Challenging Israeli Impunity

Shimon Peres, Tipsy Livni, Ehud Barak and the rest of the Israeli war criminals should be at the Hague, already tried and jailed.

On the 21st March, 2011, the United National Human Rights Council held interactive dialogue with the Committee of independent experts on follow-up to recommendations in the Goldstone report:

Ms. McGowan Davis said that the Government of Israel refused to cooperate with any aspect of what it called the “Goldstone process” and expressed gratitude to the Palestinian Authority for the extensive cooperation provided throughout the term.

Ms. McGowan Davis went on to say that Israel had dedicated significant resources to investigating over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza, but given the scale of this undertaking, much remained to be accomplished. There was no indication that Israel had opened investigations into the actions of those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw Operation Cast Lead as called for by the Fact-Finding Mission report.

With regard to the de facto authorities in Gaza, the Committee acknowledged that they had made efforts to provide specific information concerning criminal investigations into alleged human rights violations committed by their security forces. However, there had been no investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.

During the interactive dialogue speakers said that Israel had not cooperated with the Committee nor had it allowed access by its members, and some expressed dismay at the utter disrespect by Israel of its obligations and the total disregard to the resolutions of the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

EU: Concerning the report of the Committee, the European Union continued to be concerned that the functioning of Israel’s military justice systems did not fully meet the criteria of independence and impartiality. The lack of transparency regarding the different stages of the investigations had not allowed all victims to have access to existing judicial mechanisms.

As Noura Erekat relates, the UN Fact Finding Commission’s report has now been successfully moved to the UNGA for further action. Noura notes:

The Goldstone Report documents eleven incidents where the Israeli military directly targeted civilians. Four other fact-finding missions underscore these findings: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, and the National Lawyers Guild.

To date, the Independent Committee of Experts, chaired by New York Judge Mary McGowan Davis, has reviewed the domestic investigations process twice, and both times it found Israel’s investigations to be inadequate.

Erekat is unsatisfied with the outcome of Goldstone’s attempted qualifications:

Regardless of what may have been his best intentions, Goldstone has negligently, one hopes not deliberately, undermined the laws of armed conflict and emboldened those states, like Israel, who believe that it is a surmountable nuisance.

Interestingly, Goldstone’s ‘retraction’ (according to Arutz Sheva, he couldn’t sleep at night because of the “Jewish reaction”), has followed the above-mentioned interactive dialogue. It may also be significant that the Israeli regime claims it has only recently realised it can be indicted to the ICC for its war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during Operation Cast Lead massacre through the invocation of the Uniting for Peace Resolution 377 in the United Nations General Assembly. Perhaps though, Goldstone’s backdown may in fact influence outraged UN members in the opposite direction than which the Israeli regime would prefer. Curious too is the inclusion of the Itamar murders, phrased in such a way that Hamas might be implicated, in Goldstone’s Op Ed. Since when does Israeli media publish stories about murders in the US, unless they involve Israelis?

Did peer pressure also impact on Goldstone?

According to Bell, Goldstone insisted at the debate that all the investigations showed that, thus far, the facts were as they were reported. “Later on he apologized and said there may be people who would disagree with what he said, like Professor Bell” said Bell, quoting Goldstone.

Bell told Haaretz that, in his opinion, the whole experience of the last few months – where Goldstone has heard what many people have to say about him and his report – “caught up with him.”

A further Ynet oddly phased report says the New York Times refused to publish Goldstone’s op ed – was this because the NYT had already published a story about Goldstone’s harassment last year and folks might have joined too many dots? or does the NYT have additional information it could bring to the table? since when doesn’t the NYT publish hasbara?

A source close to Goldstone stated that in the past few days the judge had approached the editor of the New York Times opinion pages requesting to post the article he wrote in the paper – and was told his article was rejected.

Dr. Alon Liel, a friend of Goldstone’s from his days as a Foreign Ministry representative in South Africa, went a step further and said that Goldstone has “been through hell” and that has contributed to his decision to publish a letter of regret.

“He was being constantly harassed, received threatening letters, and was forced to change his phone number and email addresses,” Liel said. “When Israel decided to boycott him, it was an overwhelming insult.’I’m a Jewish judge, a respected Zionist – and Israel doesn’t trust me?’ He was a broken man.

“I’m not saying that the threats he received and the hell he went through are what made him publish his article, but there is no doubt in my mind that it influenced his decision.”

