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.