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Goldstone's scandalous vindication of Israel

January 25, 2014 at 10:02 am

Israeli leaders are lauding a Washington Post op-ed by former South African Judge Richard Goldstone in which he sought to ameliorate the severity of war crimes and crimes against humanity attributed to the Israel Defence Forces in his 2009 UN Report. In the eponymous Report, Goldstone accused Israel of intentionally targeting and killing Palestinian civilians during its 21-day blitz against the Gaza Strip more than two years ago.


Israeli President Shimon Peres, the Nobel Peace Laureate under whose premiership more than 100 innocent civilians were killed by Israel as they sheltered in a UN compound in Qana, southern Lebanon, has now called on Goldstone to apologize to Israel for besmirching its image. Similarly, current Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has embraced Goldstone’s article as a priceless propaganda gift, ignoring the 1,400 Palestinians, one-third of them children, who were murdered by Israel’s war machine, in the transformation of the biggest land theft in history into a legitimate fait accompli.

“Everything we said proved to be true,” claimed Netanyahu. “Israel didn’t intentionally target civilians and it has investigatory bodies.”

Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who has the innocent blood of thousands of Palestinians and Lebanese civilians on his hands, went as far as invoking the still discredited mantra about the “purity of arms” of the Israeli occupation army: “We always said the Israeli army is a moral army which acted according to international law.”

In Israel’s view, within a week Richard Goldstone has gone from being the most malicious person in the world to the most conscientious, for no other reason than giving credence to the Israeli narrative of the blitzkrieg on Gaza in 2008/9.

Goldstone’s about-turn is based on two dubious elements. First, an investigation by the Israeli army of alleged crimes perpetrated by Israeli soldiers and officers against the people of Gaza; second, a propensity to believe the Israeli narrative that although its soldiers did kill hundreds of Palestinians, it did so by mistake and never really intended to kill civilians.

However, it is easy to refute Goldstone’s latest musings or, more correctly, highly-opinionated conclusions.

For a start, Israel is a terrorist state built on aggression, occupation, land theft and ethnic cleansing. Many people view the state of Israel itself as one gigantic crime against humanity. Such an entity can’t be trusted to be honest about anything pertaining to its aggression against the Palestinian people. To think otherwise is naive and displays a lack of profundity about the subject matter at hand, namely Israel’s aggression against the people of Gaza. Indeed, if Israel had any semblance of justice and civility in its make-up, it wouldn’t indulge in military occupation and barbaric acts against a civilian population struggling to maintain a national identity.

With hundreds of children killed and thousands maimed by white phosphorus and other munitions by Israel, and the Dresden-like destruction of property all over the Gaza Strip, Israel can’t be regarded as innocent until proven guilty. Given the magnitude of the results of its actions, the Zionist state should be treated as guilty until proven innocent. It is stretching credibility to think that an army capable of such acts could ever be entrusted with the task of investigating itself.

How many atrocities and crimes against humanity will this army and its “purity of arms” be allowed to get away with? In 1953, this supposedly “most moral army in the world” murdered my three uncles; to this day, our family has received no apology, no statement of mea culpa, and no compensation from the state of Israel.

I don’t know what type of pressure has been exerted on Goldstone to make him abandon the findings of his original report. However, no respectable person should sacrifice the truth for the sake of tribal loyalty, especially when justice is yet to be done, and seen to be done, for hundreds of children killed mercilessly for no reason other than that they were not from the “chosen people”.

I admit that I am not well-versed in international law and conventions governing conflict among nations. But I do know that one of the most basic axioms is that when there is a conflict of interest, a party shouldn’t be allowed to investigate itself. Does any justice system in the world allow a criminal to investigate his or her own crimes? Did the world allow the Nazi war criminals to investigate themselves? Or Pol Pot in Cambodia? What about the Hutus in Rwanda?

Perhaps the most scandalous aspect of Goldstone’s preposterous vindication of Israel is that h appears to rely almost entirely on dubious Israeli claims that it didn’t intend to kill civilians. This is pure semantics. In the final analysis, mistakes may happen once or twice, but not on occasions too numerous to mention, as happened in Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s war against an unarmed population. Such “mistakes” become the norm, not the exception, and suggest a deliberate policy.

In any case, intent itself becomes irrelevant when the number of victims is as high as during the war on Gaza. You can’t kill 333 children, in addition to hundreds of other civilians, in just 21 days, and then claim, with an apologetic grin, that you didn’t mean it and that you did it all by mistake.

Throughout the original Goldstone Report, Hamas was treated as a symmetrical party to the conflict as if the Israelis were fighting another army. Some fighters in Gaza did fire some basic projectiles toward Israeli-held territory, but the firing of these “missiles” then, as now, was a sign of desperation. In no way can it be compared with the all-out aggression by a nuclear-armed state against a blockaded and near-starved people. To make such a comparison, as Goldstone now appears to do, is more than corrupt, it is criminal. The crimes which Hamas is alleged to have committed, if they can be called crimes at all in the face of such massive aggression by the Zionist war machine, pale into insignificance when compared with those of Israel.

Finally, we shouldn’t forget for a moment that this conflict is about the arrogation of the Palestinians’ homeland by Israel and that the process is ongoing with apparent impunity. Outbursts of anger by Palestinians, or even acts of violence, should be viewed for what they are: acts of self-defence and cries for justice. The Palestinians are, after all, the ultimate victims in this conflict.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.