Let Goldstone testify in Congress before you rush to judgment

on 27 Comments

On Tuesday, November 3, Congress is poised to vote on H.Res.867, which calls on the “President and the Secretary of State to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the `Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict’ in multilateral fora.’ ”  

The Resolution instructs the Obama Administration to prevent further consideration of the Goldstone Report (as it is informally known) in any international body.  For Congress to do so, without a hearing where Judge Goldstone can testify and based upon a Resolution rife with factual errors, makes a mockery of assertions by the United States that fundamental protections of human rights laws law apply equally to all. It leaves the United States, and especially Congress, without a thread of moral authority.

This Resolution is a rush to judgment. It is a rush to judgment made on the basis of serious factual errors and mischaracterizations of the Goldstone Report. The Goldstone Report documents in a dispassionate and even-handed manner “violations of international human rights and humanitarian law and possible war crimes and crimes against humanity” committed by all parties prior to, during, and after Israel’s assault on the occupied Gaza Strip in December 2008-January 2009.

The text of the Resolution is directly at odds with the actual mandate of the Fact-Finding Mission and its report. The Resolution asserts that the mandate of the Fact Finding Mission was aimed only at Israeli violations of the laws of war. This is a blatant lie.  In a letter to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Judge Goldstone states that the mandate  he “demanded and received clearly included rocket and mortar attacks on Israel and as the report makes clear was so interpreted and implemented.”

The Resolution claims that the Goldstone Report “repeatedly downplayed or cast doubt upon” allegations of Hamas committing war crimes.  In fact, however, it examined Palestinian militants rocket and mortar fire into Israel and concluded that “these attacks constitute indiscriminate attacks upon the civilian population of southern Israel and that where there is no intended military target and the rockets and mortars are launched into a civilian population, they constitute a deliberate attack against a civilian population. These acts would constitute war crimes and may amount to crimes against humanity.”

It is likewise with the spurious claim in the Resolution that the report “denied Israel the right to self-defense.” The Goldstone report examined the conduct of the party’s conduct of the war and not the right of Israel to use military force.  As Judge Goldstone said, “Israel’s right to use military force was not questioned.”

The United States provides $3 billion for weapons and military equipment every year to Israel. The Goldstone Report concluded  that “ grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention were committed by Israeli forces in Gaza: willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, and extensive destruction of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. ”   In these circumstances the United States has a special responsibility to insure that serious investigations are undertaken of the use of the weapons it supplies. Congress should not be blocking such an investigation.

27 Responses

  1. Chu
    November 2, 2009, 1:20 pm

    I hope they pass it. Never before will the Congress look so foolish.
    I guess this falls under the heading, never criticize Israel in public.
    I can’t wait to send a letter to Schumer about this. I hear he’s a good listener.

    • MRW
      November 2, 2009, 1:25 pm

      Same on Congress. Shame.

    • Nolan
      November 2, 2009, 1:26 pm

      Schumer should put a banner on his website that reads “Subverting for Israel since 1974”.

  2. MRW
    November 2, 2009, 1:21 pm

    The Nation‘s short bio on Michael Ratner: Michael Ratner is a human rights lawyer and the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a human rights organization that represents victims of torture, rendition and domestic spying.

    Good for him for publishing this. Now, everyone, send this link to HuffPo.

  3. Nolan
    November 2, 2009, 1:22 pm

    Here’s MY “I have a dream”:

    Washington DC should secede. Then, we contract Haliburton to build a 28 foot wall around it, just like the apartheid wall, and set up checkpoints where Congress members can apply for permits to enter the United States of America, land of the free and the home of the brave. The money for the wall will come from Blackwater mercenaries manning the checkpoints. Each permit will cost $5000 and the system will practically run itself and pay for itself.

    I propose we market the campaign as “self defense” and name it “Operation Shed Weight”.

