ. I don’t believe literally the supernatural parts of his story (not even sure he existed since the historical record is so sketchy) like the Immaculate Conception and Resurrection. I do attempt to follow his ethical teachings, non-violence and unconditional love in particular, which continue to affect me deeply. I’d grown up as a Catholic with images of the Holy Land in my schools, and—thanks to the Way of the Cross or Via Dolorosa—in the churches themselves, rendered in stained glass. The dust, donkeys, arches, wide expanses, hills, water, luminous sky all drew me, the Roman occupation itself. What’s it like there now? I had to experience the land of Jesus for myself. He lived during the Roman Occupation; I shall experience the Israeli Occupation.
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Jesus condemned by the  Sanhedrin (a Jewish judicial body)

  • The Mediterranean Light: photography depends on light, as does vision, not only neurological vision but philosophical vision, wisdom. From my first trip, that unearthly light continues to draw me back. What does it mean, how can I best work with it, how will others respond to my renderings of light? And why so many luminaries from such a small region? Not only Jesus, but Moses, Abraham, Hagar, Sarah, and all the prophets, male and female, and finally, because of his legendary night journey to visit God in heaven, the founder of Islam, one of the three Abrahamic faiths, Mohammed himself. Why so many, and yet there is no agreement on distribution of power?
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Mediterranean Sea, Gaza, Palestine
  • Rachel Corrie: In March 2003, a young woman took a leave of absence from college in Olympia Washington to heed the call of a friend in Gaza. She joined the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), entered Gaza, and stayed with a Palestinian family to protect their home from demolition. Wearing a bright orange reflective vest and shouting thru her bullhorn, Rachel Corrie stood in front of a gigantic Caterpillar D9 bulldozer (made by a US corporation) whose Israeli army soldier was about to demolish the home she protected. He crushed her, running the blade twice over her body. She became a shaheed, a martyr. Six months later, 14 months since Operation Defensive Shield, I made my first trip to Palestine-Israel.
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Rachel’s mother, Cindy, carrying the poster

Right of Return

All Jews anywhere, whatever their historic connections with Israel might be, have the right of return (Aliyah in Hebrew, “the act of going up”), with citizenship if desired and benefits such as housing, medical, educational, and others. Palestinians, despite their verifiable connections with the region, even when they can prove land ownership, cannot return to their original homes that existed before the Nakba in 1948. Is this not a massive contradiction, evidence of clear hypocrisy, unsustainable by international law?

The Law of Return was passed unanimously by the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, on July 5, 1950, 2 years after the Nakba, this date chosen to coincide with the anniversary of the death of Zionist visionary Theodore Herzl.

It declared: “Every Jew has the right to come to this country as an oleh (immigrant).” Furthermore, in a declaration to the Knesset, the then Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion asserted that the law did not bestow a right but rather reaffirmed a right Jews already held: “This law does not provide for the State to bestow the right to settle upon the Jew [A Jew is defined as a person with a Jewish mother.] living abroad; it affirms that this right is inherent in him from the very fact of being a Jew; the State does not grant the right of return to the Jews of the diaspora. This right precedes the State; this right builds the State; its source is to be found in the historic and never broken connection between the Jewish people and the homeland.” (My emphasis)

In 1970 the Knesset extended this right to people with one Jewish grandparent and a person who is married to a Jew, whether or not he or she is considered Jewish under Orthodox interpretations of Halakha (collective body of Jewish religious law).

The refusal of the right of return plays an essential role in the apartheid regime by ensuring that the Palestinian population in Mandate Palestine does not grow to a point that would threaten Israeli military control of the territory and/or provide the demographic leverage for Palestinian citizens of Israel to demand (and obtain) full democratic rights, thereby eliminating the Jewish character of the State of Israel….

