Rachel Corrie family: ‘black day for human rights’

There was no middle ground in reactions to the Haifa District Court ruling Aug. 28 rejecting a lawsuit brought by the parents of Rachel Corrie, a US Palestine solidarity activist crushed to death by an army bulldozer in the Gaza Strip in 2003. Israeli officials are welcoming the ruling as a long-due exoneration, while the Corrie family and their attorney denounced it as a “black day for human rights.” Attorney Hussein Abu-Hussein said that the ruling showed that there was injustice across the Israeli legal system. At a press conference, he displayed photographs which had been presented in court, and which he said proved that the bulldozer operator must have seen Corrie. He also said the photos disproved the court’s finding that the bulldozers were active, but not demolishing homes at the time of the incident. Hussein also argued that there was no basis for applying the “combatant activities” exception in the case, because there was no battle going on at the time of Rachel’s death.

A military investigation into the incident cleared he Israel Defense Forces (IDF) of any wrongdoing in June 2003, but the Corrie family filed a civil lawsuit in a Haifa district court, seeking to overturn that finding and force the state to take responsibility for the death. The court began hearing arguments in March 2010. In his ruling, Judge Oded Gershon again absolved the military, endorsing the bulldozer operator’s claim that he had not seen Corrie, a 23-year-old activist from Olympia, Wash., who was wearing a fluorescent vest. In a 62-page opinion, Judge Gershon termed Corrie’s death ”an accident she brought upon herself.” He added that, contrary to fellow protestors’ accounts, the army was not engaged in an effort to bulldoze nearby Palestinian homes at the time. (Jerusalem PostCSM, Aug. 28)

Efforts to win justice for Rachel Corrie have also occasioned a free speech struggle in the US and Canada.

  1. “That’s My Hero”: Pat Tillman, Rachel Corrie, and Yoni Netany
    Just as Pat Tillman’s 2004 friendly-fire death was covered up by the Army (and those responsible whitewashed by both the Bush and Obama administrations), the nature of Yoni Netanyahu’s 1976 death at Entebbe was covered up the IDF.  Yoni and Pat Tillman were both driven by a sense of integrity, honesty and conviction.  As was Rachel Corrie, who was Pat Tillman’s hero [see the June 2010 post, “That’s My Hero”:  Pat Tillman, Rachel Corrie, and Yoni Netanyahu, at the feralfirefighter blog].
    In her book, “Boots on the Ground by Dusk,” Mary Tillman (Pat’s mother) wrote:  “Everywhere I look in this house, I’m staggered by memories. …  I stay in the house to look at Pat’s books on the shelves and appreciate his special keepsakes displayed in the dining room hutch.  As I’m looking at the mementos, I find a small newspaper clipping I’ve seen before.  The article is about Rachel Corrie … I remember picking up the article from the same spot more than a year ago [2003] and asking Pat, ‘Who’s this?’  ‘That’s my hero,’ Pat said.  ‘She was a stud; she had a lot of guts.’  I read the article with tears in my eyes then; now, I quietly cry.”
    It’s ironic that while Rachel was a hero to Pat Tillman, she is viewed with contempt by Yoni’s family.   Iddo Netanyahu said that he feels “that there is an inherent incompatibility in the joining together, in one evening, of a play based on my brother Yoni’s letters [“To Pay the Price”] with the play ‘My Name Is Rachel Corrie.”