Goldstone lesson: what’s so great about international law?

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What Richard Goldstone published on the Times op-ed page yesterday should not be surprising to either his defenders or detractors.  He has never made a secret of being a progressive Zionist, and if he went a step further than the average J Street operative in his desperation to save Israel as a Jewish state, it’s because he spent much more time around international institutions and was thus all the more alarmed.  There is no reason to believe that the things he is saying now are any different from what he believed when he wrote the report on Cast Lead.

But this also speaks to a larger point – international “law” and institutions are the problem, not the solution.  Israel owes its very existence to a mandate of “international law”, and is the only country to invoke it in its declaration of independence.  If international institutions, and the UN in particular, are eager to admit a “state of Palestine”, it is because they are desperate to implement a two-state solution for the sake of their own credibility. 

Richard Goldstone is first and foremost a dedicated partisan and apparatchik of the international system and its ultimate triumph, and Israel remains the tabernacle of that system because, sharing the same sacred story as the American empire, it is the ultimate symbol of its own goodness.  That this system has to such an extent been turned against Israel (and the United States) is but a natural irony of history. 

Put not your faith in the princes of the UN, but in the power lying in the streets of Palestine, Egypt, Bahrain, and beyond.

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