* After days of silence, Obama officials finally sharply criticize Goldstone’s report
* Senior Hamas official thanks Goldstone for giving “ammunition to our supporters in the West”
* Shimon Peres: Goldstone has “legitimized terrorism” and “made a mockery of history”
* Israeli officials amazed at harshness of UN report, which they say is worse than the Arab League report on Gaza that accused Israel of genocide
* Dachau survivor asks Goldstone: How dare you accuse Israel of crimes against humanity?
* This year’s Israel-bashing season at the UN is off to a flying start
* “Genuine massacres in Sudan and Rwanda or ongoing brutality in Burma and North Korea elicit barely a yawn at the UN. But Israel conducts a carefully planned and orchestrated military campaign to root out terrorists who have intentionally embedded themselves in civilian areas and the UN issues a breathless 554-page report accusing the Jewish state of ‘war crimes’ and ‘terrorism’” and Goldstone suggests Israel is guilty of “crimes against humanity”
This dispatch concerns reaction to the Goldstone report.
There is a follow-up dispatch to this dispatch here.
1. Israel: “This report was conceived in sin”
2. Canada, Japan, Switzerland and the EU reject Goldstone report
3. Even Mary Robinson denounces Goldstone’s report
4. The Guardian and others play the Jew card
5. Ex-Ha’aretz editor: Goldstone’s report is “chilling and misguided”
6. Will Obama now let Goldstone into Afghanistan?
7. U.S. State department: “Gaza report unfair, lenient with Hamas”
8. Susan Rice: U.S. has “very serious concerns” about Goldstone’s “unbalanced” report
9. Haniyeh: World must back Goldstone’s report
10. Shimon Peres: the Goldstone Report “makes a mockery of history”
11. Ex-Israeli justice minister: “It is a political report disguised in a legal cloak”
12. Avigdor Lieberman: “The UN didn’t let themselves be confused by the facts”
13. “It’s a good thing that the UN wasn’t around during World War II”
14. “The UN report could have been drafted by Hamas extremists. Wait, in effect, it was!”
15. Barely a yawn at the UN when it comes to genuine massacres
16. Ambition made him do it?
17. Holocaust survivor asks Goldstone: How dare you accuse us of crimes against humanity?
18. Open letter to Judge Goldstone (by Solly Ganor, Sept. 17, 2009)
19. “UN must hold Obama to same standard as Israel” (by Ari Shavit, Ha’aretz, Sept. 17, 2009)
20. “The Gaza report’s wasted opportunity” (by David Landau, NY Times, Sept. 20, 2009)
21. “Goldstone report was hardly a fact-finding mission” (LA Times, Sept. 18, 2009)
22. “UN’s Israel frame-up” (New York Post editorial, Sept. 20, 2009)
[All notes below by Tom Gross]
ISRAEL: “THIS REPORT WAS CONCEIVED IN SIN”
Israelis across the political spectrum have reacted with fury to the outrageously biased report of a UN “fact-finding” mission in Gaza mandated by the horribly misnamed UN Human Rights Council and headed by South African Judge Richard Goldstone.
Goldstone denounced Israel for “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” and urged the Security Council to refer the matter to international war crimes prosecutors.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it was “appalled” by the UN report which was based almost exclusively on unverifiable testimony by Hamas sympathizer groups in Gaza.
Government spokesman Mark Regev said: “This report was conceived in sin and is the product of a union between propaganda and bias.” Israel’s Foreign Ministry launched a special webpage in an effort to rebut the allegations by the Goldstone committee.
Referring to the upcoming speech of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said: “The same UN that allows the president of a country to announce on a podium its aspiration to destroy the State of Israel has no right to teach us about morality.”
CANADA, JAPAN, SWITZERLAND AND THE EU REJECT GOLDSTONE REPORT
Numerous states – including Canada, Japan, Switzerland and the European Union – refused to support the Goldstone mission before it even began, so slanted was the make-up of its team that included such anti-Israel bigots as London School of Economics Professor Christine Chinkin. (Goldstone himself served as a director of the anti-Israel group Human Rights Watch*.) Even so, Goldstone’s insistence that Israel be referred to the International Criminal Court is a very dangerous development for those who believe Israel should survive.
A special session of the Human Rights Council has been called for September 29 in Geneva, at which the Palestinians are expected to begin the process aimed at bringing the matter to the ICC.
* Goldstone was a director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) at the time HRW appointed Marc Garlasco its senior analyst. Garlasco, who authored the HRW report from which Goldstone “borrowed” so much “information,” was suspended last week after it was disclosed that he is an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia, and had said in an online posting that SS uniforms were “so cool.”
