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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Don't cooperate with the 'war crimes' investigation

A lot of Israelis have been expressing optimism about the 'war crimes' investigation that is to take place under the auspices of the UN 'Human Rights Council.' There are two reasons for this optimism. One is because the investigation is being led by Richard Goldstone (pictured), a Jewish, South African lawyer who is actually on the Board of Trustees of Hebrew University. The second reason for optimism is the investigation's mandate, which is
to assess in an independent and impartial manner all human rights and humanitarian law violations committed in the context of the conflict which took place between December 27, 2008 and January 18, 2009 and provide much needed clarity about the legality of the thousands of deaths and injuries and the widespread destruction that occurred.
According to Alan Baker, former legal adviser to Israel's foreign ministry, that optimism is misplaced, and Israel should be shunning Goldstone's investigation the same way we have shunned investigations led by the likes of Desmond Tutu and Richard Falk on the 'Human Rights Council's behalf.
However, the world is not perfect, and the impartiality of the mission and its independence, as well as the motivations behind it, are far from genuine and give rise to justifiable doubts as to its bona fides.

The mandate emanates from a UN Human Rights Council resolution dated January 12 of this year and entitled Council Resolution S-9/1, on the grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly due to the recent Israeli military attacks against the Gaza Strip.

The resolution, tabled - and supported by such paragons of international humanitarianism as Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and others - was adopted by 33 votes in favor, one (Canada) against and 13 abstentions (European countries).

It called to "dispatch an urgent, independent international 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..., particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the latest aggression..."
It's not just the source of the mandate either. It's also the makeup of the investigating team of which Goldstone is just a part.
Further to the questionable basis of the mission's mandate, some thought might be given to the mission's composition. Without impinging on the good intentions and bona fides of Goldstone, it might be noted that Christine Chinkin, professor of international law at the London School of Economics, together with other British academics, addressed a letter to The Guardian on January 5 that was extremely critical of Israel's action in the Gaza Strip.

The letter called upon the UK to revoke support for new agreements with Israel, and upon the EU to refuse extending existing agreements and to prevent upgrades of EU benefits to Israel.

Could Israel really expect a fair hearing from a mission member who has openly gone on record criticizing and advocating sanctions against Israel?
Baker is right. If Israel accepts the panel and the report turns out to be as biased as usual against us, Israel's acceptance of the panel will only make matters worse. If the panel actually comes out with a fair report, it will be nothing short of miraculous (there are plenty of faculty and trustees at Hebrew U who hate Israel, although allegedly Goldstone isn't one of them), because you can bet that they're going to spend a lot more time looking at things we did than at things the 'Palestinians' did.

All in all, we're better off sitting this out. It won't hurt us and it might even mitigate some of the inevitable damage from the final report.


At 9:30 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9:32 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Agreed, Carl. A commission whose members have already declared their bias against Israel and whose terms of reference prejudice in advance the outcome of the investigation, cannot be expected to produce an impartial report on Operation Cast Lead and its aftermath.

Israel would do well not to extend the Goldstone commission any cooperation for that as well as other reasons. While Israel may not be able to affect what the UN does, the country does not have to assist in helping the UN in blackening further its good name.

At 10:14 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Israel would be more delusional than I'd ever imagined if they cooperate with the "war crimes" investigation -- & since when should cooperation be determined based on guessing at possible outcome anyway. Such a sham should not be given any legitimacy.

At 11:21 AM, Blogger Junix Tenio said...


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At 12:31 PM, Blogger Matt said...

They were shooting rockets at us...everyone agrees with that right?


Case closed.


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