Given the extremely difficult circumstances, I think Judge Goldstone did a good job with his report on Operation Cast Lead. Those who accuse him of “bias” should present facts that support their allegations or keep quiet.
His findings simply confirm a long line of previous reports from Human Rights Organisations (including B’t Selem) and the revelations by groups like “Breaking the Silence” although there is one dubious premise which needs to be clarified:
I absolutely agree with Norman Finkelstein, that to refer to the massacre in Gaza as a “war” is totally unacceptable and deliberately misleading, given the huge disparity of force between Hamas militants and the IDF and the fact, that the real military target was the civilian population (as the report confirmed). From the days of Ben Gurion, it was clear to all Israeli leaders that the greatest threat, the “time-bomb” for the “Jewish” state has been the significantly higher birth rate of Palestinians. So from this cynical standpoint, killing women and children indiscriminately, does make sense ….(even poisoning the survivors (their DNA) with DU, DIME and other “novel” weapons ..)
Who can be so cruel? This is a demonization of the IDF and the political leaders of Israel you might think. Try this to grasp the moral abyss on which this state was founded:
Therefore, even though the “firing of (comparatively ridiculous) rockets” into civilian neighbourhoods may be a violation of humanitarian law in principle, the moral dimensions of Israel’s systemic violence ( i.e. the brutal occupation as such, assassinations of Hamas leaders in broad daylight (“extra-judicial killings”) which usually result in the death of many innocent bystanders, etc.) and the occasional symbolic outbursts of “revenge” through these rockets are totally different. This is also demonstrated by comparing the “fatalities” on each side: Can the killing of 1400 Palestinians be judged on the same moral basis as the death of 9 Israelis? (6 were members of security forces – Source: Bt Selem)
The hypocrisy here is in the legal groundwork: people under occupation are entitled to “resist”, to fight againt the occupier but they ought to restrict their attacks to the military. But in light of the seemingly endless horrors of the occupation, the brutal retaliations against peaceful demonstrations and rather harmless “resistance” like stone-throwing children, let alone the ongoing and intensifying violation of human rights in the form of land expropriation, evictions and the inhumane siege on Gaza, this restraint is practically impossible and would require super-human self-control.
I know I am walking on thin ice here because this kind of reasoning leads quickly to the “argument” of the Israeli government: “Our violence is for a good cause, theirs is evil; we are only fighting back, they are the ones who threaten our security, etc.” Violence is always bad and I am not saying that firing rockets into civilian neighbouhoods is no big deal, but the perception Israel wants to create (that they act only in self-defense) is totally wrong as Professor Avi Shlaim also pointed out in January 2009:
“As always, mighty Israel claims to be the victim of Palestinian aggression but the sheer asymmetry of power between the two sides leaves little room for doubt as to who is the real victim.
This is indeed a conflict between David and Goliath, but the Biblical image has been inverted – a small and defenceless Palestinian David faces a heavily armed, merciless, and overbearing Israeli Goliath.
The resort to brute military force is accompanied, as always, by the shrill rhetoric of victimhood and a farrago of self-pity overlaid with self-righteousness. In Hebrew this is known as the syndrome of bokhim ve-yorim (“crying and shooting”).
Shlaim also demonstrates that the hailed “return of the Gaza strip” was just another PR-scam to present Israel (under Sharon) as striving for a peaceful solution while in fact they knew that the cruel (economic) stranglehold on Gaza combined with (little publicised, often clandestine) military aggression now and then would sooner or later lead to more “rocket firing” which could then be presented as proof for the “evil” intentions of Hamas and reinforce the recurring theme of “crying and shooting” … Shlaim goes on:
[…] Gaza, however, is not simply a case of economic underdevelopment but a uniquely cruel case of deliberate de-development. Israel turned the people of Gaza into a source of cheap labour and a captive market for Israeli goods.
The development of local industry was actively impeded so as to make it impossible for the Palestinians to end their subordination to Israel and to establish the economic underpinnings essential for real political independence.”
Numerous reports from the UN have also highlighted the dramatic situation in Gaza even before Operation Cast Lead began (sewage systems on the brink of collapse, food scarcity, high unemployment, frequent power shortages, etc. – all the result of the isolation and siege of Gaza). And in the West Bank a smiliar strategy to destroy the economy (and hope) was used …
Given these horrific circumstances, this hopelessness, 1,4 million people being imprisoned in this small strip of land, helplessly watching how Israel steals more and more land in the West Bank and East Jeruslaem, and the “international community” does nothing to stop these crimes, it is remarkable that there have not been more outbursts of violence. No-one, not even Ghandi would have advocated civil disobedience in this scenario …
Goldstone knows perfectly well that the accurate historical context is necessary to be able to judge actions on both sides and he draws a clear picture about the events that lead to the end of Hamas initiated cease-fires. That is perhaps the main reason why Israel must prevent any detailed discussion of the report because then the whole “tapestry of lies” would fall apart ….
