Israel has two forms of democracy. One is for Jews, giving them more than full rights as human beings. The other is a flawed system that denies human rights to non-Jews.
It’s very convenient for Israel. When critics charge that the Israeli court system is biased against Arabs, Israel points to an exemplary record of prosecuting Jewish politicians for corruption, or Israeli suspects for routine crimes.
It all sounds so good, but in reality, Israeli democracy is schizophrenic.
That’s the case this week when an Israeli judge ruled that American activist Rachel Corrie was killed in a “regrettable accident.”
Corrie, a non-violent activist who has been portrayed by Israel as a “terrorist,” was fighting for the rights of Palestinian civilians on March 16, 2003, trying to prevent Israel from destroying Palestinian homes in Rafah in the Gaza Strip in order to expand Israel’s settlements.
She was standing in front of a Caterpillar Bulldozer that was being driven by an armed Israeli soldier who was using it to tear down a Palestinian home.
Witnesses testified that the soldier knew Corrie was standing in front of the Caterpillar tractor, which is one of hundreds purchased from the Peoria, Illinois-based company and used to destroy civilian homes and property. She was wearing a night-glow vest. Waving, yelling and peacefully protesting when the tractor crushed her.
In 2005, ironically, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, abandoning the 21 settlements.
But Israel has spent the past nine years destroying evidence, denying charges and preventing the Corrie family from obtaining justice. Nine years of denying the Corrie family the right to know the facts surrounding their daughter’s death.
Most disturbing is that Corrie is an American citizen but she has never been given the same status by the media that has been given to Jews who were victims of violence in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
In the case of Corrie, the Israeli judge argued that she had entered a “war zone.”
But in the case of Jews killed by Arabs in violence over the years, the Israeli courts and biased American courts have ruled that they were not engaged in war or military conflicts, but were instead the victims of “terrorism.”
The mainstream American media has headlined numerous cases involving American Jews who using their dual-citizenship rights to own an American passport and an Israeli passport, volunteered and served in the Israeli military.
They were killed in the conflict but because in their case they were not considered to be in a “war zone,” were ruled victims of terrorism.
Corrie, on the other hand, was a pro-Palestinian activist who was standing up to Israel’s terrorist policies, but was denied justice because, according to the Israelis, she was in a “war zone.”
Being in a war zone makes the difference between being a victim of terrorism as is the case of the Jews killed by Arabs, or being responsible for your own death, as Israel argues is the case with Rachel Corrie.
Mark Regev, the smooth-talking spin master for Israel played the war zone card in defending the Israeli judge’s ruling. BBC and other foreign media covered the Israeli court decision. But most American media ignored the story.
It’s not the kind of thing the American media wants to report, that an American killed in a foreign country by a foreign country’s military in defense of civilians was the victim of a war crime.
Rachel Corrie was the victim of a war crime. Her parents, American citizens, refused to give up and for nine years have stood up to the impenetrable Israeli propaganda system and the biased Israeli judicial system which has in the past ruled that its military can murder activists if Israel declares them to be “terrorists.” The policy is called “extra-judicial killing,” meaning murder outside of the Rule of Law.
Israel does many things that is outside of the Rule of International Law.
Corrie’s death was murder. The Israeli military knew the protestors were there.
They knew that the protestors were trying to stop the home demolitions. They saw Corrie but they didn’t care whether she was hurt or whether she was not hurt.
They didn’t care. And even in a regrettable accident, that kind of disregard for human life makes Israel guilty of another war crime. One that the American mainstream news media will never report.
Because when it comes to defending the rights of Israel or defending the life of an American citizen who is a critic of Israel, this country always stands in defense of the foreign country.
That’s an even greater immoral crime.
Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American journalist and radio talk show host for Radio Chicago Land. This article was first published in Saudi Gazette on September 2, 2012