Even before his Nazi-link revelations came out, there were serious concerns about Garlasco (pictured below). He appears to have played a major role in the later discredited allegations that Israel killed Palestinians on a Gaza beach in 2006 – allegations which The New York Times took seriously at the time and splashed all over its front page, even though it was later established that the Palestinians died after stepping on a Hamas shell. For more, see here. Goldstone relies on Garlasco’s supposed “military expertise” in his report.
(As reported last month on this website, another senior HRW staff member – deputy director Joe Stork – hailed the “achievement” of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre of Israeli athletes for providing “an important boost in morale among Palestinians.”)
Among other “experts” cited by the Goldstone report was the Central Commission for Documentation and Pursuit of Israeli War Criminals.
EVEN MARY ROBINSON DENOUNCES GOLDSTONE’S REPORT
Even longtime critic of Israel, Mary Robinson, denounced Goldstone’s mandate as “not balanced, because it focuses on what Israel did, without calling for an investigation on the launch of rockets by Hamas” at Israeli civilians. She added that it was “guided not by human rights, but by politics.”
THE GUARDIAN AND OTHERS PLAY THE JEW CARD
Both The Guardian and The New York Times-owned International Herald Tribune made sure to emphasize on their front pages that Goldstone is a Jew, as if this would somehow excuse his extreme prejudice against Israel. (Throughout history those prejudiced against Jews have used individual Jews to do their “dirty work” for them in slandering or denouncing other Jews. This was particularly so during Roman times, the Spanish inquisition, Stalinist Russia, and Nazi Germany).
What The Guardian and others fail to tell their readers is that the UN Human Rights Council has adopted more resolutions condemning Israel than all the other 191 UN member states combined. But then, of course, the more time the Council spends demonizing Israel, the less likely it will ever mention the more than one million displaced people in Somalia this year, the more than one million displaced people in Pakistan this year, the 300,000 Tamil civilians now rotting in northern Sri Lanka, the systematic daily rape of male and female pro-democracy activists now occurring in Iranian prisons, the atrocious treatment of the leader of the Iranian bus workers union who has just had his tongue sliced off so he could no longer lead vocal protests against the regime, and so on.
Readers of Goldstone’s report may be surprised to learn that “individuals and groups, viewed as sources of criticism of Israel’s military operations were subjected to repression by the Government of Israel.” This is complete nonsense, of course, and pretty rich coming from a UN Human Rights Commission whose members include states like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where protesters face more than just repression if they dare challenge their governments.
EX-HA’ARETZ EDITOR: GOLDSTONE’S REPORT IS “CHILLING AND MISGUIDED”
The extent of Goldstone’s undermining of the state of Israel has been too much even for the Israeli hard left.
David Landau – who was the editor in chief of the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz from 2004 to 2008 at a time when the paper veered to the far left and who famously told Condoleezza Rice that the U.S. should “rape”* Israel to force it out of the West Bank) – yesterday wrote an op-ed for The New York Times in which he described Goldstone’s report as “chilling and misguided.”
(* For background on his “rape” remarks, please see here.)
Landau told New York Times readers: “The [Goldstone] report stunned even seasoned Israeli diplomats who expected no quarter from an inquiry set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council, which they believe to be deeply biased against Israel.”
“Judge Goldstone has thwarted any such honest debate – within Israel or concerning Israel. His fundamental premise, that the Israelis went after civilians, shut down the argument before it began.” (Full article below.)
(It is regrettable that in his article Landau makes no mention of key issues such as the false claims by Hamas to NGOs which gullible Goldstone and his team lapped up.)
WILL OBAMA NOW LET GOLDSTONE INTO AFGHANISTAN?
Ari Shavit, one of the leading columnists for Israel’s left-wing Ha’aretz newspaper, writes:
“Some two weeks ago American airplanes fired on two oil tankers in northern Afghanistan. It was a German officer who’d asked the U.S. air force to attack the tankers in the middle of the night, in a populated area. The attack was successful – the two tankers were hit, went up in flames and were destroyed. But the overwhelming American-German air attack killed some 70 people. Some of those brought to hospitals were severely injured – with mutilated faces, burned hands and charred bodies.
“One way or another, it’s clear that the United States and Germany are responsible for an extremely brutal attack. Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Norway also bear responsibility for the massacre as NATO members.
“Obama would probably be the principal defendant in this case. He was the one who believed in the war in Afghanistan and intensified it. As U.S. commander-in-chief, he bears direct responsibility not only for the deaths of those who were burned with the tankers, but the death of many hundreds of innocent Afghan civilians.
“If there are is such a thing as an international community, international law and universal ethics, they must seriously consider putting Obama on trial for his responsibility for severe war crimes.