Besides, as far as I know, at the beginning of the intifada, the Palestinian attacks were limited to IDF soldiers but the massacre in a Hebron mosque in 1994 was the incentive for Hamas to attack also civilians inside Israel.
It is painfully clear, that Israel WANTS and NEEDS to provoke violent resistance so that it can portray its own cruelty and violence as “defense” in the context of the “war on terror” …
It is highly ironic, that the world has been duped into believing that Islam represents a threat to global security while in fact Zionism is the real threat (as political abuse of religion is has replaced Christian hypocrisy in the colonial mindset …) and is never even mentioned in this context (at least not here in Germany).
In his book “Overcoming Zionism” Joel Kovel (a Jewish psychiatrist) shows the insanity of Zionism as a political instrument and the staggering hypocrisy and self-deception this has entailed: the eternal “victims” with their (self-attributed) high Jewish morality, created a state on the brutal expropriation and misery of another people. The “victims” (Zionism started long before Hitler appeared on the scene) became racist perpetrators but in order to maintain their collective identity and exculpatory self-image, they had to bend over backwards to put the blame somehow on the victims …. so they invented “reasons” why their criminal and inhumane actions could be justified before their conscience and before their God. This can be very well illustrated by a quote from Golda Meir:
“I will never forgive the Arabs for forcing us to kill them”
Jewish souls are very special, no less than a part of God, so we have learned. Baruch Goldstein, a medical doctor, who committed the above mentioned massacre in Hebron, refused to treat non-Jews, even in the IDF …
To return to the UN-GA resolution: I am deeply ashamed that with the exception of IRELAND, NO EU member state has voted FOR the resolution.
The majority of the EU-hypocrites abstained …
Considering how hard it was to fight for a Declaration of Human Rights, how many people suffered or even died to reach that goal, I find it totally unacceptable that a “Human Rights Council” allows abstentions during a voting session.
Recently, I saw a movie called “One against the Wind” which tells the true story of a brave woman, who supported the resistance in France during the German occupation, by taking care of wounded allied soldiers and getting them out of the country. She was eventually sent to a concentration camp but survived … In one scene she tells the American ambassador in Paris (before the US entered the war): “There is a special hell for fence-sitters…” Precisely – in the context of Israel’s impunity this hell must already be heavily overcrowded …
In this insane world, where property rights, the “freedom” of capital and “strategic interests” make a mockery of human “values” on a regular basis, we can no longer afford to “abstain”, when the defense of these values is called for. A supposedly universal “right” that exists only on paper, and is only defended when a certain category of people is involved, has not just lost its meaning, it has become a farce.
So when Jewish wire services report that “He [Foreign Minister Lieberman] believes Israel’s diplomatic work on the eve of the General Assembly vote led to fitting results” and that “Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has confirmed that there is a “silent understanding” with the US that it would not let the Security Council endorse such a resolution” – what can one say? That the whole idea of the “United Nations” and “Human Rights” has been turned into a theatre of the absurd? That the UN should replace symbolic decorations like Picasso’s “Guernica” with George Orwell’s “Some are more equal than others” (as a kind of “mission statement” endorsed by the US) engraved in stone?
Former US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, a diplomat who seldom hid behind “diplomatic language”, used to call the UN “an instrument of US foreign policy and nothing else”. His point was proven in a spectacular fashion during the last “Anti-Racism Conference” in Geneva, when USrael staged a brilliant PR-event to further demonize and isolate Iran because “the new Hitler” Ahmadinejad had the audacity to talk about Zionism (as a form of racism) and its links to the new forms of colonialism (better known as “globalisation”). Since then the hyped “nuclear threat” to the world, allegedly coming from Iran is the latest attempt to divert attention from the real culprits.
Of course the display of “outrage” by the Israeli ambassador and his US-“echo” after the endorsement of the Goldstone report on Gaza, was yet another attempt to reframe the debate. Let the people forget the clear evidence of Israel’s guilt: If it (the government) has nothing to hide
- Why did it prevent foreign reporters from entering Gaza?
- Why did it refuse to cooperate with the UN fact-finding mission? (Refusing even to let Goldstone enter Gaza through Israel, so he had to enter via Egypt)
- Why did it also treat former UN-envoys with disrespect (not to say contempt)i.e. Richard Falk?
- Why did it even belittle and debase the testimony from IDF soldiers ( “Breaking the Silence”)?
- Why does it always try to get rid of justified criticism by “character assassination”? (claiming its supposedly “superior moral standing” as proof of honesty while accusing opponents of despicable motives, (anti-semitism) or having no right “to teach us about morals…” (the “Zionist” argument par excellence)
One has to concede that, if countries like Saudi Arabia show consternation about human rights violations by Israel, it is appropriate to say “ Mind your own business”. At the same time we all know, that without the great “friendship” of the US, Saudi princes would sleep less soundly. In fact, without US-support many undemocratic and repressive regimes would not have come to power or stayed in power (see for example Mubarak in Egypt) in the first place.
