Monday, July 26, 2010

Seems Anyone Can Join The Second Goldstone Commission: If You Have The Anti-Israel Bonafides

About 10 days ago, I wrote about the new committee chosen to investigate the implementation of the Goldstone Report. I noted that Navanethem (Navi) Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, had chosen South African lawyer Ahmed Motala to coordinate the work of the new committee.

The war in Gaza and the killing of innocent Palestinians is not about Hamas, but entirely about the forthcoming elections in Israel. Binyamin Netanyahu of Likud, Tzipi Livni of Kadima and Ehud Barak of Labour are all vying for the position of Prime Minister. What better way to gain the support of the Israeli electorate than to wage a war against Hamas; to give no quarter to the enemy and kill innocent civilians.
Motala not only considers Israel's leaders to be bloodthirsty--he considers Israelis to be bloodthirsty as well.

Now it turns out that there are questions about the neutrality of the head of Goldstone Commission II itself, German jurist Christian Tomuschat:

The chairman of the UN committee responsible for following up on the findings of the Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead acknowledged on Saturday that he had helped prepare an advisory opinion analyzing legal aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian issue in the 1990s, but said he could not recall whether he had done this work on behalf of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

In any case, said German jurist Christian Tomuschat, the legal work had been objective, should not be regarded as “a blemish” and did not constitute a reason for him to step down from the Goldstone follow- up panel.
There is, however, another issue in regards to Tomuschat's neutrality:
The panel was appointed last month by the UN human rights commissioner, Navi Pillay, and is about to start its work, with a view to publishing a report in October.

Tomuschat’s appointment had already attracted criticism from pro-Israel legal watchdogs because of his characterization of Israel’s policy of targeted killings as akin to “state terrorism.”

Furthermore, the Post learned over the weekend, Tomuschat has already made plain his conviction that states are incapable of effectively conducting investigations into alleged excesses by their military forces. His established stance on this issue is relevant because the mandate of the panel includes examining whether the Israeli judicial system is capable of properly investigating the alleged IDF excesses documented in the Goldstone Report.
But then again, the head of the first Goldstone Commission, Richard Goldstone himself, had already made his opinions clear about Operation Cast Lead in advance and was therefore nevertheless chosen to head the committee. Ronen Shoval of Im Tirzu has pointed out, "To our great surprise we found that three organizations that Goldstone is a member of are patently anti-Israeli ones."

Shoavel writes that:
International Center for Transitional Justice, which accuses Israel in its website of grave violations of international law, including 'extrajudicial executions, prolonged administrative detention, torture, forced displacement (often repeated), extensive property confiscation and destruction, movement restrictions, and collective punishment, much of this within the framework of a four-decade-long occupation.'”

Goldstone has been a member of the ICTJ's Board of Directors since 2004. Shoval added that Goldstone is a signatory on a document issued by ICTJ six months before he was appointed to head the famous UN committee of inquiry, in which the ICTJ expresses “shock at the crimes against civilians” in Operation Cast Lead. The group received $7.5 million from the Ford Foundation in 2006-7.

In addition, Shoval charged, Goldstone is a member of the Board of Directors of Physicians for Human Rights, which accused Israel of war crimes before the Goldstone Report was issued. It, too, is funded by the Ford Foundation.

As exposed by Professor Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor, Goldstone was also a member of the Board of Directors of a third group, Human Rights Watch as late as July 2008. The organization accused Israel of war crimes well before the Goldstone Commission was appointed. HRW also receives hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from the Ford Foundation.
Clearly, if neutrality and objectivity were not required of Richard Goldstone for the original report, there is no reason to expect the UN to show any sort of impartiality when it comes to the followup report.

In fact, the UN clearly does not even care about the appearance of neutrality.
Would that have been the case if the object of the inquiry was anyone other than Israel?

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1 comment:

NormanF said...

Its a political body... not a court of law and if it was a court of law, on terms of its mandate and composition, it would be disqualified from sitting in judgment of Israel.

But its exactly what the UN is allowed to get away with and Israel is not extending it any official cooperation since we know in advance what the outcome is going to be.