All the Young Rachels

Rachel Corrie herself has become something of a political football yet who was she, really? Was she the saint some people are making her out to be?
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Rachel Corrie was a pro-Palestinian American activist who died in Gaza. A play about her that was performed at the Royal Court Theatre in London was meant to open at the New York Theatre Workshop. It was then postponed due to, well, no one can really agree on why although that hasn't stopped accusations of bad faith from flying around. Rachel Corrie herself has become something of a political football yet who was she, really? Was she the saint some people are making her out to be?

Item #1: The spin: She was a civilian who was killed by the Israeli Army for no reason.

Item #1: The fact: She was in a war zone as a human shield.

Item #2: The spin: She was killed defending Palestinian homes.

Item #2: The fact: The homes protected tunnels through which weapons were being smuggled to attack Israeli civilians.

Item #3: The spin: Rachel Corrie was a secular saint.

Item #3: The fact: Rachel Corrie meant well, voluntarily placed herself in front of a bulldozer, and died.

Certainly, the Palestinian people have had a difficult time of it and deserve sympathy and support if some kind of agreement regarding statehood is to be achieved. But it seems like the people in Darfur are having a far rougher time right now, since the Janjaweed militia is engaged in actual genocide. It's inarguable that the Iraqi citizenry have been suffering mightily for years. Former Syrian dictator Hafaz Assad wiped out the entire town of Hama with poison gas. Where were/are the Rachel Corries in those situations?

The Palestinians, who Rachel Corrie died "protecting", have now elected a radical Islamic government intent on the destruction of Israel. Following that event, Billy Bragg recorded "The Lonesome Death of Rachel Corrie" and posted it on this site. Of course, in the Islamic state of those whose cause he is championing, and for whom Rachel Corrie died, Billy Bragg's music would be banned. Why is that? Don't the Islamists believe we are all one?

In an article that appeared in the British magazine The Spectator on October 22, 2005, entitled "The Forgotten Rachels" Tom Gross wrote about six other women named Rachel who died in the Middle East. In case you missed it, I'll list them: Rachel Levy, 17, was blown up in a Jerusalem grocery store. Rachel Charhi, 36, was blown up while sitting in a café. Rachel Gavish, 50, was murdered with her husband and son while at home. Rachel Kol, 53, was murdered with her husband by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Rachel Ben Abu, 16, was killed by a suicide bomber. Rachel Shabbo, 40, was murdered with her three sons, ages 5, 6, and 13, while at home. Why didn't Billy Bragg write a song about these women named Rachel? And where is the Royal Court play about them? I'm just asking.

The song should be heard by those who want to hear it, and the play should be seen and discussed by anyone who is interested. But let's not use Rachel Corrie's death as a means to obscure the complex nature of the truth in this situation.

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