Whitewashing Rachel Corrie’s Death

Two recent rulings, one in Israel blaming American Rachel Corrie for her own death while obstructing the demolition of Palestinian homes and another in America absolving torturers in the murder of detainees, suggest that national security trumps justice and international law is easily brushed aside, writes Lawrence Davidson.

By Lawrence Davidson

On March 16, 2003, the last day of her life, 23-year-old Rachel Corrie was in the Gaza town of Rafah standing in front of the Palestinian family home of Dr. Samir Nasrallah, who was a local pharmacist. Ms. Corrie had been staying with his family while serving as part of an International Solidarity Movement (ISM) cadre seeking to disrupt the Israeli army’s (IDF) on-going demolition of Palestinian homes. (They are not just houses.)

Between 2000 and 2004, the Israelis had destroyed enough homes in the Rafah area to leave some 1,700 people homeless. The Israeli army claimed they did this because these homes were used as “terrorist hiding places.” The result, they claimed, was frequent gunfire at Israeli settlements and soldiers. Yet for the time that Ms Corrie stayed with the Nasrallahs, everyone in the home had slept on the floor and away from the windows to avoid a constant barrage of gunfire from Israeli snipers.

Protesters in Kufr Qaddoum, West Bank, urge justice in the Rachel Corrie case on Aug. 24, 2012. (Photo credit: Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice)

On the day that Ms Corrie died, she interposed herself between the Nasrallah home and a very large “D9R” armored Caterpillar bulldozer driven by an Israeli soldier. This was one of those infamous, made-in-the-USA machines sold to Israel by the Caterpillar Inc. even though the CEO, Board of Directors and sales staff know that their product is used to destroy homes in ways that violate international law.

At the time the bulldozer in question stood 20 to 30 meters from Corrie, who was wearing a “high visibility” fluorescent orange jacket and was speaking through a megaphone calling for the tractor driver to stop or turn away. The tractor moved toward her and the home slowly in an operation the IDF later described as the “clearing of vegetation and rubble” so as to remove “explosive devices.”

As it approached, the driver lowered the tractor blade and began accumulating a mound of dirt and debris as the machine went along. When the bulldozer was close to the outer wall of the Nasrallah home, Corrie climbed on top of the accumulating debris. At that point she was so positioned that she could look directly into the tractor cab, and the driver could look directly out at her, from no more than three or four meters.

The machine kept coming. In the next few seconds, she lost her balance, fell backwards, and was run over twice by the tractor blade. The bulldozer driver later testified that he never saw Corrie until he noticed “people pulling the body out from under the earth.”

There was, of course, an internal military investigation of the incident, an investigation that then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised then President George W. Bush would be “thorough, credible and transparent.” Senior U.S. officials, including the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, later observed that the military investigation was none of these things.

The military exonerated both the driver of the tractor and his commander, saying that neither had seen Corrie and adding that they weren’t even trying to destroy the Nasrallah home that day.

The judgment followed a long-standing practice of the Israeli military, reconstructing scenarios after the fact in order to rationalize just about any action soldiers take against the Palestinians, no matter how criminal. In the Rafah area during the years that Corrie and other ISM volunteers worked there, the Israeli military was in the habit of targeting Palestinian children, killing some 400 of them, one-fourth of whom were under the age of 12.

In almost all cases, there was no penalty for committing these murders. The practice of granting immunity has also been followed by Israeli police and courts with reference to crimes committed by Israeli civilians, especially settlers, against Palestinians. To date, “91% of investigations of such criminal acts committed by Israelis against Palestinians and their property are closed without indictments being served,” according to the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din.

The Civil Suit

In 2005, frustrated by the apparent whitewash of their daughter’s murder, Corrie’s parents filed a civil suit in an Israeli court against the country’s Ministry of Defense. They hoped that the trial would provide the “credible and transparent” accounting that had so far been denied. Subsequently, 15 court sessions were held in the city of Haifa and just 23 witnesses testified. Yet the whole thing dragged on for seven years –until last Aug. 28 when the presiding judge, Oded Gershon, finally issued his ruling.

“I reject the suit,” Gershon stated in his 62-page decision, claiming that Corrie and the other ISM activists had purposely chosen to enter a “daily combat region” where they acted “to protect terrorists.” The judge accepted the army’s claim that the bulldozer driver had not seen Corrie. In any case, according to the judge, she was acting irrationally.

