When Stephen Sondheim wrote "Have an eggroll, Mr. Goldstone" for the musical Gypsy, he was prescient. The Goldstone Report has now been formally accepted by the UN Human Rights Council, and will be referred to the UN Security Council. The report's recommendations were approved by a vote of 23 including China (hence the nod to Sondheim) to six, with 11 abstentions. Read about it here.
The Israeli knee-jerk response will be to talk about the "automatic anti-Israel majority" and the states in the majority that are human rights violators. Well, I guess it takes one to know one. Let's not forget that two weeks ago Israel was crowing about how it had buried the report with the help of the Palestinians. Israel was only able to get six states to side with it – and only two Western European states, Italy and the Netherlands. France and England did not vote. This is an achievement for the Palestinians, because what state interest is served by adopting a human rights report that limits the power of states?
The US rejected the report on three grounds: a) the resolution included matters not in the Goldstone report; b) adopting the report would hurt the Peace Process; c) "The report failed to deal adequately with the asymmetrical nature of the confrontation." This last one is disturbing because it smacks of the Bush-Cheney doctrine that says that when engaged in a asymmetric "war on terror" the enemy combatants (and those surrounding them) are not protected under the laws and conventions of war. And who gets to determine what is a war on terror and who are enemy combatants? You guessed it, the state that is at war.
But Gaza is not ruled by al-Qaeda or the Bader-Meinhof gang. Gaza is ruled by a Palestinian political party, Hamas, which Israel treats as the governing authority when it suits it and as a terrorist organization when it suits it. The only asymmetry is that Israel has virtually all the effective weapons – and the Gazans barely fought the IDF in the Gaza Op. Were the report to deal adequately with the asymmetrical nature of the confrontation, it would condemn Israel not only for the conduct of the war but for its decision to go to war – since other less belligerent options were open to it, given the nature of the Hamas threat to its own citizens.
This is not the US's finest hour. If it had not voted, the peace process would not have been affected at all.
When human rights become hostage to a nonexistent (or, for that matter, existent) "peace process," I say, "Enough of the carrot. Bring on the stick."