“Absurd? Yes, it’s absurd. Only when Israel is involved is international judgment administered out of context… As long as Judge Richard Goldstone doesn’t probe the United States, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka or Turkey, just as he probed Israel, he is not a moral figure…”
(Full article below.)
Tom Gross adds: there have been dozens of cases where over a hundred civilians have died in a single airstrike in Afghanistan. This is why Israel avoided such airstrikes in Gaza and bravely sent its own soldiers into battle in a desperate effort to root out Hamas terrorists while avoiding harm to civilians. In other conflicts around the world, such as the ongoing conflict in Yemen against the country’s Shia population (in which 80 children and women were killed in a government airstrike on Saturday alone), or the Sri Lankan assault on its Tamil population earlier this year or the ongoing wars in Somalia, Congo and elsewhere, far more people have been killed.
U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: “GAZA REPORT UNFAIR, LENIENT WITH HAMAS”
The Associated Press reports:
The Obama administration sharply criticized a UN report Friday alleging that Israel committed multiple war crimes in Operation Cast Lead this year. The State Department statement ended nearly a week of muted reactions to findings already rejected by Israel.
The U.S. State Department said the conclusions of a UN commission headed by South African Justice Richard Goldstone were unfair to Israel and did not fully deal with the role in the conflict of the Palestinian group Hamas. It said the United States objected to a recommendation that Israeli actions be referred to the International Criminal Court.
“Although the report addresses all sides of the conflict, its overwhelming focus is on the actions of Israel,” spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.
“While the report makes overly sweeping conclusions of fact and law with respect to Israel, its conclusions regarding Hamas’s deplorable conduct and its failure to comply with international humanitarian law during the conflict are more general and tentative,” he said.
Kelly said that the United States wanted to keep discussion of the report within the council and had “very serious concerns” about a recommendation that it be raised at other bodies, including the International Criminal Court.
SUSAN RICE: U.S. HAS “VERY SERIOUS CONCERNS” ABOUT GOLDSTONE’S “UNBALANCED, ONE-SIDED AND BASICALLY UNACCEPTABLE” MANDATE
The Washington Post reports:
Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, rejected a UN proposal to compel Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip, to conduct credible investigations into war crimes during last winter’s war in Gaza or face possible prosecution by an international prosecutor.
She said it has long had “very serious concerns” about the mandate the Human Rights Council gave to Goldstone, calling it “unbalanced, one-sided and basically unacceptable.” Israeli officials have said the mandate was biased against Israel.
“Our view is that we need to be focused on the future,” Rice told reporters outside the Security Council. “This is a time to work to cement progress towards the resumption of negotiations and their early and successful conclusion and our efforts, and we hope the efforts of others will be directed to that end.”
HANIYEH: WORLD MUST BACK GOLDSTONE’S REPORT
The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports:
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh yesterday urged world powers to embrace the new report on alleged war crimes committed during Israel’s recent war on the Gaza Strip.
“We hope the report will not be doomed to the fate of the dozens of reports that [Israel] has condemned for decades,” referring to the report of the fact-finding mission led by Justice Richard Goldstone.
Haniyeh specifically asked the Arab League and European countries to use all means to make sure the report is brought to the attention to the UN Security Council and then referred to prosecutors.
The Hamas leader was speaking to a mass prayer session and rally in Yarmouk Stadium in Gaza City, shortly after dawn on Sunday morning, the first day of the Eid Al-Fitr holiday at the end of the month of Ramadan. Some 30,000 men, women and children filled the football pitch. Palestinian and Hamas flags flew from the goal posts.
Tom Gross adds: In remarks made in Gaza, a senior Hamas official is also reported to have thanked Goldstone for giving “ammunition to our supporters in the West”.
SHIMON PERES: THE GOLDSTONE REPORT “MAKES A MOCKERY OF HISTORY”
Israel’s generally dovish President Shimon Peres has joined criticism of the Goldstone UN report, saying it “legitimizes terrorism” and “ignores Israel’s right and obligation to defend itself.”
Peres said it “makes a mockery of history” and that “it does not distinguish between the aggressor and the defender.”
A visibly angry Peres added: “War is crime and the attacker is the criminal. The Hamas terror organization is the one who started the war and also carried out other awful crimes. Hamas has used terrorism for years against Israeli children.”
“The report gives de facto legitimacy to terrorist initiatives and ignores the obligation and right of every country to defend itself, as the UN itself had clearly stated.”
The criticism aimed at Israel, he added, “failed to supply any other way for Hamas fire to stop. The IDF’s operations have boosted the West Bank’s economy, liberated Lebanon from Hizbullah terror and allowed Gazans to resume normalcy.”
