by James M. Wall
Rachel Corrie’s parents, Craig and Cindy (above), and her sister, Sarah, are in Israel this week, waiting for a verdict from the Haifa District Court on the family’s suit against the government of Israel. The verdict from Judge Oded Gershon, is expected to be announced Tuesday.
The civil suit was filed two years ago over Rachel’s 2003 death when an Israeli Defense Force bull dozer killed her as she stood with a bull horn protesting the IDF’s destruction of a Palestinian home in Gaza. Israel’s official response was that the death was an accident.
Amira Hass, West Bank and Gaza correspondent for Ha’aretz, reported Thursday that U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, told the Corrie family that
Israel’s investigation into the death of American activist Rachel Corrie was not satisfactory, and wasn’t as thorough, credible or transparent as it should have been.
The U.S. government position is “not new” to the Corries, but their attorneys told the family that hearing it only a few days before the verdict was “important and encouraging [to the family],” because it signals to the Corrie family that the U.S. government will continue to demand a full accounting from Israel about their daughter’s killing, regardless of how Judge Oded Gershon rules”.
The ruling will mark the end of the latest chapter in the Corrie family’s long ordeal as they seek justice over their daughter’s death.
Rachel Corrie came to Gaza in 2002, where, as Amira Hass explains, “she joined a group of International Solidarity Movement activists who had been living among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, in areas that were subject to Israel Defense Forces incursions and attacks”.
A statement of support from Ambassador Shapiro suggests that he is not optimistic that the Tuesday verdict will be good news to the Corries. But the fact that Shapiro chose to issue this supportive statement prior to the verdict, has to be a good sign that the Obama administration will continue to demand a more complete and thorough investigation into Rachel’s death.
An ultimate judgment in this case rests in the hands of Israeli courts. There is little, other than diplomatic pressure, that the U.S. can do to support the Corries. But the fact that President Obama, during his reelection campaign, is willing to signal to the Corries that, regardless of the outcome of the Tuesday ruling, an Obama government will continue to support their family’s quest for justice.
It would have been an easy call simply to remain silent in the face of a possibly unfavorable court decision. But Obama was not silent. This is an indication that Israel’s control over the White House is not as firm as it was in 2003, during the Bush administration, especially in the emotional climate during the period right after 9/11 when Rachel was killed.
We may expect influential pro-Israeli U.S. citizens to respond negatively to even the slightest sign from President Obama that is not supportive of Israel.
We have advance warning from one such pro-Israeli citizen.
He is Ronn Torossian, a New York based public relations executive, who took one look at the Republican party’s choice of Paul Ryan as its vice-presidential candidate to ask the inevitable question on his blog: “Is Paul Ryan good for the Jews?” Ryan will be nominated as Mitt Romney’s running mate during next week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida
Is Paul Ryan good for the Jews?
Torrossian turned to Ryan’s website for his answer. There he found, for him, encouraging comments:
I believe at least one thing is clear: we cannot advocate for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that jeopardizes Israel’s safety or legitimizes terrorism. Hamas, which is one of the two major Palestinian political factions, is an Islamist terrorist group whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction, refuses to recognize Israel’s existence, and calls Osama Bin Laden a “martyr.”
America should not pressure Israel to agree to a peace deal that is unlikely to result in peace and security. Real peace will require Palestinians to recognize that Israel has a right to exist, even as it will require two states for the two peoples.
Torossian followed up that strongly pro-Israel observation from Ryan, by concluding on his blog: “Owning a PR firm, I know that only now does the spin begin, but clearly Paul Ryan is good for the Jews.”
The PR firm to which Torossian refers is 5W Public Relations , The firm’s website describes itself this way:
Founded by Ronn Torossian, the firm has grown into 1 of the 25 largest U.S. PR Agencies, as we believe communication is the key to success. The staff of 5WPR are experts in effectively communicating clients’ messages to their target audience. We listen to our clients’ needs, gain insight, and create a trusted extension of their C-suites and marketing departments. 5W Public Relations’ PR specialists work everyday to place strategic stories in a wide array of markets and sectors. Whether the goal is to drive web traffic, introduce a new technology or product, or clutter-bust a crowded marketplace, we are a PR agency that understands our clients’ business models and how to generate measurable results.
Torossian is but one loyal Israel Lobby warrior among many who carries a loud bullhorn to inform those within the sound of his blog that he finds Paul Ryan to be good for the Jews.
Barack Obama knows this, of course, which might have tempted the President to hold his fire on instructing his Ambassador to Israel to wait for the verdict in the Rachel Corrie suit. He also did not need to have been so firm in his assurance of support to the Corrie family, regardless of the final verdict this Tuesday.
Finally, a gentle reminder to those voters who still might be tempted to cast a “plague on both your houses” vote for a third party this November.. That Obama stood by the Corries in the midst of a reelection campaign, is all the more remarkable. Did George W. Bush, or would Mitt Romney, have done that?
The picture above of the Corrie parents, standing with a poster and a large photograph of Rachel, was taken in 2003 as the Corrie family began its long battle on behalf of Rachel. It was taken by the Associated Press, and appears above the Ha’aretz story cited above.