“Corrie could have simply gotten out of the way of the bulldozer as any reasonable person would have done,” but she did not, and so she was ultimately responsible for her own death. According to the Corrie family lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein, Judge Gershon’s judgment was “so close to the state’s attorney’s version of events that it could have been written by him.”

The judge’s mind-set is perhaps the most telling part of the judgment. In Gershon’s world, the Israeli army was not seeking to engage in a siege that was turning Gaza into the world’s largest outdoor prison while illegal Israeli settlements expanded. And, because that was not what was going on, any response by the people of Gaza could not be seen as legitimate acts of resistance or self-defense.

No, the people of Gaza were at best supporters of terrorists or at worst terrorists themselves. That was the paradigm into which both the judge and all the Israeli army witnesses were locked. These witnesses spoke from behind a curtain, using aliases. This was done “for security reasons.”

And, they all said basically the same thing: we did not see Rachel Corrie and even if we had we would not have seen a civilian. Why? Because Israel is at war with the Palestinians and, as one testifying IDF officer (aka Yossi) put it, “during a war there are no civilians.” There are only terrorists and their allies (Corrie) and Israel does not prosecute its soldiers for waging “war” against them.

The resulting a priori immunity is not unique to Israel. Just days after the Corrie decision was announced, another decision, this time by the U.S. Justice Department, was made public. The Department ended its investigation into deaths occurring during CIA interrogations conducted using torture. No charges were brought against the torturers in these cases due to insufficient “admissible evidence.” That is, the evidence which the government itself would declassify so as to make it admissible was not sufficient to “sustain a conviction.”

The American Civil Liberties Union called the decision “nothing short of a scandal. … Continuing impunity threatens to undermine the universally recognized prohibition on torture and other abusive treatment.”

If you come across an individual who condemns an entire category of people and is also willing to violently act on the basis of that belief, you might call him or her a pathological racist, or a pathological xenophobe, or a pathological paranoid chauvinist. But what happens when those same sick sentiments get institutionalized in powerful bureaucracies?

When, say, all Arabs (be they Muslim or Christian) are suspect and subject to government surveillance, segregation, collective punishment and worse. What then do you call this? National security? All too often that is exactly what we call it. The “we” here includes almost all politicians, media newscasters, security personnel, talking head “experts,” and the like.

What it comes down to is that, in the name of “national security,” we can justify almost anything, including killing kids in Gaza and torturing people to death in some dungeon, the whereabouts of which is classified, as well as running over a 23-year-old peace activist with a massive bulldozer.

That is certainly what the Corrie episode has shown to be the case in Israel. And it does not matter what is driving this obsessive stereotyping of the Palestinians as collective enemies by both individuals and entire government departments.

The Israelis and their Zionist supporters can evoke the Holocaust (and, for that matter, the Americans can talk about 9/11) until the end of time. The actions stemming from such ultimately racist perspectives are still thoroughly dehumanizing and criminal. Such is perpetual “war.”

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.


  13 comments for “Whitewashing Rachel Corrie’s Death

  1. Hillary
    September 4, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Israel is the home of the “Chosen People” and as such it is above the law.

    Killing the non chosen is a regular occurrence and of zero consequence.

    Jewish military Occupation of Palestine is against basic human rights and international law and yet it acceptable to American religious wackos.

    It appears that no nation, be it the United States, United Kingdom, Europe, Russia and so on are prepared to bring pressure on Israel to obey the law.

    California Passes Resolution Equating Criticism of Israel With Anti-Semitism


    It’s unacceptable to have soldiers knocking on a door at three in the morning and saying, “This is my home.” And forcing people out of homes they’ve lived in for centuries?

    Jewish-only roads? Would White-only roads be tolerated in the USA ?

    Generations of Palestinians have been driven from their homes – by Jews – and into refugee camps. Its called ethnic cleansing as Jews continue to bulldoze Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem.


  2. September 5, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Dr. Steven Plaut (Haifa University) in his article ‘Welcome to Haifa, Mr. and Mrs. Corrie’, published in The Jewish Press (March 3, 2011), wrote: “Corrie has since become a sort of Mother Teresa for the radical left and apologists for Islamofascism. She is the martyr saint of the pro-terror lobby and is even celebrated by Klansman David Duke”.

    On April 5, a mere three weeks after Rachel’s death, peace activist Brian Avery was shot in the face by IDF forces and severely disfigured. Six days after that, on April 11, it was another peace activist’s turn. British ISM volunteer Tom Hurndall was shot in the head by an IDF soldier and left clinically brain dead, dying nine months later.

