obama_and_israelThe United States Congress embarrassed itself and the American people last week when it voted to ignore war crimes and possible crimes against humanity outlined in the Goldstone Report [1].

On a non-binding resolution fraught with factual errors [2] and clauses seemingly based on out of context news reports and water-cooler gossip rather than anything actually found in the report, it passed, presumably because those voting in favor didn’t even bother to read it.

Three Hundred forty-four idiots, and as an American I say that with every ounce of respect that these representatives deserve for this damnable yea vote [3], idiotically endangered months of work that the Obama administration has painstakingly laid out for better relations with the Middle East [4] and others who hold a traditional view of America with a mixture of awe, loathing, and fear [5].

How will any American official dare chide Egypt [6], Iran, Zimbabwe etc for human rights abuses when they can look that official right in the eye and say, “we don’t believe you have any right to chide us when you always write a blank check for Israel and now Hamas to commit war crimes and possible crimes against humanity with your ever-ready veto power.”

And they will be right. They will be able to point to the U.S. Congress voting to condone Hamas war crimes and possible crimes against humanity cravenly as a result of shielding Israel against answering for theirs [7].

Two emerging Viewpoints

There seems to be two main narratives shaking out for the report. On one side, there is little to no focus on the substance of the Goldstone Report, scant attention is paid to the facts carefully laid out documenting various incidents, including a decent primer to give an overview the the conflict as a whole, in as much as that is possible.

This side of the narrative instead is going after Judge Goldstone himself, for example down blank alleys with accusations based on the original mandate of the mission [8]. There have been outright lies in using Mary Robinson [9] as an example of someone against the Goldstone Report because of her original refusal to join the mission before Richard Goldstone fought for and won a widening of the mission to include more of a time frame and to include all Palestinian militant groups. She wrote after Goldstone secured a broader mandate that she now could support the mission [10].

People who ought to know better have even gone after the personal character of Judge Goldstone [11]. And they make tiring side-jaunts into fertile fields of imagination when they claim Israel’s right to “self-defense” is questioned in the Goldstone Report. It is not, although the world does wonder how Israel can claim that shooting civilians carrying white flags is self-defense.

It is not.

Those on the other side of the issue, the reality-based community, actually read the full report. Skimming the Executive Summary simply does not do the Goldstone Report justice. No, people who read the full report come away appalled at the human callousness displayed during this tiny snapshot of the occupation driven conflict that has raged for decades on both sides [12].

For those who actually read the report it becomes something more. It is a revelation and shattering of an age of innocence that Israel has enjoyed for so long in Sunday schools across America.

The milk and honey picture that has been painted thus far has now been met with a recent report from Amnesty International that shows Israelis use eighty-percent of the available water as compared to Palestinians [13]. Might that have something to do with the lush landscape and the impression that every Israeli colonist has a gleaming blue swimming pool in the colonies?

The Goldstone Report does not stand alone. There were credible reports already on record, from Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, B’tSelem and the International Committee for the Red Cross before the Goldstone Mission was concluded and the results released.

What is incredible is that the U. S. Congress would condone war crimes. Stephen Zune over at Foreign Policy in Focus discounts the idea that this is simply the result of AIPAC’s inordinate influence writing:

“This resolution constitutes nothing less than a formal bipartisan rejection of international humanitarian law. U.S. support for human rights and international law has always been uneven, but never has Congress gone on record by such an overwhelming margin to discredit these universal principles so categorically. This is George W. Bush’s foreign policy legacy, which — through this resolution — the Democrats, no less than their Republican counterparts, have now eagerly embraced.” [14]

The question remains, how does President Obama come down on all of this? Does he condone ignoring international law, even letting war criminals off the hook, if that’s what it takes to prevent an ally from answering credible reports of committing war crimes and possible crimes against humanity?

Does the United States stand for the rule of law and demand the same from other United Nations members?

Is international humanitarian law to be discarded when an ally runs afoul of it? What about us?

Just as important, what of the willful violations on the part of Israel that have occurred for decades in the form of illegal settlers? Might that not figure into the equation as a provocation as well?

And critically, is President Obama concerned that Congress, using this Goldstone prop of a flawed resolution, has usurped his authority and given Israel a green light to attack Iran, Syria, Lebanon and who knows who else as “state sponsors” of militants fighting the occupations when they overwhelmingly voted for a resolution that “reaffirms its support for the democratic, Jewish State of Israel, for Israel’s security and right to self-defense, and, specifically, for Israel’s right to defend its citizens from violent militant groups and their state sponsors”? [15]

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[1] “UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict”. United Nations Office of the Humanitarian Chairman for Human Rights 2009-10-29.

Click to access UNFFMGC_Report.pdf

[2] “Goldstone Tells Congress That Resolution Misrepresents His Gaza Report” Washington Independent 2009-10-30.

http://washingtonindependent.com/65926/goldstone-tells-congress-that-resolution-misrepresents-his-gaza-report

[3] Roll Call for H. R. 867, “Calling 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”. house.gov.

http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2009/roll838.xml

[4] “Obama Speech In Cairo: VIDEO, Full Text”. Huffington Post 2009-06-04.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/04/obama-speech-in-cairo-vid_n_211215.html

[5] “How Muslims and Americans View Each Other”. World Public Opinion 2007-03-12.

http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/views_on_countriesregions_bt/330.php

[6] “Egypt says U.S. criticism of rights record ‘biased'”. Reuters 2008-03-14.

http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSL1428623720080314

[7] “Bipartisan Attack on International Humanitarian Law”. Foreign Policy in Focus 2009-11-04.

http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/6549

[8] “U.N. Body Endorses Flawed Report”. AIPAC 2009-10-16.

http://www.aipac.org/NearEastReport/article3.html

[9] “The Goldstone Report: Three Strikes and You’re Out!” Huffington Post 2009-09-18.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-harris/the-goldstone-report-thre_b_291480.html

[10] “OPINION: Accounting for Gaza — Mary Robinson”. Daily Times Pakistan 2009-09-30.

http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009\09\30\story_30-9-2009_pg3_4

[11] “The tropes of ‘Jewish antisemitism'”. The Guardian 2009-10-05.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/oct/05/self-hating-jew-antisemitism

[12] “Holocaust day of reckoning won’t come”. The Guardian 2009-10-29.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/oct/29/holocaust-srebrenica-memory

[13] “Israel rations Palestinians to trickle of water”. Amnesty International 2009-10-27.

http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/report/israel-rations-palestinians-trickle-water-20091027

[14] Ibid. (7)

[15] Ibid. (3)