Cindy and Craig sat with Dan Shea of Veterans for Peace- Portland for the VFP Forum. The three reminisced about Rachel’s 5th grade speech—“I’m here because I care”, the history of the foundation, current projects, and BDS. They also talked about how September 11th impacted Rachel and how it moved Rachel towards activism. The Corrie’s also talked about their first visit to Palestine, the Mavi Marmara tragedy, the play My Name is Rachel Corrie, and the lawsuit in the Israel court system. This 50 minute interview starts at minute marker 8:05.
March 16, 2013 marks the 10-year anniversary of our daughter, Rachel Corrie’s death. We thank you all for the love and support you have sent us over the last 10 years, and we thank you for all the work you do on human rights. Please view and share this video and act. Join us at the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice in our call to action!
We spent a warm inaugural week-end in Washington DC this past month and were inspired – rallying and marching to the White House with friends chanting, “No blank check for Israel.” There was a magnificent inaugural eve Peace Ball at Arena Stage envisioned and realized by friend Andy Shallal, Busboys and Poets, Democracy Now! and other great organizations. The venue throbbed with powerful, infectious words, music, and dance – from orators like Amy Goodman, Angela Davis, Ralph Nader, Julian Bond, Medea Benjamin, and musicians Sweet Honey and the Rock and Emma’s Revolution. We were uplifted, being in a space so full of energy and celebration on inaugural eve. Still, we found ourselves wishing we could take the crowd for just a moment across the world to a few places and people we had been so privileged to connect with this past year.
The night before departing from Israel after hearing the judgment of the Israeli court in the civil lawsuit we brought in our daughter’s case, we had dinner with Israeli Jewish friends high in the hills of Haifa. They, like so many others, had supported us through our long journey in search of accountability. We met the parents of Natan – a 19 year-old Israeli youth and conscientious objector. Since November 19th (after Operation Pillar of Defense), he has repeatedly been in and out of military prison subsequent to each of his refusals to serve in the Israeli military. Natan says, “We, as citizens and human beings, have a moral duty to refuse to participate in this cynical game.”
Late on an October afternoon, we picked olives with farm families in beautiful hills near the West Bank community of Nisf Jbeel (between Jenin and Nablus). When taken to the village home where we would spend the night, we were met by 16-year-old Hamza – dressed up in his dark suit to meet us, and with an English-Arabic dictionary in hand that his teacher had loaned him to use because he and his family would be our hosts. Hamza’s eyes sparkled when he told us how for the first time in his life, he had recently been able to travel the fifty miles from Nisf Jbeel to Haifa in Israel – to see the Mediterranean Sea. We had an animated late-night conversation during which he proclaimed, “I love my country! I love my country! But I want to see the world!”
Days later in Gaza, and immediately before Operation Pillar of Defense, we met youth at the new music school. They told us they hoped for teachers skilled in musical instruments to come to Gaza to teach them. Yet without the new teachers, they were ready with a concert of oud, piano, and cello. We met Ayya and Ashwa at a meeting with a group of young Gaza women who had completed the UN’s Gender Project Program to acquire skills, self-confidence, and work experience. Ayya is a computer engineer, trained to provide tech support, who hopes to land a job. Ashwa wants to work in public relations and media and imagines “living in a peaceful world.” We learned how the families of these young women supported them as they stepped out of their homes. We learned how despite challenges with electricity and computers, they loved to surf the web, to chat with their family members in the West Bank, to get online help in applying for scholarships, to widen their horizons, and to dream. We heard their pleas for us to support funding for projects that provide for work – not for armaments and bombs.
Before we departed Gaza, we once again met Mariam in Rafah. She was three years old when she huddled with her sisters and cousins behind the garden wall where our daughter Rachel was killed. She is now almost thirteen – very much alive, beautiful, with questioning eyes, and hopes for her own future.