    Clearly the death of this iconic figure was a public relations disaster for Israel. The effect of decades of Holocaust propaganda must have unravelled in a single instant. You bastards, you killed our Rachel! This must have been the thought uppermost in the minds of millions of Americans on hearing the tragic news of Rachel’s death. The ability to squeeze tears from non-Jewish eyes for Jewish suffering must have suffered a serious setback at this point. Why should we mourn your dead at Auschwitz when you killed our beautiful Rachel?


  3. borat
    September 5, 2012 at 10:21 am

    more antisemitic b.s. from davidson and rehmanazi.

    Rachel Corrie responsible for own death, not Israel or Israelis
    – Jerry Philipson Tuesday, August 28, 2012

    Rachel Corrie was a 23-year-old pro-Palestinian member of the International Solidarity Movement from the United States who died in 2003 in Gaza when she placed herself in front of an Israeli Defence Forces bulldozer in the middle of military activity in a war zone and was accidentally run over and killed.

    The International Solidarity Movement is opposed to Israel’s very existence and believes that the country has no right to self defence…Corrie and other members were in Gaza to protect terrorists and to prevent the Israeli military from taking measures to stop the flow of arms and terrorists into Israel from Gaza, from taking measures to protect Israel and Israelis from widespread destruction and death at the hands of said terrorists, from taking measures to protect Israelis from inhuman, unspeakable atrocities committed by them

    Corrie’s family accused the Israeli Ministry of Defence and the Israeli Defence Forces of being negligent, claimed that her death could have and should have been avoided and sought redress through the courts in Israel.

    The District Court in Haifa just ruled against them and absolved the MOD and the IDF of responsibility for her death. In bringing down the verdict. the court ruled Corrie’s death was accidental not intentional and was caused by her own rash decisions and actions. According to the court, she had several opportunities to leave the scene but chose to place herself in a dangerous situation and ended up dead as a result. It wasn’t the fault of the MOD or IDF…it was hers for placing herself in an extremely vulnerable position in a designated combat area to begin with and by extension the International Solidarity Movement and Palestinian terrorist organizations Hamas and Fatah for encouraging and enabling her to be there.

    The verdict was both correct and just. It came after a fair, lengthy, exhaustive trial in which both sides had ample opportunity to present and defend their version of events. It should be noted that an expert who testified on behalf of the family said that the bulldozer driver could not possibly have seen Corrie and that a thorough investigation by the Israeli military in 2003 came to the conclusion that it was not responsible for her death.

    It is clear now and was clear from the very beginning that Rachel Corrie was responsible for her own death…she was an adult capable of making her own decisions, misguided though they were in this case, and chose to place herself in the situation she did of her own free will. She certainly didn’t have to and could easily have avoided it. Her death was an unintended consequence of a very bad decision she made, actually a whole series of very bad decisions, but she and she alone made them. In the end, that makes her and her alone responsible for her death, even though she was manipulated, used, aided and abetted by the International Solidarity Movement and by Hamas and Fatah. She had to be aware that placing herself in front of a bulldozer in the middle of a combat operation in a war zone could result in her death but she chose to go ahead and do it anyway…whose responsibility is that if not hers?

    Not yours, not mine and not the MOD or the IDF either.

    Don’t expect it all to end here though. Her death and the Israeli verdict are exceedingly useful propaganda tools for those who hate Israel and Israelis, by those who would like to see Israel destroyed and don’t mind seeing Israeli blood spilled, by those who excuse Palestinian atrocities, by the useful idiots who believe the phony Palestinian narrative. Propaganda is what we can expect from this and propaganda is exactly what we’ll get. In fact, Corrie is far more valuable in death than she ever was in life.

    Pity she didn’t recognize and understand that before she placed herself in front of the bulldozer.

    Pity her family doesn’t recognize and understand that now.

  4. borat
    September 5, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Not a peep from this antisemitic site about the 40th anniversary of 11 Israeli athletes by palestinian terrorists.

    Memorial ceremony for 11 athletes killed at 1972 Munich Olympics

    6 Aug 2012
    Min Livnat: “There is a line to be drawn from Auschwitz to Munich, and from Munich to Burgas; it is the murder of Jews simply because they are Jews.”

    Representing the Government of Israel, Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat spoke at the memorial ceremony for the 11 Israeli athletes killed in the 1972 Munich massacre.

