Statement from the parents of Rachel Corrie

Craig and Cynthia Corrie display photo of their daughter at a news conference outside the Capitol, Wednesday, March 19, 2003, in Washington. The Corries lost their daughter, Rachel, shown also in a photo in the background, who was an activist killed by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to block demolition of a Palestinian residence in Gaza. They called on Congress to investigate Rachel’s death. The photo shows Rachel facing up to an Israeli bulldozer.(AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)

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