We speak with Rachel Corrie’s parents, Craig and Cindy, who have traveled to New York to attend a public reading of Rachel’s writings and emails at the Riverside Church on what was supposed to have been the opening night of the play “My Name is Rachel Corrie.” [includes rush transcript]
We are joined in our firehouse studio by Rachel Corrie’s parents, Craig and Cindy Corrie. They have traveled to New York to attend a public reading of Rachel’s writings and emails at the Riverside Church tonight — on what was supposed to have been the opening night of the play “My Name is Rachel Corrie” at the New York Theatre Workshop.
Last year the Corrie’s initiated lawsuits against the State of Israel, the Israel Defense Forces and Caterpillar — the manufacturer of the Israeli military bulldozer that killed Rachel.
- Cindy Corrie, mother of Rachel Corrie. She is a former educator and music teacher.
- Craig Corrie, father of Rachel Corrie.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined in our studio by Rachel Corrie’s parents, Craig and Cindy Corrie. They have traveled to New York to attend a public reading of Rachel’s writings tonight at Riverside Church. It was supposed to have been the opening night of the play, My Name is Rachel Corrie, at the New York Theatre Workshop, as we just discussed. Last year, the Corries initiated lawsuits against the state of Israel, the Israel Defense Forces and Caterpillar, the manufacturer of the Israeli military bulldozer that crushed Rachel to death on March 16, 2003, just a few days before the invasion of Iraq. We welcome you both to Democracy Now!
CINDY CORRIE: Thank you.
CRAIG CORRIE: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, you’ve been listening to the discussion. Your response? Would you be willing for the New York Theatre Workshop to move ahead with the play based on Rachel’s writings?
CINDY CORRIE: We really defer to the Royal Court Theatre in deciding what the next step should be with the play. It’s actually going to be playing in the West End in London again, starting at the end of this month. I think Katharine, when she talked about the breakdown of trust, I think that’s a real concern. We know that the original intentions of the New York Theatre Workshop were good intentions. They wanted to bring the play here, and we respect that, and we certainly, you know, we don’t wish any ill towards them or towards any of their staff around this, but I think — I have some real concerns about the amount of contextualizing, and so forth, that they wanted to do. Mr. Nicola spoke about wanting to sort of set the stage to get Rachel’s voice out there. And I would just say, in London that happened just by presenting the play, by allowing people to come to see it. And I would say, let Rachel do that. Let her get her words out.
AMY GOODMAN: You saw the play in London?
CINDY CORRIE: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Did you speak to people who watched it?
CRAIG CORRIE: We did once, and then afterwards, but most people don’t really want to talk, coming out of the play. It’s very quiet at the end of the play. And people came for a variety of reasons. My daughter Sarah and I sat next to a woman who came from a very small town in northern England. She just came because she loved Alan Rickman and wanted to see what he put on, had no idea what she was going to see. Cindy spoke to a couple that came from Israel and saw that My Name is Rachel Corrie was the pick of the week, so they decided they had to see it. They told Cindy that they were members of the Likud Party, a very conservative party in Israel. But they loved the play, because it was not against Israel, but it was against violence.
I listen today, and I hear these people talking about trying to put a context in advance around this play, and it sounds like they are apologizing for the play. Why would you apologize for a piece of art in which you believed in? You would just present it. That’s all they have to do is let Rachel speak for herself. And I’m very sorry, but it seems like now that we have this cacophony of sound around Rachel’s words, of what side is it on. This is a play really about my daughter. It’s about from when she was ten years old until she died. It’s through her words and a little bit of Cindy and me and somebody else. To me, they should just let that — let those words come out. Let our daughter talk for herself.
AMY GOODMAN: And what they were — what Jim Nicola raised, when he was speaking with someone who said, “Did you know that Rachel was a member of Hamas?” Your response?
CINDY CORRIE: Well, just outrageous, untrue things. And if you go to the internet and google, you will see outrageous, untrue things. I mean, Rachel went there with the International Solidarity Movement, which is a Palestinian-led nonviolent resistance movement, a direct action resistance movement. The two things that it calls for are believing in the rights of the Palestinian people to freedom and to use only nonviolent direct action means of resistance. There are outrageous things on the internet about many people, but to make a decision based on — you know, what should happen to this piece of art, this play, based on those kinds of things, is very troubling to me, more troubling than I thought it would be.
CRAIG CORRIE: I guess I would urge Mr. Nicola to go to the U.S. State Departments’ website, and on there you can find the human rights reports for the last three years. There, Rachel is listed as a human rights observer. Her killing, of course, is a human rights violation and is listed in their report, but under an observer of human rights, and that’s how our State Department and our government looks at Rachel.
AMY GOODMAN: Your description of what happened to her? This is just past the third anniversary of her death, March 16, 2003, three days before the invasion of Iraq. If you could bear to tell us.
CINDY CORRIE: You mean what happened to Rachel? On March 16, 2003, Rachel was with seven other members of the International Solidarity Movement from the United States and from the U.K. They had been working in front of a home, one of the homes that was threatened with demolition because of where it was located on this border strip that was being cleared. Bulldozers were working in the area, two bulldozers, each with two operators aboard, and an APC vehicle. They would come up to the activists and stop at their feet and then retreat. They went back to the border at one point, and the activists thought they had been successful in stopping a demolition that day, but then they returned, and after they came back, within five minutes, Rachel was killed. A bulldozer — she took a stand in front of the Nasrallah house. She knew that there was a family with five young children behind the walls of that house. And a bulldozer proceeded. She took a stand, showed — raised her arms, showed that she wasn’t moving. The bulldozer came forward, continued over her, and according to the ISM reports, even though they were screaming and yelling, the bulldozer stopped and then backed over her again. And that’s what the photographs also show happened.
CRAIG CORRIE: Amy, I’d just like to point out something, because we’ve talked about what’s out on the internet, and sometimes this family is referred to as terrorists that Rachel was protecting, and members of that family were actually on your show, and that was beaming from Des Moines, Iowa, where they were. So, a 34-year-old man and his wife and their small baby that wasn’t born when Rachel was killed came to the United States to do that. They had to go to Tel Aviv to get a visa. So they got a visa from the Israeli government to go walk the streets. At Tel Aviv they got a visa from the United States to walk in Des Moines, Iowa, and neither one of those countries had anything against this family whose home they destroyed and lives they threatened. And that, to me, is telling a story that we don’t hear in the United States, and I think it changes everything. Rachel was standing in front of a home, protecting the home and the lives of a family for whom Israel had nothing against them, besides their home was where they wanted to destroy.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, certainly, this controversy has launched events all over the world of the reading of Rachel’s words, and people can go to their website at rachelswords.org to see all of these events. You’re here for tonight’s event at Riverside Church.
CINDY CORRIE: Right. There’s been a wonderful response from people who just believe that Rachel’s voice should be heard, and a group of those people are here in New York City, and there will be this event at 8:00 tonight at Riverside Church. There are a wonderful group of performers and readers that are going to be there. We’re going to be there, and we’re very excited about this and very heartened by the response from all over the world. This has been true really since Rachel was killed, that we hear from people all over, but this is a particularly exciting event.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much for being with us. Cindy and Craig Corrie, parents of Rachel.