In 1948, General Assembly resolution 194(III) resolved that “the [Palestinian] refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so” and that compensation should be provided to the rest. Israel has rejected the application of that resolution on security grounds and on the basis of the “demographic threat” of a Palestinian majority: in the unlikely event that the entire Palestinian population of refugees and involuntary exiles returned to Palestine en masse, the Palestinian population under Israeli rule would total some 12 million, electorally overwhelming the 6.5 million Jews in Israel. Even if that refugee population returned in numbers sufficient only to generate a Palestinian majority (as is far more likely), Israel would be forced into either adopting an explicitly apartheid policy in order to exclude them, and abandoning democracy altogether, or enfranchising them and abandoning the vision of Israel as a Jewish State….

Report by Richard Falk and Virginia Tilley, commissioned by the Economic ad Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA0), published in 2017, and then under pressure withdrawn.

Grief & Outrage

Dear Friends,

The news of the mass shooting during shabbat services at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh this morning is simply terrifying. 

News is still coming in, but we know that at least 10 people have been killed, that the shooter was a white man who entered the sanctuary yelling “kill all the Jews,” and that he might have specifically been motivated by the synagogue’s work supporting refugees and immigrants. 

I want first to send love, strength and solidarity to our beloved Jewish communities facing fear and harm today.  

Please join JVPers [Jewish Voice for Peace participants] tomorrow, Sunday October 28th [2018] at 12 pm PST/3pm EST for a virtual grief ritual with Rabbi Margaret Holub of the JVP Rabbinical Council. We will hold space to grieve and mourn and rage together.  

Register now: Mourning and Healing in the Times of White Supremacy and Antisemitism with Rabbi Margaret Holub. 

I know everyone at JVP is committed to fight white supremacy and anti-Jewish hatred, and I definitely know that we need everyone – including you – there with us. We must rely on each other, especially in an era when national leaders foment this type of violence.

May the memories of those whose lives were lost this morning be for a blessing.

With love and rage,
Alissa

My concluding motivation is finally recognizing the grief and outrage I feel about expelled Palestinian refugees. I first felt this—minimally, largely subconsciously—when researching the topic, meeting and interviewing real people, photographing them, visiting their sites of expulsion, and now, during post production, reviewing their stories, looking into their eyes, posting their images publicly.

The slaughter of 11 Jews in the Tree of Life (ironic name) synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018 exposed my grief. I wept nearly uncontrollably about the Pittsburgh news and almost every time the topic arose. Why, I asked myself, do I feel so strongly about this mass murder when there have been so many others in recent years and I’ve not responded so dramatically? Yes, I have close Jewish friends, Sy, Shola, Stan, Rebecca, Laura; they could be threatened. The day after that massacre I joined an online virtual grieving session organized by Jewish Voice for Peace. During a breakout group, as I prepared to offer a thumbnail of my feelings, the reason for my current grief suddenly cleared to me.

To my colleagues who lived in different parts of the world and were probably mostly Jewish I said that I felt so strongly about the 11 Jews murdered, and their family and friends who also suffered loss, because until this moment I’d not yet fully acknowledged my grief about the Palestinian refugees. The 11 deaths in the synagogue—and the news that the murderer picked that particular Jewish group because it supported immigrants, Jewish and non-Jewish—keyed my feelings about the deaths suffered by the Palestinians, not only their homes, and in some cases actual lives, as result of the expulsion, but the loss of their ancestral homelands, regions of the earth, sacred to them, owned for centuries, perhaps millennia, ripped from them, as the lives of the Jewish synagogue members and their families and friends were tragically redirected.

Irrational tho it may be, I finally understood more of why I engage in this project.

  • 11 Killed in Synagogue Massacre; Suspect Charged With 29 Counts, by Campbell RobertsonChristopher Mele and Sabrina Tavernise (Oct 27, 2018)
  • Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) (Supported by the Tree of Life Synagogue and referred to by the alleged shooter)
    HIAS works around the world to protect refugees who have been forced to flee their homelands because of who they are, including ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities. For more than 130 years, HIAS has been helping refugees rebuild their lives in safety and dignity.

