Exclusive AFP Interview With the Parents
Of Murdered Peace Activist Rachel Corrie
By Dave Gahary
AFP Interview Series host Dave Gahary interviewed Cindy and Craig Corrie, the parents of Rachel Corrie, the Washington state peace activist who was murdered in 2003 when an Israeli Defense Force bulldozer, used to illegally demolish the homes of Palestinians, ran over her. The Corries explain what brought their daughter to Palestine, lend insight into their attempts to carry Rachel’s message forward, and provide the latest information on their lawsuit against the Israeli government, along with some shocking details in their fight to get justice for their daughter.
What follows is a substantially abbreviated transcript of the much longer interview which, by the way, can be listened to on an audio CD prepared by AFP.* * * *
AFP: What inspired Rachel to go to Palestine?
Cindy Corrie: Rachel was a college student and was nearly 24 years old when she was killed. When 9-11 happened, she was in school at Evergreen State College; it was a huge event in her life. She went looking for reasons and answers of why this happened. As we moved toward war with Iraq, Rachel became very connected to the local peace movement in Washington State, and that took her to the Middle East to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She had friends who went to the West Bank and Gaza in 2002 with the International Solidarity Movement, co-founded by Israelis, Palestinians and Americans. The ISM has two qualifications for involvement: You have to believe in freedom for the Palestinian people based on international law and you have to agree to use only non-violent methods of resistance.
Rachel studied Arabic in college and was very good at it. She felt a strong desire to be there because of the impending Iraq war, there was a feeling things would get much worse in Israel and Palestine if we went to war with Iraq. She chose very specifically to go to Rafah in Gaza because she felt like that was where the greatest need was for internationals to come and be in solidarity with.
AFP: Right, and of course most people know what happened, she was protecting a Palestinian family’s home from demolition from a D9 bulldozer, some huge Caterpillar armored tank, is that right?
Craig Corrie: Yes, the family was actually two brothers who lived in an upstairs/downstairs duplex, close to the border with Egypt, and Rachel knew that family. When they bought the land and built on it, it was part of a neighborhood, until the Israelis were building a corridor along there and they were smashing down the houses that were along that border and so by the time Rachel got there this house was all that was left. Rachel knew the five children who lived in the house along with the four adults. She would help the kids with their English homework and they would help her with her Arabic. She wrote about sleeping on the floor in the back bedroom, the parents’ bedroom with the older brother’s children because the children’s bedroom was on the side of the house that faced the border and Israeli tanks would come along through what was now the rubble and sometimes they would shoot into the houses. And so the children’s bedroom had bullet holes that would go through the bedroom, through the wall between the bedroom and the living room but a third concrete wall would stop the bullets.
And so in the evening they’d take the children out into the back bedroom where, as Rachel wrote about it, they’d all sleep there in a big puddle of blankets. The day she was killed, Rachel was trying to protect some water workers who were trying to repair a well in Rafah and got a call that two bulldozers and a tank were close to the home, and more ISM people were needed down there to position themselves between the bulldozers and the home. She went and joined her friends there and for several hours these bulldozers would push on walls that went around gardens, a destroyed home and a home under construction. Close to 5 o’clock, both bulldozers and the tank retreated towards the border, and what we know now is that they were actually trying to get new orders because the internationals would not disperse and they were interfering with the work, so they were trying to get orders to just go someplace else. And they got some sort of order, we haven’t heard the exact language of it, that said “don’t let these internationals stop you from your work go back in.”
And five minutes later Rachel was killed. The bulldozer went on a run straight towards the home, Rachel stood in front of it, knowing that these children and the family was at home, and this time the bulldozer didn’t stop. It proceeded over her, the eyewitnesses, her friends, said as it pushed the dirt. Generally it would come right up to one of the activists and then stop. This time it just kept coming. At the last minute Rachel realized it wasn’t stopping and she climbed up on top of the earth it was
pushing and then her leg got caught. The bulldozer then just proceeded until the cab was over where she had been standing and then the eyewitnesses said that without lifting its blade it backed up over her again. She was actually alive for a little bit after her friends reached her. She said “I think my back is broken” but that’s the last words that she said.
*Hear the 74-minute interview at: http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/corrie_podcast_061510.html or get an audio CD of the entire interview from AFP for $15. After Sept. 1, 2010, add $3 S&H inside the U.S. Outside U.S. add $11 S&H. Send payment with request toAFP, 645 PennsylvaniaAvenue SE, #100, Washington, D.C. 20003. Call AFP’s toll-free charge line at 1-888-699-6397 to use Visa, MasterCard, AmEx or Discover.
Dave Gahary is a U.S. Navy veteran, who has done audio interviews for radio and the Internet for over 10 years. He was sued by the New York Stock Exchange in an attempt to silence him and won.
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(Issue # 32, August 9, 2010)