Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Bad Day for Humanity: The Court Ruling in the Case of Rachel Corrie

Cindy Corrie summed up her family’s view of the ruling issued by the Israeli justice system personified by Haifa District Court judge Oded Gershon by declaring the occasion “a bad day for humanity.”  The civil case was brought by the Corries who were seeking to establish Israel’s responsibility in the March 16, 2003 death of their daughter, Rachel, in Gaza. Rachel and other ISM activists were at the time attempting to stop a swarm of Israeli armored and weaponized D-9 caterpillars from demolishing some miserable Palestinians’ homes that impeded the free movement of Israeli armed forces. Thousands of those nuisances had to be cleared over the years.

The good judge thinks Rachel had no business being there in the first place. She had placed herself willingly in harm’s way by entering the shoot-to-kill zone that the entire Southern Command area constituted. Rachel should have learned a lesson from the many thousands of Palestinian residents of that same zone who had lost their lives to prove the army's point. By ignoring Israel’s warning, Rachel, the International Solidarity Movement and all their accomplices have gained their badges as terrorists and 'spilled their own blood' as a commander I heard testifying put it.

True, I was not physically there when Judge Oded issued his ruling to be able to personally contest or confirm Cindy’s opinion; true, Oded’s statement summed up his considered opinion that ran a total of 62 pages and covered his court’s deliberations over 15 sessions in which a total of 23 witnesses testified; and true, the press on both sides of the debate (as to whether Rachel was crushed by the advancing blade of a D-9 that apparently had to reverse back to “confirm the kill” or was struck dead by a falling meteor) quoted paragraphs of varying length from his statement. Yet they all missed his exact meaning, the essence of his thinking as I comprehended it across the globe. I was in that court on more than one of those 15 sessions and I am Israeli enough to appreciate the between-the-lines chutzpah of an aging former soldier defending the “most moral army in the world.” After all, Oded cut his first teeth in the judging business by serving as a military judge.

In my imagination, I stand right there in Oded’s court as he pronounces his ruling. I can see him clearly surveying us, the expectant audience: the foreign news correspondents, the representatives of foreign embassies and all the human rights horde waiting for the chance to tear the flesh of the IDF to pieces the moment the judge even as much as pulls a hair from its perfect body. He avoids the direct gaze of the plaintiffs' legal team except for rapid poisoned arrows shot in the direction of the freak byproduct (one could even call the likes of him ‘collateral damage’) of the Israeli justice and educational system in its battle for the advancement of humanity. He is a Palestinian lawyer named Hussain Abu-Hussain, a double whammy when even one Hussain was nearly enough to sink Obama down. Abu-Hussain has squeezed through the system to come and throw back at us all that we have taught him, Oded thinks and is outraged by the thought. Finally Oded faces Cindy, Craig and Sarah Corrie, who stare back at him from the front row with their unflinching determination to stand with Rachel before the advancing blade of that D-9. “Off with their heads!” Oded is about to pronounce. Then he reconsiders. The eyes of the whole world are on him. He sees not only the Corries but all of those rabble-rousers behind them as the visible tip of the iceberg of potential claimants of justice in the name of what they call international humanitarian law. Israel is an island of righteousness in an ocean of enmity and hate for us. And who is to defend Israel against the vicious hordes but the IDF! He shudders with one final stressful neuromuscular spasm that contorts his face and jerks his neck to the side as if addressing everyone in the crowd as he lets out a loud “Fuck you!” and withdraws to prepare for the coming war with Iran.

The Corries intend to appeal the ruling to Israel’s Supreme Court. What I imagine them being told here by the judge is as “thorough, credible and transparent” an answer as they should ever expect to hear from Israel. In the original, that insult is spread across 62 pages.  I bet you the Supreme Court ruling will cover more pages than that.

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