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On September 19, 2002, I spent my last day in an Israeli military court. I went with Andre Rosenthal, a leftist Jewish Israeli lawyer, to Erez, the court located in a base at the edge of the Gaza Strip. On the drive from Jerusalem to Gaza, we talked about changes in the military court system over the last few years, the political situation in Israel/Palestine, and the trials and tribulation of defense lawyering. Rosenthal wondered aloud whether all the work he and others have done in the military courts made any diVerence in the larger scheme of things and whether the situation would ever improve. Rosenthal recounted what it had been like—and what he had been like—back in the 1980s when he had started working in the military courts; he had been so energized and idealistic. Now, he said, he was tired and cynical. Several days earlier, I had gone to the Beit El military court with Lea Tsemel, and during that ride, we had a very similar conversation. She described herself, back in the 1970s when she began working, as a tomboyish Wrebrand and mentioned how she used to tease her mentor, Felicia Langer, for primping before going to court. As we approached Beit El, she pulled out a mirror and lipstick, turned to me and said, “Look at me. I’ve become Felicia.” When Rosenthal and I arrived at Erez, he left me in the outdoor waiting area surrounded by walls of barbed wire, while he went to get someone who could clear my entry. I joined Wve Gaza women, also waiting to enter. Soldiers on the other side of the barbed wire called to me, asking why I was there. I said I had come with Rosenthal to watch the day’s Epilogue 249 hearings. They responded that I was wasting my time because nothing happened here, nothing except sending Palestinian terrorists to prison. When the six of us were Wnally granted permission to enter, we wound our way through a maze of barbed wire and were taken, one at a time, into a wooden cubicle—an outhouselike structure—to undergo a fullbody check by female soldiers. When I was alone in the airless cubicle with two young Israeli soldiers, they took the opportunity to ask me questions : “Do you hate Israel?” “Do you love Palestinians?” I responded that I was an academic researcher and that “love” and “hate” had little bearing on what I did and why I did it. It was an odd moment; clearly, they were disconcerted to have to run their hands over an American and seemed to want either some vindication that I needed to be frisked or some recognition that I understood that they were just doing their job. I was disconcerted , too; I prefer a silent frisking. In the courtroom, waiting for the hearings to get underway, soldiers on guard duty kept instructing the Wve Gaza women and me not to talk or lean on the benches in front of us, and they periodically ordered one or another of us to move to a diVerent spot. One of the Gaza women, very late into a pregnancy, began to sweat and shake. But she could not go to the public bathroom, which was located on the other side of the barbed wire entrance, because if she did, she would not be permitted to return and would miss the opportunity to see her husband. When she tried to lie down on the bench, soldiers shouted that she had to sit up or leave. Rosenthal’s Wrst case was the high-proWle and widely publicized “Palestinian from al-Qaeda.” His client, Nabil Okal, had gone to Pakistan and Afghanistan in 1998, where he underwent training in camps run by al-Qaeda. When he returned to Gaza, according to the indictment, he allegedly set up “sleeper cells” to plan and launch attacks against Israeli targets. Okal had been arrested in the summer of 2000—before the start of the second intifada and before the 9/11 attacks on the United States. At the time, Rosenthal had wanted to make a deal, but Okal had resisted, hoping that a delay would wear down the prosecutor and reduce the sentence he was asking. After 9/11, plea bargaining became virtually impossible because of the symbolic signiWcance of this particular case to the global “war on terror.” That day in court, the military prosecutor repeatedly invoked the name of Bin Laden to drive home...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780520937987
Related ISBN
9780520241930
MARC Record
OCLC
57532998
Pages
335
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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