x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

The two deaths of Rachel Corrie

Long after her death, Rachel Corrie still challenges Israeli boasts of "democracy" and "judicial independence", an Arabic language columnist writes in today's opinion roundup. Other topics: mistranslating in Tehran and Morsi's purge.

Ruling on Rachel Corrie, the US activist killed by an Israeli bulldozer, exposes 'free judiciary'

"The American activist Rachel Corrie has been murdered twice," Dr Fayez Rasheed wrote in the opinion pages of the UAE newspaper Al Khaleej.

The first time was on March 16, 2003, when she was deliberately run over by an Israeli bulldozer, as she tried to block it from tearing down Palestinian houses in Rafah, Dr Rasheed wrote.

The second time was last month, when the Israeli judiciary rejected a civil lawsuit filed by her parents against the state of Israel.

But the effort was not all lost, and there is solace in its symbolic outcome, the writer went on.

Long after her death, Corrie still challenges Israeli boasts of "democracy" and "judicial independence".

The case shows - though not for the first time - how Israel has the potential to act "like a gang of highwaymen", like a nation that is "fascist at the core".

"Even the justice system in this country takes orders from the Mossad and other intelligence agencies."

Oded Gershon, the Haifa District judge who rejected the lawsuit, used the most unpersuasive argument to justify Corrie's murder, the columnist said.

He argued that the accused Israeli soldier had not been in a position to see the activist in front of him. Never mind that Corrie was yelling into a loudspeaker and wearing fluorescent clothing.

Judge Gershon also mentioned that access to the area where Corrie was killed was strictly controlled.

Yet even on this point, the judge's argument was unfounded. "Hussein Abu Hussein, the victim's lawyer, has maintained that this claim was false and challenged the Israeli army to show proof that an order had indeed been issued to restrict access to the area," the writer went on.

For his part Tom Dale, the British activist with the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement, who was standing barely 10 metres away from Corrie when she was run over, was reported as saying after the court decision: "The verdict … reflects a long-standing culture of impunity for the Israeli army."

Corrie's parents said, at a press conference following the verdict, that it was a bad day not for their family alone, but also for human rights, humanity at large and the rule of law in Israel.

Unfortunately, high-profile court decisions that cry of injustice are not few in Israel. The Mavi Marmara case comes to mind.

In 2010, Israeli judges ruled that Israeli commandos accused of storming a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in international waters and killing nine Turkish activists were innocent.

"It also calls to mind the small punishment imposed on the Zionist officer … who ordered the Kafr Qasim massacre in 1956, which left dozens of Palestinians dead."

And the list goes on.

Iran 'lost in translation' at Non-Aligned talks

Iran's hosting of the Non-Aligned Movement (Nam) summit, to which it had invited some 100 countries to "uncover Western conspiracies and bias towards its nuclear programme", seems to have blown up in Iran's face, Badriya Al Bishr said in the London-based Al Hayat.

The problem is a scandal that deserves the title Lost in Translation. "Only the Iranian Channel One broadcast the unfaithful translator as he rendered "Syria"as "Bahrain", although names are normally not translated," the writer said sarcastically. The mix-up came as Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi was expressing solidarity, with the Syrian revolution, and saying the regime there lacks legitimacy, so the change was full of meaning, the writer explained.

The Iranian regime did not want to unnerve its key ally and elected to change Mr Morsi's subject. Interestingly, had the Syrian delegation been following the simultaneous translation, they would not have walked out of the hall in protest, since Mr Morsi seemed to be referring to Bahrain, not Syria.

"There is much in common between the movie Lost in Translation and the summit," she said. "A relationship between two partners is sometimes doomed, but still one insists on hiding behind the wall in isolation, refusing to listen and understand."

One party in this impossible affair denies the reality that the "time of departure has come".

Morsi is getting rid of old-regime stalwarts

Changes are happening fast in the Egyptian military since Mohammed Morsi became president, the London-based daily Al Quds Al Arabi noted editorially.

As part of a large-scale reshuffle in August, Mr Morsi retired Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power following the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak in February last year. Since then, more than 70 other military officials have been retired.

"President Morsi is seeking to rearrange the ranks of the Egyptian armed forces. This includes isolating … commanding officers who have become obsolete and whose primary loyalty is towards the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces," the paper said.

It is a campaign to purge security and military institutions of most, if not all, of the former regime's figures. It is only after that process that the new political orientation in Egypt can be consolidated.

The militant attack in the Sinai Peninsula that killed 16 Egyptian soldiers in August revealed a lack of discipline in the military, which reflected badly on Gen Tantawi's leadership.

The president was quick to seize the opportunity to begin gradually weeding out the symbols of the corrupt former regime.


* Digest compiled by The Translation Desk