    Prime Minister David Cameron,
    Distinguished guests,
    Family members of the 11 murdered Israeli athletes.

    We are gathered here this evening to honor our eleven fallen heroes. Fathers, husbands, brothers, sons. Sons of our nation. Olympic sons. For us, the memory of our athletes slain in Munich by Palestinian terrorists, is forever etched in our collective soul. For us, our national soul is something we each take personally.

    King Solomon ruled in Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem, around the same time the first Olympic Games were first held in ancient Greece. In his wisdom he said: “There is a time for everything under the heavens.”

    And allow me to paraphrase: There is a time to speak out, and there is a time to be silent.

    On the 17th of June, 2012, the German magazine, Der Spiegel, reported that German Neo-Nazis were accomplices to the Munich massacre of 1972. The report documents how the Palestinian terrorists of “Black September” enjoyed logistical support from local Neo-Nazis.

    This comes as no surprise. There is a line to be drawn from Auschwitz to Munich, and from Munich to Burgas, where Israeli tourists were murdered by terrorists just three weeks ago. It is the murder of Jews simply because they are Jews. Jewish athletes, Jewish tourists, and just plain Jews.

    There is a difference though. The intention of the murderers is the same, but the status of the victims has changed.

    In 1942 there was no Jewish state, and European Jewry was annihilated. It was a time to speak out, but the world was silent. In 1972 there was a Jewish state, a state which held the murderers accountable and insisted that justice be done. And 40 years later, in 2012, the perpetrators of the Burgas terrorist attack will not escape justice, because in the face of terror, it is never time to be silent.

    Silence in the face of evil – affords evil victory. And lack of silence for the victims of evil – affords evil a moral victory.

    When the Olympic Games were first held in ancient Greece, the Greek city-states, were more often than not, at war. In order for the games to go on, a “Sacred Truce” was adopted by all warring parties, so that the games could continue in peace, and the crowds could travel safely.

    The murderers of our athletes at Munich did not understand what the Greeks understood two and a half millenis ago. The fire of the Olympic torch, is intended to illuminate, not to consume. The Olympics come to advance human achievement – terrorism comes to negate it. The Olympic spirit comes to celebrate human life – terrorism comes to celebrate death.

    Those who called on the IOC to hold an official and public moment of silence to honor the memory of Israel’s slain athletes understand this: President Obama and the United States Senate, the parliaments of Germany, Australia and Canada, understand. Regrettably, their pleas were rejected.

    For that reason, during the speeches at the opening ceremony, I insisted on my own moment of silence. But I was not alone. Millions, all over the world, lovers of sports and lovers of humanity, were with me in silent awe. In my silence, I spoke for them.

    In deafening silence, we unite with the memory of our eleven athletes. They passed us a torch, and with a heavy but confident heart, we pledge to carry the torch forward. And the time for that, is now, and forever.

    * * *

    British Prime Minister David Cameron: “This evening we mark the 40th anniversary of one of the darkest days in the history of the Olympic Games. A sickening act of terrorism that betrayed everything the Olympic movement stands for and everything that we in Britain believe in.

    As the world comes together in London to celebrate the Games and the values it represents, it is right that we should stop and remember the 11 Israeli athletes who so tragically lost their lives when those values came under attack in Munich 40 years ago.”

    * * *

    German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle: “40 years ago, deadly terror struck the Olympic Games in my country. The images of Munich 1972 are burned into the German collective memory. The victims of the heinous attack in Munich deserve a dignified memory. Our words and our silence belong to them.

    I assure you that Germany has not forgotten. Germany looks back in mourning. We can’t bring the dead back to life, but it is our duty to honor their memory.”

  5. September 5, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Munich 1972 was no different than Frankist Jews killing Gypsies, Christian and fellow Jews as part of Nazi army. It was a Mossad false-flag operation to demonize Arabs.

    Who IS “Al Qaeda”? PLEASE don’t tell me you are still believing in the fairy stories of Muslim shepherds on horseback and shadowy sandal wearing, cave dwelling (caves that didn’t exist) bearded “ghosts” crying “Allah Akhbar”.

    Please don’t tell me you believe in men, who are intelligent enough to not only fly planes and get passed the most severe security apparatus in the world but also are LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS students, that have a whole life ahead of them but they choose to commit suicide. I mean what the hell are you if you do believe this SHIT? As gullible as a 4 year old who believes in Santa and the Tooth Fairy for god’s sakes?