UPDATES

Elise Hendrick exposes Israel’s intentional crimes which Goldstone has attempted to make disappear, and notes that Israel itself admitted its intentionality of committing war crimes.

Indeed, it is clear from the Report that the most criminal of Israel’s attacks on Gaza, the white phosphorus bombardment of a UN field office and fuel depot where civilians were taking refuge and two hospitals, were intentional by Israel’s own admission.

Ali Abunimah considers the probability that Goldstone’s distancing himself from the United Nations Fact Finding Commission assists in a lead-up to another massacre by Israel of people in Gaza.

International complicity also continues to send Israel a clear message that its impunity is guaranteed. The Obama administration’s recent veto of a UN Security Council resolution that merely restated US policy on Israel’s settlement construction in the West Bank was one sure sign that Israel still has a blank check from the United States.

Tragically, the biggest contributor to renewed confidence in Israel that it could once again get away with murder in Gaza, may be Judge Richard Goldstone himself. Israeli leaders have seized on his apologetic 1 April op-ed in The Washington Post as vindication and proof that Israel never committed war crimes in Gaza, and was the victim a “blood libel,” as Jeffrey Goldberg, former Israeli occupation army volunteer and The Atlantic blogger put it.

While Goldstone was clearly trying to appease Zionists who subjected him to an intense campaign of personal vilification and ostracism his article did not in fact repudiate one single concrete finding in the report that bears his name.

Over in the US empire, the State Department slavishly brays joy at Goldstone’s supposed recantation. How many US politicians and public servants have actually read the United Nations Fact Finding Mission Report, one has to wonder?

Israel’s new Dahiya Doctrine for Lebanon with intentional targeting of civilians under the false justification that military installations are located therein is exposed in the Daily Star.

As’ad Abukhalil observes of Goldstone’s recantation:

But his words carry no weight whatsoever: he wrote the piece to the Washington Post as a person, while the Goldstone Report is an official report sanctioned by the UN. There is a big difference. Of course, this lousy man who has a history of white supremacy while he worked as a judge in South Africa (yes, he saw the light about racism, years later like all white supremacists) did not accept to take his job unless he is allowed to the investigate possible war crimes by the Palestinian victims. If this man was around during the holocaust, he would not have accepted to investigate Nazi war crimes without having a mandate to investigate war crimes of concentration camp survivors.

UPDATES 2

Goldstone won’t seek Gaza report nullification

South African jurist Richard Goldstone said Tuesday that he did not plan to seek nullification of his highly critical U.N. report on Israel’s 2008-2009 offensive in the Gaza Strip and asserted that claims to the contrary by Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai were false.

“As appears from the Washington Post article, information subsequent to publication of the report did meet with the view that one correction should be made with regard to intentionality on the part of Israel,” the judge said. “Further information as a result of domestic investigations could lead to further reconsideration, but as presently advised I have no reason to believe any part of the report needs to be reconsidered at this time.”

Dershowitz might like to issue his own retraction after his censurious drivel that Goldstone should do tekuvah / penance for his ‘sins’.

B’tselem’s Jessica Montell Beyond Goldstone: A truer discussion about Israel, Hamas and the Gaza conflict:

‘It is therefore regrettable that the Israeli government and many in the media have portrayed Goldstone’s op-ed as a retraction of everything in the 575-page report. “The one point of light,” Gabriela Shalev, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, said of Goldstone’s op-ed, “is that if we have to defend ourselves against terror organizations again, we will be able to say there is no way to deal with this terror other than the same way we did in Cast Lead.”’

Gaza officials protest EU vote on Goldstone report:

‘”Our Palestinian people feel shocked and angered regarding the European vote on Friday, March 25, 2011 in the 16th term of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva,” the letter said.

EU representatives voted against a resolution which started a process that could lead allegations of war crimes during Israel’s 2008-2009 war on Gaza to the International Court of Justice.

“We were expecting a European position that supported the resolution,” the letter added.

While member nations of the UNHRC passed the motion, Palestinian officials denounced “the fact that the majority of European countries did not vote in favor of the resolution.”‘

Amnesty International slamdunks Israel and Goldstone:

In particular, Amnesty International has called on the General Assembly to consider the Fact-Finding Mission’s report at its 66th session starting in September 2011, and submit the report to the UN Security Council with a recommendation that the latter body consider referring the situation to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). This recommendation was also included in a resolution passed by the Human Rights Council on 25 March 2011.

