From Craig Corrie - 21 Years Later

Gaza Crushed With Our Tax Dollars

On March 16, 2003, our daughter Rachel Corrie was killed as she stood to protect the home of a Palestinian family in Rafah in Gaza. Rachel was crushed to death by the Israeli military under a militarized, Caterpillar, Inc. D9R bulldozer, supplied by our United States government, paid for by our tax dollars. Now, twenty-one years later, we are witnessing the entire Gaza population being crushed by the Israeli military, using planes, bombs, shells, tanks and, yes, even bulldozers supplied by the United States. Genocide. Paid for by our tax dollars.

In some ways you could see this coming: soldiers never held accountable for their war crimes, human rights violations by the army of a country feeling entitled to the land of another people. We know this story, and we have seen this genocide. Ask any native American.

Our family worked for almost two decades to secure accountability in Rachel’s case, first through diplomatic means, and when that failed, through a civil lawsuit in Israeli courts. Some of the court testimony is particularly telling. An IDF Colonel responsible for training stated that there are no civilians in war zones, and the officer responsible for the military police investigation into Rachel’s killing testified that he thought Israel was at war with everyone in Gaza, including the peace activists. And all the time, the Israeli defense team referred to the people of Gaza – Rachel’s friends, our friends – as “the terrorists.” Even the Israeli high court said that international law did not apply to the actions of Israel in Gaza. How telling.

Repeatedly, the U.S. supplies weapons to Israel that are used in ways giving probable cause of human rights violations. But when the U.S. asks for investigation, Israel replies with reports that are far from the result of the thorough, credible, and transparent investigation required of, or in Rachel’s case promised by, Israel. Citing that violations cannot be proven, the U.S. continues military aid – rather than withholding more funding until our questions are properly answered, as allowed by U.S. law and dictated by common sense. The U.S. routinely rewards IDF war crimes with increased military aid, rather than sanctions. When that aid is abetting genocide, as it has since October 7, 2023, the aid itself is a war crime.

The time to avert the massacre of October 7 and the genocide that has followed was during all the prior years of the Israeli occupation. Repeatedly, Palestinians, often joined by Jewish Israelis, have protested nonviolently to have their rights respected. Cindy and I have joined them for Friday afternoon protests in the olive groves west of Bil’in in the West Bank and have been met by teargas and small arms fire from the IDF, even though we never left Bil’in land. I remember stumbling up the hillside while an Israeli friend helped Cindy to medical aid for gas inhalation.

We have watched a landowner weeping as her olive trees were being uprooted to make way for a great wall to divide her forever from her crops. We watched from afar the Great March of Return in Gaza, again met by gunfire – often targeted at medics, journalists, and even children. Had Israel and the U.S. been moved by any of these nonviolent protests to respect the rights of Palestinians, then the violence of October 7, 2023, and the more than five months of carnage and destruction in Gaza thereafter might have been avoided. To have peace, there must be justice, and there is nothing peaceful about the daily injustice of the occupation.

On a larger, even more depressing scale, I remember in grade school wondering how it was possible that any nation could ever let the Holocaust happen. It was personal. Linda, the girl I shared a desk with, was Jewish. Now, as I watch in horror at the atrocities perpetrated in Gaza and rationalized in Washington DC, I see how genocide happens: by nations making excuses and looking the other way.

That is where we come in – by refusing to look the other way. And an amazing number of us around the world have done so. Activists on the street corners, in city council meetings, in front of the White House, on state capitol steps, many for the first time in their lives, refusing to hear the excuses, refusing to look the other way. We are heartened by each one of you and by the visible, constructive actions you are taking. You have joined with Rachel, who wrote to her mother more than two decades ago, “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.”

Craig Corrie (Rachel’s dad)
March 16, 2024

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