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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Goldstone's missed opportunity

The Washington Post takes the Goldstone Commission to task for missing out on the opportunity to provide guidance to governments fighting asymmetrical wars.
Israel refused to cooperate -- and the Goldstone commission proceeded to make a mockery of impartiality with its judgment of facts. It concluded, on scant evidence, that "disproportionate destruction and violence against civilians were part of a deliberate policy" by Israel. At the same time it pronounced itself unable to confirm that Hamas hid its fighters among civilians, used human shields, fired mortars and rockets from outside schools, stored weapons in mosques, and used a hospital for its headquarters, despite abundant available evidence.

By pretending it did not know whether Hamas employed such tactics and by claiming that Israel's actions were driven by a motivation to kill civilians on purpose, rather than to defeat Hamas, the panel dodged the hard issues it should have tackled. It did not seriously attempt to balance civilian deaths against the threats Israel was targeting or to understand the real motivations for the destruction in areas from which rockets were launched at Israeli cities.

As it happens, Israel is ahead of most other nations in managing these issues. In Gaza its forces used thousands of e-mails, phone calls and even non-lethal explosives to warn civilians away from airstrike targets. Its army's criminal division is investigating 45 complaints of abuses.

A broader, government-sanctioned independent investigation is called for: a number of specific allegations in the Goldstone report, one-sided though they are, deserve a full answer. Not just Israel but the United States and many other nations ought to face more pressure to justify the means they use to fight insurgents and terrorists. Sadly, the only thing proved by the Goldstone commission is that the United Nations is incapable of performing that service.
The last sentence of this editorial gets it right, although they also got a couple of things wrong. They said that Goldstone's mandate was changed to an 'unbiased' one - it was never legally changed. And they're wrong about Israel needing more pressure to justify how it fights terrorists.

Goldstone clearly could have provided more guidance for what's legal. When he was asked what a 'proportionate' response would have been two weeks ago during the Brandeis debate, he had no answer.

But that wasn't why Goldstone was appointed. Goldstone and his commission were appointed to provide an international condemnation of Israel (Christine Chinkin's spot on the commission should prove that if anyone needs more proof). And they provided that international condemnation. If that wasn't Goldstone's intention, he's a fool and a tool.


At 3:10 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Yep. Goldstone was appointed at the behest of all those well-known human rights worthies who take care to keep their own human records from being scrutinized. The sole purpose of Goldstone's existence was to sit in judgment of Israel.


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