Sunday, August 2, 2009

Goldstone the Jew's Investigation

In an article written by Alan Baker, former Israeli Ambassador to Canada (who I have met and spoken to on several occasions) he argues that the UN mandated mission to investigate the War against Hamas in the Gaza strip is fatally flawed from the outset because even in the language it uses, it seeks to portray Israel as the guilty party and makes almost no mention for the cause of the war, years of rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.

There are some points that Mr. Baker meets which I fully agree with. For example, the oft repeated description of Hamas' rockets as crude, or the repetition that so few were killed by them, is an irrelevant point. Attacking civilians deliberately, whether you kill them or not, is just as wrong if you do it once, or a thousand times and makes no difference if the killing is done by a ballistic missile, or a firecracker. It's the intent that matters, not the ability to succeed.

I also agree with the closing of his article, notably the line where he comments that he hopes that despite being ignored by the official mandate of the investigation, Goldstone--the lead investigator--will look into the suffering of Israelis and Hamas' violation of international law. Goldstone seems to have pledged to do this, despite his mandate.

Baker's concerns that Israel will be unfairly demonized could be reduced if Israel would cooperate with the investigation. Israel likely hopes that by not participating in the investigation, the report Goldstone produces will lack credibility and be a less valid arrow in the quiver of those who would seek to politically attack Israel. The fact is though, that those who wish to criticize Israel will do so whether or not Goldstones report is considered credible. Moreover, the fact that it comes from a UN body will lend the report credibility, despite many potential members of the investigation team declining the offer to participate because of the perceived bias in the mandate.

If Israel were to cooperate with the investigation there could at least be some hope of being on the record with its position and the possibility that--if Mr. Goldstone is as fair as he is reputed to be, and the facts are as Israel says they are--that the report will not be unfair towards Israel at all.

As an aside, I find it disquieting how it is repeatedly pointed out that Mr. Goldstone is himself Jewish, a fact that ought to be totally irrelevant to his ability to do his job. It is as though in an effort to preempt responses to his report that some will say--if he's critical of Israel--"well, even a Jew says so, so it must be true." and if he is not critical of Israel: "we'll he's a Jew, what did you really expect?" Repeatedly attaching his religion to reporting about Mr. Goldstone, as though his name were Mr. Goldstone the Jew is a repetition of an irrelevant fact that places Mr. Goldstone in an impossible position.

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