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The Parents Of Rachel Corrie Hold Press Conference


Friends,

This morning the Corrie family held a press conference on Capitol Hill.

Rachel’s Congressman, Brian Baird’s (D-WA) office arranged the press conference, in which the congressman participated and announced his plan to introduce a resolution in Congress later this week.

Though we don’t yet have the text of the resolution, the Congressman plans to call for an independent US investigation into Rachel’s death, measures to be taken to prevent such violence committed against all unarmed, nonviolent civilians, and calling for an end to the kind of policies that led to Rachel’s death.

I am forwarding the text of the family statement below, in addition to some bullets regarding some important points/statements that were made in the question / answer period.

- Congressman Brian Baird stated that after reading the eyewitness reports and seeing the pictures, he didn’t think that the bulldozer driver made a mistake.

- He was asked, that in light of the pro-Israel stance of the US Government, whether or not he expected action to be taken? To this, the Congressman responded that “just because we are a supporter of a country, that doesn’t mean we look the other way when the country does something wrong.” He further stated that since the US is the biggest supporter of Israel, morally and financially, that it must be our policy to make sure that Israel’s policies don’t allow for these kinds of actions. “And this is not just about Israeli policy. It’s about Israeli conduct against an unarmed American citizen engaged in nonviolent action.”To that, Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA) added:

”We must look at this event in the tradition of Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King. A girl took action against a policy that needs to have the light of day shone upon it. She wasn’t just there and got run over by a bulldozer.” (He added more but I don’t have his exact words)

The ISM believes strongly that the US must conduct an independent investigation and not simply accept an Israeli investigation into Rachel’s death. Because Rachel was an American citizen, this is not out of the ordinary, nor too much to ask.

At the same time we strongly believe (and we know that Rachel would have wanted) that action must be taken to stop the Israeli policy that she died fighting against – the destruction of Palestinian homes. We don’t yet know if we will be able to get this kind of language inserted into a congressional resolution. We will, however, continue to resist this policy in Palestine, work to draw worldwide attention to the illegality and inhumanity of this policy, and we call on our supporters across the world.

******************

We are speaking out today because of Rachel’s fears about the impact of a war with Iraq on the people in the Occupied Territories. She reported to us that her Palestinian friends were afraid that with all eyes on Iraq, the Israeli Defense Forces would escalate activity in the Occupied Territories. Rachel wanted to be in Gaza if that happened.

19 March 2003

Press Release from the Parents of Rachel Corrie

Our daughter Rachel, a volunteer with the International Solidarity Movement in the Occupied Territories, died Sunday in the Gaza Strip while courageously trying to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home. Our loss is immense, but we are buoyed by the outpouring of support and love that we’ve received from around the world. We understand that Rachel is being remembered in many places in many beautiful ways, and we are grateful. We are comforted and heartened by the compassionate expressions of love that we have received from both Palestinian and Israeli people. We will forever remember and be thankful for Rachel’s ISM and Palestinian friends who cared for her and who held her for us as she died.

We are speaking out today because of Rachel’s fears about the impact of a war with Iraq on the people in the Occupied Territories. She reported to us that her Palestinian friends were afraid that with all eyes on Iraq, the Israeli Defense Forces would escalate activity in the Occupied Territories. Rachel wanted to be in Gaza if that happened.

In the last six weeks, Rachel became our eyes and ears for Rafah, a city at the southern tip of Gaza. Now that she’s no longer there, we are asking members of Congress and, truly, all the world to watch and listen.

One week ago I came rather timidly to members of Rachel’s delegation in Congress, expressing my concerns for the safety of those in the International Solidarity Movement. A piece of me wonders if I had spoken louder or sooner, if this week’s tragedy might have been averted. So today I am speaking up in memory of my daughter and on behalf of all her friends in Gaza.

We are greatly concerned for the non-violent internationals volunteering in the Occupied Territories. We ask that members of Congress call upon the Israeli government to cease harassment of these individuals and, specifically, to cease firing upon them when they are engaged in protecting the Palestinian water supply, protecting Palestinian homes from illegal demolitions, and retrieving bodies of murdered Palestinians for return to their families – all events Rachel witnessed.

In my last phone conversation with Rachel, she expressed that when we fail to support and protect the Internationals who resist non–violently, we also undercut the non-violent initiatives of the Palestinians. We are, therefore, asking our members of Congress to demand that the American Embassy in Tel Aviv, when called upon for assistance, provide all reasonable support to non-violent, American volunteers in the Occupied Territories, as well as support to other internationals as appropriate.

We are asking members of Congress to bring the U.S. government’s attention back to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and to recognize that the occupation of the Palestinian territories is an overwhelming and continuous act of collective violence against the Palestinian people. We ask that military aid to Israel be commensurate with its efforts to end its occupation of the Palestinian Territories and to adhere to the rules of international law.

Rachel would not want her death to overshadow that of others. In barely glancing at headlines since word came of Rachel’s death, I note that many have died this week in the Occupied Territories – one a four-year-old child. I would like to be able to hold the mother of that child and to have her hold me.

Yesterday, I looked at a publication entitled "Who Will Save the Children?" with photos of children who have died since September 2000 in Israel and in the Occupied Territories. I understand that the next publication will be dedicated to Rachel and will include her photograph.

I want the mothers of these children to know that I have looked at the beaming faces of each of their babies and that I know how much the world has lost with the passing of each one of them.

In one of her e-mails Rachel wrote, "Today as I walked on top of the rubble where homes once stood, Egyptian soldiers called to me from the other side of the border, ‘Go! Go!’ because a tank was coming. Followed by waving and "what’s your name?" There is something disturbing about this friendly curiosity. It reminded me of how much, to some degree, we are all kids curious about other kids: Egyptian kids shouting at strange women wandering into the path of tanks. Palestinian kids shot from the tanks when they peek out from behind walls to see what’s going on. International kids standing in front of tanks with banners. Israeli kids in the tanks anonymously, occasionally shouting - and also occasionally waving – many forced to be here, many just aggressive, shooting into the houses as we wander away." How I wish that the young man in the bulldozer that killed Rachel could have just stopped, hopped out, and talked to her. He would have met a beautiful soul.

In another e-mail, Rachel wrote, "This has to stop. I think it is a good idea for us all to drop everything and devote our lives to making this stop. I don’t think it’s an extremist thing to do anymore. I really want to dance around to Pat Benatar and have boyfriends and make comics for my co-workers. But I also want this to stop. Disbelief and horror is what I feel. Disappointment. I am disappointed that this is the base reality of our world and that we, in fact, participate in it. This is not at all what I asked for when I came into this world. This is not at all what the people here asked for when they came into this world. This is not what they are asking for now. This is not the world you and Dad wanted me to come into when you decided to have me."

Rachel’s brutal death illustrates dramatically the madness of war.

Craig and Cindy Corrie

ENDS

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