“The Israeli government withdrew from Gaza and Hamas began a murderous rampage, firing thousands of shells on women and children – innocent civilians – instead of rebuilding Gaza and caring for the population’s welfare.”
EX-ISRAELI JUSTICE MINISTER: “IT IS A POLITICAL REPORT DISGUISED IN A LEGAL CLOAK”
Former Israeli Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann also criticized the report, saying “it is a political report disguised in a legal cloak, but it is legally unfounded.”
“What this report really means is that Israel is the only country in the world which is not allowed to defend itself against acts of terror. Israel is the most threatened nation in the world and yet it makes the most effort to avoid harming innocent lives.
“Any comparison of Israel’s fight on terror with recent conflicts in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc. immediately shows that Israel holds itself to the highest ethical standard.”
AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN: “THE UN DIDN’T LET THEMSELVES BE CONFUSED BY THE FACTS”
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that “The Goldstone Mission was established for the express purpose of finding Israel guilty of war crimes and to that purpose the members of the Mission didn’t for one moment let themselves be confused by the facts.”
“The whole purpose of the report, from the moment it was decided to write it, was to destroy Israel’s image through the agency of states to which the concepts of ‘human rights’ and ‘ethical warfare’ are totally foreign.”
“IT’S A GOOD THING THAT THE UN WASN’T AROUND DURING WORLD WAR II”
Max Boot writes on the website of the magazine Commentary:
After reading the Goldstone Report on human-rights abuses committed during the Gaza War all I can say is, it’s a good thing that the United Nations wasn’t around during World War II.
I can just imagine it producing a supposedly evenhanded report that condemned the Nazis for “grave” abuses such as incinerating Jews, while also condemning the Allies for their equally “grave” abuses such as fire-bombing German and Japanese cities.
The recommendation, no doubt, would have been that both sides be tried for war crimes, with Adolf Hitler in the dock alongside Franklin Roosevelt.
Actually, that may be giving the UN more credit than it deserves. To judge by the evidence before us, the likelihood is that the UN in those days would have devoted far more space to Allied “abuses” than to those of the Axis and would have recommended that FDR stand alone before the world court.
“THE UN REPORT COULD HAVE BEEN DRAFTED BY HAMAS EXTREMISTS. WAIT, IN EFFECT, IT ACTUALLY WAS!”
Alan Dershowitz writes:
Richard Goldstone has now become a full fledged member of the international bash-Israel chorus. His name will forever be linked in infamy with such distorters of history and truth as Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein and Jimmy Carter.
The so-called report commissioned by the notorious United Nations Human Rights Council and issued under his name is so filled with lies, distortions and blood libels that it could have been drafted by Hamas extremists. Wait, in effect, it actually was! UN members were accompanied on their investigations in Gaza by actual Hamas activists who showed them only what they wanted them to see.
BARELY A YAWN AT THE UN WHEN IT COMES TO GENUINE MASSACRES
Joel Mowbray writes on the Townhall website:
Genuine massacres in Sudan and Rwanda or ongoing brutality in Burma and North Korea elicit barely a yawn at the UN. But Israel wages a carefully planned and orchestrated military campaign to root out terrorists who have intentionally embedded themselves in civilian areas and the UN issues a breathless 554-page report accusing the Jewish state of “war crimes” and “terrorism.”
AMBITION MADE HIM DO IT?
Amir Mizroch writes in The Jerusalem Post:
Goldstone, a practicing Jew, is described by people who know him in South Africa as a respected and brilliant jurist, something of an icon in the Rainbow Nation, where he headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He is revered worldwide as a champion against injustice. But the word that also comes up a lot when describing Goldstone is ambition. A lot of ambition.
It was not hard to find theories among Israeli officials as to why Goldstone would take on the mantle of leading this commission.
One theory is that Goldstone is aiming for a top job at the UN, possibly the secretary-general’s office. His work on the Gaza report and the high profile it is receiving worldwide will boost his visibility and popularity, especially among the Arab and non-aligned states.
It could be that the voicing of this theory now is born out of the anger and frustration in the halls of Israeli power; frustration at being surprised by such a harsh report (officials who have read it say it’s worse than the Arab League report on Gaza, which accused Israel of genocide).
Michael Freud writes in The Jerusalem Post:
Even for a body with a steady and dependable record of demonizing Israel, the UN has truly outdone itself this time. Mustering all the righteous indignation at its disposal, the world organization has deemed itself morally fit to accuse the Jewish state of “actions amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity” during last winter’s conflict in Gaza.
