It’s become part of our annual ritual at the Rachel Corrie Foundation to write this end-of-year newsletter and use it as an opportunity to reflect on all that has been and all that can be. We dedicate this issue to Scott Kennedy – co- founder of the Resource Center for Nonviolence in Santa Cruz, former city council member and mayor, a giant contributor to efforts for justice and peace in Israel/Palestine, and our friend. Scott died unexpectedly November 19th – one week after leading his final tour to the Middle East with Interfaith Peace-Builders. In 2004, as mayor, he declared March 16th Rachel Corrie Day in Santa Cruz and said, “It is a very sad commentary on the state of political affairs in the United States that our national government has done virtually nothing to find out what happened…” In 2005, he hosted Craig and me and members of the family whose home Rachel stood to protect, in a memorable Santa Cruz visit. He was a brave, passionate man who helped us find our voices.
I’m writing from home, wrapping up work before departing for an uncle’s funeral in Iowa and a grandchild’s birthday on the east coast. Life’s cycles are very present for me. From my living room, I’m able to gaze at “Rachel’s tree.” It’s now a gorgeous, lushly green, fifty-foot-tall Douglas fir, nurtured by the rains, sun, and soils of the Pacific Northwest. It was a tiny five-inch seedling when Rachel brought it home from an elementary school field trip and planted it in our yard. We love trees and have others that are named, but numerous seedlings through the years haven’t fared so well. This tree, though, dominates the view from our dining room window and is a reminder of the ability and power of seeds to grow into things magnificent – and a reminder of all that Rachel has left behind. Seeds planted by people like Scott Kennedy and Rachel expand as we keep their spirits and examples alive in our own work.
It has been a momentous year for the world and for the Rachel Corrie Foundation. The outcomes of all we have seen erupt in the Middle East and North Africa and in Occupy communities across the U.S. remain unclear, but we have turned a corner to a place where personal freedoms, human rights, and opportunity will no longer be easily denied. This newsletter includes news of our 2011 accomplishments – and there are many – but more important are our plans for 2012 and after, intended to support struggles for equality and justice in the Middle East and beyond. We look forward to Olympia’s first Arab Festival in October, to supporting boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) efforts in Olympia and elsewhere, and to increasingly effective connections with friends in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel.
As we embark on our ninth year, our partnerships with those who work on Israel/ Palestine and on many related issues are key. The connections make us stronger. We are strengthened also by volunteers – many locally in Olympia, but by those, too, across the world who creatively share Rachel’s story and the work that emanates from it. We appreciate you!
This is a time of year when we ask for help. We need your support more than ever – to sustain our current work and to do even more. Please take time during this busy season to consider how you can support the Rachel Corrie Foundation now and in the coming year – but most of all, know how grateful we are for your interest and support in 2011 and for all the personal actions you have taken to move our collective efforts for justice and peace in Israel/ Palestine forward.
Peace, Salaam, Shalom,
Cindy Corrie, President, Rachel Corrie Foundation