Israeli courts dealt with two separate cases on Tuesday that touched related features central to the country''s history and--perhaps--to its future.
In one, a lower court in Haifa dismissed a suit by the parents of Rachel Corrie, seeking to force Israel to admit responsibility for her death on a battlefield in Gaza during 2003. No surprise that the court expressed regret about her death, but assigned responsibility to Rachel for entering a dangerous situation. The decision found no indication that IDF personnel had acted improperly to cause her death, or that the IDF had failed to make a thorough investigation of the incident.
Also no surprise that the Arab attorney representing the parents, together with Corrie''s mother, claimed that Israel''s coverup was continuing. Or that a newspaper not known for its sympathy for Israeli interests published an article prior to the court''s ruling emphasizing the Corries'' suffering and loyalties.
"Apart from justice for Rachel, the Corries are also committed to justice for the Palestinians. Six months after Rachel''s death, Cindy and Craig finally visited Gaza, and the house their daughter was trying to protect from demolition. There have been subsequent visits to Gaza, and Cindy hopes there will be more in the future. The family have made many friends from Gaza, including the occupants of the house, the Nasrallah family, whose home was finally razed in the spring of 2004. Cindy says she now has a "deeper sense of what injustice means".
Israeli media paid almost no attention to the case prior to the day of the verdict. One exception, also no surprise, was a lengthy article by Ha''aretz''s resident Ramallah (formerly Gaza) correspondent Amira Hass. Her article carried the headline "What does it matter that the IDF operated in an occupied civilian area?" and begins the story of Rachel Corrie with a 1967 episode from the protests against apartheid in South Africa.
In contrast to the latest blip in the Corrie family''s campaign against Israel, Migron has been a major media event peaking with Tuesday''s arguments before the Supreme Court.
Details of the case defy a simple or brief report. They involve
- Earlier findings that Migron was improperly built on privately-owned Palestinian land
- Recent claims by several Migron families that they have bought the land under their homes, paying one million dollars to an individual who subsequently died (only a gravely ill Palestinian would dare sell land to Jews, even for an extravagant sum)
- Claims by Peace Now that documents affirming the sale are forgeries
- Assertions by the state that Migron settlers have pursued a series of delaying tactics, and must accept an earlier court decision ordering their removal.
Whatever the ultimate decisions of Israeli courts in these cases (assuming the Corries appeal), the coincidence of these sittings on the same day point to the intertwined problems of Israel''s acceptance along with the derivative issue of Israel''s settlements.
Corrie''s parents, along with supporters who have applauded various artistic efforts devoted to her, and residents of her hometown who instituted a boycott of Israeli goods by a Food Co-op, represent movements that oppose Israel''s existence. Some may assert that they only oppose Israel''s occupation of Palestinian land, but the Corrie movement challenges such a distinction insofar as its opposition extends to Israel''s efforts at self-defense.
Migron''s settlers and those supporting them represent another unsettled feature of Israel''s existence. More than 300,000 Israeli Jews live in the West Bank beyond the pre-1967 boundaries, not including another 200,000 of us in post-1967 neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Thus, more than half a million people out of a total population of 7.8 million are living in what important others consider to be illegal settlements. Overall, there are too many to move in an effort to satisfy contentious demands that it is Arab land.
Major centers are within the barrier that Israel began constructing during the wave of Palestinian violence that began in 2000, but smaller settlements are sufficiently spread throughout the West Bank as to complicate any aspirations to arrive at a two-state solution for the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The settlements are not the only barrier to a Palestinian state. No less prominent is Palestinian opposition to accepting anything less than any Israeli government will grant.
Israeli and other leftists conclude that the impasse will force Israel to accept a one-state solution for the area between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, where--sooner or later--an Arab majority will do away with the Jewish state.
What the leftists do not address is who will force Israel to do accept that one-state solution?
The chaos and corruption within Palestine, as well as the unsettled character of much else in the Middle East leaves no one with the incentive to force an Israeli capitulation except for the minorities of Israeli, overseas Jewish, and other international leftists.
To paraphrase an epigram, the Pope has more troops.