Archive for the ‘Goldstone’ Category

I’ve pasted below the text of a letter circulating in the Senate right now, one that is very likely to garner the signatures of many, even most of the Senate for the resolution it discusses. (Note: see here an article regarding similar legislation in the House)

This is just more fallout from Richard Goldstone’s irresponsible Washington Post op-ed. But we should also understand that this question goes well beyond Israel. The Goldstone Report, despite whatever flaws it might have, had the potential to be a major step forward in accountability.

The United States, as the world’s leading military power (and all the more so because it is rapidly losing ground economically to its competitors) has little interest in an international system of accountability. In that sense, Israel is sort of the vanguard in that battle against accountability. Israel will fight the fight on the front line, with US backing.

Thus, the attack on the Goldstone Report, reinvigorated by Goldstone’s own op-ed, is not only about Israel’s ability to attack Gaza with impunity and maintain its occupation without fear of repercussion, but also about the USA ensuring that the world continues on a “might makes right” basis. It is that system which international law threatens.

Here is the text of the Senate letter. I had hoped to be able to move on to other issues by now, but, as Al Pacino once put it, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” (more…)

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Lots of words have now been spent on the op-ed by Richard Goldstone of last Friday, and I have been one of the worst consumers. I’m hoping this is the last of my spillage on a matter that does more to show how absurd the politics around Israel-Palestine are than anything else.

The Associated Press reported today of what some call Goldstone’s flip-flop of his flip-flop. But it was never so. As I pointed out, the Report overstated a case regarding Israeli intent to target civilians, Goldstone then stated that Israel’s investigations “indicate” that such was not the case, and now he’s saying that nothing in his current view

White phosphorous raining down in Gaza during Cast Lead. This is what need attention, not Richard Goldstone

means that the original report should be nullified, in part or whole.

In fact, all of that is internally consistent. But it doesn’t play that way in the heated realm of Israel-Palestine politics.

Human rights groups have already made their statements, including one by Human Rights Watch and another today in the same Washington Post as Goldstone by my former boss, Jessica Montell of B’Tselem.

I’m ending here with comments on two other pieces by two guys, both friends and colleagues.

The first is Jerry Haber at the Magnes Zionist. Jerry and I have had a bit of back and forth parsing words in the Goldstone report and the op-ed. I think we agree on the most essential point, though—that whatever the Report said or didn’t say or Goldstone said or didn’t say on the matter of intentionality, the level of destruction in Gaza, both of civilian lives and of homes and other civilian property, merits serious investigation. Even without intent to specifically target civilians (which Goldstone merely says is no longer “indicated” and that still means it should be investigated), the central question still is whether proper safeguards to prevent harming civilians were in place. I think Jerry agrees with me that such investigation is still lacking.

But Jerry also says this in his blog piece posted earlier today: (more…)

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Not surprisingly, the radical extremists at NGO Monitor and many others are jumping on the op-ed by Richard Goldstone to “prove” that human rights groups, and others, who have been calling for investigations into Israel’s conduct in Operation Cast Lead should retract their claims.

Goldstone essentially said two things of substance in his op-ed: that Israel has done a lot more than Hamas, which has done nothing, to investigate Cast Lead, and this is certainly true, though it might be damning with faint praise; and that Israel did not target civilians as a matter of policy.

Goldstone gets in more trouble the more he talks

To be sure, there are those who did take the Goldstone Report as conclusive proof that Israel targeted civilians intentionally. But here is what I wrote on November 16, 2009:

More overreaching can be seen in Goldstone’s flat statement that Israel, as a matter of policy, targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure. Indeed, it is true that the pattern of destruction he cites in his report raises this very disturbing question. But that’s all it does—raise it. Goldstone makes a flat judgment without proving his case, or even substantially supporting it. He’s a prosecutor by trade; he has to know better than that.

B’Tselem, referring to that same accusation, said, on October 19, 2009:

…the mission’s conclusions regarding Israel’s overall objectives in carrying out the operation were not sufficiently supported by facts arising from the mission’s research.

Human Rights Watch also reiterated that the original Report did not support a conclusion of Israel intentionally targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Not surprisingly, the fanatics at NGO Monitor chose not to name a single instance of an NGO leveling the accusation of intentionality that was alluded to in the Goldstone Report. (more…)

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Quite frankly, the Goldstone Report on the Israeli devastation of the Gaza Strip and Hamas rocket firing during what was called Operation Cast Lead has been a fiasco of politicization from day one.

Back in November of 2009, I wrote a piece looking at some of the basic flaws with the Report, but also why it was so very important. Now, Richard Goldstone himself has written an op-ed in the Washington Post that seems to be a retreat from the Report he was the lead author of and that only serves to stir up the hornets’ nest even further.

The politicization has come from both sides, left and right. This is reflected in the responses to the report. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that in light of Goldstone’s op-ed the entire report should be scrapped. On the other side, Adam Horowitz, who recently co-edited a book on the Goldstone Report, says the UN report

Justice Richard Goldstone

which prompted Goldstone’s op-ed only proves that the issue needs to be brought before the International Criminal Court.

For me, the whole episode, from start to finish, simply shows the naiveté of the concept that somehow human rights and international law can be applied objectively and not subjected to political influences.

I had problems with all of this from the beginning. Israel’s constant framing of so many criticisms as anti-Semitism or at least anti-Israel bias has turned into a cry of wolf that only its passionate devotees treat with credibility these days. But when it comes to the UN Human Rights Council, the accusation not only has merit, but is absolutely spot-on.

The UNHRC has only one country, Israel, under permanent review, and as of 2010, almost half its resolutions had to do with Israel. Its rapporteur on the issue is charged only with reviewing Israeli human rights violations, not Palestinian ones. The mere fact that an international human rights body includes among its members such states as China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Thailand, and until just a few weeks ago, Libya (and the inclusion of the US, responsible for so many human rights violations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Guantanamo Bay, which executes developmentally disabled people, and so many other stains on its human rights record that are ongoing hardly helps) already calls its legitimacy into question. Its record on Israel should have necessitated that another body be overseeing the volatile investigation into Operation Cast Lead.

The fact that Goldstone himself had to refuse the assignment unless the mandate for it was expanded to include all actors, not only Israel, not only reinforces the issue of anti-Israel bias at the UNHRC, but also the fact that these are not legal/criminal investigations, but political ones. (more…)

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