Monday, September 21, 2009

Goldstone Report: It is 'Plausible' To 'Suggest' That Hamas 'May' Be Terrorists. Sort Of

One of the problems that have been raised about the Goldstone Commission Report is the fact that the Commission did not actually have a mandate to investigate the war crimes committed by Hamas.

According to the UN Resolution, the Human Rights Council:
Decides to dispatch an urgent independent international fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the President, to investigate all violations of international human rights law and International Humanitarian Law by the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the current aggression, and calls upon Israel not to obstruct the process of investigation and to fully cooperate with the mission;
Of course, this one-sided mandate is not surprising, in view of the overwhelming bias of the resolution as a whole in its sole focus on Israel. So it is not surprising that Judge Richard Goldstone claims that he was reluctant at first to lead the fact-finding mission:
“When I saw the resolution, I wasn’t interested. It seemed to me to be a one-sided resolution,” he says.

Goldstone changed his mind after discussing it with the president of the council, Nigeria’s ambassador to the UN, Martin Uhomoibhi. “He said he regarded himself as authorised to set up a balanced, even-handed fact-finding mission with an appropriate mandate. We really worked out together the terms of the mandate, which satisfied me. It entitled us to all relevant facts in the context of Operation Cast Lead, expressly before, during and after military operations. It was on that basis that I accepted the invitation.”

Goldstone says Uhomoibhi explained the mandate and its need for even-handedness to the human rights council. He says members of the four-person mission discussed it with ambassadors of the countries that supported the initial resolution — Cuba, Egypt and Pakistan. None objected. And so he went ahead. The mission — which visited Gaza twice to hear private and public testimonies, heard private testimony from Israelis and Palestinians in Amman, Jordan, and public hearings in Geneva — is now finalising its report, which will be made public next month.
Considering that only Israel is condemned in the resolution, in no uncertain terms, Goldstones uncertain characterization of the resolution--It seemed to me to be a one-sided resolution--stands out. But then again, it is consistent with the similarly cautious language of the Goldstone Commission Report itself, as we will see in a moment.

So Richard Goldstone is reassured because Uhomoibhi takes it upon himself to alter the mandate of the resolution. Irwin Cotler, former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, notes how Goldstone was not concerned with the complications involved. Instead:
he felt comfortable enough to proceed when the then-president of the Council, Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi, purportedly expanded the mission's mandate for him, even though the enabling resolution behind the inquiry would remain unchanged, and though he would still be accountable to the Council that passed this resolution.
It's all very good that 3 of the countries who approved the resolution OK'd the changed, but how are Cuba, Egypt and Pakistan representative of the other 30 countries that approved the measure: Angola, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, China, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Uruguay, Zambi--a deceptively wide range of countries that can actually be divided into 2 groups:
15 of the 33 affirmative votes were from members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the remainder included countries with disgraceful human rights records like Angola, Cuba, China, Nigeria, the Russian Federation and Nicaragua.
Oh to be a fly on the wall to listen in as Uhomoibhi reveals to Egypt, Cuba, and Pakistan that somehow they forgot to include Hamas in the fact-finding mission. And to hear how representatives of those countries--shocked to have their oversight explained to them--apologize and reasssure that of course they agree to a revised mandate.

More likely, in a backroom meeting, Uhomoibhi explained what was at stake in order to keep the Jewish Goldstone as the figurehead of their 'fact-finding mission'.

Getting back to Goldstone's statement that the original formulation of his 'mandate' seemed one-sided, Goldstone's cautiousness overflows into the Report itself--when referring to Palestinian terrorists.

In UN Strikes Again: Hamas not terrorist, but Israel is?, Joel Mowbray writes about the odd contrast in the way the Goldstone Report is phrased, depending on whether it is dealing with Israel or Hamas:
Here are some of the bold, unmistakable accusations leveled against Israel:
• Israel committed “continuous and systematic abuse, outrages on personal dignity, humiliating and degrading treatment contrary to fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and human rights law.”

• The UN mission in Gaza “considers the attack was not only an attack intended to kill but also to spread terror among the civilian population.”

• “It is in these circumstances that the [UN] Mission [in Gaza] concludes that what occurred in just over three weeks at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population”

• “Such treatment amounts to measures of intimidation and terrorism.”

• “In some cases the Mission additionally concluded that the attack was also launched with the intention of spreading terror among the civilian population.”
Compare the above slams against the meticulously ambiguous language about Hamas:
• “It is plausible that one of the primary purposes of these continued [Hamas rocket] attacks is to spread terror.” (emphasis added)

• The UN report authors also found “significant evidence to suggest that one of the primary purposes [of firing rockets into southern Israel] ... is to spread terror.” (emphasis added)

• “These acts [firing rockets and mortars into Israeli civilian populations] would constitute war crimes and may amount to crimes against humanity.” (emphasis added)
Why does the UN have no compunction in characterizing the Jewish state’s actions as “war crimes” and “terrorism,” yet when it comes to Hamas, it meekly offers that there is “evidence to suggest” that it’s “plausible” that the group’s actions “would” or “may” constitute terrorism or war crimes?
Mowbray goes into other irregularities in the makeup of the Goldstone Report and its members--read the whole thing.

The point is that the fact the Goldstone Report carries the name of a respected--and Jewish--judge is the only thing approaching an excuse for the bias and errors that the report contains.

And the fact that the defenders of the report fall back on those 2 details indicates that they realize that too.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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