  4. James
    November 2, 2009, 2:33 pm

    here is greenwalds article on it..
    link to salon.com

  5. James
    November 2, 2009, 2:57 pm

    how much of this has to do with the usa protecting its own war criminals, bush, cheney and etc??? i am wondering if this is how it is being sold partly to the us congress…

    • Donald
      November 2, 2009, 3:14 pm

      Yeah, that’s my own theory, or part of it. True, the Israel Lobby is a big factor here, but I also think that the last thing people in US foreign policy circles ever want to see is a precedent where the leaders of a Western “democracy” are held to account for war crimes. In fact, that’s one of the hasbara talking points I’ve seen elsewhere, though the hasbarists put it in various ways. Some say that democracies shouldn’t have their hands tied when fighting terrorism and so America should be as afraid as Israel of this Goldstone precedent. Others say that America is guiltier than Israel.

      And the thing is, they aren’t totally wrong. Their morality is wrong, as always, but they may have a point. The one point where Goldstone rang really false to me on the Moyers show was when he said that America wasn’t guilty of major human rights violations in the Balkans, Afghanistan or Iraq and that when we did kill civilians, we apologized. I think we are a little better at making apologies, but this is mostly meaningless.

      Obama, like any American President, doesn’t want to have to worry about people seriously raising the issue of war crimes trials every time he slaps on a blockade or orders a drone attack that kills mostly civilians. Some also say that Obama is basically maintaining many of Bush’s policies on the (mis)treatment of prisoners. And Washington insiders mostly think alike–I doubt there are too many Congresscritters who want to see US officials treated as possible war criminals, even when that is exactly what they are.

  6. potsherd
    November 2, 2009, 2:59 pm

    Very well said. So where is the courageous member of Congress who will stand up and say it there?

  7. radii
    November 2, 2009, 3:05 pm

    The U.S. Congress: a wholly-owned subsidiary of israel since 1948

  8. Brewer
    November 2, 2009, 3:10 pm

    Goldstone’s letter to the House Committee:

    link to israel-palestinenews.org

    • VR
      November 2, 2009, 5:33 pm

      The only “whereas” that Goldstone forgot was –

      “Whereas, you did not read the report, and or if you did have totally prejudiced your remarks against it…and,

      Whereas, you are a joke of a ruling body, and have no business in seats of power…and,

      Whereas, you need to be put into the dock for numerous war crimes.”

      There is no need for them to proceed any further with their “deliberations” because they are liars and thieves of the first order, and do not deserve any leading role in the global community. This joke of a system needs an enema and its current members need to be flushed and disposed of postswift.

  9. GalenSword
    November 2, 2009, 4:18 pm

    A far better political strategy would start by correctly describing the Goldstone Report as hopelessly Zionist and insufficient in identifying Zionist crimes against humanity and violations of jus in bello:

    1. [AlternativeInsight] Reservations about the Goldstone Report,

    2. Whither After Goldstone?,

    3. Zionism in Goldstone Report.

    The followup would do unto the Zionist plutocracy and intelligentsia as they have been doing to Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, and critics by demanding the arrest of Jewish Zionist subversives for supporting Zionist terrorism, conspiracy against rights, and seditious conspiracy.

    Seizing Zionist assets could solve the health care and economic crisis.

    • James
      November 2, 2009, 5:01 pm

      it is much easier to pick on a weakling then it is a bully…

      • GalenSword
        November 2, 2009, 5:22 pm

        In my experience most bullies are 60-80% bluff.

        Zionist Bullies are also part cockroach and flee when a light is shined upon them: [CORRECTION] Said, Abowd, Kovel, Elahi Attacked. Check out the comments.

      • James
        November 2, 2009, 5:51 pm

        i agree with you on the bully part – 80% bluff is probably how i see it…

  10. Richard Witty
    November 2, 2009, 5:47 pm

    Its a good suggestion. Goldstone’s measured impressions should be heard.

    • Chaos4700
      November 2, 2009, 5:54 pm

      Just so long as the testimony and evidence aren’t believed, huh Witty? Have you actually bothered to read the report yet, incidentally?