Amnesty International also urged the ICC Prosecutor to seek a legal determination from the Pre-Trial Chamber on whether an investigation could be launched on the basis of a 2009 declaration by the Palestinian Authority accepting the Court’s jurisdiction over crimes committed on the Palestinian territories. Finally, we have consistently called for national authorities of other states to exercise universal jurisdiction over war crimes committed during the 2008-2009 Gaza conflict, just as we urge states to exercise universal jurisdiction over war crimes in other conflicts where the domestic authorities are unwilling or unable to act.’

and re Israel’s massacre of the Sammouni family:

‘Justice Goldstone’s op-ed mentions only one of these incidents, an Israeli attack on 5 January 2009 which killed 21 members of the al-Sammouni family, which is the subject of an ongoing Israeli military investigation. Assessing whether specific Israeli attacks on civilians during the conflict were deliberate is extremely difficult because the Israeli military has not released the evidence that would allow independent parties to evaluate its conclusions. Amnesty International has not argued that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) targeted Palestinian civilians “as a matter of policy”, but rather that IDF rules of engagement and actions during the conflict failed to take sufficient precautions to minimize civilian casualties. Justice Goldstone’s recent comments do not dispute this assessment.’

George Bisharat emphasises:

‘The report is an officially approved United Nations document, and Goldstone is but one among four authors.

He thus adopts the Israeli position that any misdeeds during the Gaza assault were caused by individual deviants, not by policies or rules of engagement ordered by military leaders.

Yet the original report never accused Israel of widespread deliberate attacks on civilians, and thus Goldstone retracted a claim that had never been made. Most of its essential findings remain unchallenged.

Goldstone’s newfound confidence in the Israeli military’s self-investigations is inexplicable. The Goldstone Report itself concluded that they “do not comply with international standards of independence and impartiality.” Another body of U.N. experts led by retired New York Supreme Court Justice Mary McGowan Davis found, “there is no indication that Israel has opened investigations into the actions of those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw Operation Cast Lead.”

Hence nothing should impede the progress of the Goldstone Report through the United Nations system, including, ultimately, to the International Criminal Court. Israel’s impunity from international law must end not only to provide justice to its victims – but also to promote durable peace in the Middle East.’

Israeli Soldiers Admit to War Crimes in Gaza War.

Following the recent “revolutions” in the Arab world, Ilan Pappe, historian, answers questions from Frank Barat, coordinator of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. (russelltribunalonpalestine.com/?en/?)

“Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on Israel’s War Against the Palestinians” by Ilan Pappe and Noam Chomsky (edited by Frank Barat) is out now.

Interview transcript is available here

Related Links

Goldstone’s daughter: My father’s participation softened UN Gaza report
What the Goldstone op-ed doesn’t say
What Made Goldstone Reconsider? ‘Zionist Threats’? Guilt?
Initial targeting of Goldstone and family : South African Judge May Be Kept From Grandson’s Bar Mitzvah
Israeli War Criminals
Israel’s War Crimes
Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes :

is this an April Fool’s joke or really Richard Goldstone backing off the findings in his report? Goldstone has proved once more that zionists obfuscate to protect Israel from proper scrutiny of its crimes. By sanitising his report and repudiating his original, correct thoughts that Israel had committed war crimes, whilst whining about undue attention to Israel in the UN, Goldstone is either consiciously or unconsciously giving the zionists a green light to continue more of its disgusting atrocities and possibly initiate another massacre. Speaking of undue attention in the UN, should every murder of an Israeli be a matter for concern in the UNHRC as Goldstone suggests with the Itamar murders? So who really wrote Goldstone’s op ed? come on hasbaroids, own up. The inclusion of the unrelated Itamar murders is a dead giveaway.

Goldstone op-ed praises Israeli investigation of Gaza war crimes, but UN committee paints a different picture

Over two years since the fighting in Gaza has ended it is clear that neither Israel nor Hamas is going to conduct credible investigations into the charges leveled against them by the UN fact finding mission. The experts’ report summarized:

The Committee heard the respective parties’ claims that their systems have established mechanisms to ensure accountability and justice. Yet, after listening to victims, witnesses and human rights organizations, it is clear that the needs of victims are not being adequately addressed.