All of them – Natan, Hamza, Ayya, Ashwa, and Mariam– want to live, to move freely throughout this beautiful world, and to dream in the same way we are privileged to do. They ask us to dream with them and to believe that change is possible. They expect us to act to stop support for the weaponry and violence that shatters their lives, and instead to invest in their shared futures. They all tell us they are unable do it alone – that they are unable to make the changes needed without us standing and acting with them.
We love the freshness of new years and new terms. We enjoyed converging on Washington DC with those who still have hope for this President and who want to transform U.S. policies and government to make us more a nation of peace. According to Webster, an inauguration is a formal observation of a “beginning.” Our inaugural experience reaffirmed that we can have an impact. We may get tired, but we are not going away. At the start of this new term, it’s time to reach out again to this administration and to President Obama. It’s time to demand a foreign policy that recognizes our shared future with the beautiful young people from across the world who touched our lives this year. And it’s time to reaffirm our own commitment to work together for that shared future – with shared justice, security, and peace – for as many years and administrations as it takes to achieve it!
We are spending the waning days of 2012 in Brazil, making our first visit to South America – for a niece’s wedding and to finally visit our foreign exchange student who lived with us nearly twenty years ago. Our first day off the plane, we’ve explored exotic foods and drink, enjoyed a Brazilian summer thunderstorm, and through heavy rain surveyed the Oscar Niemeyer-designed buildings of Brasilia, the capital city that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What resonates most for us, though, are the vibrant conversations we’ve already had with our hosts about indefensible U.S. policies on Israel/Palestine, deterioration of the U.S. reputation because of our actions in the Middle East this past decade, and the “evils of empire.” Yet among these Brazilian friends, there is still belief that much of what the U.S. does in the world contributes positively, and hope that the Obama administration in its second term will navigate its way toward positions that better serve both U.S. and world interests.
As we listen and engage with the lively discussion, we are heartened again by our ability to have the conversations, to connect across continents, and to see that wherever we go, people are more the same than different. The rights and opportunities we hold dear are those others want, as well – and not only for themselves.
At the Rachel Corrie Foundation, connecting, listening, recognizing how much more there is that unites than separates us, and acting for the greater good are driving principles. Whether bringing a teacher from Gaza for an Olympia visit, facilitating and hosting the first Olympia Arab Festival, or rallying groups across the globe to challenge investment in corporations that support the Israeli occupation, we are doing our best each day to practice the values that guided Rachel and that have continued to guide this organization.
A big part of what we are able to accomplish depends on you and how you reach out to join our work – volunteering or partnering with us, telling others about our efforts, responding to our calls to action, sharing your ideas for the Rachel Corrie Foundation, and sending your financial support. It’s all important!
We read that Brasilia was begun in 1956 ex nihilo (out of nothing) by designating and taking possession of a space and ensuring that all elements in the capital’s creation were in harmony with the overall design. As we hear from friends about changes in South America, we realize how much our efforts for a just peace in the Middle East are part of something much larger – a movement well under way to possess a shared space where the rights and dignity of all human beings matter, and where we add to the harmony. Thank you for helping us join this journey – and from Brazil, feliz Ano Novo (happy New Year) to all!
Cindy and Craig Corrie
Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice
GAZA STRIP – Voices of Conscience Delegation Arrives
November 5, 2012 – Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB) is pleased to announce that our 21 member delegation to the Gaza Strip passed safely through the Rafah Crossing Monday morning and is now safely in the Gaza Strip.
Interfaith Peace-Builders has sent more than 44 delegations to Palestine/Israel since 2001. This is the first IFPB delegation to enter the Gaza Strip since 2003. Like other IFPB delegations, its purpose is to educate North Americans about the region and deepen their understanding of its conflicts.
On the eve of the Presidential Election in the United States, the US-brokered peace process continues to show few results and US military aid to the region continues to flow unabated.
This delegation focuses on the realities of Palestinian life in the Gaza Strip. Participants have the unique opportunity to hear directly from Palestinians throughout the territory regarding their hopes for peace and the role of the United States, the US government, and other international actors, in promoting a resolution to the conflict.
The Interfaith Peace-Builders delegation to the Gaza Strip is led by Michael Brown and Cindy Corrie.