Friday, October 23, 2009

Israeli War Crimes: Dilemma for the United States


The United Nations Human Rights Council approved the Goldstone Report, which accuses the Jewish state of war crimes against Palestinians. The Goldstone Report also accuses Palestinian militants of war crimes during the Gaza conflict of nearly a year ago. The resolution by the Human Rights Council endorses the Goldstone Report's recommendations that both the Israelis and Palestinian militants show the U.N. Security Council they are investigating the war crimes accusations.

Israel has rejected the report as one-sided and biased and says the Gaza war was a legitimate act of self defense in response to years of Palestinian rocket attacks. Israeli officials say opening a war crimes investigation would be tantamount to accepting guilt.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has ordered officials to prepare for a long diplomatic, legal and public relations battle explaining Israel's right to defend itself against terrorism. As Mr. Netanyahu put it, "We will delegitimize those who try to delegitimize us."

------------------------------------------end of article

Bill Moyer's Journal this evening featured Judge Richard Goldstone, author of the 'disputed' report. Judge Richard Goldstone served as the chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. He also investigated the South African apartheid system and was a member of the International Panel of the Commission of Enquiry into the Activities of Nazism in Argentina. More recently he was appointed by Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to the Independent Inquiry Committee, chaired by Paul Volcker, to investigate the Iraq Oil for Food program.

Goldstone's credentials are outstanding. His life has been endangered by those who do not wish the light of his investigation to uncover their dirty deeds; he is the ultimate muckraker. He has received countless death threats, especially while investigating white supremacy in South Africa, his native country.

It will be difficult for the United States to defend Israel from these charges, yet that is exactly what Israel is hoping that the United States will do. Israel has begun a smear campaign against Goldstone, attempting to 'kill the messenger.' The Obama Administration is placed in a tight spot especially because our nation has historically defended nearly every action that Israel has taken. Israel hopes that the US will veto a UN proposal that Israel set up a credible investigation of its own on this subject.

I would imagine that many Americans will be sympathetic to Israel and hope that Obama will order such a veto. Yet, it is amazing to realize that Judge Goldstone is himself a Jew and a Zionist, which he admitted to Bill Moyers. Many Israelis have branded him a 'traitor.' Clearly, his reputation for fairness and impartiality along with his previous courageous work in Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Argentina, and South Africa will make it difficult to charge Goldstone with incompetence.

Knee-jerk 'support' for Israel here in the US may this time be somewhat muted if those supporters open their eyes to the credibility of Judge Goldstone.

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