Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Gaza Report is a Disaster for Human Rights and Peace

Barry Rubin*
September 24, 2009

The United Nations-sponsored Goldstone report, created for the purpose of bashing Israel over the Gaza war with phony claims of “war crimes,” is possibly the most inaccurate document ever produced by that organization.

In fact, several commission members declared the defendant guilty before being selected; sections of the report echoed previous ones by groups known for their bias; virtually all the data included are unverified claims by politically committed Palestinians who view Israel as an enemy to be destroyed; and scores of specific items can be shown to be false. For example, the report accepts the claims of Palestinian groups regarding civilians killed despite the fact that detailed studies show many of those so listed were Hamas gunmen according to these groups' own publications. Similarly, the report claims attacks were not against military targets when Hamas has published obituaries of its soldiers killed in said targets.

The report also repeats claims that a mortar shelling near a school in Jabalya was aimed at the school, this despite a Globe and Mail correspondent's published findings that reports of shells landing inside the schoolyard were inaccurate, and the fact that Israeli spokespeople asserted that their forces had only returned fire from gunmen in the vicinity of the school. As in other cases, the blame belongs to Hamas, which used the school and civilians as human shields for its soldiers there.

Imagine a war in which one side (Hamas) openly declares it will wipe out the other (Israel). Imagine that this regime officially refers to its enemies (Jews) as sub-humans responsible for everything evil in history. Imagine this regime is effectively a dictatorship, punishing anyone who contradicts its positions.

Now, imagine an outside group combining the naive and sympathizers, which in effect says: Tell us how evil and terrible your enemy (i.e., would-be victim) is. We will write it all down and use it to isolate, demonize and punish them. What do you expect the result will be?

That is what has happened. Witnesses made propaganda against Israel; the UN collated, endorsed, and broadcast it.

Consider the testimony of the most moderate Palestinian witness, Dr. Iyyad El-Sarraj, a Gaza psychologist. He claimed that Israeli soldiers view Palestinians as demons, are never restrained and kill children or fathers in front of their children; that Israelis build statues to honour those who kill Palestinians; that a Jewish settlement mayor told him he wanted to make Palestinian workers there “put signs on their shoulders,” the equivalent of the yellow star Nazis made Jews wear; and that Israelis identify with Nazis.

Justice Richard Goldstone and the commission challenged none of this. In fact, the only grain of truth proves the opposite: When some settlers built a monument to a Jewish terrorist, the army tore it down.

Anyone who heard this testimony – and there was much worse – should conclude that such individuals are so intent on furthering their cause that they make up things and are unreliable witnesses. Instead, the commission based its findings on such information.

Aside from a campaign to put sanctions on Israel, what is the report's effect?

First, damage to the cause of peace.

* If Israelis are such monsters, why should Arabs or Palestinians make peace with them?
* If Israel is being portrayed as evil, why shouldn't the Palestinian side do nothing and wait for the world to force Israel to give up everything, even to help destroy it?

Second, it encourages repression, war and real war crimes.

* If Hamas's strategy of attacking Israel makes Israel hated and isolated, why not continue doing so?
* If Hamas can use civilians as human shields and hospitals, mosques and schools as fortresses, then gain political victory by having the enemy branded as a war criminal for attacking them, it will continue doing so and others will copy the practice.
* If Hamas can repress its people, teach anti-Semitism, and encourage terrorism daily while being granted victim status by the world, it will even intensify this behaviour.

This report is a disaster for human rights and peace.

*Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to

1 comment:

justjames said...

For everyone who reads it, I would like to put out that this is post itself is very innacurate. I don't pretend to know who Barry is, but my name is James and I work in Human Rights, where I often write country reports on violations.
Personally, having read the entire report objectively with a good eye for what is normal and expected of this type of material, I can comfirm the numerous other sources that have praised goldstone for one of the most thoroughly researced and carefully handled reports produced this year.
The supposed innacuracies proposed abve are not entirely unfoudned; however the investigation will havecarefully monitored and researched all aspects of the conflict and issues before concentrating solely on the most pressing. Also, it should be noted that the report did not intend to explicitly investigate Hamas; it was commissioned because of well-founded claims of violations by Israel as Palestinian territories are not subject to the same int. obligations)
Even with this fact in mind, substantial parts of the report deal with abuses by Palestinian armed groups and the extensive conclusions indicate abuses by BOTH 'sides' and diplomatic action aimed at BOTH 'sides'.
Finally, I would like to pint out to Barry that documents like this are an enormous undertaking and get checked extensively by ALOT of people before they're published.