Postscript: On one of my much earlier work trips I inadvertently drove past a sign announcing Canada Park in Israel. I’d heard about it, built with money donated by Canadians, on land previously owned by Palestinians. Now forested to erase the history, I drove in briefly. I didn’t realize then this was my first attempt on the project I began many years later, “On Our Way Home.”

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Lake near the Date Palm Spring, Ayalon Canada Park, photo by Yaakov Shkolnik

ADDITIONAL LINKS

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  • A Jew Reflects on the Nakba, by Noam Sheizaf (May 2011)
    Denying the Nakba—forgetting our role in it and ignoring its political implications—is denying our own identity.
  • American Jews and Israeli Jews Are Headed for a Messy Breakup, by Jonathan Weisman, the deputy Washington editor of The New York Times (January 2019)
    Is the world ready for another Great Schism?

    Promised Land, by The Jewish Museum of the Palestinian Experience
    The Jewish Museum of the Palestinian Experience was founded to provide a Jewish perspective on the Israel/Palestine conflict. The Jewish perspective is rooted in Jewish values, to treat our neighbor as we would want to be treated.

    THE LAST OF MY MOTIVATION SERIES BUT I WILL CONTINUE MY MAIN SERIES ABOUT INTERNALLY EXPELLED PALESTINIANS.

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Rachel Corrie / Courtesy Rachel Corrie Foundation

The call to be a prophet is more than an invitation. It is first of all a feeling of being enticed, or acquiescence or surrender. But this winsome feeling is only one aspect of the experience. The other aspect is a sense of being ravished or carried away by violence, of yielding to overpowering force against one’s own will. . . .

A man [sic] whose message is doom for the people he loves not only forfeits his own capacity for joy, but also provokes the hostility and outrage of his contemporaries. The sights of woe, the anticipation of disaster, nearly crush his soul.

—Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

The Peace Abbey in Sherborn Massachusetts, dedicated to understanding and fostering peace in its many forms, has organized a Pacifist Memorial which includes a series of walls radiating out from a statue of Gandhi. Each wall contains plaques honoring a peacemaker with a short quote from that person’s life. Many are known, like Mother Teresa and Dorothy Day, while others are relatively unknown like Jessie Wallace Hughan (Founder of the War Resisters League) and St. Catherine of Siena (political and religious Peacemaker, 1347-1380) Notably missing from this assembly is Rachel Corrie.

The process for adding her includes submitting a proposals about her life and work, why she is a peacemaker, and then, if the application is accepted, raising the money to pay for the plaque ($150 – 300).

I encourage any reader who’d like to support this proposal to write Lewis Randa, founder and director of the Peace Abbey, at lewisranda@gmail.com.

UPDATE ON THE PROPOSAL (July 2010):

Proposal accepted. I’m raising money for the memorial plaque. If you wish to donate please contact me, Skip Schiel, at schiel (at) ccae (dot) org.

Peace Abbey

(© All text & photos (unless otherwise noted) copyright Skip Schiel, 2004-2010 )

Dear Lewis Randa, director of the Peace Abbey,

I’m writing to propose adding Rachel Corrie to a wall of the Pacifist Memorial.

She was a nonviolent activist from the USA working in Palestine, who, while trying to protect a Palestinian home in Gaza from demolition by the Israeli army, was killed. A Caterpillar D9 bulldozer (made in the USA) driven by two Israeli soldiers crushed her. Many eyewitnesses claim that the soldiers saw her and deliberately killed her.

She was working with the International Solidarity Movement, a Palestinian-led organization dedicated to non-violence. After her training in non-violence, Rachel lived with various families in Rafah for about 5 weeks prior to her death.

She wrote profusely. A play seen around the world, My Name is Rachel Corrie, memorializes her words and life. A district court in Haifa is now (March 2010) hearing her family’s case against the Israeli state for wrongful death. And March 16, 2010 marks the 7th anniversary of what Palestinians and many others including me consider her martyrdom.