However, on the other hand, there have been several genuine peace initiatives from the Arab states but all have been rejected by Israel on some pretext. Peace is the last thing, the Zionist government wants. The whole identity of Israel ( “a military with a government”) is based on “defense”, on eternal victimhood, on being a lone island of “European civilization” among the “primitive Arabs” and Jew haters, who want to “drive us into the sea”… Pathetic as it sounds, it still works in the media ….
And Europe? What about the “community based on values” as the EU has sought to present itself by adopting the Declaration of Human Rights as part of the Lisbon treaty (formerly called “constitution”)?
The puppets in Eastern Europe voted against the resolution (… divide and conquer does work …) , but the biggest assholes are GERMANY, ITALY AND THE NETHERLANDS. Germany sells heavily subsidized submarines to Israel and the EU has awarded Israel a “privileged” trade status …
Professor Avi Shlaim also touched on the subject in his article:
“America and the European Union shamelessly joined Israel in ostracising and demonising the Hamas government and in trying to bring it down by withholding tax revenues and foreign aid. A surreal situation thus developed – where a significant part of the international community imposed economic sanctions not against the occupier but against the occupied, not against the oppressor but against the oppressed.”
This “surreal” picture became even worse when the tendency to decouple the EU’s economic preferential treatment from Israel’s terrible human rights record became clearly visible:
“The Czech Republic, which held the European presidency until 30 June, made no secret of its desire to see closer ties and more exchange between the EU and Israel. The outgoing Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolanek, made this clear in an interview with the Tel Aviv daily Haaretz on 26 April in which he said that “the peace process mustn’t be linked to EU-Israeli relations”.
In doing so, he was reacting to the view expressed by Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU commissioner for external relations and European neighbourhood policy. She said: “We believe that good relations with Israel are essential…” (Why?)
While other media sources fell victim to the diplomatic waffle and reported that according to a Senior European diplomat “people are saying there should be a pause in close ties between Israel and the union.”
What breathtaking hypocrisy. While the Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert described the horrible injuries and deaths he saw in the Shifa hospital in Gaza as “scenes from Dante’s inferno” the EU talks about “a pause” in the close relations to Israel. It is like saying “I know, on top of all the other human rights violations, Israel is bombing an overcrowded ghetto right now and hundreds of people are going to be terribly wounded or killed, so what? Let’s just wait till the furor has died down and then we’ll continue with business as usual …”
As LMD reported, The General Affairs and External Relations Council brushed aside the parliamentarians’ concerns [about human rights violations in Gaza] and after France took over the EU presidency at the end of 2008, …. the council expressed its determination to strengthen its links with Israel from April 2009:
“In accordance with the political commitment made on 16 June 2008 at the 8th Association Council meeting between the European Union and Israel, the Council reaffirms its determination to upgrade the level and intensity of its bilateral relations with Israel within the context of the adoption of the new instrument which will replace the current Action Plan from April 2009. That building-up must be based on the shared values of both parties, and particularly on democracy, respect for human rights, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms, good governance and international humanitarian law.”
In the past the European parliament repeatedly tried to call for the suspension of its association agreement with the Israelis (.. when Israeli atrocities received a short media spotlight ..). but the council always undermined these calls for accountability. Even the “diplomatic” (read: alrady hypocritical) rhetoric now shows what all the great talks about “European values” is really worth: The original text stated that “Relations between the Parties, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself, shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement but the latest update (see above) says “it must be based on the shared values of both parties, ..particularly on democracy, respect for human rights ..”, etc.
This is of course totally meaningless. To say in this context that something “must be based on …” is simply a euphemism for saying “it should be based on. It is like the Sunday sermon of a priest, it sounds rather noble, but the people who wrote it, never expect it to really happen. In a world where the categorical imperative would rule, moral behaviour would be the norm. (It still is for most ordinary people, I daresay but the profit cult makes it harder every day …) but in a world based on “might is right”, rules have to be enforced by sanctions and these must be applicable to all parties.
Will Europe be forever sucking up to the “gangster state” (see Avi Shlaim) Israel because they have excelled at exploiting Holocaust guilt? The perpetrators of unspeakable Nazi crimes are dead. The Holocaust is over. But the crimes against the Palestinians go on and on so we have a moral responsibility to stop them and demand accountability from Israel.
The Eurpean Union has no moral authority whatsoever. It is a Trojan horse for corporate interests, the financial, neo-feudal, extractive “aristocracy” and the cult of the market. It destroys national sovereignity and undermines democratic decision-making (see the case of Ireland: Voting “No” against a treaty – is not applicable), it pushes for the militarization of Europe while posing as a “community of values”.
A “European” version of a foreign minister has no democratic legitimacy at all and heaven help us, if it is going to be Tony Bliar ….