Nazareth – The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) held an event last Friday night to recognize Rachel Corrie and her family. It was an evening of stirring speeches and emotional tributes to the Corrie family’s ongoing struggle. Last month in a Haifa district court, Judge Oded Gershon denied the Corrie family’s most recent call for justice when, in his verdict, he decided Rachel Corrie was responsible for her own death. This decision is the most recent event in the ongoing court case over Rachel Corrie’s death at the hands of the Israeli military in Gaza in 2003. Many advocacy groups, including the HRA, have denounced this ruling with a common complaint that it reinforces the “culture of impunity” for discriminatory Israeli institutions and practices.
In their visit to Nazareth, the Corrie family met with local dignitaries, including Mayor Ramiz Jeraisy. Mayor Jeraisy welcomed the Corrie family to the municipality building. He took the occasion to say a few words to Craig and Cindy Corrie, “someone came to express the struggle against the occupation, and then her death came as a great shock. It gives huge support for you to continue struggling.” He continued, “a high price is paid every day, and the highest is the life of the people.” Craig and Cindy graciously accepted the mayor’s welcome and kind words. Mr. Corrie described his family’s efforts “when we join your struggle, we join the struggle for human rights everywhere. We do not support Palestinian rights; we support human rights. If they are being violated in Palestine, South Africa, or the United States, that is where we all need to defend them.”
Later, the HRA sponsored an evening program of distinguished speakers for a supportive crowd. The program began with a heartwarming video of a young Rachel Corrie dipping her toes into the pool of international progressive issues and advocating for public health and the safety of the world’s children. Another video showed an interview Rachel Corrie gave two days before her death. In it she describes the devastation in Gaza caused by the Israeli occupation and displays compassion for the Gazans she had come to know. Following the short videos a series of speakers recognized both the Corrie Family and Rachel’s dedication. Such prominent community leaders as Mohammad Zeidan, head of the High Follow-Up Committee, the head of the Northern District Committee of the Israel Bar Association, Khalid Zoabi, and Ibtissam Mualem, chairperson of the HRA took turns speaking. Hussein Abu Hussein, the Corrie family’s lawyer and a board member of the HRA, described litigation process and the prospects of an appeal. A feeling of solidarity pervaded the speeches and there was a consistent sense of communal support for both the Corrie family and the cause they have, through their diligent pursuit of justice, come to symbolize.
The HRA was honored to welcome them to Nazareth and will continue to support them personally and through their appeal in the Israeli justice system.