Mother, Cindy, sister, Sarah, father, Craig Corrie, in Haifa District Court, Israel, March 10, 2010 / courtesy Reuters &

She comes from a long (for her years) history of nonviolent peace and justice making. Some examples: she joined the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace and participated in various peace and environmental activities, then joined the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in her senior high school year. She took a leave of absence to initiate a sister city project between Olympia and Rafah and to participate in ISM-organized demonstrations in Rafah. (http://www.spiritus-temporis.com/rachel-corrie/early-life.html)

In addition while in fifth grade and attending a press conference about world hunger she spoke the following:

I’m here for other children.

I’m here because I care.

I’m here because children everywhere are suffering and because forty thousand people die each day from hunger.

I’m here because those people are mostly children.

We have got to understand that the poor are all around us and we are ignoring them.

We have got to understand that these deaths are preventable.

We have got to understand that people in third world countries think and care and smile and cry just like us.

We have got to understand that they dream our dreams and we dream theirs.

We have got to understand that they are us. We are them…

Her mother and father established the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, “that conducts and supports programs that foster connections between people, that build understanding, respect, and appreciation for differences, and that promote cooperation within and between local and global communities. The foundation encourages and supports grassroots efforts in pursuit of human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice, which we view as pre-requisites for world peace. Continuing the work begun and envisioned by our daughter, Rachel Corrie, our initial emphasis has been on Israel/Palestine.” (From the Foundation’s website)

I do this on behalf of a larger community who share my views about her non-violent peace making, and I’m preparing to raise the funding necessary for the plaque.

More information about her and the trial

My earlier blog entry about her:

A video of her in Rafah:

A selection of possible quotes from her for the memorial plaque, if this proposal is accepted:

Hi friends and family, and others,

I have been in Palestine for two weeks and one hour now, and I still have very few words to describe what I see. It is most difficult for me to think about what’s going on here when I sit down to write back to the United States. Something about the virtual portal into luxury. I don’t know if many of the children here have ever existed without tank-shell holes in their walls and the towers of an occupying army surveying them constantly from the near horizons. I think, although I’m not entirely sure, that even the smallest of these children understand that life is not like this everywhere.

—Rachel Corrie, February 7, 2003

I feel like I’m witnessing the systematic destruction of a people’s ability to survive. It’s horrifying…

Sometimes I sit down to dinner with people and I realize there is a massive military machine surrounding us, trying to kill the people I’m having dinner with…

[to the Israeli military] We are protecting civilians. We are unarmed. We are no threat to you. Please do not shoot…

We should be inspired by people… who show that human beings can be kind, brave, generous, beautiful, strong—even in the most difficult circumstances.

—Rachel Corrie, Gaza, 2003, a compilation

I should at least mention that I am also discovering a degree of strength and of basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances – which I also haven’t seen before. I think the word is dignity. I wish you could meet these people. Maybe, hopefully, someday you will.

—Rachel Corrie, in an email to her mother, February 28 2003

Many people want their voices to be heard, and I think we need to use some of our privilege as internationals to get those voices heard directly in the US, rather than through the filter of well-meaning internationals such as myself. I am just beginning to learn, from what I expect to be a very intense tutelage, about the ability of people to organize against all odds, and to resist against all odds.

—Rachel Corrie, emails from Palestine, February 7, 2003

More quotes

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Bureij refugee camp, Gaza Strip, May 2006

At home in Cambridge Massachusetts I am now recounting my trip to southeast USA with my photographic presentations about Palestine & Israel, in 15 parts, one for each day.

