“Who killed Rachel Corrie? Rachel Corrie was killed by your money and weapons!”
Not a word
Some could say this is the nub of the relationship between Israel and the US. Rachel Corrie, an American citizen, was killed ten years ago by a bulldozer as she tried to protect a Palestinian family’s home from being demolished in Rafah, Gaza. Nine years after her murder, an Israeli court ruled that she was to blame for her own death. The US administration didn’t say a word.
Does the US allow Israel to continue with its impunity and grave violations of human rights and give it unconditional support because three thousand years ago, Jews were exiled from the holy land? Or — as Obama correctly noted in his opening speech on Tuesday — because of the similarities between the US and Israel: both colonizing entities that committed in Israel’s case, continues to commit massacres and ethnic cleansing of the population indigenous to the land they settled on?
“I couldn’t stand listening to the speech any more,” Rabeea Eid, who writes for the Arabs48 website, said. “It was a very Zionist speech that made other speeches by Zionist figures pale in comparison.”
Rabeea was dragged out of the hall by security guards, who handed him over to the police. They handcuffed him, threatened him, and attempted to intimidate him. They told him he was under arrest. A Fox News journalist had followed the security guards outside and wanted to know what Rabeea had said to Obama. Soon afterwards, other journalists and reporters followed suit, asking him questions.
“You can say that the media circus is what got me released,” Rabeea told The Electronic Intifada a few hours later. “I felt it was important to show Palestinian voices within the ’48 territories do not welcome Obama.
“[Obama’s visit] in its entirety clearly shows the bias the US has towards Israel. I obviously wasn’t expecting Obama to talk about the Palestinian citizens of Israel and the discrimination against them. Yet I’m baffled that even after his pro-Israel speeches, the Palestinian leadership continues to welcome him, thus supporting the US hegemony in the Middle East and its policies around the world.”
In response to Rabeea’s interruption of his speech, Obama laughed and made fun of the situation, to raucous applause and standing ovations from the audience.
“No, no — this is part of the lively debate that we talked about,” he joked. “This is good. You know, I have to say we actually arranged for that, because it made me feel at home. I wouldn’t feel comfortable if I didn’t have at least one heckler.”
“A friend showed me a clip of what he said after I was taken outside,” Rabeea said. “It wasn’t very clear because the video was on a cell phone, but it tells you a lot about how Obama decided to make fun after I mentioned Rachel Corrie, the contradiction of being a Jewish and democratic state, and the weapons the US funds Israel with.”
For Rabeea, he considers the most crucial thing is for Obama’s visit not to go by without further “heckling”.
“The most important part is for this visit not to go on in a normal manner,” he said.