March 16, 2023
Twenty years ago today, on March 16, 2003, word came to us that our daughter Rachel had been killed in Gaza. She had been run over by an Israeli military-operated and U.S. made and funded Caterpillar D9R bulldozer, as she stood to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian family’s home in Rafah. Members of the family watched the bulldozer approach through a hole in their garden wall.
Our family’s journey without Rachel, but with her spirit large in our lives, began on that day. Rachel took us with her to Gaza and to the issue of Palestine. She had been there for about seven weeks. Before her trip to the Middle East, she wrote, “Why do I want to go? I’ve been organizing in Olympia for a little over a year on anti-war/global justice issues and at some point, it started to feel like this work is missing a solid connection to the people who are most immediately impacted by U.S. foreign policy.”
An English philosopher George Henry Lewes said, “The only cure for grief is action.” Our family’s action for Rachel, for Palestine, and for peace with justice for Palestinians and Israelis began that afternoon twenty years ago, as well. At the time, we didn’t personally know even one person who identified as Palestinian. Rachel opened the world to us. She blessed us with a global community.
This January, a member of that community, Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei, Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, came to Seattle where our regional Palestine solidarity network gathered for one of our first in-person events. Dr. Yasser traveled on to Washington DC where he shared his “asks” of members of Congress and the Department of State:
• End the blockade of Gaza.
• Ensure that Gazans have electricity for more than 6-8 hours each day.
• Denounce and work to prevent any aggression against Gaza that could result during upcoming religious holidays from Israel’s National Security Minister, Ben-Gvir’s police plan for Ramadan.
• Condition aid to Israel on its human rights record.
We can remember Rachel and act to reinforce Dr. Yasser’s requests by taking them to our members of Congress.
We spoke today to people in Gaza through video created by our friend Ahmed Abu Artema working with Act for Gaza. Ahmed made us smile when he spoke about how he dreamed of meeting the parents of Rachel Corrie when he came to the US some years ago. Our colleagues at the American Friends Service Committee made that dream come true in Atlanta.
We’ve heard this week, too, from Kareem Nasrallah who is organizing for the 2023 Rachel Corrie Ramadan Football Tournament in Gaza. We met Kareem when he was a young boy, one of the children inside the home where Rachel was killed.
Yasser, Ahmed, Kareem. They are each part of our global community, as are you. So many have shared this twenty-year journey with us and contributed to it in unique, creative, and supportive ways. We are so grateful to you for helping to sustain the commitment and the action that Rachel called for.
In Gaza twenty years ago, she wrote at a small internet café into the wee hours of the mornings to get stories out to our family, her friends and the international media. She wrote of the children: “I couldn’t even believe that a place like this existed. But even more—can you believe there are children here? Forget the fear.They tell me that at night. Forget the fear. I am ashamed that I am scared for my own body and dying anonymously inside a house in one of the most populous places on earth, where children die as martyrs of the occupation, which we pay for quietly without ever knowing their names. We need more people. I love all of you. Rachel”
And so, as we remember and revisit Rachel’s words, after twenty years, the work for all of us goes on.
In solidarity, and with gratitude,
Cindy and Craig Corrie
Support our Gaza Projects & help us strengthen our work for a free Palestine! The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Check donations can be mailed to the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice, 203 East 4th Ave, Suite 402, Olympia, WA 98501. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org