In a statement, former President Jimmy Carter called "unacceptable" the Aug. 28 ruling of an Israeli court that Rachel Corrie was responsible for her own death, the JTA reported Friday. -- "The killing of an American peace activist is unacceptable. The court’s decision confirms a climate of impunity, which facilitates Israeli human rights violations against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Territory," Carter said. -- The Olympian reported that the Corries mentioned Carter's statement in a videolink conversation with supporters at the Traditions Cafe in Olympia on Wednesday. -- In another response from a former U.S. official, Brian Baird, who once was Rachel Corrie's congressman, said that the Corries' case had been "dismissed without proper consideration," the Ma'an News Agency reported Thursday. -- (The MNA is a media network of independent journalists in the West Bank and Gaza.) -- But reactions from U.S. officials who are not retired were "muted," the MNA noted. -- COMMENT: The same can be said of reactions in U.S. media. -- In Israel, a biased, inaccurate, and obnoxious Jerusalem Post editorial called Tuesday's ruling "a wake-up call for the ISM [International Solidarity Movement] and other organizations and media outlets that have taken it upon themselves to single out Israel rather than confront the real violators of human rights in the region." ...
JIMMY CARTER CALLS CORRIE RULING 'UNACCEPTABLE'
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
August 31, 2012
WASHINGTON -- Former President Jimmy Carter called “unacceptable” a court ruling that declared the State of Israel is not responsible for the death of American activist Rachel Corrie.
“The killing of an American peace activist is unacceptable. The court’s decision confirms a climate of impunity, which facilitates Israeli human rights violations against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Territory,” Carter said in a statement from the Atlanta-based Carter Center.
A district court in Haifa dismissed all charges Tuesday in a civil suit brought by the parents of Corrie, the American activist killed in Gaza in 2003 after being run over by an Israeli military bulldozer.
District Court Judge Oded Gershon ruled that Corrie, a pro-Palestinian activist with the International Solidarity Movement, entered the Gaza Strip despite knowing it was a war zone with live fire being exchanged daily.
Corrie, 23, was acting as a human shield for a house that was about to be demolished by the Israeli army when she became enveloped in the pile of dirt created by an armored bulldozer as it moved toward the house, according to her supporters. She died soon after in a nearby hospital. The Israeli military denies that a house demolition was taking place.
Carter also stated, “I hope that the U.S. government will use all reasonable means to ensure that the rights of American citizens are protected overseas and that justice is done for the Corrie family.”
The former president, who has garnered much criticism in recent years for his harsh words about Israel, will address the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 4 via video on the second day of the convention in Charlotte, N.C.
CORRIES SHARE SUIT THOUGHTS FROM ISRAEL WITH AUDIENCE IN OLYMPIA
By Matt Batcheldor
** About 30 people gathered Wednesday evening at Traditions Cafe in downtown Olympia to participate in a video conference with Craig and Cindy Corrie, a day after an Israeli judge rejected their lawsuit to hold Israel responsible for their death of their daughter. **
Olympian (Olympia, WA) / News Tribune (Tacoma, WA)
August 29, 2012
About 30 people gathered Wednesday evening at Traditions Cafe in downtown Olympia to participate in a video conference with Craig and Cindy Corrie, a day after an Israeli judge rejected their lawsuit to hold Israel responsible for their death of their daughter.
“I know that you understand that we’re greatly disappointed,” Cindy Corrie said from Israel, where it was nearly 5:00 a.m. She said the judge had made up his mind about the case, that he disregarded “the positions brought forward by our attorneys, by the information and evidence that had been brought forward.”
Her husband, Craig, said they are consulting with attorneys and haven’t decided whether to appeal.
Judge Oded Gershon on Tuesday rejected claims that the driver of an Israeli bulldozer acted recklessly when it crushed Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old former student of The Evergreen State College, in the Gaza Strip town of Rafah in 2003.
An Israeli army investigation had ruled the death an accident and said the bulldozer driver and other military personnel in the area acted properly. Corrie’s supporters have said the investigation was poorly handled and the driver acted recklessly, perhaps even intentionally running her over.
In Tuesday’s verdict, the judge backed the military’s version of events. Corrie “put herself in a dangerous situation,” he said, calling her death “the result of an accident she brought upon herself.” He also said the military investigation was handled properly.
“It seemed to be really just a statement of what the state of Israel had claimed and what they argued,” Cindy Corrie said.
The family sought a symbolic $1 judgment, in addition to the $200,000 they say they’ve incurred in legal expenses over the years.
Cindy Corrie said she had just seen a seven-page English summary of the verdict, but that the whole verdict was 70 pages and in Hebrew, and has yet to be translated.
She noted that former President Jimmy Carter had addressed the verdict.
