The Corries Go to Court

Rachel Corrie’s parents begin their legal battle against Israel.

On Wed., March 3, Craig and Cindy Corrie will attend a Tacoma reading of My Name Is Rachel Corrie, the much-debated play about their daughter's life and death protesting the Israeli treatment of Palestinians in Gaza. Then they'll fly out on a red-eye to New York on the first leg of their journey to Israel—and possibly an even higher-profile recounting of their daughter's death, one before a judge.On March 10, the Corries' long-standing effort to put the Israeli military on trial for Rachel's death will finally bear fruit, seven years after the now world-famous activist and Olympia native met her fate beneath an army bulldozer on a mission to demolish Palestinian homes. Her parents are pressing a civil suit against the Israeli defense ministry, saying that its soldiers killed Rachel either intentionally or through negligence.They filed the case in 2005, but it was held up by legal wrangling over whether the Israeli government could be sued, according to Cindy, reached by phone in Olympia, where she and her husband run a human-rights foundation in Rachel's name. They have hired a Palestinian Israeli human-rights attorney, Hussein Abu Hussein, to represent them.Craig says that he believes the Israeli government has "a huge home-court advantage." He cites the difficulty and expense of flying in eyewitnesses, such as three Britons and one American who worked with Rachel in the International Solidarity Movement, a Palestinian-led organization. The Corries wanted assurance from the Israeli government that the four would be let into the country without hassle, but didn't receive that until this week, after they asked U.S. officials to intervene.The Israeli government has still not said whether it will allow in a Gaza doctor who treated Rachel in her final hours, according to the Corries.Except for the testimony of foreigners, the trial will also be conducted in Hebrew, a language the Corries don't understand. They are not even able to read the complaint filed on their behalf.The Corries, however, have the advantage of an array of supporters around the world, some of whom will be at the trial, translating for them. They're also helped by the fact that this suit—unlike another one filed in Washington state against Caterpillar, the maker of the bulldozer that killed Rachel—takes aim squarely at the people involved in Rachel's death.The previous suit, also filed in 2005, argued that Caterpillar's sale of bulldozers to the Israeli military was akin to a gun store selling arms to a murderer. Harvard University civil-rights lawyer Alan Dershowitz told SW the case "made the McDonald's hot-coffee suit seem like Brown v. Board of Education." It was finally quashed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last year.

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