Monday, October 19, 2009

The Naïveté of Richard Goldstone

Last month, Richard Goldstone released a UN report on his "fact finding" mission concerning Israel's defensive operations in Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009. In the report, officially titled The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, Goldstone condemned both the IDF and Hamas for deliberately targetting civilians. Knowing the UN's inherent anti-Israel bias, Israel refused to co-operate with Goldstone and for good reason.

Last Friday, the report was formally adopted by the UN Human Rights Council. However, its resolution makes no mention of any wrongdoing by Hamas.

So now Goldstone is distancing himself from the report in an op-ed piece in today's edition of The Jerusalem Post. Well, sort of:

Israel missed a golden opportunity to actually have a fair hearing from a UN-sponsored inquiry. Of course, I was aware of and have frequently spoken out against the unfair and exceptional treatment of Israel by the UN and especially by the Human Rights Council.

I did so again last week. Israel could have seized the opportunity provided by the even-handed mandate of our mission and used it as a precedent for a new direction by the United Nations in the Middle East. Instead, we were shut out.

How can Goldstone be so naïve as to suggest Israel was going to have a fair hearing? The UN Human Rights Council's raison d'être is to condemn Israel.

As Ron Prosor, Israel's Ambassador to the United Kingdom, recently remarked in an editorial in The Times:

It is impossible to escape the obsession of the Human Rights Council (and I chuckle every time I write its name) with Israel. In three years, it has issued 25 resolutions against individual states: 20 of them targeted Israel. Basic maths suggests that Israel, a tiny democracy permanently threatened by dictatorships and terrorists, is guilty of 80 per cent of the world’s human rights offences. This is ridiculous, as is a human rights body with member states that still view public beheadings as a wholesome leisure activity.

Then again if he honestly believed Israel would get a fair hearing it makes sense that Goldstone was surprised to have been given the job in the first place. When Goldstone was appointed back in January he remarked that he was "shocked, as a Jew" to have been asked to lead the inquiry. He shouldn't be shocked at all. Appointing a Jew is exactly the sort of thing an anti-Israel outfit would do. Because when the findings come out against Israel, they can say, "Hey, the inquiry was headed by a Jew and even he condemns Israel. Therefore the report is legitimate and not anti-Semitic." Goldstone is being used as a pawn to serve their anti-Israel political agenda. But Goldstone is too naïve to see through this smokescreen.

Of course, Goldstone's report is far more consquential than its anti-Israel bias. Former Ambassador to the UN John Bolton characteristically pulls no punches in his op-ed in
The Wall Street Journal:

The Goldstone Report has important implications for America. In the U.N., Israel frequently serves as a surrogate target in lieu of the U.S., particularly concerning the use of military force pre-emptively or in self-defense. Accordingly, U.N. decisions on ostensibly Israel-specific issues can lay a predicate for subsequent action against, or efforts to constrain, the U.S. Mr. Goldstone's recommendation to convoke the International Criminal Court is like putting a loaded pistol to Israel's head—or, in the future, to America's.

But in Richard Goldstone's world of evenhandedness, democratic Israel and totalitarian Gaza are one in the same. This attitude is both naïve and dangerous.

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