Photos from the trip, In passing: the south :: February 2009

Report of the trip

Photos in this entry from Bureij refugee camp in Gaza, May 2006, part two

Now that Fida [director of the AFSC youth program in the West Bank] has taught me the characteristics of a refugee camp I can pick out the vertical construction, narrow passageways, poverty, and preponderance of kids. I’ve not yet seen raw sewage in the streets, one of the conventional images of the camp, nor piles of garbage. Thanks to Ragdha’s brother, Mohanad and younger brother whose name I’ve forgotten, I saw more of the camp, street life and family life. We visited the family of 2 brothers in a different family, 1 of which had been shot 3 times during the various intifadas. He proudly showed us his photo album of images made while recovering in hospitals in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Mohanad explained that sort of international support has dried up. Someone shot now earns little outside help. More

After a long, nearly long lost and losing drive from Athens Georgia to Aiken SC, about 4 hours driving in the dark, under a full moon, thru the empty countryside, thanks to wrong directions derived from Google maps by 3 young women of the Georgia State University-Athens. Pulling in at 1 AM, C hosting me but now long asleep, me waking 5 hours later feeling fully refreshed. But will I crash mid show today or tonight, falling sleep at my computer switch?

Went like this, yesterday: show at Emory, the Candler School of Theology, the show Bethlehem, slotted into a 50 minute lunch period. Hate that. I just started the show and quit it at the time-defined moment but it felt not only abruptly truncated but deflated somehow, with minimal energy—the part definitely not standing for the whole. Students were more or less mute. Beth, my host, confided that the student body tends to conservatism, and that there is a strong presence of Christian Zionists. She explained that she’d hoped I’d help light a little fire. I doubt I did, if anything I smothered whatever embers might have been aglow.

The woman introducing me, who’d picked me up from K and B’s, a poet, told me about her recent experience in Palestine/Israel and the general region. In Palestine don’t drink the tap water. Enter Israel, drink the tap water. Enter Bethlehem, don’t drink the tap water. I asked her to read her poem during her intro. Encapsulating, the part standing for the whole, one of the main points of my work on Palestine-Israel, this might have been the major “take away” of the event.

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Later, Beth Corrie—Corrie? Are you related to Rachel? She’s my cousin, first cousin, 8 years my junior—explained to me that the student population, all graduate students, are new to activism, or haven’t yet reached that stage. Also activism waxes and wanes in Atlanta, is slowly recovering after a recent peak.

I pumped her for data and stories about Rachel and here’s what I learned: Rachel had been precocious in art, able to write a better poem at age 4 than Beth could as an adult. She danced, made puppets, drew, wrote. Thus, Beth thought, she had an inordinate level of compassion and sensitivity. Her mother, Cindy, started an alternative grade school that Rachel attended, and in this context Rachel attended the conference about poverty that she spoke at—age 10.

Cindy and Craig, her parents, quit all they were doing after she died, Cindy her various jobs, Craig his insurance business, to devote full time to circulating Rachel’s story. Each family member was affected by Rachel’s death, each moved slightly or dramatically forward in social activism.

Beth is on the faculty of Candler, working with high school youth bringing them on campus for an early experience in seminary, and teaching a college course that is something about conflict resolution, I believe. She has her PhD and must be now about in her mid 30s. She hosted me. She chose an 11 by 14 photo of kids playing in Beit Lahiya, because, she said, It feels hopeful. She offered me the going price, $20—I gave her the photo, both to thank her for her hosting and to honor her for her relationship with Rachel (and all the information she gave me).

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Too bad my Bethlehem show was so weak, and the discussion vapid. No one stayed later to discuss, even tho we offered pizza. I had to whisk out of the room so another group could use it.

The evening show went better, Gaza to about 30 mostly students at Georgia State University in Athens, a huge campus of 30,000 students, the campus reverberating with the din of construction. Here I was hosted by S, Palestine-American, part of a student activist group about the Mid East. She was most gracious and thoughtful, picking me up from the half way point that Beth dropped me at, treating me to Thai food in the lazy college town with many bars, then driving me thru the night to meet Dave in Washington Georgia. I’m so sorry, she said, when realizing someone had made a huge mistake in directions, and she was not carrying a map.