… Israel’s assault, the report concludes, “was directed at the people of Gaza as a whole,” which is about as close as you can come to depicting a country’s actions as Nazi-like without actually using the “N” word.
HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR ASKS GOLDSTONE: HOW DARE YOU ACCUSE US OF CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY?
Solly Ganor, a survivor of the Dachau death camp, who moved to Israel after the war, writes an angry open letter to Goldstone which I attach below.
I also attach a piece from The Los Angeles Times which says that “the Goldstone mission report has endorsed tactics of unlawful guerrilla movements the world over that purposefully endanger the lives of their own civilians in order to protect themselves from attack.”
The Goldstone mission ignored numerous media reports by Palestinians stating that Hamas held them as human shields, for example a Newsweek article in which a Palestinian witness said “resistance fighters were firing from positions all around the Al Quds hospital” and an article in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera quoting a Gaza resident saying, “The Hamas gunmen had taken refuge mainly in the building that houses the administrative offices of Al Quds; the nurses were forced to take off their uniforms so the gunmen could blend better and escape the Israeli snipers.”
Other eye-witness accounts from European newspapers quote Gaza residents saying Hamas fighters forcibly prevented them from leaving their houses and shot at Israeli forces from the same locations, telling them that they should be happy to die together with the “holy warriors.”
For those who want to read more about the Goldstone report, there is a good round-up with various links here.
[All notes above by Tom Gross]
A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR ASKS GOLDSTONE: HOW DARE YOU?
Open letter to Judge Goldstone
By Solly Ganor
September 17, 2009
Ramat Hasharon, Israel -- I am a Holocaust survivor, therefore I cannot help but regard all events that effect my country, Israel, from the point of view of a Holocaust survivor. Many of us after our liberation came here to fight in the War of Independence and help reestablish the state of Israel. Those of us who survived the wars, established families brought children and grandchildren to the world and today our grandchildren, in whose hands we leave the safety of this country and the safety of each individual, may be accused by you of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Our grandchildren, who bodily stand between the Hamas terrorist of Gaza and hundreds of millions of Islamic fanatics who openly declare to the whole world that they will and must destroy us, are being accused by you, Mr. Goldstone of crime against Humanity. And what were their war crimes? And how else were they going to ferret out each Hamas terrorist hiding behind the women and children? The same terrorists who were shooting off rockets into Israel for eight bloody years? And why did Israel wait eight years to start with, while every country in the world would have sent in their armies after the first rockets hit their towns?
We waited because we knew that if we went into Gaza trying to ferret out the rocket attackers, a Mr. Goldstone would appear with his lofty sickening biased morality and declare our grandchildren war criminals! We finally had to send them in because larger and larger rockets were arriving from Iran and a million Israelis were threatened by these rockets. That was not only unacceptable, but also intolerable. What would you have us do? Mr. Goldstone? How were we going to defend our towns against these attacks? If, by your definition, our grandchildren are war criminals, what are the Americans, the British and all the NATO forces who mercilessly bombarded Afghanistan, killing thousands of civilians, the Americans and British in Iraq, the Russians who did the same in Chechnya? I would agree to be called a war criminal if we simply sent in our planes and bombarded Gaza into the Stone Age, like the Americans did in Afghanistan. But we did not do it, Mr. Goldstone. Instead we sent in our grandchildren to be killed by the Hamas terrorist in order to avoid reducing Gaza to rubble!!!!
And for this our grandchildren are war criminals?
I was in Dachau, Mr. Goldstone, when five hundred American planes flew over our heads almost daily and drop thousands of bombs on Munich’s civilian population, reducing the town to rubble and killing thousands of civilians. At the end of the war the British dropped thousands of incendiary bombs on Dresden killing hundreds of thousands civilians. The war was over, still they did it. Perhaps you should call all those war criminals before you so blatantly accuse us?
I know it is much easier to accuse the Jews than the Americans, or the British or the Russians, although by your definition they are the real war criminals. No, Mr. Goldstone, war is not a nice thing, but if we want to stay alive, we Jews have learned by experience, that unless we defend ourselves, no one else will defend us. What we really find despicable of you is that you, as a Jew, agreed to participate in a committee that a priori condemned us. Your feeble excuse is that the UN only gave you a mandate to investigate The Gaza War.
Condemning Israel is as if you would condemn the British and the French for starting World War Two, after all it was France and Britain who declared war on Germany. And ignoring the fact the Germans attacked Poland first!
As far as I am concerned, as a survivor, You, Mr. Goldstone are doing a selection, (like in the good old days) singling out Israel, a small country trying to survive the constant onslaught of millions of Arabs. You picked us as a convenient target when by your definition of war crimes, your true target should have been America, Russia, NATO forces who sent in heavy bombers to drop thousands of bombs on civilian targets in Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya, Belgrade and hundreds of other places around the world. If we should follow your dictate, the world has no right to defend itself against terrorism; if we do, we are to be classified as war criminals.