    Do you really believe this shit? Then seriously – go see a psychologist!”


    • borat
      September 5, 2012 at 8:21 pm

      you piece of shit

      • Goose 'N Gander
        September 7, 2012 at 12:45 pm

        Borat….the disgusting apologist for every bottom-dwelling, putrid, racist, child murdering, and sheep raping denizen of the netherworld. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, you nabob. A self-selected “chosenite” group can’t collectively call the vast majority of humans insects, cattle, and slaves and proceed to treat them that way without having the worm turn on them at some point. Salman Rushdie put it brilliantly, “Humiliate a people long enough and a wildness bursts from them. . . .” Verbum sat sapiente est.

  6. John
    September 5, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    The Munich affair was an attempt to get Israel to release thousands of Palestinians held without trial. The first casualty was a trainer who was armed and ready to fight at the dorm. Israel pressured Germany against her will to have a standoff and not let the Palestinians with their captives go as Germany wanted. At the airport, the first shots were fired by the forces occured as the Palestinians and their captives transferred to a plane. In all the shooting going on, one Palestinian managed to blow up the craft in which the captives presently aboard.
    What would have happened if Germany had had her way? Negotiations over human rights perhaps.
    I am not condoning what happened but I think it can be expected when a large population are being mistreated. This aspect of the tragedy is seldom mentioned by Israel, after all their terrorists killed near 100 when they blew up the King David Hotel in 48. And I mean this seriously, it is to some Israeli politicians advantage to have martyrs which they use to further their cause through fear rather than reason.

    • borat
      September 5, 2012 at 8:22 pm

      b.s. pure and simple

  7. bobbiemac
    September 7, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    None of this is surprising when you consider the following partial quote from Rabbi Ovidea Yosef, October 2010:

    “The sole purpose of non-Jews is to serve Jews”. He said that Gentiles served a divine purpose: “Why are Gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap. We will sit like an effendi and eat. That is why Gentiles were created.”

    This is the kind of racial thinking that is on vogue in Israel these days, especially among the settlers in the occupied territories. Yosef is a highly-respected rabbi and scholar in Israel, check out the Wikipedia page devoted to him.

    This is the kind of neo-Nazi thinking folks like this “borat” are defending.

  8. borat
    September 11, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Should Israel Exist?
    A Sovereign Nation Under Attack by the International Community
    (Selected Excerpts from the Book)
    By Michael Curtis, Balfour Books, Published January 2012

    On the atrocities the world ignores even as it criticizes Israel:

    “Consider the outrage expressed by international bodies over actions by Israeli authorities compared with the response, either minimal or nonexistent, to those in an endless list of actions in other countries in recent years: the 20,000 civilians, part of the total of 70,000, killed by Sri Lankan troops fighting against the Tamil Tigers; the estimated 100,000 Uzbeks who in June 2010 fled ethnic violence in Kyrgystan; the invasion of Georgia by Russia in 2008; the “cleansing” of Bahais in Iran; the killing in Syria of Kurds celebrating the festival of Nowruz and the deprivation of the human rights, including travel, property and work, of the Kurds in Syria who constitute ten per cent of the country, but are regarded as foreigners (ajanib) and about 300,000 of whom have been stripped of Syrian citizenship; the liquidation of the Assyrian minority in Iraq; the massacre in February 1982 of at least 20,000 by Syrian bombing of its citizens in Hama; the killing of Kurds and machine gunning in July 2008 of prisoners in Saidnaya jail; the murder of over thirty Lebanese leaders and personalities in Syria since the 1980s; the killing by Turks of over 30,000 Kurds in Anatolia and northern Iraq and the refusal of Turkey to recognize the existence of a separate Kurdish identity; the expulsion of Americans in 2010 by Morocco for Christian proselytizing; discrimination against Berbers in North Africa; the slaughter of Christians by Muslims in the Sudan and Nigeria; the killing of over 2 million in Darfur; the murder of over 700 people by Boko Haram, the Islamist militant group in Nigeria . . .” (Curtis’s long list of ignored atrocities by other groups and nations continues on for another page)

    On the role and positions of the United Nations:

    “The United Nations has greatly changed since its formation by fifty-one nations immediately after the end of World War II. Today, non-Western countries, many who seem to be automatically hostile to Israel, constitute about two-thrids of the total of 192 members. Changes in the composition of the UN Security Council, which includes non-permanent members from Africa and Asia, have meant more opportuntities for voices critical of Israel to be heard. It is conspicuous that the Security Council has never condemned any Arab state for military or terrorist attacks against Israel. With constant resolutions condemning Israel, it is apparent that the UN is not acting, acccording to its charter, as “a center for harmonizing the actions of nations.” It is a sad reality that the United Nations has become a battleground for political advantage for the non-Western bloc, rather than the epitome of international peace and justice.”