“The killing of an American peace activist is unacceptable,” Carter said in a news release from the Carter Center, his nonprofit peace organization. “The court’s decision confirms a climate of impunity, which facilitates Israeli human rights violations against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Territory.”
But prosecutors argued Rachel Corrie knowingly entered a closed military zone and area of violent conflict. Cindy Corrie said court testimony disputed that the area was a closed military zone.
Rachel Corrie belonged to the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, whose activists enter conflict zones and try to interfere with activities of Israel’s military in the West Bank and Gaza, territories the Palestinians claim.
Several members have been killed or maimed in confrontations with the military, which accuses them of behaving recklessly in dangerous, chaotic situations, often in areas where civilians were barred.
Friends who were with Corrie have said they believed the Caterpillar D9 bulldozer they were blocking was about to demolish the nearby home of a Palestinian family Corrie was living with.
The Israeli army had been undertaking systematic house demotions in the densely populated, violent area along the Egyptian border. It said the homes were used for cover by militants to attack soldiers and Jewish settlers.
The demolitions left some 17,000 Palestinians homeless, according to U.N. reports The policy of razing homes sparked international condemnation at the time.
Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, and Palestinians took control. Since, Gaza militants have fired thousands of rockets at Israel, triggering cross-border raids and a three-week war in 2008.
After Rachel’s death, the Corries founded the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice, based in Olympia.
“I’m really hoping that people don’t get sad, that they get mad . . .” Austin Nolen, a foundation representative, said in an interview.
He said it’s a “chance to turn around and really reinvigorate the struggle here and the struggle elsewhere in the United States and the world.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
RACHEL CORRIE CONGRESSMAN NOT SURPRISED BY VERDICT
Ma'an News Agency
August 30, 2012
BETHLEHEM -- A retired six-term congressman who represented slain activist Rachel Corrie's district said Thursday he was unsurprised by an Israeli court verdict to dismiss a civil suit filed by the family.
Democrat Brian Baird of Washington said the trial was undermined by Israel's failure to conduct a transparent investigation into the 2003 killing of his constituent in Gaza.
"The verdict was not a great surprise" because the outcome resulted from "a process that seemed designed to obfuscate the facts rather than clarify," the ex-lawmaker said in a telephone interview from Seattle.
"Sadly, as I've come to understand, this is standard operating procedure" for many complaints alleging Israeli military misconduct, he said. "The case was dismissed without proper consideration."
Baird, who served six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives before retiring in 2010, was among the first officials to call for a U.S. investigation into Corrie's death. No American inquiry was formed, but the former lawmaker has continued to support the family's fight for accountability in Israeli courts.
The suit by Cindy and Craig Corrie sought a symbolic $1 in damages for the death of their daughter, who was crushed to death by an armored bulldozer as she protested against home demolitions in Gaza. Their case accused Israel of intentional and unlawful killing and failing to investigate.
On Tuesday, a judge dismissed the suit and said Israel was not to blame for any "damages caused" as they occurred during wartime. He said Corrie's death was a "regrettable accident," and added that she "did not distance herself from the area, as any thinking person would have done."
Former President Jimmy Carter responded that the "killing of an American peace activist is unacceptable," and urged the U.S. to use "all reasonable means to ensure that the rights of its citizens are protected overseas and that justice is done for the Corrie family."
Reactions to the verdict were muted in Washington. Israel enjoys considerable support from both major parties. Lawmakers are also preparing for a November presidential election.
The PLO general delegation to the U.S. said it was "dismayed" by the Obama administration's silence.
"We strongly believe that the failure of U.S. officials to support the Corries only sustains Israeli policies of harassment, intimidation, and coercion against American supporters of the Palestinian people," it said.
U.S. POSITION 'UNCHANGED'
Baird too said he regretted that the case never became a top foreign policy priority.
"In the early days after Rachel's death, there was extraordinary compassion," he said, emphasizing that certain officials in the State Dept. had done an "outstanding job" in support of the family. However, he added, "There was not the same level of support from Congress."
Cindy Corrie, meanwhile, said the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, had informed the family this week that the U.S. position on Israel's investigations remained unchanged. Shapiro was referring to remarks by a State Dept. official under the Bush administration who said Israel had failed to conduct a "thorough, credible, and transparent" investigation, Corrie told reporters on a conference call.
State Dept. spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Tuesday she could not comment on a closed meeting and declined to give an official position on the verdict. But she said the U.S. understood the family's disappointment. "We reiterate our condolences to the Corrie family on the tragic death of their daughter," she said.
Baird, the former congressman, recalled being unprepared in 2003 for the extent of the antagonism he would face from Israeli officials and lobbyists after he proposed an independent investigation into the killing.