S’s family, with roots in Palestine, is more immediately from Jordan. She returns there regularly. Never to Palestine. Her friend,  the ever laughing and rasping, A, is also Palestinian, but her family is from Syria. They had many in-jokes to share as we drove and ate, laughing regularly. One stream of jokes was about their over attentive parents. When telling these jokes, they would feign an Arabic accent. One joke was about the word crackers, the name of S’s dog. Why crackers, daddy? It was the first word I learned in English.

Ha ha.

They were very worried driving with me thru the night, and not happy about driving back without a white male in the car. One wore a hijab, S is dark skinned. Thus the worry.

Riding with them to meet Dave I received the feeling what hanging out with a young woman that age—S is 21—might mean. As socially engaged as they are, S at least, they talked endlessly about food, shops, styles, etc, a step, a small step, from high school banter. Not for me.

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Some of the more vexing questions from the shows: one state vs. two states, inside information about Hamas, election (yesterday it happened in Israel, outcome unknown to me at this point, I’ll soon check), action ideas, Boycott-Divest-Sanction campaign, local campaigns, but nothing about Rachel, nothing about me personally. At a recent show one young man later asked me privately how to prepare for a career in photojournalism like mine. Answer: practice photography incessantly and learn all you can about your area of concern.

I met JM at the Athens show, an older man wearing a suit, but very astute about the Israel-Palestine issues. And active. He bought a photo, snatched much literature, talked to me at length later about links with his church community, the Presbyterian mission group that I think I heard about in December on the tour south.

It’s all about networks.

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Y wrote a long loving letter about her recent medical issues. She mentioned in her letter not trusting me with confidential information like this. She wrote about my grand daughter E’s love and hate of certain words, and how this drives her mom K nuts. But, Y, the writer, said: not to worry, it indicates that E is thinking about words. Maybe you and I could make a list of words with the feelings attached. Y would have made a fine parent, and, given certain adjustments on both our parts, a fine life partner.

Driving to Aiken last night with Dave, he was excited about tour prospects, namely Florida and other regions of the south. He suggested cuts I could make in Bethlehem, apologized for squeezing me into a narrow time slot for today’s show at the University of South Carolina, Aiken, and for spotting me in such widely distant regions, like Aiken. Confessing, I wanted you here in Aiken. He also suggested we make a DVD of some of my shows, maybe like Anna Baltzer’s, or maybe like Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth. I lean toward that general idea if it can be more than me sitting calmly like Anna presenting a tepid show. Something with chutzpah.

One of my biggest fears on this tour is forgetting to pack something vital when I shift locations, such as my computer or the adapter or my wallet or my notebook. So far, nothing of note left behind. But, ejecting from the car yesterday afternoon, between B and S, I must have left my Popular Achievement cap in B’s car. Then arriving in my room last night, as if in a dream, there was a pair of what I think is my underwear, left here from my first tour in summer 2007. An equal exchange?  The cap is no problem. I borrowed a replacement from Dave and have multiple Popular Achievement caps at home. So far I believe I have my computer, adapter, wallet, and notebook.

—February 11, 2009, Wednesday, Aiken SC, with Dave’s friend C

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I’m here for other children.
I’m here because I care.
I’m here because children everywhere are suffering and because forty thousand people die each day from hunger.
I’m here because those people are mostly children.
We have got to understand that the poor are all around us and we are ignoring them.
We have got to understand that these deaths are preventable.
We have got to understand that people in third world countries think and care and smile and cry just like us.
We have got to understand that they dream our dreams and we dream theirs.
We have got to understand that they are us. We are them.
My dream is to stop hunger by the year 2000.
My dream is to give the poor a chance.
My dream is to save the 40,000 people who die each day.
My dream can and will come true if we all look into the future and see the light that shines there.
If we ignore hunger, that light will go out.
If we all help and work together, it will grow and burn free with the potential of tomorrow.

