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The Goldstone report and the Israel lobby

The Goldstone report and the Israel lobby

Categories: Latest News

Wednesday September 30 2009

  The report produced by the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, headed by Justice Richard Goldstone (pictured), and presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday, has invited a flurry of denunciations from pro-Israel lobby groups determined to present the report’s findings as ‘biased’ as this alert from The Israel Project shows.

The Israeli Ambassador to the UK, Ron Prosor, in a guest column in yesterday’s Times argued that the Goldstone report:

‘…wilfully ignores the context of Operation Cast Lead….Israel did its utmost to direct Palestinian civilians out of harm’s way. But the report overlooks the Israeli Army’s warning leaflets, text messages and daily humanitarian pauses in the fighting.’

‘Most shamefully of all, the UNHRC has whitewashed the illegal tactics of Hamas. Hamas used mosques as arsenals, playgrounds as rocket launch pads and hospitals as battle command centres. Despite a wealth of video and eyewitness evidence, Goldstone failed to condemn these crimes.

You will not be surprised to learn that the Palestinian representative to the UK was not given any similar opportunity by the comment editor, Daniel Finkelstein – a staunch Zionist who also writes for the Jewish Chronicle – to put his nation’s point of view across to the readers of The Times today.

The Israeli ambassador’s comments match those of Dan Kosky, communications director of NGO Monitor, in the Guardian’s Comment is Free. Kosky wrote:

‘Reading the report, one would be unaware of Hamas’s human-shield strategy, a significant contributory factor to the civilian deaths in Gaza….Of course, admitting that Hamas endangered Gazan citizens would provide an alternative to Israeli guilt. Yet, rather than state the inconvenient truth, the [Goldstone] report reinforces preconceived Israeli culpability.’

Prosor and Kosky’s righteous indignation is surprising given that the Israeli military’s response to the Amnesty International report, which leveled accusations of war crimes committed by Hamas, through its use of civilians as human shields, as well as the greater incidence of war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza, was to not respond to Amnesty International’s ‘repeated requests for information on specific cases detailed in the report and for meetings to discuss the organization’s findings’, according to Donatella Rovera, who headed Amnesty’s field research mission.

It is disingenuous, to say the least, to accuse the Goldstone report of not adequately accounting for Hamas’ conduct in Gaza while the Israeli military refuses to accept the findings of the AI report which does take these into account, all the while recognizing the far greater war crimes committed by Israel.

But the denunciation of report’s findings that point to Israel’s culpability and which contravene the conclusions of official Israeli investigations into the war is not new.

Breaking the Silence, the Israeli campaign group, published its own report, citing the testimonies of around 30 soldiers that served in the war, and claimed that ‘these narratives are enough to bring into question the credibility of the official IDF versions’.

And yet the official Israeli response to the Breaking the Silence report was, again, to reject its findings. The Israeli PM, Binyamin Netanyahu, on his visit to the UK in August, called on EU governments to cease their financial aid to the group.

Prosor wrote yesterday that:

The Goldstone report’s assertion that the Israeli courts cannot be trusted is as dishonest as it is insulting. Israel’s legal system holds its army to account at least as thoroughly as any in the free world. Israeli courts have scrutinised previous military operations, and mistakes or wrongdoing have been punished at the highest levels. Legal investigations into the war in Gaza are already under way. Difficult issues, including the use of white phosphorus, as reported by The Times, will not be ignored.’

Why then would the Israeli PM call on governments to end their financial support to a NGO committed to countering official narratives on military conduct the better to highlight the shortcomings of official investigations and provide counter-factual evidence? Rejecting the investigative reports of Breaking the Silence, Amnesty International and now, Goldstone, begs the question of just whose conclusions into its conduct in Gaza is Israel, and its sympathizers, willing to accept?

Kosky makes the incredulous claim that ‘no one can expect to hold to account a non-state actor such as Hamas’.

Does not the Israeli government, military and the pro-Israel lobby’s efforts to denounce as ‘biased’ the reports that have documented its war crimes in Gaza frustrate and stymie the efforts of those that would like to see Israel held to account?


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