Monday, September 29, 2003
Today, Cindy and Craig Corrie, parents of Rachel Corrie, wrapped up their first visit to the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israel, and met with members of the press in Jerusalem. Attached you will find Cindy and Craig Corrie's statement to the press.
Monday, September 29, 2003
Ambassador Hotel, Jerusalem
Parents of Rachel Corrie in Palestine / Israel
Given by Craig & Cindy Corrie in Jerusalem
Our daughter Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Rafah in the Gaza Strip on March 16, 2003, while she was trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home. Since that time, as we have grieved for our daughter, we have also worked to learn more about this conflict about which she cared so deeply and in which she lost her life. To find peace for ourselves in the aftermath of Rachel's death and for our own understanding, it was necessary for us to come to this land and walk where Rachel walked, and see what she saw.
We arrived in Tel Aviv on September 12 and have spent the past weeks in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. September 15-20, we were in the Gaza Strip, primarily in Rafah. There we were able to meet with many of Rachel's friends: with those she had worked with in ISM, with the families in whose homes she had stayed to try to offer some international protection, with the children she had worked with in the youth parliament, and with the community members she had met as she tried to build connections between Rafah and her hometown of Olympia in the U.S. In Rafah, we were able to briefly witness some of the violence of the occupation-the nightly machine gunfire from tanks, the fear walking to a home in Rafah after dark, because the family we were to eat dinner with lived on a street exposed to gunfire from Israeli watchtowers, but also the simple and profound dignity of our host walking slowly down the center of that same street to escort us from his home back to the relative safety of our car. We went to the water wells where Rachel and other activists stood watch so municipal water workers could repair them. We saw there in the faces of the workers, concern for our safety and for the safety of the children who followed us. We saw, too, the shrapnel and bullet holes from the Israeli firing of the night before. We returned a second time to a home along the border where we had lunched with a family on a previous day to find the wall of the room where we had eaten now pushed in and debris piled against the side of the house. We heard how the previous night the IDF soldiers had sent dogs into the house, followed by soldiers that remained for five hours harassing the family. We saw the ditch they had dug in the front yard, destroying a garden, but proving that, indeed, there were no tunnels. We were able to visit the site of Rachel's death and were threatened there by an Israeli APC and bulldozer. We saw the high, steel, border wall being constructed from west to east, dividing the land, neighborhoods, and families of Rafah in half. And we witnessed the voracious appetite of the Israeli bulldozers, consuming ever one more block of one community's homes in the name of another community's security.
We were able to visit with groups that are continuing projects in Rachel's name: a kindergarten with its smiling children chanting a song of welcome at the top of their lungs, and a youth cultural center with its plans for a library and computer center still in search of funding. We planted olive trees and drank sweet tea with friends. And we learned that in her adopted city of Rafah, as in her home town of Olympia, Rachel was always expected just around the corner, with her bright smile, her friendly concern, and usually a small band of children.
Then we experienced the lonely walk through Erez checkpoint where we were nearly the only people passing through and our new friends (Rachel's friends) were left trapped in Gaza waving goodbye to us.
We spent time in Jerusalem and the West Bank as well. In Jerusalem we went to a memorial at the site of a bus bombing and learned of Shiri, Rachel's age, killed just last year. We listened to her uncle describe Shiri with the same love and pride that our family uses when speaking of Rachel. We learned that the pain does not stop at the green line.
In the West Bank we witnessed the strategy of separation taking physical form in the web of fences, walls, identification cards, and checkpoints that separate not only Palestinians from Israelis, but Palestinians from Palestinians, farmers from their fields, children from their classrooms, workers from their jobs, the sick from their healthcare, the elderly from the grandchildren, municipalities from their water supplies, and ultimately, a people from their land. We saw dunams of crumpled aluminum, the jagged and torn remains of the once thriving marketplace of Nazlat Isa, a stark reminder of the occupation's devastating effect on the economy of both peoples. We also witnessed the horror on a woman's face as she watched her relative's home demolished in East Jerusalem.
And on the eve of this Jewish new year we celebrated Rosh Hashanah with Israeli friends in their Synagogue and home. We shared their bread, beets, and pomegranates, their stories of the last year and their hopes for the new one. And we shared their music: the songs of so many centuries of suffering and courage, but also, through it all, joy.
As our trip nears its end, we are struck by the terrible tragedy of the occupation: the irony of a people who have suffered so much, now causing suffering in so many others, the massive effort in manpower and expense demanded in maintaining the occupation, the desperate and horrifying strategy of suicide bombings used to violently oppose the occupation, the fear both of Palestinians sleeping in their homes in Rafah and Israelis riding on their buses in Jerusalem. And always the pain that we all share so deeply.
And so, as we depart, we can only echo our daughter when she wrote to her mother "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 still really want to dance around to Pat Benetar and have boyfriends and make comics for my coworkers. But I also want this to stop."
for more information on Rachel Corrie http://www.distanceeddesign.com/rachel/ http://www.rachelcorrie.org/ http://www.palestinemonitor.org/Activism/Rachel_Corrie.htm
We hope to make available within the next 12 hours the video footage from the press conference along with a full transcript. You will be able to access these at http://www.palsolidarity.org/
For more information, call Huwaida at +972-67-473-308
In solidarity & struggle,
INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT
CALL TO ACTION
YOUR PRESENCE IS NEEDED FOR THE OLIVE HARVEST IN PALESTINE Resisting the Occupation by Insisting on Life
The Olive Harvesting Campaign, part of the Palestinian people's resistance to the occupation, will begin on October 5 and extend until November 20, 2003. Orientation and training will begin on October 3 and 4 and be held every Friday and Saturday throughout the duration of the campaign. ISM will be working in conjunction with the Palestinian Environmental Network (PENGON), the Union of Palestinian Agricultural Committees, the Union of Palestinian Farmers, and the Land Defense Committee to welcome you. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
or see: www.palsolidarity.org.
The olive is the lifeline of the Palestinian people. Come to Palestine and help Palestinians endure by joining them in concert with their land.
For more information on the wall and its impact on the Palestinian people, please see: www.palsolidarity.org