The Goldstone saga – Let’s not forget the victims

Posted by Caabu on 06 Apr 2011 | Comments

 

The Goldstone saga – Let’s not forget the victims

Chris Doyle

 

It was a strange Op-Ed by Judge Richard Goldstone in the Washington Post. It had seemed as if he had gone into hiding after the frenzied assaults on his character (see article by Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren) and then out of the blue, he reappears, seemingly to retract in part some of his accusations against Israel. It begs many questions.

Apparently he wrote, “if I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document”. He does not say how different.  What do the Committee’s other members think? (Christine Chinkin, Hina Jilani, and Desmond Travers).  Israeli spokespeople and apologists have leapt on the article, interpreting it to suit their own interests but, as one lawyer told me, the essence of Goldstone’s article was just to highlight why Israel should have cooperated with his mission in the first place.

What it is not is a retraction of the report’s main findings.  Israel wants the report nullified, a step Goldstone has rejected. Indeed, he actually states in a follow-up interview that “I have no reason to believe any part of the report needs to be reconsidered at this time.”

So why write the Op-Ed? What has changed? There are very serious crimes which Israel still stands accused of.  Amnesty outlines many of them here. Remember 352 Palestinian children were killed during Operation Cast Lead, their stories recorded by Fakhoora here.

As Professor John Dugard points out, there has been no new evidence.  A follow-up UN report published in March found that Israel’s investigations were far from thorough as Netanyahu et al would have us believe.  Israel refused to cooperate with this inquiry as well, and refused it entry.  

According to the Israeli human rights group, B’tselemIsraelhas opened 52 criminal investigations into the events of Operation Cast Lead. Three of them have resulted in indictments. It is unclear how many cases have been closed and how many have been finalized. Two and a half years after the operation, we still do not know the results of most of the investigations. Goldstone refers to 400 investigations in his article, but these are operational inquiries carried out by the military and are not an effective investigative tool.”  The follow up UN report referred to Israel’s failure to investigate many human rights abuses in the West Bank.

The only way forward is to reconvene the Committee to update any findings. It should be done properly, not by vague hints or innuendo in the media, but in a way that is legally upright and accountable. There needs to be a full and proper explanation as to why any of the findings should be altered.

Above all, let us not forget that whilst everyone debates the rights and wrongs of this report, 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza are still under a collective illegal blockade, are still trying to recover from Operation Cast Lead, are still attacked by Israeli forces on a frequent basis and still can only dream of freedom.

Finally, the most troubling repercussion of Goldstone’s article is that Israel believes it provides a legal green light to carry out a second Operation Cast Lead. “The one point of light,” Gabriela Shalev, former Israeli ambassador to the UN, 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.”  Goldstone has a legal and moral duty to point out that this is certainly not the case.  He has accepted an invitation now to visit Israel, one not offered him earlier of course.  It would be a fine time to make this point loud and clear.

 

 

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