Reading Ben Lynfield’s article “Rachel Corrie’s family launch final bid to secure ‘justice’ from Israel” (20 May) following their 11-year struggle for accountability into her death, I recall our own fight for justice for our 21-year-old photo-journalist son, Tom – shot by an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sniper while rescuing Palestinian children just three weeks after Rachel was crushed by an IDF bulldozer.
Tom had been drawn to the Gaza Strip after hearing about Rachel’s death. He was motivated by the need to know the truth behind it, just as passionately as Rachel had been motivated to speak out about the human rights of Palestinians.
In Rafah, Tom lived in the same house as Rachel and worked beside the same internationals and Palestinians who had been with Rachel when she was killed – only for them to bear witness to a second tragedy: Tom’s shooting.
In our pursuit of justice we encountered Israel’s investigation process: a shoddy field report, lack of accountability, obfuscation, fabrication, unwillingness to meet, a lack of reciprocity, and a sense that the pyramids of power within both the Israeli government and the IDF appeared wilfully to turn a blind eye to rules of engagement. We were forced to gather our own witness statements at a time when we needed the support of the British police who were prevented from entering Gaza.
In the US, there has been powerful political resistance towards the Corries’ campaign, but also fragments of support that gradually coalesced. In the UK, Tony Blair never publicly condemned Tom’s shooting, and it was only with the support of human rights lawyers, Palestinian, Israeli and British parliamentarians, diplomats, the media, writers, and Israeli and Palestinian friends, that our quest for justice felt remotely negotiable.
Finally, in 2005, a military trial in Israel brought the IDF sniper to account and he was given an eight-year sentence. Yet this partial justice failed to expose the policy-makers who had paved the way for the driver who killed Rachel and the sniper who shot Tom to behave with such callous disregard for human life.
We were left thinking, what must it be like for Palestinian families to secure justice when they lose a son or daughter?
I recently spoke to Cindy Corrie on Skype at an event in memory of Tom. It’s impossible to describe that moment where words are unnecessary, so deep was the understanding of each other’s loss. But there is a more enduring, personal feeling as I read Cindy and Craig’s words. Cindy said that their protracted search for justice may not have been Rachel’s wish, owing to the toll on the family.
Neither Rachel nor Tom would have wanted their families to experience the suffering their deaths have wrought. But both would have understood that their families’ search has been founded on an intense belief in the centrality of justice in a decent, democratic society.
All my thoughts are with the Corries. I wish them all the luck in the world and pray that Israel’s justice system proves both compassionate and fair.
Putin and Hitler a fair comparison
Prince Charles’s reported remark that Russia’s President Putin is “doing some of the same things that Hitler was doing” seems to be a fair comparison.
Andrei Borisovich Zubov is a Russian historian and political scientist, doctor of history, and a former professor of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.
On the day Russian lawmakers voted to give President Putin permission to send troops into Ukraine, Zubov said: “We must not behave the way Germans once behaved, based on the promises of Goebbels and Hitler.”
The Institute of International Relations, a diplomatic school with ties to the foreign ministry, where Zubov has worked since 2001, said that it had dismissed him for criticising Russia’s foreign policy.
Professor Zubov bravely justified his opinion by saying: “I am afraid, but there are situations in which you have to act, regardless of your own fear.”
I invite academic institutions to nominate Professor Zubov for the Nobel Peace Prize, thereby giving him international recognition for his brave stance for democracy. The honour would also give him a status that may protect him from possible reprisals.
Clarence House said it would not comment on Prince Charles’ private conversations, but comparing President Putin to Hitler while on duty is not a private matter.
We are used to the Prince sounding off about domestic issues, but diplomatic issues are different. His mother has had to meet, at the request of her Government, some pretty loathsome people, but on no occasion has she said anything quite so foolish as her son.
The need to understand Russia remains essential, and we can do without blunders from our heir to the throne.
Dr John Cameron
St Andrews, Fife
This Hitler whom Prince Charles compares Putin to – is it the same Hitler that Charles’ great-uncle Edward and grandmother Elizabeth were so very keen on in the 1930s?
Outlaw all extra charges on tickets
I have recently bought tickets for a couple of concerts in the forthcoming Prom season at the Royal Albert Hall. On top of the advertised ticket price, the hall not only had the effrontery to charge an extra 2 per cent of the total value as a “booking fee” but also added a further fee of £1.50 per ticket.
If I buy goods in a shop, I expect to pay the price of the product; I would rightly be annoyed if the shop added an extra charge of its own, and I would probably shop elsewhere. If venues need to charge extra for administration, they should have the honesty to raise their ticket prices to cover this, rather than trick us into thinking that the price of the ticket is less than it really is.
They are already required by law to declare such extras in advance of selling the tickets; it is high time that these “administration” or “transaction” charges were outlawed altogether.
We live in a multi-racial society – get over it
Although I believe that, on balance, the scale of immigration over the past 60 years has been bad for Britain, I won’t vote for Ukip – because Nigel Farage is essentially trying to sell us a false bill of goods.
The people coming from eastern Europe are, for the most part, useful additions to our population, but I suspect that, for Ukip voters, they represent the last straw. A Ukip vote is essentially an anti-immigration rather than an anti-European Union vote. However, we are a multiracial society, for better or worse, and we have to get used to it.
The ardent advocacy of Nick Clegg et al for our membership of the EU conveniently ignores the fact that the EU is the culmination of a long history that is quite foreign to Britain.
It is no accident that the original signatories of the Treaty of Rome represented countries that had been part of the Carolingian Empire over a millennium before. The EU was an attempt to overcome, once and for all, the great Franco-German divide which had been the central issue in the politics, diplomacy and warfare of western European history, with increasingly devastating consequences. It was always about more than trade.
But it is not our history. Other than to intervene should one side in this great divide appear to become overly dominant, our interest has, for centuries, been elsewhere, as a globally orientated, trading nation. Nigel Farage is right to point this out, yet – like him – this heritage has been traduced by recent politicians looking for some easy post-imperial gambit. All of which is why I will vote for Ukip.
Thank god for the NHS
At 4.20pm I thrust pine needles into left eye while gardening; 5.30pm seen by GP and forwarded to regional centre of excellence for further assessment; 45-minute journey by car. At 6.40pm seen by senior ophthalmologist and a colleague. Examined, treated and sent home.
By 8pm I had finished supper and was thanking God for the NHS. The private sector hasn’t a hope of equalling or exceeding such performance, so why are all three major parties so intent on privatising any part of the NHS, let alone all of it?
Haydon Bridge, Northumberland
Something lost over time?
“Others weaved baskets” (“A History of the First World War in 100 Moments,” 8 May) – not a mistake that would have been made a century ago.