Thursday, September 17, 2009

UN Investigation of Israel Discredits Itself and Undercuts Human Rights

September 16, 2009 3:43 PM
by Alan M. Dershowitz
Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Richard Goldstone—the primary author of a one-sided United Nation’s attack on Israeli actions during the Gaza war—has now become a full fledged member of the international bash-Israel chorus. His name will forever be linked in infamy with such distorters of history and truth as Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein and Jimmy Carter. The so-called report commissioned by the notorious United Nations Human Rights Council and issued under his name is so filled with lies, distortions and blood libels that it could have been drafted by Hamas extremists. Wait, in effect, it actually was!

One member of the group is an Hamas lackey who before being appointed as an "objective" judge had already reached the conclusion—without conducting any investigation or hearing any evidence—that Israel’s military actions “amount to aggression, not self defense” and that “the manner and scale of its operations in Gaza amount to an act of aggression and is contrary to international law.” So much for objectivity. Many human rights experts urged her to recuse herself because of her prejudgment, but she was on a mission on behalf of her “client”—Hamas. And she did a good job as an advocate! But as a judge, she employed an Alice-In-Wonderland conception of justice: verdict first, trial to support the verdict.

Other members were accompanied on their investigations in Gaza by actual Hamas activists who showed them only what they wanted them to see. The group was eager to find or manufacture “evidence” to support what the Human Rights Council itself had directed them to find, namely that Israel committed “grave violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly due to the recent Israeli military attacks against the occupied Gaza Strip.” This conclusion too was reached before any investigation. No wonder so many prominent human rights experts, including Mary Robinson, refused to participate in this mockery of human rights, declaring that it was “guided not by human rights, but by politics.” No wonder so many nations that are dedicated to human rights—such as Switzerland, Canada, Japan, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands—refused to go along with the politically-motivated witch hunt. They should also refuse to accept the politically motivated, entirely pre-ordained conclusions of the biased report.

As I wrote before the “Kangaroo Court investigation” began:

“The UN Human Rights Council is a scandal. [It has] a long history of singling out Israel for condemnation and of ignoring real human rights abusers by the world's worst offenders, several of which dominate the Human Rights Council and it predecessor.

As Hudson Institute scholar Anne Bayefsky recently noted: "The Council has adopted more resolutions and decisions condemning Israel than all the other 191 U.N. member states combined.... The more time the Council spends demonizing Israel, the less likely it becomes that it will ever get around to condemning genocide in Sudan, female slavery in Saudi Arabia, or torture in Egypt.”

The very idea of the UN Council conducting an "independent" or objective investigation of Israel is preposterous.

A careful reading of the official media summary—the widely quoted press release—of the report itself reveals the bias of its members and discredits the entire enterprise.

The summary never criticizes Hamas. It downplays the rockets deliberately fired by Hamas at Israeli civilian targets in Sderot and other towns and cities, blaming them on generic “Palestinian armed groups.” It faults Israel more than Hamas for using human shields. It cites the admission of Hamas leader Fathi Hammad, who boasted that:

“For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahedeen and the children. This is why they have formed humans shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahedeen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine. It is as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: “We desire death like you desire life.”

But it concluded that “it does not consider [this admission] to constitute evidence…” It ignored videos, which constitute hard evidence, that clearly show Palestinian terrorists firing rockets from civilian areas, including schools. This was part of a pattern of ignoring evidence that undercut its pre-determined conclusions and exaggerating—sometimes manufacturing—evidence that supported it.

The lowest blow and the worst canard contained in this lie-laden report is that the Israeli judicial system is incapable of conducting investigations and bringing about compliance with international law. It claims that the Israeli judicial system “has major structural flaws that make the system inconsistent with international standards,” and that “there is little potential for accountability for serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law through domestic institutions in Israel.” This is a direct attack on the Israeli Supreme Court by a lawyer who knows full well that there is no country in the world that has a judicial system that demands more accountability than the Israeli system does. There is no judicial system in the world—not in the United States, not in Great Britain, not in South Africa, not in France—that takes more seriously its responsibility to bring its military into compliance with international law. The long term President of the Israeli Supreme Court, Professor Aharon Barak, opened the Supreme Court of Israel to all claims of law violation. Cases that would be rejected by the courts of other nations have been pursued by the Israeli Supreme Court. This part of this infamous report has literally turned black to white and white to black. It has condemned the most responsive judicial system in the world, without even bothering to compare it to other systems. In doing so, they have made a mockery of international human rights and turned into a weapon that targets only Israel.

Another Orwellian “newspeak” conclusion is that “the international community has been largely silent” about alleged Israeli abuses in the Gaza and the West Bank. Didn’t the investigators even read the reports of the Human Rights Council, as well as so many other organizations of the international community, that obsess over Israeli imperfections, to the exclusion of other real human rights abusers? No country in the world has been subjected to more criticism than Israel. Yet on Planet Goldstone “the international community has been largely silent” about Israel. This statement could only have been written by a variation of the three monkeys with hands covering their eyes and ears, but not their mouths or pens.

Every serious student of human rights should be appalled at this anti-human rights and highly politicized report. Judge Richard Goldstone should be ashamed of himself. In an apparent effort to curry favor with the international anti-Israel establishment, and perhaps with the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, he has abandoned all principles of objectivity and neutral human rights. He no longer deserves the mantle of a human rights advocate. He has done more to destroy the credibility and objectivity of human rights than any credible human rights personage in modern times.

If the methodology and conclusions of this infamous report were ever applied generally to democracies seeking to combat terrorists who hid behind civilians—as in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq—it would constitute a great victory for terrorism and a defeat for democracy. But not to worry. The report is not intended to establish general principles of international law, applicable to all nations. It is directed at one nation and one nation only: the Jew among nations—Israel. For shame.

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