Abstract

According to Israeli Judge Oded Gershon’s opinion in Estate of Rachel Corrie v. The State of Israel in August 2012, Corrie’s death by Caterpillar bulldozer was an “unfortunate accident,” Rachel’s own fault: “Even when she saw the mound of earth moving towards her,” Gershon opined, “she did not move away. The accident was caused by the deceased.” This essay argues for a different verdict, and examines the several biographical narratives that complicate the judiciousness of Judge Gershon’s opinion—those of Corrie herself, of other Palestinians who have died in the course of Israeli house demolitions, and Caterpillar’s own relationship with the state of Israel and the US government—in the larger context of the Alien Tort Statute and its “political question doctrine” in US courts, which also found the Corries’ claims against the multinational corporation to be dismissable.

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