The District Court in Haifa, Israel, yesterday rendered its verdict the civil case brought by the family of Rachel Corrie, killed by an IDF bulldozer in Rafah, Gaza in 2003. Judge Oded Gershon declared that Rachel was responsible for her own death, ignoring and once again effectively nullifying the IDF's responsibility under international law to protect civilian non-combatants. Following the verdict, Rachel's mother Cindy told Al-Jazeera that the family is considering an appeal to Israel's Supreme Court. The court that matters, though, is the court of public opinion, and in that court yesterday's verdict represents yet another loss for the state of Israel.
The front lines of the conflict in the Holy Land -- a conflict based upon Israel's illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian lands and characterized by the IDF's genocidal collective punishment of a captive civilian population -- run not only through the cities and towns of Palestine but also through living rooms and family rooms of American homes. Because Israel is totally dependent upon US political, diplomatic, and military support for its crimes in the Holy Land, Israeli leaders and their operatives and powerful and influential allies in government, in media, and among the Christian Right in the USA strive relentlessly in their propaganda efforts. Israel spares no expense in its hasbara campaign to control the public discussion and influence public opinion in the USA about the Middle East, about US Middle East foreign policy, and, most especially, about the conflict in the Holy Land.
The murder of Rachel Corrie by an IDF bulldozer driver was a tragedy for the Corrie family and for peacemakers and human rights activists everywhere. But it was a public relations disaster for Israel. The humility, courage, and persistence of the Corrie family in their quest for justice over the years since Rachel's murder, their embrace of Rachel's activism and the cause for which she gave her life has become a beacon that inspires millions while it casts the light of truth upon the lies with which Israeli leaders and their operatives would lead America and Americans deeper into the darkness of authoritarianism and the savagery of ultranationalistic militarism.
Wiser Israeli leaders might have used the trial in Haifa and the verdict to give the Corrie family something at least remotely resembling a fair hearing and justice. But obdurate racism and rigidly militant nationalism, pathological and incapable of either compassion or compromise, always over-reach. Militant Zionists may view the verdict as a vindication of Israel's criminal policies and actions, but the tide of public opinion has turned. In the court of public opinion, the verdict serves as official confirmation of Rachel's martyrdom by the state of Israel. Israel's Supreme Court may well prove wiser, or at least more pragmatic, than the District Court in Haifa.
Meanwhile, Rachel continues to win ever more important victories on the front lines of the conflict in the Holy Land.