Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only shake you down once a year, but when we do we really mean it. It costs a lot to keep the site afloat, and our growing audience, well over TWO million unique viewers a month, eats up a lot of bandwidth — and bandwidth isn’t free. We aren’t supported by corporate donors, advertisers or big foundations. We survive solely on your support.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Goldstone Report and Israeli Impunity

by RAMZY BAROUD

“We may be witnessing the beginning of the end of the era of impunity,” Nadia Hijab, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Institute for Palestine Studies, said in response to the findings of a 574-page report by a four-member United Nations Fact finding mission. The mission, led by internationally-renowned former South African supreme court justice and chief prosecutor in the international tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia, investigated alleged war crimes committed by Israeli troops in Gaza in a 23-day bloody, unprecedented onslaught against a largely defenseless population.

But Hijab was not the only one who expressed optimism. Others did, encouraged perhaps, by the report’s use of terminology unfamiliar in a conflict where empirical experience has shown that Israeli actions, no matter how outrageously violent, will have no meaningful legal repercussions whatsoever.

Goldstone’s report, released on September 15, made some important recommendations, following a most thorough investigation that was carefully compiled by the mission – which was organized by the UN Human Rights Council last April.

One is that the UN Security Council should set up a team of experts to monitor Israel’s investigations of the war crimes committed in Gaza. If Israel fails to do so, then the situation should be referred to the Prosecutor in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

This raises many questions, lead amongst them is: did Israel commit war crimes in Gaza, and, second, is Israel capable of conducting an honest investigation into those crimes, considering the state’s bloody legacy and lack of any serious legal accountability.

Goldstone answers both questions.

“The mission concluded that actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly in some respects crimes against humanity, were committed by the Israel Defense Force,” Goldstone told reporters on September 16. He also said that the Israeli government has carried out no credible investigation.

Despite his recommendations that UN experts follow the progress of the internal investigation by Israel, and the Palestinians (since they too were accused of violating international law by lobbing home-made rockets into Israel, without taking into account the possible harm to civilians) it’s puzzling why Goldstone would think that any genuine investigation is possible in the first place.

Goldstone knows, as many of us already do, that the events in Gaza, which resulted in the deaths of 1,387 (other estimates put the number at 1,417, mostly civilians, including over 300 children), the wounding of thousands more, the targeting of an already dilapidating infrastructure (hospitals, police stations, factories, schools, and even chicken farms) of a deprived and besieged society was very much a political decision made at the highest levels by the likes of Olmert, Livni, Barak and other serial criminals who have tormented Palestinians for too long.

Palestinians were also chastised for rockets fired from besieged Gaza. Of course, Goldstone was not expected to justify or applaud the homemade rockets, or even underline their lack of effectiveness, as four Israelis were killed by rocket fire, during the period of the war. Out of the nine Israeli soldiers killed in the fighting, four were killed in friendly fire.

While both Hamas and the PA fully cooperated with Goldstone and his colleagues, Israel fully rejected the mission, refusing entry into Israel or Gaza, forcing the use of alternative routes into the besieged strip, through Egypt.

Israeli officials claim that the report was pre-written, rendering it biased from the start. They used the same predictable pattern of smears, redundant diatribes and predictable language.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said the report created unjust “equivalence of a democratic state with a terror organization,” in reference to Hamas.

Following the good old democracy reference, racism kicks in. “We have nothing to be ashamed of, and don’t need lessons in morality from a committee established by Syria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Somalia,” Levy said. Apparently dark-skinned people of the South are both incapable of being democratic or moral. Only Israel and her allies are capable of those qualities.

“The Goldstone report has set a new standard for equating the behavior of democratic nations and terrorists,” wrote Richard Sideman, President of the New York-based American Jewish Committee in a letter published in the New York Times on September 18.

The same disingenuous sentiment utilized by Levy and Sideman (how curious that both seemed to be using the same script) echoed by many Israeli officials and their lobbyists abroad, who went into crisis management mode following the release of the report.

But why should they care?

Could it be because Goldstone called on the 192-member General Assembly to establish an escrow fund so that Israel can compensate Palestinians in Gaza? Israel would never spend its hard-earned US tax payers money on such frivolous matters.

Could it be because the Human Rights Council is convening on September 29 in Geneva to discuss the report, and could call for its transfer to the Security Council, and even the ICC?

Could it be because the report’s findings might empower an already growing boycott movement world-wide?

Could it be because it’s much harder to doubt the credibility of Goldstone, to smear him as anti-Semite or a self-hating Jew?

Could it be because all these factors are escalating Israeli fears that the “era of impunity” is indeed over?

“Perhaps next time we set out to wage another vain and miserable war, we will take into account not only the number of fatalities we are likely to sustain, but also the heavy political damage such wars cause,” wrote Israeli columnist Gideon Levy.

One would have to wait for the next miserable war, the next massacre to find out whether Israel has learned its lesson. Until then, thousands of starved, desperate yet resilient Palestinians in Gaza continue to live in their makeshift tents, atop the rubble, which was once called home, awaiting food, cement and international justice.

RAMZY BAROUD is an author of several books and editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers, journals and anthologies around the world. His latest book is, “The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle” (Pluto Press, London), and his forthcoming book is, “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London), which is now available for pre-orders at Amazon.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is: ramzybaroud.net

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 29, 2016
Robert Fisk
The Butcher of Qana: Shimon Peres Was No Peacemaker
James Rose
Politics in the Echo Chamber: How Trump Becomes President
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Vice Grip on the Presidential Debates
Daniel Kato
Rethinking the Race over Race: What Clinton Should do Now About ‘Super-Predators’
Peter Certo
Clinton’s Awkward Stumbles on Trade
Fran Shor
Demonizing the Green Party Vote
Rev. William Alberts
Trump’s Road Rage to the White House
Luke O'Brien
Because We Couldn’t Have Sanders, You’ll Get Trump
Michael J. Sainato
How the Payday Loan Industry is Obstructing Reform
Robert Fantina
You Can’t Have War Without Racism
Gregory Barrett
Bad Theater at the United Nations (Starring Kerry, Power, and Obama
James A Haught
The Long, Long Journey to Female Equality
Thomas Knapp
US Military Aid: Thai-ed to Torture
Jack Smith
Must They be Enemies? Russia, Putin and the US
Gilbert Mercier
Clinton vs Trump: Lesser of Two Evils or the Devil You Know
Tom H. Hastings
Manifesting the Worst Old Norms
George Ella Lyons
This Just in From Rancho Politico
September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
David Swanson
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]