Friday, October 2, 2009

Throwing Judge Goldstone (and the Gazans) Under the Bus – Who Won and Who Lost

It took about a week to finish off Richard Goldstone and his Gaza Report. You have to give a lot of credit to the Netanyahu government. They get better at killing the messenger each time they do it. This time a few days of Israeli phone calls to the European capitals, intensive public relations, and a lot of help from the US government, did the trick. Hillary bought the Israeli line that acting upon the Goldstone Report would damage a (non-existent) peace process. As if the war crimes in Gaza had anything to do with any sort of peace process.

But an honorable mention and a big yashar koah goes to the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, which buckled under "intense pressure" from the US, and agreed to delay deliberations on the report until March.

So who are the winners and losers in l'affaire Goldstone?

Well, the winners in no special order are the rightwing Israeli government and its rightwing supporters, the American administration, and Hamas. The first two are obvious; for Bibi and Hillary (and her boss), the Goldstone Report was a "distraction" from the main issue, which is how to pretend there is a peace process and to juggle at the same time.

And why Hamas? Because at the same time that the PA was capitulating to the Israelis and the Americans, much to the crowing of the Israelis, Hamas managed to exchange a videotape of Gilad Shalit for Palestinian prisoners. Moral of the story: kidnap Israeli soldiers, and you get a prisoner release. (It didn't take Khaled Mashal a long time to figure that out.) Collaborate with the Israelis, and you get bubkes, although I would like to think that at least some people of Ramallah will be well-rewarded for their efforts.

And how is this going to play in the Palestinian street? Do I need to spell that out for you? Just read the wise analysis by Amjad Atallah here.

The big losers, again in no special order, are Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, which have been quick to spin their decision as only a delaying tactic. Believe that, and I have a security fence you may be interested in.

Of course, their patrons, the Israelis Dons, spun the Palestinian surrender their own way. According to Haaretz

The Palestinian decision not to push the report was "proof that Israel was right not to cooperate with the investigation and that it was a political tool that can be blocked through diplomatic activity," a source said.

Good to see that the PA has joined the Coalition Forces.

Other big losers are the human rights organizations, the folks who care about little things like the death, dismemberment, and trauma of innocent civilians, and the destruction of their lives and property. What Israel, the US, and the PA proved today was that power trumps justice, that war criminals are held to account when and only when they are not friends of the big boys.

But the biggest losers, aside from the Gazans, are good people everywhere. We are taught that crime doesn't pay, that the bad guys will be punished, that pride goeth before a fall. It's doesn't get easier to learn that the bullies often get their way.

Of course, Torah teaches that the ledger is open, and that there is a hand that records the deeds and misdeeds. The ray of hope in all this is that nobody opposed to the Goldstone report, or for that matter, any of the human rights reports, disputed the facts therein. (I exclude the hardcore right-wingers and the Israeli government, which always dispute the facts.) The claims have been that the original mandate was biased, that the report lacked context, that its conclusions were over the top, that the UN hates Israel, yada, yada, yada. Discrediting the messenger is a good short-term tactic, but a lousy long-term one. So while I don't share the optimism of the last optimist in Israel, Gideon Levy, who thinks that the Goldstone report will affect future Israeli behavior, I am hopeful that a lot of people out there know a rat when they smell one.

And let's not forget a VERY BIG winner of throwing Judge Goldstone under the bus – the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions people. For we now know that the way to get results out of the Israeli government is through public action – and that action cannot be left to government actions, especially when the governments are serial human-rights violators such as the US, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority.


Margaret said...

Who won? Who lost?

Y. Ben-David said...

Please don't make me laugh when you say the human rights organizations are the "biggest losers". What have they done in recent years to get the Russians to account for the tens of thousands of dead in Chechneya, or the Turkish atrocities in Kurdistan? Or what about state support for terrorism in Iraq that has killed tens of thousands which is supported by Syria and others?
If there was some sort of consistency in their behavior, then maybe there would be some point to listening to them, but their hypocrisy is deafening.

