Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Goldstone Report – A Study in Bias

September 17, 2009 by Amitabh Tripathi  

goldstone report new1Israel is appalled and disappointed by the report published on 15 September 2009 by the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Gaza Fact Finding Mission. The Report unfairly describes Israel’s defense of its citizens as war crimes, while ignoring the deliberate strategy of Hamas to operate from within or behind the civilian population.
 
By casting doubts over Israel’s basic motivation for launching its operation against the Hamas, the report dismisses the eight-year-long barrage of 12,000 rockets endured by Israel’s civilians, and questions Israel’s basic right to protect its citizens. Indeed, the Report blames Israel for even being rocketed, by terming the attacks as ‘reprisals’.
 
As sobering as the thought may be, if I were a terrorist, I would welcome this
Report. It has made a terrorist’s work a lot easier, and has made the work of his potential victims a lot more difficult.
 
Consequently, the message broadcast by this Report to the new world order is – “terrorism pays”.
 
Israel was not, however, surprised. The Goldstone Report is – more than anything else – a political statement, rather than a legal analysis.
 
This outrageous report was produced by the UN’s new Human Rights Council, a body whose obsession with Israel has led it to produce more resolutions condemning Israel than those referring to all other countries combined!
 
When a UN organ that is mandated to deal with human rights issues throughout the globe, dedicates more time to Israel than all other trouble-spots put together, this is can be nothing other than an agenda set by political and non-professional motives.
 
In its blind zeal to demonize Israel, the HRC has gone as far as to produce a document that undermines every other democracy that is struggling to defend itself against terrorist attack.
 
But what else can be expected from a body whose membership includes such renown guardians of human rights as Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Nicaragua and Pakistan, Qatar, to name but a few.
 
And it should come as no surprise that the mandate designed by the HRC for the Goldstone mission was also one-sided and prejudicial.  In it, the HRC”strongly condemned  the ongoing Israeli military operation … which has resulted in massive violations of the human rights”, and dispatched “a fact finding mission to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian people”. Besides making no mention whatsoever of possible Palestinian violations, it first established Israel’s guilt, and then sent Goldstone to gather up some evidence. As the Queen said to Alice:  “Verdict first, evidence later”.
 
Israel can at least take comfort in the fact that the democratic minority of HRC members – states such as Switzerland, Canada, Korea, Japan, France, the UK, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and other EU members – refused to support the politically motivated resolution establishing the Mission.
 
Also telling is the fact that many distinguished human rights leaders, including Mary Robinson, refused to lead the Mission, because it was, in her words “guided not by human rights but by politics”.
 
The four members appointed by the HRC to take part in the Mission are on record declaring their opinion that Israel is guilty, even before they were chosen. This is most glaringly seen in the two letters published by Mission member Christine Chinkin, even as the fighting in Gaza was raging. In them, she accused Israel of “repeated breaches of international human rights” and declared that “Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is not self-defence – it’s a war crime.”
 
The methodology of the Mission was no less biased. The unprecedented holding of live telecast hearings demonstrated that political considerations overruled legal prudence. The Mission ignored  the fact that any Palestinian living in Gaza would never dare mention a word against the Hamas in such testimony, for fear of his life. The fact that all the witnesses were prescreened and selected, and none were asked obvious questions relating to any Palestinian terrorist activity or the location of weaponry and terrorists in civilian areas only supports concerns that they were part of an orchestrated political campaign.
 
The course of the questioning was similarly stilted. For example, when hearing Palestinian witnesses, the Mission forgot to ask the most basic questions, such as “Why do you say the victims of the Israeli strikes you witnessed were “innocent  non-combatants” while official Gaza announcements praised them as members of Hamas combat units killed in action?!”
 
In light of the above, the Report’s attempt to present Israel’s internationally respected justice system as unable to examine the actions of its own military is not only ignorant of the facts, but also highly insulting to the citizens of the only truly democratic state in the Middle East.
 
To date, Israel has opened investigations into over 100 allegations regarding the conduct of its forces during the Gaza Operation.  While most of these investigations were closed because the allegations were found to be baseless, 23 criminal investigations were indeed initiated and are still under way.
 
Tragically, as a result of this report, terrorists throughout the world are now strengthened in their belief that a law abiding democratic state can be ‘handcuffed’ by the Human Rights Council, and be prevented from carrying out appropriate and necessary actions to protect its own citizens.
 
This then would be the appropriate time to clarify the issue, and provide support for democratic states legally engaging in self-defense against terrorist entities. Israel has the right and the obligation to protect its citizens, while fully respecting international law.

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