Outrage in Olympia as Sister City is Attacked


Activists holding a banner across from Percival landing during the busy rush hour. Tyson Lazzaro, on the left of the banner, returned two weeks ago from a trip to Israel and the West Bank. He was not allowed to enter Gaza to get to Rafah despite daily attempts to do so.

Olympia, WA; May 18 — Since Rachel Corrie died in Rafah over a year ago, Rafah has held a special place in the hearts of Olympia residents who have been attempting to forge a sister city relationship with the besieged city. On May 18, the Olympia Rafah Sister City Project [ORSCP] sponsored a demonstration in support of the people in Rafah.

About 35 people gathered at rush hour on Percival Landing to protest the latest destruction and show solidarity with the Palestinian people. The current deadly incursion in Rafah has hit many people here hard. They are stunned that the level of violence is continuing to escalate and appalled that George Bush refuses to condemn Israel’s crimes against human rights.

Emails with news updates from Rafah are rapidly circulated through the ORSCP mailing list. Most of the news is coming from the Fida, the ISM contact in Rafah, The Electronic Intifada, the Madison Rafah Sister City Project [MRSCP] and ORSCP’s delegates on the ground in Israel/the West Bank. These vital links supplement the general media coverage, which does not come close to describing the effects of the IDF raids.

Rachel Corrie’s mother, Cindy (second from left) standing on Percival Landing holding a banner.

Craig Corrie, in the center, holding two banners. On the far left is Dan Broadwell who wrote some moving comments to Rafah in the article. He is a member of Veterans for Peace, Rachel Corrie Chapter. In the background, right next to Captain Broadwell is Larry Mosqueda who also wrote a message to Rafah. Larry is a founder of the Olympia Movement for Peace and Justice and was a good friend of Rachel Corrie.

The rally was called as a visible action but much of the real work is done in private. People are calling and emailing the Israeli and United States governments. Also, citizens have been urged to telephone their elected representatives in Washington. The ORSCP has been meeting twice a month and is working on longer term projects for helping Rafah.

Because of their daughter’s death, Craig and Cindy Corrie have devoted much of their lives to the struggle and attended Tuesday’s rally. They have given much support to the ORSCP [and vice versa]. Rachel’s sister, Sarah Simpson joined in downtown and has also done much for the cause.

Anna Rose, age 5, collecting messages to Rafah. Anna has been active in the movement since the death of Rachel Corrie. Rachel is a hero to her. She has attended many events and understands what is happening in Rafah. It makes her “sad” but she “wants to be able to share her toys with the kids in Rafah.”

About 35 people attended the rally in downtown Olympia. They chose to do the actions at rush hour on the main traffic corridor in and out of town, this ensured maximum exposure.

Many ORSCP members were prominent taking part in the action and they included founders Rochelle Gause and Christi McGinley. Rochelle and another member, Tyson Lazzaro, just returned from a two week trip to Israel and the Territories with the Middle East Children’s Alliance. Rochelle was allowed in to the Gaza Strip for 6 hours and did make it to Rafah for a very short time.

At the event a message board was circulated amongst the crowd for supporters to write messages to be delivered to the people of Rafah through this article. The people that wrote messages are hoping that these words of support will get through and somehow get circulated in Rafah:

“To our friends in Rafah,

We cannot stand, as Rachel stood, between your homes and families and the IDF bulldozers and tanks. But we have stood with friends on the streets of your sister city, Olympia, and we have called our Congress and our State Department to demand this atrocity stop. Please know that we hear your cries for help, that we are adding our voices to yours in demanding of our government and the government of Israel peace, justice, security, dignity and hope for the people of Rafah. Our hearts are with you.

Craig and Cindy Corrie”

“Hello to you, my fellow humans. And from your Sister City. Sad, isn’t it, that powerful men doubt their own instinct to remain at peace. So they, and worse we American Aggressor Nation, now an opponent of peace. We will create our own atmosphere. It will lead to failure. Israel’s outrageous aggression will do no less for them.”

“God, Allah, bless you. Who holds his esteem and that of his or her friends high now, today, will emerge whole and content.”

“We love you, we fellowship with you and we will help.” - Dan Broadwell, Captain, USMC, 1960-69.

“I love peace.” Anna Rose, age 5.

“We will not abandon you! You are important to us. With love, Lucy in Olympia, WA

“Prayers for peace, safety and home for you. I will light a candle and ask for intervention in this situation. God-Allah does not will for people to destroy each other. In peace. Love, Marge, Olympia”

“Yours in the spirit of solidarity
Justice will come!
The occupation will end!”

“We stand in solidarity with you. We will help end the occupation.”

“Tomorrow in Jerusalem.” - David Rovics

“We love you.
Our hearts are with you.
We have lost control of our government.”

“Collective punishment is uncivilized.”

“2 weeks ago I was in Rafah. My heart remains there even though I have returned to Olympia. Know that some of us here recognize our role in the incredible injustice that is happening to you. We are meeting regularly, trying to raise awareness and planning actions here on your behalf. In Solidarity. Rochelle.”

“Only America’s ignorance is allowing us to stand by idly. We can only persist in getting the word of your plight out in the open here. You are not completely forgotten.” - Ron, Olympia.

“The attacks in Rafah make me physically ill. They also make me want to help all the more in the smartest ways I can. I am ashamed of my government and have fought the Bush regime since he stole the election. We fought hard against the war in Iraq, we will fight just as hard to get rid of Bush.

“I have followed the work of the ORSCP and have never seen a more dedicated group of individuals. They are as passionate as Rachel Corrie was and they love you as much as she did. Even though the world lost Rachel [and all of the other shahiid], there are others just as brave in Olympia carrying on her work. Please know they are doing as much as they can on this end. More of us would visit if we could. Those who are able to travel still can’t get in to see you despite trying as hard as they can. We think of you all the time - if that counts for anything.please know you are not completely forgotten.” Ch. Mercer, Olympia

“Where is the humanity in what we are doing in the name of security. There is a face and a story that belongs to every person/human being slaughtered in Rafah. Who will be left to tell their stories?” Christi McGinley

“People of Rafah: You are in our hearts and we feel your fear and pain. The people of the world want peace and justice for you. Olympia sends love to Rafah!” Alice Zillah

“Your struggle is our struggle - we will not abandon you.” Larry Mosqueda in Olympia.

Related Links

  • BY TOPIC: Rachel Corrie
  • BY TOPIC: Israel’s “Operation Rainbow” in Rafah, Gaza

    An Olympia resident since 1996, candio. comes from New York and the east coast. She has written for many arts and alternative news publications. She also does art and has shown on the street and in the museum. She has been covering the Palestinian Solidarity movement in Olympia for the past year.