This speech was written by the family of Rachel Corrie and read on Saturday, April 12, 2003 at numerous peace rallies around the world. Rachel was an accomplished writer and cared deeply about working for justice and peace in the world. To read some of Rachel’s writings, please visit the Guardian: here.
On March 16, our daughter and sister Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer while she was trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home in the Gaza Strip. Rachel chose to go to Rafah, a city at the southern tip of Gaza, because she believed the world had forsaken this place.During her time there, Rachel became our eyes and ears of as she told us about the tanks and bulldozers passing by, about the homes with tank-shell holes in their walls, about the rapidly multiplying, Israeli army towers with snipers lurking along the horizon, about apache helicopters and invisible drones buzzing over the city for hours at a time, about wells and greenhouses, and olive groves destroyed, and about the giant metal wall being built around Gaza.
She told us of help she received from an Israeli soldier who e-mailed to her Hebrew phrases to use when confronting Israeli soldiers in tanks and bulldozers. What would your mother think? She also told us about Ali, the eight-year old Palestinian boy shot and killed two days before she arrived, about large groups of Palestinian men rounded up and held for hours at a time, about Palestinian students and workers who could not get to their university or to their jobs because of closed checkpoints, and about Palestinian municipal water workers fired upon while trying to make repairs. She told us, too, of sleeping on the floor and sharing blankets with a family of five, of helping the young boy Nidal with his English as he helped her with her Arabic, and of kind Palestinians who gave her lemony drinks to cure her flu bug. She wrote, I am also discovering a degree of strength and of basic ability for humans to remain human in the direst of circumstances. I think the word is dignity.
Rachel had dreams. She believed that her hometown Olympia, Washington, could gain a lot and offer a lot by committing to a sister-city relationship with Rafah. She envisioned e-mail exchanges between children in the two cities. She wrote, Many Palestinian 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.
Rachel believed that she might see a Palestinian state or a democratic Israeli-Palestinian state within her lifetime. She wrote, “I think freedom for Palestine could be an incredible source of hope to people struggling all over the world.”
Rachel aligned herself with non-violent Palestinian peace activists, with non-violent Israeli peace activists, and with non-violent international peace activists working courageously to make all of these dreams come true. She lost her life in that effort when she was crushed four weeks ago by an Israeli army bulldozer. It is now up to us each and every one of us– to stand up with the same conviction and courage and from our pulpits, from our podiums, from our streets, and through our letters to Congress, the Secretary of State, and the President, to shout along with Rachel, “this has to stop! I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and to devote our lives to making this stop. I don’t think its an extremist thing to do anymore. I still really want to dance around to Pat Benetar and to have boyfriends and to make comics for my coworkers. But I also want this to stop!”