Mr. Goldstone, it was from Gaza that the rockets came bombarding Israeli towns for eight years, and it is a fact that the Palestinians voted Hamas into power. They started the war. Those who start a war should be blamed before those who defend themselves are blamed. You chose to ignore that fact.
All I can add is that as a judge, you are bigoted like the rest of the UN institutions, and as a Jew, Shame on You.
“ABSURD? YES, IT’S ABSURD.”
UN must hold Obama to same standard as Israel
By Ari Shavit
September 17, 2009
Some two weeks ago American airplanes fired on two oil tankers in northern Afghanistan. It was a German officer who’d asked the U.S. air force to attack the tankers in the middle of the night, in a populated area. The attack was successful - the two tankers were hit, went up in flames and were destroyed. But the overwhelming American-German air attack killed some 70 people. Some of those brought to hospitals were severely injured – with mutilated faces, burned hands and charred bodies.
It is not clear to this day if most of those who burned to death were Taliban warriors, as NATO first claimed, or innocent civilians who wanted to bring home a bit of oil. One way or another, it’s clear that the United States and Germany are responsible for an extremely brutal attack. Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Norway also bear responsibility for the massacre as NATO members.
If the international community is committed to international law and universal ethics – which do not discriminate between one sort of killing and another – then it should investigate this villainous assault. If the United States, Germany and NATO refuse to cooperate with investigators, the UN should consider transferring the case to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. It is possible that at the end of the process it would be necessary to put U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders of Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Norway on trial for their role in committing a severe war crime that did not distinguish between civilians and combatants.
Obama would probably be the principal defendant in this case. He was the one who believed in the war in Afghanistan and intensified it. As U.S. commander-in-chief, he bears direct responsibility not only for the deaths of those who were burned with the tankers, but the death of many hundreds of innocent Afghan civilians.
If there are is such a thing as an international community, international law and universal ethics, they must seriously consider putting Obama on trial for his responsibility for severe war crimes.
Absurd? Yes, it’s absurd. No sane person in the world believes that the United States, Russia or China could be subjected to purist international law. The United States has killed thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the last few months encouraged Pakistan to make an extremely brutal military move in its Swat Valley. The United States was not required to account for it because everyone understands that this is the price of the terrible War on Terror. Russia committed blood-curdling war crimes in Chechnya, while China deprives its citizens of basic rights and is conducting a wicked occupation in Tibet. They are not asked to pay for this because everyone understands that you don’t mess with superpowers.
But not only superpowers are immune. Saudi Arabia practices an open, declared policy of discrimination against women and the international community does not see. Sri Lanka is crushing the Tamil national movement, causing a ghastly humanitarian disaster, and the international community does not hear. Turkey is brutally oppressing the Kurdish minority, and the international community does not speak.
Only in matters involving Israel, do international law and justice suddenly discover that they have teeth. Only when Israel is involved is the judgment administered out of context. Only Israel is required to uphold a moral standard no superpower or Middle Eastern state is required to uphold.
Over the course of the military offensive in Gaza, Israel used excessive firepower and this must not recur. Severe incidents took place during the operation which must be investigated. But the inquiry must be carried out by us, and among ourselves. As long as Judge Richard Goldstone doesn’t probe the United States, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka or Turkey, just as he probed Israel, he is not a moral figure. A law is a law only when it applies to everyone and does not discriminate, as Goldstone did.
“THE REPORT STUNNED EVEN SEASONED ISRAELI DIPLOMATS”
The Gaza report’s wasted opportunity
By David Landau
The New York Times (Op-Ed)
September 20, 2009
JERUSALEM -- Israel intentionally went after civilians in Gaza – and wrapped its intention in lies.
That chilling – and misguided – accusation is the key conclusion of the United Nations investigation, led by Richard Goldstone, into the three-week war last winter. “While the Israeli government has sought to portray its operations as essentially a response to rocket attacks in the exercises of its right to self-defense,” the report said, “the mission considers the plan to have been directed, at least in part, at a different target: the people of Gaza as a whole.”
The report has produced a storm of outraged rejection in Israel. Politicians fulminate about double standards and anti-Semitism. Judge Goldstone, an eminent South African jurist and a Jew, is widely excoriated as an enemy of his people.
The report stunned even seasoned Israeli diplomats who expected no quarter from an inquiry set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council, which they believe to be deeply biased against Israel. They expected the military operation to be condemned as grossly disproportionate. They expected Israel to be lambasted for not taking sufficient care to avoid civilian casualties. But they never imagined that the report would accuse the Jewish state of intentionally aiming at civilians.
