Thursday, September 17, 2009

Amateur Night At The Goldstone Commission

Mr Goldstone urged "fair-minded people" to read the 574-page report and "at the end of it, point out where it failed to be objective or even-handed".
BBC News

Let's put aside whether the report is objective or even-handed--
Is the Goldstone Commission Report accurate?

That really is all that matters, isn't it?

  • This is not about whether the report is one-sided.
  • This is not about rewarding terrorism.
  • This is not about making it difficult for other countries to defend themselves against terrorists.

Those are important points, and they can be argued and debated till the cows come home.
But is the Goldstone Commission Report accurate?

Judge Richard Goldstone is a respected jurist.
He is Jewish.
He is a friend of Israel and a former president of World ORT.
But is the Goldstone Commission Report accurate?

No, it is not.
The Goldstone Commission Report is flawed and filled with inaccuracies.

To get an idea of the nature of the report, take a look at Richard Goldstone's op-ed in today's New York Times:
Justice in Gaza

I ACCEPTED with hesitation my United Nations mandate to investigate alleged violations of the laws of war and international human rights during Israel’s three-week war in Gaza last winter. The issue is deeply charged and politically loaded. I accepted because the mandate of the mission was to look at all parties: Israel; Hamas, which controls Gaza; and other armed Palestinian groups. I accepted because my fellow commissioners are professionals committed to an objective, fact-based investigation.
In the very first paragraph, there are 2 major mis-statements:

o As discussed in a previous post, Goldstone's mandate was to look at Israel alone. Actually, he claims that the mandate was later revised to include Hamas before he would accept it. It is unclear how such a resolution is revised by merely word-of-mouth without being recorded. Were all members of the UNHRC in on this?

o On Goldstone's claim for professional objectivity, this is clearly and indisputably not the case. Richard Landes, of the blog Augean Stables, does a thorough fisking Goldstone's entire op-ed, providing links time after time that contradict what Goldstone writes. On the claim for objectivity, Landes notes:
The case against the composition of his committee — not one person sympathetic to Israel, at least one, Christine Chinkin, openly hostile — has led two groups of lawyers, in England and in Canada, to demand Chinkin’s disqualification since she had already pronounced herself — long before she saw any real evidence — on Israel’s guilt. Goldstone, even as he tossed out the petition on a subtle technicality, admitted that Chinkin’s case was borderline and the report reconfirms her prejudice. So whence comes this bland denial?
Read the whole thing.

But my initial point is not merely that the defense of the Goldstone Commission Report is flawed, but that the report itself contains errors.

Elder of Ziyon
has been posting about inaccuracies in the report--and is currently up to 9 posts.
Israel Mazav refutes the commission claim that there is no proof of using human shields.

NGO Monitor writes that
the Goldstone committee simply copied the NGO biases, flawed methodology, and false claims, rendering the entire report invalid.
...The report copies NGO distortions of international law, including:
  • Promotion of the false legal claim invented by the PLO Negotiation Affairs Department (and promoted by NGOs such as B’tselem, HRW, Amnesty) that Gaza remains “occupied” after the 2005 disengagement (p. 9). The political objective of this distortion is to manufacture humanitarian obligations that do not exist under international law. (The ICRC, in contrast, had acknowledged that Gaza is an “autonomous territory.” However, after the release of the Goldstone report, the ICRC changed its website to promote the biased conclusion of the Mission.)

  • The classification of the Gaza police force as “civilian” (paras. 33-34) even though independent studies have shown that more than ninety percent were members of Hamas’ military wing and active combatants.

  • The claim that under the Geneva Convention (para 28) Israel has a duty to supply food to Gazans. No such duty exists and the Commission does not cite to any specific provision of the Convention to support its claim. For more on NGO distortions of international law regarding Gaza, see NGO Monitor’s report on the topic.

  • Paragraph 493 claims that the failure of armed Palestinian groups “to distinguish themselves from the civilian population by distinctive signs is not a violation of international law in itself.” This is patently false. The adoption of civilian dress is a violation of the IHL obligation against perfidy.

This is a short overview of some of the problems that render the Goldstone Commission Report void. Only after pointing out these mistakes in the report do we then come to the lack of objectivity--as Landes points out.

As for even-handedness, we are now reduced to twisting a word that means impartial and fair into implying that by treating 2 parties the same way renders the result as just. It is a cop-out that allows one to start out with the assumption that 2 parties are equal without the inconvenience of actually having to evaluate each party by what they say and do.

The Goldstone Commission Report avoids all such issues, allowing people with no interest in the facts to gleefully act upon a mindless hatred that has spanned the centuries and has found a comfortable home today.

No, the Goldstone Commission Report is not accurate?
And that really is all that matters--isn't it?

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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