The arguments you "progressives" make against Israel in its war against terrorism reminds me of something some Germans have said since the end of World War II. They claim that the German people are innocent as lambs when it comes to the atrocities they carried out because they were living in a dictatorship which made all the decisions, whereas the US and Britain were democracies and so things like the strategic bombing campaign can be considered a war crime that the American and British people can be held collectively guilty of. Really turing everything on its ear. 9/11 was justified by Muslim extremists in the same way...the American people are collectively responsible for all the "crimes" supposedly being committed by the US govenment against the Muslims so that makes all American citizens legitimate targets, something that traditional Islam supposedly opposed, as I understand it.

Goldstone will be forgotten, most people in the world don't care about the Palestinians, settlement freezes and the such. Sure "progressives" like yourself seem to worrry themselves sick over things like this but they are a small minority even in the West, even if they arrogate to themselves the title of being something like the "concience of mankind". I suggest you should relax for a while.

suzannedk said...

Throwing Goldstone Under the Bus omits the fact that the actions of Hilary Clinton ordering an genocidally threatened country to commit Hari-Kari destroys any credibility she has as a representative of a Democratic Republic, and any reputation she has as an embassador of peace and international law. She obviously has no respect for either the U.N. or the sitting president of the United States, or her own U.S. Constitution!

William Burns said...

Human rights organizations have denounced the Turks, the Russians and the terrorist organizations in Iraq. Why don't you do a little research before launching your usual whining about how the world doesn't give Israel a perpetual pass for its killing of civilians?

William Burns said...

And Suzanne, what are you talking about?

Laur said...

Y. Ben-David,

seems to me, yes, other human rights violations matter, but that still doesn't take away from the fact that Israel (backed by the U.S.) committed horrendous crimes.

frédi flintoff said...

For me (a narrow perspective, to be sure) this was probably the most sobering:

On the other hand, this event may expose the blind spot of the mainstream, allegedly dove-ish, 2-state position. That would be a real change of paradigm.

willyrobinson said...

Brilliant writing, and thanks for the links - w

Ibrahamav said...


While Israel may have over-reacted, there is no law of proportional response. Additioanlly, as Hamas did use the civilian population of Gaza as a collective human shield, guilt over civilian death falls to Hamas.

As in any war, there will be certain individuals who go outside the well-recognized lines of warfare in civilian areas, and those crimes should be dealt with, but until you are willing to personally charge and arrest the entirety of Hamas, and try them in the Hague, you are barking up the wrong tree.

Y. Ben-David said...

Mr Burns-
What have these so-called "human rights" organizations done to bring the Russian, Turkish and others and their human rights abuses to the UN and the Security Council? Nothing. Why? Because the Muslim world will NEVER allow a fellow Muslim country to be put in the dock, and too many countires either are too afraid of Russia or do too much business with them.

I saw a part of an interview of Goldstone by Michael Lerner. Lerner pushed him on this point...why pick on Israel when worse violators get off scot free. Goldstone ADMITTED that was the case, but he said something to the effect that "we have to start somewhere and we may as well start with Israel because of the anti-Israel alignment in the US".
Three cheers for hypocrisy! But in any event, even Russia and Turkey know that THEIR heads would eventually end up on the block if these complaints against Israel were really followed through on so they are happy knowing that the US will, in the end, prevent Goldstone from being pushed through.

William Burns said...

"Collective human shield." Is there any such concept in international law, or is that something you just made up?

William Burns said...


Can you define what you mean by a human rights group? Because to my knowledge, what's traditionally referred to as a human rights group--Amnesty International, HRW, etc. aren't involved in bringing the Goldstone report to the UN.

Also, Russia is not a Muslim country.

Laur said...

yes, try hamas for rocket attacks.

israeli government did not exhaust all peaceful means to prevent rocket attacks, so therefore the assault on gazans was itself not justifiable, something the goldstone report does not touch on/look into.

LeaNder said...

William Burns, "Collective human shield." at the moment may still be in the legal gray area, but The War on Terrorism and its central laboratory "occupied territories" surely provides a convenient space to experiment on the legal expansion (updating). That's why the Palestinian complaints, they feel like they are experimented with rings so true. Consider in a brave new world, human shield could be defined to be every citizens in a certain area, e.g.areas without exquisite security architecture, sovereign power versus "Homo Sacer" or the "human shield".

Concerning Suzanne, if this is the same Suzanne that turned her trollish somersaults around the axis of winners and losers on Mondoweiss, or offers the topical talking points from the far right on Realistic Dove, I wouldn't pay much attention. She's a waste of time.