Israelis believe that their army did not deliberately kill the hundreds of Palestinian civilians, including children, who died during “Operation Cast Lead.” They believe, therefore, that Israel is not culpable, morally or criminally, for these civilian deaths, which were collateral to the true aim of the operation – killing Hamas gunmen.
It is, some would argue, a form of self-deception.
When does negligence become recklessness, and when does recklessness slip into wanton callousness, and then into deliberate disregard for innocent human life?
But that is the point – and it should have been the focus of the investigation. Judge Goldstone’s real mandate was, or should have been, to bring Israel to confront this fundamental question, a question inherent in the waging of war by all civilized societies against irregular armed groups. Are widespread civilian casualties inevitable when a modern army pounds terrorist targets in a heavily populated area with purportedly smart ordnance? Are they acceptable? Does the enemy’s deployment in the heart of the civilian area shift the line between right and wrong, in morality and in law?
These were precisely the questions that Israeli politicians and generals wrestled with in Gaza, as others do today in Afghanistan.
It is possible, and certainly arguable, that the Israeli policymakers, or individual Israeli field commanders in isolated instances, pushed the line out too far.
But Judge Goldstone has thwarted any such honest debate – within Israel or concerning Israel. His fundamental premise, that the Israelis went after civilians, shut down the argument before it began.
This is regrettable, for the report could have stirred the conscience of the nation. Many Israelis were dismayed at the war’s casualty figures, at the disparity between the dozen deaths on the Israeli side and the thousand-plus deaths, many of them of noncombatants, in Gaza.
Many Israelis were profoundly troubled by this arithmetic even though they supported Israel’s resort to arms in the face of incessant violation of their sovereign border by Hamas’s rain of rockets.
Judge Goldstone could have contended that just as Israeli leaders themselves have frequently called off pinpoint assassinations of terrorists because civilians were in the line of fire, so too they should have refrained from bombing and shelling Hamas targets in Gaza when that bombing and shelling was bound to exact a large civilian toll.
By approaching the Gaza war, and his report, from this perspective, Judge Goldstone could have opened debate and prompted reflection in Israel. Instead, by accusing Israel – its government, its army, its ethos – of deliberately seeking out civilians, he has achieved the opposite effect.
“CAPITULATION IN THE FACE OF TERROR IS THE ORDER OF THE DAY FROM THE GOLDSTONE MISSION”
Goldstone report unfair to Israel
It was hardly a fact-finding mission; political considerations made its conclusions of war crimes by Israel preordained.
By Jeremy Sharon
The Los Angeles Times
September 18, 2009
U.S. Army Gen. George S. Patton once wrote that “battle is an orgy of disorder.” This statement rings especially true now as Western nations continue to fight against enemies whose primary tactic is to sow as much confusion and disorder on the battlefield as possible.
Unfortunately, the just-released report of the U.N. Human Rights Council – the so-called Goldstone mission report – on Israel’s three-week Operation Cast Lead in Gaza earlier this year seems to have ignored this modern-day phenomenon entirely. In so doing, it has endorsed tactics of unlawful guerrilla movements the world over that purposefully endanger the lives of their own civilians in order to protect themselves from attack.
The Goldstone mission – named for lead investigator Richard Goldstone – was, from the outset, skewed against Israel. Its mandate prejudged the outcome of the “fact-finding” mission before any facts had been found, stating that “violations of international human rights law ... by the occupying power, Israel,” would be looked into. Some of the four investigators were not neutral arbiters either. Professor Christine Chinkin of the London School of Economics, one of the four, signed a Jan. 11 letter to the Sunday Times of London before the Israeli operation had concluded, accusing Israel of war crimes.
In an attempt to balance the report, the mission did conclude that Palestinian rocket fire into Israel constitutes war crimes. But this is largely irrelevant because the extent of the charges against Israel is so much greater and more damning.
The political bias of the mission was borne out in the report, which, despite its 575 pages, failed to find conclusive evidence of Hamas’ extraordinary use of civilians and civilian infrastructure for military purposes.
For example, the report makes no mention of the recorded incidents of Palestinian rocket fire from school premises during the operation, despite video evidence.
The mission also failed to find evidence of Palestinian forces using mosques to store rockets and explosives and said so in the report. But the Israel Defense Forces made public many videos showing Israeli air force strikes on mosques in which huge secondary explosions can be seen following the initial attack, testifying to the presence of rocket stores in the mosques.