For this reason, it is obvious that it is now time to follow-up on the recommendation of the Goldstone Report and refer the case to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to conduct a proper legal investigation.

‘Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the UN to retract the Goldstone report.

“Everything we said was proven to be true. Israel did not willfully harm civilians,” Netanyahu explained, adding, “Israel’s investigating authorities are worthy, while Hamas investigated nothing. The fact that Goldstone withdrew his conclusions must lead to the retraction of the report once and for all.” ‘

Lieberman accuses Israeli leftists of giving Goldstone information – proud of Israel not cooperating with Goldstone
Human Rights and Democracy: The 2010 Foreign & Commonwealth Office Report

We are further concerned that the government of Israel has not sought to implement the recommendations from the 2003 Or Commission to tackle discrimination against Israel’s Arab community, or the 2008 Goldberg Commission, which recommends recognising most of the remaining unrecognised Bedouin villages. The demolition of Bedouin houses and villages continues.

[pdf 1.8 mb]
The documented record still stands: Israel intentionally targets civilians and civilian infrastructure

From the hasbaroid Arutz Sheva:

‘Former Foreign Ministry director-general Alon Liel, speaking on Channel 10 Sunday, said he is a friend of Goldstone and that the retired Jewish judge “couldn’t sleep at night” because of Jewish reaction to his scathing report against Israel. “The Jewish reaction definitely influenced him to write his op-ed in The Washington Post,” Liel stated. “He added that his daughter Nicole’s reaction also had an impact on him.”‘

Amnesty International’s updated assessment of Israeli and Palestinian investigations into the Gaza conflict – March 18, 2011:

‘The Hamas de facto administration has completely failed to prosecute perpetrators of crimes under international law. As detailed below, Israel’s Military Advocate General has indicted four soldiers on criminal charges in three different incidents relating to the 2008-2009 Gaza conflict. Given the scale and gravity of the Israeli violations identified in the report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict headed by Justice Richard Goldstone,3 Amnesty International concludes that two years after the conflict, the Israeli authorities have also failed to prosecute suspected perpetrators of crimes under international law.’

PCHR: The Failure of Israel’s Investigative and Judicial System to Comply with the Requirements of International Law, with particular regard to the Crimes Committed during the Offensive on the Gaza Strip [.pdf] August 2010.
Judge Goldstone’s Washington Post Op-ed :

‘But I do think that the op-ed raises questions that could easily be laid to rest were Judge Goldstone to make explicit his views on whether Israel has discharged its obligation. In the original op-ed, he wrote.

Indeed, our main recommendation was for each party to investigate, transparently and in good faith, the incidents referred to in our report. McGowan Davis has found that Israel has done this to a significant degree.

Is a “significant degree” a “sufficient degree”? According to McGowan Davis, no. According to Judge Goldstone in the Bill Moyers interview, an internal IDF investigation would not be sufficient’

Goldstone: ‘retractions’ vs facts

In his op-ed, Goldstone wrote that Israel’s own investigations (see below) “indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy”. This in particular has been seized on as an indication that a core element of the Report has been ‘retracted’.

This is misleading. The Report never claimed that Israel set out to intentionally murder civilians, but said that Cast Lead was “deliberately disproportionate” and intended “to punish, humiliate and terrorize”. Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, has been making this point on Twitter. He commented, that the “crime of indiscriminate warfare” – not “deliberate killing” – was indeed “state policy”, and that there had been “no retraction” on that part.

Ilan Pappe reveals Goldstone may become a campus-hopping hasbarist in penance to the bullying political zionism cult
Israeli army map shows 1,000 Hezbollah sites in Lebanon
Israel says Hezbollah has 1,000 bunkers in Lebanon
More NYT hasbara : Head of U.N. Panel Regrets Saying Israel Intentionally Killed Gazans : this story has an interesting rider on the end which qualifies the NYT story at the time re Goldstone attending a family bar mitzvah.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that there was an attempt to bar Richard Goldstone from attending his grandson’s bar mitzvah in Johannesburg. While a Jewish group in South Africa had threatened to stage a protest if Mr. Goldstone attended the event, they did not attempt to prevent him from attending the celebration. He attended the celebration without incident.

The original NYT story indicated there were indeed threats against Goldstone:

Justice Arthur Chaskalson, who served with Judge Goldstone on South Africa’s Constitutional Court, said the threats “reveal a level of bigotry and intolerance meant to shut down any diversity of opinion.”