"Representatives of the Israeli government resisted providing full information, and in some cases provided false information," he said of the responses to his requests for information.
In one instance, "I was personally and repeatedly told by representatives of Israel and representatives of AIPAC that the bulldozer driver was suffering from a deep depression and undergoing therapy. That was in direct contrast to the (future) hearing where he implied he had little recollection of the event."
"At that time I was not saying Israel was culpable, but it was necessary to ask for an investigation . . . We had a responsibility if it was any country -- friendly or unfriendly."
Ultimately, he said, the Corrie verdict put a spotlight on the many barriers to justice faced by Palestinians.
"This is not a rare event for Palestinians. Those individuals often get far less official due process. I trust that the Corries' motivation is partly to highlight this fundamental characteristic for Palestinians," he said. "I admire tremendously the Corrie family for pursuing it."
THE CORRIE VERDICT
** The circumstances of Rachel Corrie's tragic death should be a wake-up call for the ISM and other organizations and media outlets that have taken it upon themselves to single out Israel rather than confront the real violators of human rights in the region. **
August 28, 2012
The death of 23-year-old American rights activist Rachel Corrie was a “regrettable accident,” not an intentional war crime, Haifa District Court Judge Oded Gershon ruled on Tuesday.
For those following the trial who are unbiased by a perennial desire to bash Israel and search tirelessly for its faults, the verdict was no surprise.
The day after Corrie’s death, Ariel Sharon, who was prime minister at the time, promised U.S. president George W. Bush that Israel would conduct a “thorough, credible, and transparent” investigation. And that is precisely what was done.
An internal IDF probe into the circumstances of Corrie’s death headed by the chief of staff found that IDF troops were not to blame. Corrie had entered a closed military zone. She was standing in a blind spot where the soldier driving the military-issued bulldozer could not see her.
Furthermore, she was killed by falling debris, not by the bulldozer. IDF soldiers using teargas and other means had attempted repeatedly to remove her and other pro-Palestinian activists, but Corrie escaped the soldiers by hiding behind a mound.
Her parents, Cindy and Craig, refused to accept the veracity of that investigation’s findings.
Understandably, they are still grief-stricken over their daughter’s unnecessary and unfortunate death. However, they believed -- like so many Israel bashers -- that the IDF could cover up a war crime, including the intentional murder of a 23-year-old female activist, to protect its soldiers.
The Corries and several anti-Israel activists also lost a U.S. legal battle against Caterpillar Inc., the firm that sold the bulldozer to the IDF. The federal court was not convinced by their claim that Caterpillar was culpable for selling bulldozers to Israel, knowing they would be used for activities considered by these activists to be a violation of international law.
In November 2005, a federal judge dismissed the case because of its “political” subject matter. In September 2007, that decision was backed up by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District. The U.S. judiciary correctly stayed away from ruling on the legality of the right of the State of Israel to defend itself against its many enemies.
Tuesday’s decision by Judge Gershon -- which the Corrie family intends to appeal -- essentially confirmed these previously inquiries and rulings. Rafah, the area in the Gaza Strip into which Corrie entered, was a war zone at the time.
From the outbreak of the Second Intifada in September 2000 until the day of Corrie’s death, the IDF countered about 6,000 grenades thrown at soldiers in the area. There had been around 1,400 shooting attacks, 150 explosives detonated, 200 anti-tank rockets fired, and some 40 instances of mortar fire. The IDF was in Rafah to defend Israeli citizens against Palestinian terrorists.
The judge went on to say that it was Corrie, not the IDF, who had been negligent. Corrie’s death was, Gershon said, “the result of an accident she brought upon herself.”
Unfortunately but not unpredictably, Gershon’s ruling is being presented by some news media as an attempt by Israel to whitewash war crimes.
The provocative headline in the online edition of the British daily *The Independent* was “Rachel Corrie death: Israel rejects all blame,” seemingly inviting readers to dismiss Israeli attempts to shirk responsibility.
The *Guardian* led its website with the Corrie verdict, as if nothing else (a massacre in Syria, the opening of the Republican convention in the U.S., or even another Israeli court’s indictment of nine teens for attacking an Arab youth in Jerusalem) were more newsworthy. And the headline chosen was a quotation from the Corrie family calling the court decision “deeply troubling.”
As has been pointed out by NGO Monitor, if anyone is responsible for what happened to Rachel Corrie besides Corrie herself, it is the International Solidarity Movement, the anti-Zionist organization that provided her with training in “direct action” tactics before bringing her to the ISM-organized demonstration in Rafah.
The circumstances of her tragic death should be a wake-up call for the ISM and other organizations and media outlets that have taken it upon themselves to single out Israel rather than confront the real violators of human rights in the region.