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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Goldstone's fatal moral blind spot

Monday's Washington Times has an editorial that nails what's wrong with the Goldstone Report. While this will be obvious to those of you who read this blog regularly, it's still worth using as a talking point to put the implications of the Goldstone Report into terms with which most Americans ought to be able to identify.
Even more troublingly is the report's fatal moral blind spot, which is ignoring the differences between Israel, a sovereign state, and Hamas, a terrorist organization. The Israeli armed forces are professional organizations governed by strict policies to limit civilian deaths during the conduct of war. Israel is a signatory to the Geneva conventions and respects the rights of noncombatants. After the conflict, Israel conducted some 100 investigations into reports of misconduct by its troops.

Killing civilians is central to Hamas' military doctrine. Hamas launched 7,000 rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli cities between the pullout from Gaza in 2005 and 2009. During the ground fighting in Gaza, Hamas routinely used mosques, schools and hospitals as military sites and employed civilians as human shields. Hamas exploited the chaos of the conflict to round up Palestinian political opponents, some of whom were crippled with shots to the legs, while others were reportedly executed.

There is no moral equality between Hamas and Israel any more than there is between al Qaeda and the United States. Yet under the Goldstone logic, terrorists and sovereign states are identical. The incidental, unintentional civilian deaths Israel caused during the Gaza conflict are condemned as war crimes; the widespread and intentional Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians are basically ignored. The Goldstone model makes it impossible for civilized states to strike effectively against the world's barbarians who are fighting a shadow war against decency that views innocent noncombatants as both legitimate targets and useful shields.
Or as the Times puts it more bluntly:
Suppose a United Nations investigation team found that the United States had committed war crimes in its response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The report finds that while al Qaeda may have been culpable for the attacks and the carnage they wreaked, America was equally to blame - if not more so - for the civilian deaths caused during Operation Enduring Freedom. The U.N. instructs the United States to conduct an internal investigation and punish the perpetrators, or face action from the International Criminal Court.
While I suppose the 9/11 truthers would have no problem with that type of report, the average American would understand why it's morally obtuse.


At 8:46 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Its like saying a rape victim is to blame for the rapist's attack on her.

Morally obtuse doesn't begin to describe the Goldstone report's essence.


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