      • Richard Witty
        November 2, 2009, 6:51 pm

        Only what was posted here.

        I’m reading a longer and more relevant text “A History of Israel” by Sacher (second time), which I’ve recommended to Phil and to others here.

        Dan Fleshler recommended it to me. (I had read it already.)

        On Goldstone, I stated that his work was not authoritative but informative.

        The Congressional statement implies that it is neither. Israel should conduct an investigation, but it should not be the basis of referral to any binding international court, by Goldstone’s own inference.

      • Donald
        November 2, 2009, 7:16 pm

        Witty already “knew” that everyone said the majority of the Gaza War casualties were not civilians–this was false, but Witty’s wide reading had led him to believe it was true. (Note I’m not even talking about the actual fraction of the deaths that were civilian–merely Witty’s claim that “everyone” agreed that they were a minority, which isn’t even remotely true.)

        The fact that he is so strongly pushing the Sachar book while denigrating other authors (like Segev) is a strike against Sachar. I looked at Amazon and on the back it is praised by the usual suspects, including COMMENTARY magazine–can anyone imagine COMMENTARY praising a book which treated Israeli crimes with the harshness they deserved? I used the search inside feature and read the portion about Sharon’s massacre at Kibya (or Qibya)–Sachar takes for granted that the Israelis didn’t know there were women and children hiding inside the houses that were blown up. I don’t know what they knew, but a little skepticism seems in order. Wouldn’t people concerned about killing civilians check the houses first?

        We’ve all seen how Witty reacts towards reports and writers who make him feel uncomfortable–it is not to Sachar’s credit that Witty is so enthusiastic about him. The book is probably worth reading–I don’t deny that–but it obviously doesn’t challenge Witty’s ideas to any great extent or he wouldn’t be praising it so much.

  11. Cheryl
    November 2, 2009, 6:17 pm

    I just checked on Thomas and HRes867 is still in the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House. As I have pointed out several times, this committee and Ros Lehtinen (Republican, Florida) especially is the prime originator of all antiIraq, Iran, Syria, Palestine etc. legislation. Berman and Ackerman are listed on the bill with her as is conservative Dan Burton (Rep. Illinois). One interesting note is that I do not see any members of the Black Caucus on the cosponsor list even though several members sit on this foreign affairs committee. I am wondering if this bill if it is moved to the floor will be a voice vote? Does anyone have more current info as to how it is being handled?

    • potsherd
      November 2, 2009, 7:30 pm

      These resolutions are almost always passed with a voice vote, but I believe they can’t do it if one member stands up to object and ask for debate. Or at least they have to vote this down, first.

  12. tommy
    November 2, 2009, 8:31 pm

    Goldstone needs to report on the US role in the slaughter of Gaza and press for indicting members of Congress for war crimes.

  13. Cheryl
    November 2, 2009, 8:40 pm

    If there is one committee in Congress (the House) that needs to be cleaned out it is this committee. It is an anti-Castro and promilitaristic Israel coalition that leads it. In the House the chair of the committees along with ranking members have the power to decide what legislation passes to the full House. It used to be called the House International Relations Committee but their intent is hardly building international relationships or good foreign relationships. One of their main goals is to delegitamize anything Palestinian and feed the neocon line regarding Israel….then the House follows suit.

  14. IrishMark
    November 3, 2009, 6:47 am

    It comes as no surprise to me that on the day of the vote on HR.867, Israel puts out claims that Gaza rockets can reach Tel Aviv.
    We also have the IAEA making unusually threatening statements about Iran’s 1200 Kg of LEU, which, under the NPT, is entirely legitimate.
    Governments aren’t going to help the Palestinians create a state (one mandated by the Oslo accords, which Netanyahu despised), so it will be up to the ordinary people to take part in the BDS movement.

  15. David
    November 3, 2009, 9:44 am

    Congress will vote on H.Res. 867 TODAY, so be sure to call this morning and let your Representative know you want them to vote NO on this thing: link to endtheoccupation.org

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