Saturday, October 17, 2009

Good News, Bad News


The good news is that the UNHRC voted to accept the Goldstone Report and forward it to the Security Council. This report, which attempts to bring international law and norms of justice and non-brutality to an increasingly brutal Middle East conflict deserves to get the airing and respect that it is due. Its recommendations for further investigations, either by the parties or by the International Criminal Court, should be followed.

The bad news is the the Palestinian Authorities motion, which the UNHRC voted positively on, buries its acceptance of the report in a series of unrelated condemnations of Israel: "... actions undermining the sanctity and inviolability of religious sites in ... East Jerusalem." But worse than that, the resolution makes absolutely no mention of Hamas' probable crimes: something which the Goldstone Report itself emphasized equally with Israel's misdeeds.

Indeed, what made the Goldtone Report so valuable, so noble, was that it (mostly)ignored the rightness or wrongness of the cause of each sides participation on the war and it antecedents, and concentrated on how each side pursued its goals by military force. It found Israel's bombing of civilians targets in Gaza probable crimes, but also Hamas' rocketing of civilian targets in Israel. The fact that each side has its reasons - both claim it is "self defense" - is dismissed by Goldstone. There are some things that are simply not allowed - even in war. (You would think that Israel gladly would accept this logic, even for pragmatic reasons. By this standard Israel's tactics are only sometimes illegal, while Hamas' tactics are almost always illegal.)

Thus both the PA and the UNHRC have missed the point of Goldstone's Report, and lost the "moral high-ground."

Goldstone, himself, was criticized the way on which the UNHRC had taken up his report:

"This draft resolution saddens me as it includes only allegations against Israel. There is not a single phrase condemning Hamas as we have done in the report. I hope that the council can modify the text."
You can read the full text of the UNHRC resolution here. If you have not yet read the Goldstone Report itself, you should cut through all the hysteria about it and read it (or at least skim it) yourself. It is a remarkably fair document. You can download the text of the report here.

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