Statement from the parents of Rachel Corrie

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Posted by Esarhaddon from ( on Saturday, July 05, 2003 at 4:01PM :

In Reply to: Rachel Corrie: In her own words posted by Esarhaddon from ( on Saturday, July 05, 2003 at 3:53PM :

Statement from the parents of Rachel Corrie
Craig and Cindy Corrie, Press Release, 19 March 2003

On 19 March 2003, Craig and Cindy Corrie, parents of murdered peace activist Rachel Corrie, held a press conference on the terrace of Cannon House, one of the three buildings of the US House of Representatives in Washington D.C. Rep. Brian Baird (Rachel's representative), Rep. Jim McDermott, and Rep. Adam Smith were present, all Democrats from Washington State. The following text is the statement Rachel's parents made at the press conference. Text courtesy of Partners for Peace.

(Washington D.C., 19 March 2003) "Our daughter Rachel, a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement in the Occupied Territories, died Sunday in the Gaza Strip while courageously trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home.

Our loss is immense, but we are buoyed by the outpouring of support and love that we’ve received from around the world. We understand that Rachel is being remembered in many places in many beautiful ways, and we are grateful. We are comforted and heartened by the compassionate expressions of love that we have received from both Palestinian and Israeli people. We will forever remember and be thankful for Rachel’s ISM and Palestinian friends who cared for her and who held her for us as she died.

We are speaking out today because of Rachel’s fears about the impact of a war with Iraq on the people in the Occupied Territories. She reported to us that her Palestinian friends were afraid that with all eyes on Iraq, the Israeli Defense Forces would escalate activity in the Occupied Territories. Rachel wanted to be in Gaza if that happened.

In the last six weeks, Rachel became our eyes and ears for Rafah, a city at the southern tip of Gaza. Now that she’s no longer there, we are asking members of Congress and, truly, all the world to watch and listen.

One week ago I came rather timidly to members of Rachel’s delegation in Congress, expressing my concerns for the safety of those in the International Solidarity Movement. A piece of me wonders if I had spoken louder or sooner, if this week’s tragedy might have been averted. So today I am speaking up in memory of my daughter and on behalf of all her friends in Gaza.

We are greatly concerned for the non-violent internationals volunteering in the Occupied Territories. We ask that members of Congress call upon the Israeli government to cease harassment of these individuals and, specifically, to cease firing upon them when they are engaged in protecting the Palestinian water supply, protecting Palestinian homes from illegal demolitions, and retrieving bodies of murdered Palestinians for return to their families – all events Rachel witnessed.

In my last phone conversation with Rachel, she expressed that when we fail to support and protect the Internationals who resist non–violently, we also undercut the non-violent initiatives of the Palestinians. We are, therefore, asking our members of Congress to demand that the American Embassy in Tel Aviv, when called upon for assistance, provide all reasonable support to non-violent, American volunteers in the Occupied Territories, as well as support to other internationals as appropriate.

We are asking members of Congress to bring the U.S. government’s attention back to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and to recognize that the occupation of the Palestinian territories is an overwhelming and continuous act of collective violence against the Palestinian people. We ask that military aid to Israel be commensurate with its efforts to end its occupation of the Palestinian Territories and to adhere to the rules of international law.

Craig and Cindy Corrie at a vigil in Washington DC, 18 March 2003. (Ali Hadjarian)
Rachel would not want her death to overshadow that of others. In barely glancing at headlines since word came of Rachel’s death, I note that many have died this week in the Occupied Territories – one a four-year-old child. I would like to be able to hold the mother of that child and to have her hold me.

Yesterday, I looked at a publication entitled "Who Will Save the Children?" with photos of children who have died since September 2000 in Israel and in the Occupied Territories. I understand that the next publication will be dedicated to Rachel and will include her photograph.

I want the mothers of these children to know that I have looked at the beaming faces of each of their babies and that I know how much the world has lost with the passing of each one of them.

In one of her e-mails Rachel wrote, "Today as I walked on top of the rubble where homes once stood, Egyptian soldiers called to me from the other side of the border, ‘Go! Go!’ because a tank was coming. Followed by waving and "what’s your name?" There is something disturbing about this friendly curiosity. It reminded me of how much, to some degree, we are all kids curious about other kids: Egyptian kids shouting at strange women wandering into the path of tanks. Palestinian kids shot from the tanks when they peek out from behind walls to see what’s going on. International kids standing in front of tanks with banners. Israeli kids in the tanks anonymously, occasionally shouting - and also occasionally waving -- many forced to be here, many just aggressive, shooting into the houses as we wander away." How I wish that the young man in the bulldozer that killed Rachel could have just stopped, hopped out, and talked to her. He would have met a beautiful soul.

In another e-mail, Rachel wrote, "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 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 what they are asking for now. This is not the world you and Dad wanted me to come into when you decided to have me."

Rachel’s brutal death illustrates dramatically the madness of war."

Craig and Cindy Corrie
19 March 2003

: Rachel Corrie: In her own words
: Rachel Corrie, writing from Rafah, occupied Palestine
: 17 March 2003

: Excerpts from an e-mail from Rachel Corrie to her family on February 7, 2003

: 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. 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.)

: Of course this isn't quite what I believe, and some of the adults who have the English correct me: Bush mish Majnoon... Bush is a businessman. Today I tried to learn to say "Bush is a tool", but I don't think it translated quite right. But anyway, there are eight-year-olds here much more aware of the workings of the global power structure than I was just a few years ago--at least regarding Israel.