He said he hoped his friend would reconsider — and come anyway.

Jonathan Cook : Goldstone’s rethink: cleansing Israel’s war crimes

Late last month the UN’s Human Rights Council, which set up the fact-finding mission, recommended that the General Assembly refer the Goldstone Report to the Security Council – the decisive stage in moving it to the International Criminal Court.

It is expected that the US, which has consistently opposed such a referral, will block the report’s progress to the ICC – further embarrassing Washington after its recent veto at the UN of a Palestinian resolution against Israeli settlements.

Download the Committee of Independent Experts’ report on ochr.com [pdf]
Read Amnesty’s latest assessment of the Israeli and Palestinian investigations into the Gaza Conflict

Palestine / Israel Links

Video shows troops hitting, cursing leftists : ‘You Arab son-of-a-bitch,’ soldier calls protester as arrests in Beit Ommar erupt in violence
Murder is Israel’s modus operandi
Vatican : we are all chosen people, there is no promised land, so end the Occupation, zionists
In Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Vatican supports Palestinians
ADL convenes interfaith conference
In Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Vatican supports Palestinians
Jason Kenney: Point man for a theocratic state?
24 February 2010: Hamas report to UN shamefully evades responsibility
Israel exposes its nefarious hand against Palestinian unity and peace as Palestinian leaders consider one state solution
Non-violent marches attacked in at least 4 Palestinian towns
Zioterrorist extrajudicial executions precipitate the end of the cease fire.
Israel leaks a bombing menu for Lebanon, in which hundreds of bombing targets are identified. Can you imagine the international outrage if an organization or state in the Arab world releases bombing targets for Israel? ‘
Israel warns Hezbollah war would invite destruction
National hasbara director needs translator to travel
Israeli youth programmed to hate and kill Arabs: Students on trip to IDF base simulated shooting targets with Arab headdress
With revolutionary fervor sweeping the Middle East, Israel is under mounting pressure to make a far-reaching offer to the Palestinians or face a United Nations vote welcoming the State of Palestine as a member whose territory includes all of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
A double pasting : Mendes an assiduous contortionist and More accusations of mendacity against Mendes
Bedouins live in subhuman conditions in Israel in exchange for safety
Settlements and Racist Laws: A Wrap around Apartheid
Revisiting Israel’s Terror War on Gaza
Israel Flexes Its Online Diplomacy
BGU Israel apologist admits ‘You can’t get away from the fact that Israel is a militarised society. Our faculty has to comply with the legal obligations of students to do military service.’
Israel: New Laws Marginalize Palestinian Arab Citizens
Jewish state or a new ghetto? : As’ad Abdul Rahman writes: Israel’s fear and hostility towards its Arab neighbours has spawned fascist tendencies that could cause its downfall
Israeli authors join campaign to keep Arab bookseller in the country
Kings of Controversy : Was the Kingdom of David and Solomon a glorious empire—or just a little cow town? It depends on which archaeologist you ask. [.pdf]
Biblical Archeology Society debunking biblical mythology

Libya Links

US-Saudi Deal on Libya Exposed: Obama OK’ed Bahrain Invasion in Exchange for ‘Yes’ Vote on “No-Fly Zone”
Western military advisers become visible in Benghazi – here comes another Iraq.
‘Revolutionaries’ are not armed by the West

History shows us that rebellions armed by the United States and Britain are ethically and morally bankrupt. Have we forgotten about the Contras of Nicaragua, the Mujahedeen of Afghanistan and the Cuban dissidents of Miami? These are the ‘freedom fighters’ we support and arm to the teeth, but what happens when they kill their own people? All part of the struggle for that Great Western Democracy they have been fighting towards for so long, I suppose?

Wikileaks Links

SKUP

Australia Links

The Australian announces that it wants to “destroy” the Greens : Flashback to September 2010, picked up by Anthony Loewenstein

Malcolm Turnbull quotes the Australian High Court 1980 to support his position on Wikileaks and Julian Assange: “It is unacceptable in our democratic society that there should be a restraint on the publication of information relating to government when the only vice of that information is that it enables the public to discuss, review and criticise government action.”
Bolt on trial: ‘I cast no aspersions over their Aboriginality’

Other Links

Neapolitan Chapel of Sansevero

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