The Rachel Corrie Foundation is a grassroots, 501(c)3 non-profit organization that conducts and supports programs that foster connections between people, that build understanding, respect, and appreciation for differences, and that promote cooperation within and between local and global communities. The foundation encourages and supports grassroots efforts in pursuit of human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice, which we view as pre-requisites for world peace. Continuing the work begun and envisioned by our daughter, Rachel Corrie, our initial emphasis has been on Israel/Palestine.
We conduct and support projects that educate for peace and justice, that foster connections and understanding between peoples on global and local levels, that promote the use of art and the written word in fostering justice and peace, and that encourage individual grassroots participation in bringing to fruition a positive world vision.
We hope people will take from our work the same, simple understanding that Rachel expressed as a young child: that we are interconnected. The future of us all depends on our ability to truly want for other children those basic things that we want for our own–shelter, health, education, safety, opportunity, and joy—and to work for that. Our leaders seem very parochial now, emphasizing the differences between people and pointing to “the other” with fear and disrespect. Through our work, we hope to illustrate how much we have in common with one another and that our differences should be points of celebration rather than fear.
The creation of the foundation was one response to Rachel’s killing. Shortly after her death, we had the opportunity to meet Linda Biehl whose daughter Amy was brutally killed as she registered voters for the first election in which all South Africans could participate. We learned how the Biehl family, guided by their daughter’s spirit and values, had established a foundation in South Africa. At the same time in the spring of 2003, people were asking us what they could do to remember Rachel. The conjunction of those two things encouraged us to believe that through a foundation inspired by Rachel’s values and spirit, we might make some difference. We slowly took the steps to organize the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice. The structure and work evolve as we continue to learn and to think about sustainability. We have drawn on the expertise of those in the Olympia community and elsewhere who have been eager to help us.
It requires tremendous effort and resources to establish the infrastructure for such an organization, and sometimes there is frustration at not being able to accomplish actual projects as quickly as we would like. We are primarily an all volunteer organization at this point. Certainly one of our frustrations is the struggle to keep up with communications that we have with wonderful people and supporters from throughout the U.S. and the world.
With the devastation and loss of life in Palestine, Lebanon, and Israel, Iraq and elsewhere it is challenging to hang on to hope. Still, it is always there for us, prompted by the many extraordinary people we meet throughout this country and in the world who work for justice on this issue and on many others. We are personally blessed each day with seeing the very best in humanity. A moment that stands out was at the West Bank village of Bi’lin in December where we joined Israelis, internationals, and an entire village of Palestinians who for over a year have been nonviolently protesting the Israeli military confiscation of sixty percent of their West Bank farmland. An apartheid wall and illegal settlements now stand where olive groves did before. Whenever we experience this convergence of Israelis, Palestinians, and many others—all recognizing the injustice, opposing it, and supporting human rights and international law—it is very heartening; and it happens for us frequently.
It can happen for others as well. The first thing Americans can do is to reject the idea, the myth really, that the Israeli/Palestinian situation cannot be solved. That kind of thinking makes it far too easy to avoid responsibility and action. Then, citizens can become better informed by seeking information from a variety of sources, including alternative media and from those with direct experience in the Middle East. They can join or lend support to one or more of the growing number of secular and religious groups that oppose the Israeli occupation and seek a just peace in the Middle East. They can educate their communities by monitoring local media coverage of this issue and writing informed letters to the editor. They can educate their representatives in Congress, challenge them to act and vote responsibly on this issue, and insist that U.S. laws regarding weapons exports are adhered to. The U.S. Government maintains a very biased stance in support of Israel that is not in the long-term interest of either Americans or Israelis, let-alone Palestinians. We must insist on more balanced policy that assures justice, freedom, security, and economic viability for both Israelis and Palestinians. Then there may be a chance for peace. Avoidance of this issue only makes the situation increasingly perilous for all involved, including the U.S.
— Craig & Cindy Corrie