    On accusations by the Palestinians and others that Israel is racist:

    “[The] National Covenant of the PLU adopted in 1964 and amended in 1968, states . . . that Zionism is ‘racist and fanatic in its nature; aggressive, expansionist and colonialist in its aims; and Fascist and Nazi in its ends and means.’ The charge by the Arabs against Israel of racism is doubly ironic. It is the Arabs who deny Jews, who have a unique connection with a historic homeland, the right of self-determination, while claiming the same right for themselves or for the Palestinians. Palestinians have attempted to deny the Jewish connection with the Western Wall and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and other historical sites and have even vandalized some of them, such as Joshua’s tomb in the village of Timnat Heres, by covering it with graffiti in Arabi. Moreover, this denial of Jewish self-determination has been made by people in countries and territories which have exhibited the most egregious forms of discrimination and persectuation. Even more, Arab media and Islamic political rhetoric has resonated with the routine use of blood libel images, of Jews as vampires, with a deluge of hatred against ‘Zionists.'”

    On the historical rejection by the Arabs of peace with Israel:

    ‘It was self-defeating for the Arab leaders meeting at a summit conference on September 1, 1967, in Khartoum to declare, in response to the Israeli proposal for a compromise solution, that the basic principles to which the Arab states adhered were ‘no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiation with Israel and ahderence to the rights of the Palestinian people in their own country,’ thus preventing any compromise agreement on territory after the Six-Day War. There must be few, if any, cases in history where a defeated party, after hostilities, refused to negotiate about territory it wanted to regain, even demanding unconditional surrender by the victors. Relating the story of lost opportunities by Arab leaders to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict is a minor cottage industry. The Arab leadership, in its refusal of any change for compromise, seemed, as Abba Eban remarked, to ‘have written failure into its birth certificate.'”

    On the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria):

    “When Britain withdrew as Trustee of the Mandate for Palestine in May, 1948, the Trust was transferred to the United Nations without change. After the 1967 war, Cyrus Vance, then US Secretary of State, On July 29, 1967 asserted ‘it is an open question as to who has legal right to the West Bank’ . . . The initial problem is the fact that the areas now known as Israel and the West Bank were only provinces of the Ottoman Empire, rather than states, either Israeli or Palestinian, with their own sovereignty . . . On the controversial question of Jewish settlements, no clear answer is available in international law. The Hague Regulations do not apply to the question of civilian settlements in the disputed territories. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention does forbid ‘individual or mass forcible transfers’ and the ‘transfer of parts of (the occupant’s) civilian population.’ This may apply to government movement of population, but Israeli governments have not aimed at displacement of the existing population as a prelude to future annexation. The Article does not appear to be applicable to the establishment of voluntary settlements on an individual basis, nor on their location, if the underlying purpose is security, public order or safety, as long as the settlements do not involve taking private property.”

    On the international boycotts and political and propaganda warfare that have been conducted against Israel:

    “Troubling though these challenges have been, Israel, essentially changing in the mid 1980s from a quasi-socialist society, with flourishing kibbutzim and cooperatives, and a powerful trade union movement, the Histadrut, to a market economy, has in spite of the lack of local markets in the surrounding area, the scarcity of physical resources, and the boycotts against it, registered remarkable successes. This has been shown by its entrepreneurial culture in attracting venture capital and in the number of start-up enterprises per capita, and by its general efforts in shaping technological change through innovation, improvisation and willingness to take risks. Israel has registered 7,600 patents in its history; the twenty-one Arab states have registered 700 in the same period. Recently, Israel has had the second largest number of start-up companies in the world, after the US, and the largest number of Nasdaq-listed companies outside North America. The Hebrew University in Jerusalem is ranked no. 21 among world universities in computer science, outranking Cambridge University, which is no. 30, and Yale University no. 31 . . . Israel has been prominent in, and concentrated on developing software, computer and telecommunications components, all enterprises that can overcome the boycotts and restrictions put on its exports, especially those of large manufactured goods.”

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