On January 19, 2013, Cindy and Craig Corrie were interviewed by Abby Martin of “Breaking the Set” on RT-TV about their lawsuit seeking justice for Rachel’s death, the ongoing Palestinian struggle, and activism. Below is the full video of the interview:
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
By Cindy Corrie
Our family’s civil lawsuit in Israel in the case of our daughter Rachel opened March 10th with testimony from four international eyewitnesses, an autopsy doctor, an expert on heavy machinery, and a military police investigator. On March 24th, the trial recessed while the State identified military personnel to testify and the court broke for summer vacation. Proceedings resumed in Haifa District Court September 5th with five sessions spread over two months, the last being November 4th. Nine members of the Israeli military (including the driver and commander of the bulldozer that killed Rachel) testified for the Israeli Ministry of Defense. A Company Commander, Deputy Battalion Commander, and a Battalion Commander are among six to testify when the trial resumes. Because of an attorneys’ strike in the State Prosecutor’s Office, previously scheduled December court dates are now in question.
There are numerous revealing dimensions to this trial, but the spotlight on conduct of Israeli military investigations – both internal operational inquiries and those by military police – may be the most relevant to broader issues. Our attorney Hussein abu Hussein commented,
This civil trial is an important step to hold accountable not only those who failed to protect Rachel’s life but also the flawed system of military investigations which is neither impartial nor thorough.
Shalom Michaeli, lead investigator and head of the Israeli Military Police Special Investigations Unit, testified that he believed the Israeli army was “at war” with everyone in Gaza, including peace activists. An internal investigation of Michaeli’s investigating unit found that unprofessional conduct and negligence in investigation of the 2004 killing of a 13-year-old Gazan school girl was partly responsible for acquittal of the soldier charged. In a recent report, Void of Responsibility, the Israeli Human Rights organization B’tselem presents an indictment of Israeli military investigations:
B’Tselem protests the sweeping classification of the situation in the Occupied Territories as an ‘armed conflict,’ which effectively grants immunity to soldiers and officers, with the result that soldiers who kill Palestinians not taking part in hostilities are almost never held accountable for their misdeeds. By acting in this way, the army fails to meet its obligation to take all feasible measures to reduce injury to civilians, and its obligation prescribed by international law to investigate injuries to civilians.
Sworn testimony in Rachel’s case reveals that two out of three military police investigators were completing compulsory service and had three months or less of investigative training. While Michaeli stood by his 2003 investigation, he testified that he did not go to the site of the killing, that he failed to order a full transcript of radio transmissions from the event and considered them unimportant, and that he never interviewed Palestinian witnesses – including medical personnel who first examined Rachel. Michaeli did only an external inspection of the D9 bulldozer, strictly to see if there was blood or other indication that the bulldozer hit Rachel. He found no blood but testifed that the bulldozer could have been washed or “even painted” before he inspected it the day after the incident. Though Michaeli knew a video camera recorded the area round the clock, he failed to secure videotape from March 16th until a week later and testified that it had been taken by senior commanders. When questioned about failure to interrogate the camera operator, who panned away from the scene minutes before Rachel was killed, he said he did not think this relevant. Asked whether he questioned bulldozer crews about a military manual that states bulldozers are not to be operated near people, Michaeli said the manuals were not relevant.
All three investigators confirmed that on March 17, 2003, testimonies by the driver and commander of the bulldozer were interrupted by officers who stated that Doron Almog, head of the IDF Southern Command, instructed the soldiers to stop talking, not to sign anything, and not to cooperate with the investigation.
Questions remain about unresolved conflicting testimony taken from soldiers in 2003, the problematic interface of a strictly internal operational investigation with the military police investigation, and how information from these inquiries was used and seemingly manipulated to appease U.S. officials. The position of the U.S. Government remains that there has not been a “thorough, credible, and transparent”
Israeli investigation into Rachel ‘s killing, as was promised to President Bush by Prime Minister Sharon and was pursued by officials at the highest levels of the U.S. Government.
Our family continues to be shocked by the failure of military police investigators to look for evidence, to secure evidence, to resolve conflicting evidence, and to turn evidence over to the Israeli court. We are struck at how efforts of the investigating team and of those enlisted to support them were aimed at exonerating the military rather than impartially determining what happened on March 16, 2003. This is not what we and the U.S. government were promised by the Israeli government when Rachel was killed, and it is not what we accept now.
Representatives from the American Embassy-Tel Aviv have been in court each day and reportedly provide detailed accounts to Embassy and Department of State officials. Representatives of human rights and legal organizations (Al Haq, Adalah, Arab Association for Human Rights, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Center for Constitutional Rights, Human Rights Watch, International Federation for Human Rights, and National Lawyers Guild) have observed trial proceedings. Our family members attend all sessions. Bi-lingual volunteers translate the Hebrew proceedings for us and other English-speaking observers.
As challenging as the process is for our family, these are necessary and significant steps to take for Rachel and for others. The experience would be more difficult without the encouragement and both physical and emotional support we receive from a diverse group of friends.
