Entry 8: The Goldstone Commission

The recent findings of the Goldstone commission, which found Israel guilty of crimes against humanity, are nothing short of a mockery of international justice.  The report shamelessly bashes Israel for multiple human rights violations while all but ignoring the rocket-fire from Gaza that was the impetus for Israel’s offensive. Indeed, for eight years prior to the Gaza operation, Israel’s civilian population endured thousands of missiles, a situation whose only precedent, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed out in his speech to the U.N., was the shelling of British cities by the Nazis during World War Two. England’s response was to bomb German cities, killing hundreds of thousands of people. For eight years, while Southern Israel endured thousands of rockets fired on it’s civilian population, the United Nations Human Rights council was completely silent. Not a single resolution was passed condemning the Palestinian rocket attacks.  Israel, a legitimate nation, has the right to defend itself against terrorist attacks. So where were the cries from the International community to put Hamas’ leaders on trial for crimes against humanity during those eight years, and where are they now?

None of the statements taken by the commission (as posted on the UN Web site) reported even a single instance of the presence of armed Palestinians, or of Palestinians firing rockets at Israel or shooting at IDF soldiers operating in the Gaza Strip, reported Jonathan Halevi of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Goldstone also reported that he could not find evidence of the use of human shields by Hamas. Yet Hamas openly admitted in published interviews and live broadcasts that it was proud to have used civilians as shields against the “Zionist enemy.” In one such broadcast made in February of this year, Fathi Hamad, a Hamas representative, declared that, “Palestinians created a human shield of women, children, elderly and the jihad fighters against the Zionist enemy.”

Much of the evidence given in the Goldstone report to support the idea of “IDF war crimes,” as Goldstone himself has ceded, is based on unverifiable Palestinian claims. The eyewitnesses were interviewed in the streets of Gaza, a closed society subject to the rule and intimidation of Hamas. Goldstone noted in paragraph 35 that the Mission, “was faced with a certain reluctance by the persons it interviewed in Gaza to discuss the activities of the armed groups.” And yet, he still bases much of his evidence on the testimony of these persons. Adding to the unreliability of the report’s findings, a number of the so-called “innocent” Palestinian witnesses whose testimony is cited by the mission were actually Hamas operatives directly involved in terrorist attacks against Israel. One such witness, Mohammed Fuoad Abu Askar, was actually a senior Hamas operative who used his house to store arms and ammunition, which lead to the IDF strike against his home.

Nearly all of the other evidence in the report is based on publications from politicized and inaccurate NGOs.  As found by Gerald Steingberg, head of NGO Monitor, the report cites B’tselem and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights more than 70 times each, along with numerous other politicized NGO co-authors.  In order to understand why these NGO findings are so inaccurate, we must take a look at their definitions. According to NGO monitor, both B’tselem and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights limit their definition of the word combatant to include only those people taking a direct part in the hostilities, and in the case of the latter, combatants include only those holding a weapon at the time of their death. As a result, PCHR classifies known terrorists as civilians. Even the bomb makers are exempt from the title of “combatant,” and thus classified as civilians.

Given the evidence on which the report is based, it should come as no surprise that there are dozens of inaccuracies within the report, first and foremost being the allegation that Israel’s real target was the people of Gaza. Goldstone writes that, “While the Israeli Government has sought to portray its operations as essentially a response to rocket attacks in the exercise of its right of self defence, 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 claim that Israel’s target was the people of Gaza is among the more ludicrous statements to ever appear in an official U.N. report.  No nation in the history of modern warfare has ever exercised as much restraint as Israel did in Gaza. It’s curious that a report could find that Israel was targeting the people of Gaza when the IDF dropped no less than 980,000 leaflets warning the people of Gaza who were housing weapons or harboring terrorists to evacuate their homes. It’s also curious that the IDF made 200,000 telephone warnings to Palestinian civilians, broke into local radio transmissions to warn people of impending attacks, and aborted hundreds of military strikes to prevent civilian casualties if the IDF’s real target was the people of Gaza. It’s curious that the IDF ceased all offensive actions for two hours every day to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid, despite the unabridged Hamas rocket fire during that time period. The report gives Israel no credit for the tremendous steps it took to prevent casualties. To protect Southern Israel from Palestinian rocket attacks while not inflicting damage on innocent people would be hard enough against a conventional army, let alone against terrorists without uniforms hiding among a civilian population in one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

If the U.N. condemnation of Israel is to hold any weight, international troops in Iraq and Afghanistan must be subject to the same scrutiny. Estimates, as reported by a 2009 Associated Press article, estimate the number of Iraqi civilians killed in the period between 2005 and present as upwards of 85,000.* So where is the 500-page U.N. report condemning the U.S.’s actions and calling for the arrest of U.S. leaders?

Given the degree of the allegations made by the report despite overwhelming, readily available evidence that refutes nearly all of the report’s findings, one is left to conclude that anti-Semitism, rather than any real desire for truth or justice, is what drove the report’s findings. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yosis Levy said it best when he stated that, “The immediate message of this report is: Terror pays. It says that terrorists who attack Jews, unlike terrorists who attack Americans, Spaniareds, or other Arabs, will earn the protection of the UN.” How long before the world realizes that terrorism against Jews in Israel is no different from the bombings of the London Underground, the bombing of a train in Madrid, and flying commercial airliners into public buildings? A bomb is a bomb, an innocent civilian is an innocent civilian, and terrorism, wherever it occurs, is terrorism.


* – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/23/secret-tally-shows-87000-_n_190633.html

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One Response to “Entry 8: The Goldstone Commission”

  1. Eli L. Says:

    I completely agree with this article. The Goldstone Report is a completely biased report and unfortunately it came from a Jew, making it even worse for Israel and the Jewish Nation, while giving more support to anti-zionists and anti-Israel advocates.

    I disagree with many aspects of the Goldstone report, yet I will focus on just this one:

    One thing you mention in your article is the definition of those who take part in hostilities: “combatants include only those holding a weapon at the time of their death. So are murderers only those we find with the gun in their hand? This is ridiculous! So in order to protect ourselves we have to wait until the terrorist already has a gun in his hand. We would all be dead if we waited for that. Also in contemporary culture and law we also prosecute the accomplice: “At law, an accomplice is a person who actively participates in the commission of a crime, even though they take no part in the actual criminal offense.” So just because the person was not actually holding the gun or shooting the rocket does not mean he is not guilty of aiding someone who DID commit the crime. Even helping to carry a rocket is considered a criminal act, the same way a criminal driving a getaway car is guilty.

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