I have reported on the release of the Goldstone Report on the War on Gaza from the United Nations, and also the release of B'tselem's report on civilian casualties (252 kids under 16). But there is more to these reports than just tales of killing and wounding of the innocent on a wide-scale.
It gets worse than that.
Israel, of course, sees this report as potentially very damaging. so it turns to the Obama administration for help. There has been some help forthcoming, but probably not as much as Israel would have liked.
It may not be all that easy to explain away.
It would be quite hard to sink the Goldstone Report. One reason is the team's impeccable credentials. Goldstone, a South African Jew with close ties to Israel, served as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Another member, Hina Jilani, participated in the commission of inquiry on Darfur. Israel and its supporters always complain that no one looks at other countries' abuses. Well, this team has.
Moreover, the Goldstone Report is painstakingly even-handed. It finds evidence of war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity not just against Israel but also against Palestinian armed groups. And it criticizes both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for human rights violations in their crackdowns on each other's members. Nadia Hijab
But there will be no lack of trying.
"We have very serious concerns about many of the recommendations in the [Goldstone] report... We have long expressed our very serious concern with the mandate that was given by the Human Rights Council prior to our joining the council, which we viewed as unbalanced, one-sided and basically unacceptable... The appropriate venue for this report to be considered is the Human Rights Council [and not the more serious Security Council as the report suggests]... Our view is that we need to be focused on the future." Here
— Susan E. Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, 9/17/2009
oh. the Future again. Mustn't dwell on the distant past. even if that past is just months old. A replay of the Obama's administration's refusal to apply the law in regard to torture crimes perpetuated by members of the Bush administration. While this is a
What does the Goldstone Report tell us of the future?
This is where we count the chickens.
....I will avoid mention of the killing of human beings. Other events plainly shocked the investigators. There is the case of the chicken farms that were "systematically flattened" by armored bulldozers, killing 31,000 chickens, 10 percent of the egg production for Gaza. Then there is the destruction of the Hamada Brothers flour mill, the only flour mill in the Strip–after the other two were forced to close for lack of supplies. The mill was warned on two occasions that it would be struck, and on each occasion the Hamadas called associates in Israel, where they are licensed to do business, and determined that no attack would be forthcoming. Though they evacuated their 50 employees. Then on the night of January 9 the mill was struck by several missiles and then by helicopters. The most important machinery was destroyed. The mill is still not able to operate, 9 months later. Here
This on top of the deliberate campaign of the destruction of the fishing industry of Gaza.
Perhaps Israeli leaders can explain to the rest of the world why it felt threatened by chicken eggs. and flour mills... and people in Gaza eating fish.
This is not just the past. This is a continuing campaign of persecution of the whole people of Gaza. This is today. This is next week. this is the future, unless we act.
Israel continues this with impunity. It can always count on help from the US political leaders.
Here's what George Bisharat, a professor at UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco had to say:
In its findings on Israel's conduct, the report noted that the ruinous siege on Gaza, imposed long before the invasion, collectively punished its residents in violation of international law. During the attack, Israeli troops killed civilians without justification, wantonly destroyed civilian infrastructure and private homes, and used weapons illegally.... Israeli gunners bombed a raw sewage lagoon, releasing 200,000 cubic meters of filth into neighboring farmland. Repeated pinpoint strikes on a water well complex destroyed all of its essential machinery.
These are just some of the facts that led the mission to conclude that Israel's objective in the attack was "to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability."
Israel's friends, rather than reflexively dismissing Goldstone's findings, should reflect instead: Are the interests of Israeli citizens genuinely served by continued indulgence of their military's excesses? Impunity for one state undermines the very legitimacy of international law. Yet international law protects weak and strong alike, and we ignore its continuing abuse at our peril.
It really is a choice about what kind of world we want to live in. Do we really want to create a world ruled only by military might, where political power creates its own law? Or do we want to live in a world that is governed by certain norms, where human rights are valued?
We need to act. We cannot wait for our political leaders. Take Action.