The report also fails to mention that the Palestinian forces recruited children to conduct combat-support operations. A Jan. 9 report in an Arabic-language paper in Israel included an interview with Khaled, a child from Gaza. He said: “We the children ... are fulfilling missions of support for the [Hamas] resistance fighters, by transmitting messages about the movements of the enemy forces or by bringing them ammunition and food.”
The Palestinian forces utilized the civilian infrastructure of Gaza so completely that IDF soldiers and commanders could never be sure that people usually considered to be noncombatants were not participating in the hostilities, and that installations typically considered to be of a civilian nature were not being used to stage attacks on them. Without this crucial context, it is impossible to understand the dilemmas faced by the IDF during the operation or the reasons why injury to Gazan civilians and damage to civilian infrastructure were incurred.
Further, the report’s accounts of some incidents are dubious. For example, in its investigation of the shelling of Al Quds Hospital in Gaza City, the commission astonishingly concluded that it was unlikely that there was any armed presence in any of the hospital buildings at the time. Yet the report itself cites a Newsweek article in which a Palestinian witness stated “resistance fighters were firing from positions all around the [Al Quds] hospital.” An article in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera corroborates this, quoting a resident of the neighborhood saying, “The Hamas gunmen had taken refuge mainly in the building that houses the administrative offices of Al Quds” and that “nurses were forced to take off their uniforms ... so they [the gunmen] could blend better and escape the Israeli snipers.”
The mission also claims it found no evidence to suggest that Palestinian armed groups forced civilians to remain within the vicinity of the attacks. But in the Corriere della Sera article, Gaza residents explicitly stated that Hamas fighters forcibly prevented them from leaving their houses and shot at Israeli forces from the same locations, telling them that they should be happy to die together with the “holy warriors.”
The egregious omission or airbrushing of such information is not a matter of incompetence. These details simply contravened the political agenda of the mission, and so the investigators either overlooked them, declared them to be irrelevant or found them to be inconclusive.
The lasting legacy of the Goldstone report will be to have emboldened terrorists and illegitimate guerrilla forces at the expense of armies seeking to protect the innocent from the deliberate and murderous attacks against them. By refusing to call Hamas to account for the manner in which it deliberately endangered its own people, terrorist groups everywhere and their leaders can rest assured that they will not have to pay the consequences for such gross abuses of the laws of war. Instead, the Goldstone panelists decided to hamstring a democracy that had suffered more than 10,000 missile attacks on its citizens and to send the message that self-defense is not legitimate.
Capitulation in the face of terror is the order of the day from the Goldstone mission.
THE PREDETERMINED VERDICT OF A KANGAROO COURT
UN’s Israel frame-up
The New York Post
September 20, 2009
Here we go again: The badly misnamed UN Human Rights Council last week delivered a scathing – and outrageously one-sided – report on last winter’s three-week conflict in Gaza.
The report denounced Israel for “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” and urged the Security Council to refer the matter to the International Court of Justice for criminal prosecution.
This, just hours after the United States joined the discredited council, which the Bush administration had boycotted because of (among other outrages) its blatant anti-Israel record.
Assistant Secretary of State Esther Brimmer said Washington would press for “discussions that are thoughtful, focused and open to all viewpoints and perspectives” – all of which is lacking in the Gaza report.
But its findings were predictable from the start – given that the resolution authorizing the initial investigation declared that Israel “has caused massive violations of human rights.”
Which is why numerous states – including Canada, Japan, Switzerland and the European Union – refused to support the probe.
And why even a longtime critic of Israel, Mary Robinson, denounced that mandate as “not balanced, because it focuses on what Israel did, without calling for an investigation on the launch of rockets by Hamas” at Israeli civilians.
And get this: A member of the investigating mission, Prof. Christine Chinkin, had actually signed statements denouncing Israel’s actions in Gaza as “an act of aggression and . . . contrary to international law.”
No wonder Israel declined to cooperate with such an obviously biased probe.
The report’s “evidence” is based entirely on unverified claims by Palestinians and anti-Israeli groups – including Human Rights Watch, whose own Gaza report was penned by an official who was suspended last week after it was disclosed that he’s an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia.
(Another news story noted that HRW’s deputy director hailed the “achievement” of the 1972 Olympics massacre of Israeli athletes for providing “an important boost in morale among Palestinians.”)
True, the report also labels Hamas’ firing of Katyusha rockets – which provoked Israel’s response – as a war crime. But the overwhelming bulk of its findings focus on alleged Israeli violations.
Little wonder, then, that a senior Hamas official hailed the report as “ammunition in the hands of the people who are willing to sue Israeli war criminals.”
More honest observers will recognize the report for what it is: the predetermined verdict of a kangaroo court.