: Nevertheless, I think about the fact that no amount of reading, attendance at conferences, documentary viewing and word of mouth could have prepared me for the reality of the situation here. You just can't imagine it unless you see it, and even then you are always well aware that your experience is not at all the reality: what with the difficulties the Israeli Army would face if they shot an unarmed US citizen, and with the fact that I have money to buy water when the army destroys wells, and, of course, the fact that I have the option of leaving. Nobody in my family has been shot, driving in their car, by a rocket launcher from a tower at the end of a major street in my hometown. I have a home. I am allowed to go see the ocean. Ostensibly it is still quite difficult for me to be held for months or years on end without a trial (this because I am a white US citizen, as opposed to so many others).

: When I leave for school or work I can be relatively certain that there will not be a heavily armed soldier waiting half way between Mud Bay and downtown Olympia at a checkpoint—a soldier with the power to decide whether I can go about my business, and whether I can get home again when I'm done. So, if I feel outrage at arriving and entering briefly and incompletely into the world in which these children exist, I wonder conversely about how it would be for them to arrive in my world.

: They know that children in the United States don't usually have their parents shot and they know they sometimes get to see the ocean. But once you have seen the ocean and lived in a silent place, where water is taken for granted and not stolen in the night by bulldozers, and once you have spent an evening when you haven’t wondered if the walls of your home might suddenly fall inward waking you from your sleep, and once you’ve met people who have never lost anyone-- once you have experienced the reality of a world that isn't surrounded by murderous towers, tanks, armed "settlements" and now a giant metal wall, I wonder if you can forgive the world for all the years of your childhood spent existing--just existing--in resistance to the constant stranglehold of the world’s fourth largest military--backed by the world’s only superpower--in it’s attempt to erase you from your home. That is something I wonder about these children. I wonder what would happen if they really knew.

: As an afterthought to all this rambling, I am in Rafah, a city of about 140,000 people, approximately 60 percent of whom are refugees--many of whom are twice or three times refugees. Rafah existed prior to 1948, but most of the people here are themselves or are descendants of people who were relocated here from their homes in historic Palestine--now Israel. Rafah was split in half when the Sinai returned to Egypt.

: Currently, the Israeli army is building a fourteen-meter-high wall between Rafah in Palestine and the border, carving a no-mans land from the houses along the border. Six hundred and two homes have been completely bulldozed according to the Rafah Popular Refugee Committee. The number of homes that have been partially destroyed is greater.

: Today as I walked on top of the rubble where homes once stood, Egyptian soldiers called to me from the other side of the border, "Go! Go!" because a tank was coming. Followed by waving and "what's your name?". There is something disturbing about this friendly curiosity. It reminded me of how much, to some degree, we are all kids curious about other kids: Egyptian kids shouting at strange women wandering into the path of tanks. Palestinian kids shot from the tanks when they peak out from behind walls to see what's going on. International kids standing in front of tanks with banners.

: Israeli kids in the tanks anonymously, occasionally shouting-- and also occasionally waving--many forced to be here, many just aggressive, shooting into the houses as we wander away.

: In addition to the constant presence of tanks along the border and in the western region between Rafah and settlements along the coast, there are more IDF towers here than I can count--along the horizon,at the end of streets. Some just army green metal. Others these strange spiral staircases draped in some kind of netting to make the activity within anonymous. Some hidden,just beneath the horizon of buildings. A new one went up the other day in the time it took us to do laundry and to cross town twice to hang banners.

: Despite the fact that some of the areas nearest the border are the original Rafah with families who have lived on this land for at least a century, only the 1948 camps in the center of the city are Palestinian controlled areas under Oslo. But as far as I can tell, there are few if any places that are not within the sights of some tower or another. Certainly there is no place invulnerable to apache helicopters or to the cameras of invisible drones we hear buzzing over the city for hours at a time.

: I've been having trouble accessing news about the outside world here, but I hear an escalation of war on Iraq is inevitable. There is a great deal of concern here about the "reoccupation of Gaza." Gaza is reoccupied every day to various extents, but I think the fear is that the tanks will enter all the streets and remain here, instead of entering some of the streets and then withdrawing after some hours or days to observe and shoot from the edges of the communities. If people aren't already thinking about the consequences of this war for the people of the entire region then I hope they will start.

: I also hope you'll come here. We've been wavering between five and six internationals. The neighborhoods that have asked us for some form of presence are Yibna, Tel El Sultan, Hi Salam, Brazil, Block J, Zorob, and Block O. There is also need for constant night-time presence at a well on the outskirts of Rafah since the Israeli army destroyed the two largest wells.

: According to the municipal water office the wells destroyed last week provided half of Rafah’s water supply. Many of the communities have requested internationals to be present at night to attempt to shield houses from further demolition. After about ten p.m. it is very difficult to move at night because the Israeli army treats anyone in the streets as resistance and shoots at them. So clearly we are too few.

: I continue to believe that my home, Olympia, could gain a lot and offer a lot by deciding to make a commitment to Rafah in the form of a sister-community relationship. Some teachers and children's groups have expressed interest in e-mail exchanges, but this is only the tip of the iceberg of solidarity work that might be done.

: 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.

: Thanks for the news I've been getting from friends in the US. I just read a report back from a friend who organized a peace group in Shelton, Washington, and was able to be part of a delegation to the large January 18th protest in Washington DC.

: People here watch the media, and they told me again today that there have been large protests in the United States and "problems for the government" in the UK. So thanks for allowing me to not feel like a complete polyanna when I tentatively tell people here that many people in the United States do not support the policies of our government, and that we are learning from global examples how to resist.

: American peace activist Rachel Corrie (23) from Olympia, Washington, was murdered by an Israeli bulldozer driver on March 16, 2003 in Rafah. Rachel was in Gaza opposing the bulldozing of a Palestinian home as a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement.

-- Esarhaddon
-- signature .

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