—Rachel Corrie, aged ten, recorded at her school’s Fifth Grade Press Conference on World Hunger

Only those photos indicated with an asterisk * are by Skip Schiel

I find myself making more lists, partly because of Rachel Corrie, her penchant to do the same. With about 8 others from Friends Meeting at Cambridge, half youth, I saw the play, “My Name is Rachel Corrie,” yesterday [March 22, 2008] at the New Repertory in Watertown Massachusetts. Splendid as expected. One of the most wrenching parts was her writing her friend Chris after she or he had written her, Rachel saying, “Come, Chris, come here, join me!” This resonates with my wish to be there, and my frequently expressed desire for others to join me.

The killing was off stage, delivered by a first person observer (not Joe Carr who also was there, who made many of the more famous photos of her killing), in a matter of fact voice, after she’d said she was going to join some Palestinians for food (or something similar, equally inane). The play ended with the tape of her at age 11 giving a speech about ending global suffering.

Rachel Corrie & Caterpillar D9 bulldozer

Stacy Fischer, playing Rachel, embodied her perfectly, leading to 2 consequences for me, related: Rachel lives, as resurrected, good timing since Christ springs back to life today on Easter, and I fell in love thru Rachel with Stacy—or thru Stacy with Rachel.

Stacy Fisher as Rachel Corrie

Stacy Fisher as Rachel Corrie

I felt throughout the play that I was watching not the actor, but a reincarnated form of Rachel. I could alternate viewpoints—now Rachel, now Stacy—and the 2 flowed gracefully into each other. As if Rachel, dying, knew Stacy would bring her back. As if Stacy, preparing to be an actor, knew she would someday be tasked with enlivening Rachel.

Rafah

During the Q&A with Stacy and the New Rep headman, Rick Lombardo, I asked about a scene near the end, while she was in Gaza, recounting an earlier episode when she worked or volunteered with a drop-in center and brought clients to the local Dairy Queen. “What was this all about?” I inquired. Stacy answered, looking directly at me, “We’re not sure, maybe to lighten the death presence in the last part of the play,” and then she seemed to glance at me from time to time during the rest of the discussion. As if she knew me from some other ethereal region.

I asked also about the absence of any reference to the tunnels, part of the justification Israel uses to explain demolishing homes in the Philadelphia corridor. Rick answered that there are many viewpoints about Rachel’s act and the context; we only presented from her point of view.

—Journal, March 23, 2008

*Near the killing site, Rafah, border with Egypt, January 2008

*Rachel Corrie Peace Center, Rafah, January 2008

Video of Rachel Corrie in Rafah

“5 years on, we remember Rachel Corrie”

March 16th, 2008 | Posted in International Solidarity Movement

—Louise France

This article by was originally published in The Observer newspaper on the 2nd March 2008.

It is impossible to underestimate quite how much life for Rachel Corrie’s family has changed since she was killed by an Israeli army Caterpillar D9 bulldozer in the Gaza Strip on 16 March 2003. As Rachel’s elder sister Sarah puts it: ‘What was normal doesn’t exist for us now.’

“After Rachel was killed.” When I meet the Corries, it swiftly becomes clear that there is a great deal they want to speak out about, but it is these four words, heavy with loss, that they have repeated most over the past five years.

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From a Democracy Now interview with Katherin Viner, one of the originators of the play:

And you can imagine, we were so excited about this [proposed opening in NYC in 2006, later cancelled], and we realized that we didn’t need to be playwrights. We just needed to edit Rachel’s words, that Rachel could tell her story all on her own. And so then, the patchwork was just moving around Rachel’s words, timings. And, in fact, the first third of the play is before she even goes to Gaza, and it’s her packing in her bedroom, finding old journals, telling stories about bumping into ex-boyfriends or her job or female friends or just being an ordinary teenager, before she made the big decision to go to Gaza.

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