Rachel Corrie Gets Her Day in Court

On March 10, in the Israeli city of Haifa, American peace activist
Rachel Corrie will get her day in court. Rachel's parents, Cindy and
Craig Corrie, are bringing suit against the Israeli defence ministry
for Rachel's killing by an Israeli military bulldozer in Gaza in March

Four key American and British witnesses who were present at the scene
- members of the International Solidarity Movement - will be allowed
into Israel to testify, despite having been barred previously by the
Israeli authorities from entering the country. This reversal by the
Israeli authorities is apparently due to U.S. government pressure, the
(Three cheers for any U.S. officials who contributed to this pressure.
What else could you make the Israeli government do?)

A Palestinian doctor from Gaza who treated Corrie after she was
injured has not been given permission by the Israeli authorities to
leave Gaza to attend. (This would seem to be important testimony
concerning the nature of Rachel's injuries - did U.S. officials exert
pressure for his appearance?)

This case isn't just about accountability for Rachel's death. It's a
test case for the power of the rule of law in Israel, when the rule of
law comes into conflict with the policies of military occupation.

When the rule of law in Israel comes into conflict with the policies
of occupation, the rule of law often loses. But it does not always
lose, particularly when the rule of law gets a boost from vigorous
protest and political agitation. This month, Reuters reported,
Israel began rerouting part of its "West Bank barrier" near the
village of Bilin -
the site of many Palestinian, Israeli, and international protests -
in response to a petition filed in 2007 by Palestinians whose land was
confiscated for the project. This was only a partial victory, because
it only affected a minority of the confiscated land. But it shows that
the rule of law in Israel is not totally impotent against the
occupation, particularly when the rule of law is aided by protest and

It's also a test case for the power of nonviolent resistance to the
Israeli occupation. It's a commonplace among some poorly informed
commenters - Edith Garwood of Amnesty International cites
Bono, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and President
Obama as recent examples - that Palestinians should "find their Martin
Luther King." But this commentary is foolish and retrograde, as Rahm
Emanuel might say. A necessary condition for the ascendance of a King
or Gandhi -type movement in Palestine is that if Palestinian
nonviolence activists are killed by the Israeli occupation, the
government of Israel pays a significant price for that killing. If the
Israeli government can kill an American peace activist and pay little
price, what chance do the Palestinian Kings and Gandhis have?

It's instructive to do a press search on the recent developments in
the Rachel Corrie case. Searching on Yahoo
News, I found Israeli and Palestinian press, Jewish and Arab
press, British and Australian press. But outside of the Seattle
- Rachel is from Olympia, and Brian
Baird is her Representative
- I found no general US press. Isn't
it remarkable that we Americans have to read the British press to find
out about developments in the case of our compatriot? Isn't this state
of affairs something that Bono, Nicholas Kristof and President Obama
ought to reflect on, especially given the fact that they have
significant ability to do something about it?

The persistence of Rachel's case as a thorn in the side of the Israeli
occupation authorities recalls the 1960s Costa-Gavras docudrama "Z," about the
political fallout from the assassination by the U.S. - supported Greek
government of the Greek parliamentarian and peace movement leader
Gregoris Lambrakis. There is a powerful scene in the movie in which
one of Lambrakis' associates visits Lambrakis' widow to deliver the
news that four high-ranking military police officers have been
indicted in the killing. On the way to meet her Lambrakis' associate
passes a group of Greek students painting the letter "Z" on the
sidewalk, meaning "he (Lambrakis) lives." Marveling at the students'
determined activism in the face of mounting repression, Lambrakis'
associate says, "It's almost as if he were alive."

They murdered her, and yet she dogs them. It's almost as
if she were alive.

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