For the Rachel Corrie Foundation, 2010 has been marked by courageous pursuits of accountability. This work is supported by an expanding network of individuals and organizations standing together for justice, non-violence, and universal human rights in the Middle East. As we evaluate and look forward, we ask for your help.
On a personal level, the trial in Israel in Rachel’s case has been all-consuming. It is significant – because, as a civil case, it addresses the collective responsibility of the Israeli Ministry of Defense and State, rather than actions of strictly one or two lower-ranked soldiers. The Rachel Corrie Foundation continues to communicate and educate about the human rights implications of this legal effort.
In May and beyond, we followed the bold path of the Gaza flotilla, the Israeli military attack on the Mavi Marmara, and the determined journeys of the MV Rachel Corrie and Irene (the Jewish Gaza Boat) that followed. At great personal risk, courageous seafarers refused to accept the continuing intransigence of the Israeli Government toward Gaza and the unwillingness or inability of the U.S. and other world powers to improve the situation. From the week following the Mavi Marmara attack until after the MV Rachel Corrie sailed, we provided over 26 local, national, and international news interviews illuminating the Israeli blockade and siege of Gaza that drove the flotilla activists to sea. Based on our own experience and on the U.S.
Government position about the inadequacy of investigation in Rachel’s case, we wrote to U.N. Security Council members (including U.S. Ambassador, Susan Rice) and communicated in person with high ranking Obama administration officials about our lack of confidence in a U.S. supported Israeli investigation of the flotilla incident.
To encourage adherence to U.S. values and laws, we participated in the American Friends Service Committee’s Chicago Hearing on U.S. military aid to Israel and in the first ever U.N. Universal Periodic Review of the U.S. human rights record. We cited inadequacies and inconsistencies in application of U.S. law governing U.S. foreign military aid when evidence of human rights violations by aid recipients exists. Recently, when word leaked to the Israeli media about a halt in sales of Caterpillar D9 bulldozers and linked this to our trial in Israel, we joined efforts to gather thousands of signatures in support of a permanent halt to such sales until Israel demonstrates accountability for human rights violations committed with these machines.
In Olympia, the Rachel Corrie Foundation celebrated the Olympia-Rafah Solidarity Mural Project, an inspiring public representation of the power of our connections. We proudly supported the efforts of TESC Divest and Olympia BDS that resulted in passage of Evergreen State College student resolutions supporting a CAT-free campus and college divestment from corporations that aid the Israeli occupation, and a successful boycott of Israeli products at the Olympia Food Co-op.
What will 2011 bring? In Olympia, our Peace Works Conference, Solidarity in Action (April 8-9), will feature a keynote address from author and activist Alice Walker and emphasis on BDS and other strategies. We will focus on Gaza – expanding our connections, supporting grassroots efforts for women, children, and families, and providing water purification for a Rafah kindergarten.
Retiring Congressman Brian Baird, (WA-3) who visited Gaza four times since Operation Cast Lead, recently said of the ongoing Israeli blockade, “…from a humanitarian perspective, it’s a tragedy. From a legal perspective, it’s unlawful. And from a strategic perspective, it’s unwise.” The Congressman emphasized the importance of groups like RCF bringing our message to Congress. That message will become more powerful as we continue to network and partner wherever we can to most effectively impact U.S. and Israeli policy and to honor and advocate for the basic human rights of all in Israel/Palestine.
In our ongoing journey, it is a gift to find kindred spirits throughout the U.S., Israel, Palestine, and elsewhere, who share our hopes and nurture our efforts in so many different ways. Thank you for your invaluable support that makes each step we take possible. Despite disappointments on the national and international scene, we are all making a difference. This is a time to persist. During this month of giving, please share what you can with the Rachel Corrie Foundation. It continues to be the place where we dream about the possibilities that Rachel imagined and where we remember and try to emulate her spirit and creativity. Our small but committed staff and community of dedicated volunteers join us today in letting you know that your gifts inspire us. We are all grateful for whatever you are able to do to help.
Salaam, Shalom, and Peace, during this
Craig & Cindy Corrie
Voice behind screen says soldiers don’t stop work
(Haifa, Israel – October 23, 2010)–The bulldozer driver who struck and killed Rachel Corrie in March 2003, in Rafah, Gaza, testified for the first time Thursday in the civil lawsuit filed by the Corrie family against the state of Israel, but did so under extraordinary protective measures that continue to underscore the lack of transparency in the investigation as well as the trial process.
Download this press release: Bulldozer driver testimony underscores lack of transparency in Corrie trial (2030 downloads) , Bulldozer driver testimony underscores lack of transparency in Corrie trial (1876 downloads)
The driver, Y.P., whose name was not released, is a 38-year-old Russian immigrant who came to Israel in 1995. He was the sole witness for the day and gave his testimony over four hours behind a makeshift partition, a measure the state claimed was necessary to protect his security. Attorneys for the Corries requested that the family be allowed to see the driver even if the public could not, but their appeals were denied. […]