Posts Tagged ‘Goldstone report’

Turning Back From the Point of No Return – Implications of the Threat to Bomb Iran

August 26, 2010
Jeremy R. Hammond, Foreign Policy Journal, August 26, 2010

The drums for war on Iran have been banging louder than ever lately, with a spate of articles by political commentators either directly encouraging the bombing of the Islamic Republic or otherwise offering a narrative in which this is effectively portrayed as the only option to prevent Iran from waging a nuclear holocaust against Israel. A prominent example of the latter is Jeffrey Goldberg’s article last month in the Atlantic magazine, “The Point of No Return”.[1] Goldberg’s lengthy piece essentially boils down to this: Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons poses an existential threat to Israel’s existence comparable to the Nazi Holocaust, and although the U.S. recognizes this threat, the Obama administration is weak, so Israel will have no choice but to act alone in bombing Iran to ensure its own survival.

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Israel: ‘Mad Dog’ Diplomacy

June 4, 2010

Moshe Dayan, Israel’s most celebrated general, famously outlined the strategy he believed would keep Israel’s enemies at bay: “Israel must be a like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.”

Until now, most observers had assumed Dayan was referring to Israeli military or possibly nuclear strategy, an expression in his typically blunt fashion of the country’s familiar doctrine of deterrence.

But the Israeli commando attack on Monday on the Gaza-bound flotilla, in which nine activists have so far been confirmed killed and dozens were wounded as they tried to break Israel’s blockade of the enclave, proves beyond doubt that this is now a diplomatic strategy too. Israel is feeling cornered on every front it considers important – and like Dayan’s “mad dog,” it is likely to strike out in unpredictable ways.

Domestically, Israeli human rights activists have regrouped after the Zionist left’s dissolution in the wake of the outbreak of the second intifada. Now they are presenting clear-eyed – and extremely ugly – assessments of the occupation that are grabbing headlines around the world.

That move has been supported by the leadership of Israel’s large Palestinian minority, which has additionally started questioning the legitimacy of a Jewish state in ways that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago.

Regionally, Hezbollah has progressively eroded Israel’s deterrence doctrine. It forced the Israeli army to exit south Lebanon in 2000 after a two-decade occupation; it stood firm in the face of both aerial bombardment and a ground invasion during the 2006 war; and now it is reported to have accumulated an even larger arsenal of rockets than it had four years ago.

Iran, too, has refused to be intimidated and is leaving Israel with an uncomfortable choice between conceding to Tehran the room to develop a nuclear bomb, thereby ending Israel’s regional nuclear monopoly, and launching an attack that could unleash a global conflagration.

And internationally, nearly 18 months on from its attack on Gaza, Israel’s standing is at an all-time low. Boycott campaigns are gaining traction, reluctant support for Israel from European governments has set them in opposition to home-grown sentiment, and even traditional allies such as Turkey cannot hide their anger.

In the US, Israel’s most resolute ally, young American Jews are starting to question their unthinking loyalty to the Jewish state. Blogs and new kinds of Jewish groups are bypassing their elders and the American media to widen the scope of debate about Israel.

Israel has responded by characterizing these “threats” all as falling within its ever-expanding definition of “support for terrorism.”

It was therefore hardly surprising that the first reaction from the Israeli government to the fact that its commandoes had opened fire on civilians in the flotilla of aid ships was to accuse the solidarity activists of being armed.

Similarly, Danny Ayalon, the deputy foreign minister, accused the organizers of having “connections to international terrorism,” including al-Qaeda. Turkey, which assisted the flotilla, is widely being accused in Israel of supporting Hamas and trying to topple Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Palestinians are familiar with such tactics. Gaza’s entire population of 1.5 million is now regularly presented in the Israeli media in collective terms, as supporters of terror – for having voted in Hamas – and therefore legitimate targets for Israeli “retaliation.” Even the largely docile Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has rapidly been tarred with the same brush for its belated campaign to boycott the settlements and their products.

The leaders of Israel’s Palestinian citizens too are being cast in the role of abettors of terror. The minority is still reeling from the latest assault: the arrest and torture of two community leaders charged with spying for Hezbollah In its wake, new laws are being drafted to require that Palestinian citizens prove their “loyalty” or have their citizenship revoked.

When false rumors briefly circulated on Monday that Sheikh Raed Salah, a leader of Israel’s Islamic Movement who was in the flotilla, had been gravely wounded, Israeli officials offered a depressingly predictable, and unfounded, response: commandoes had shot him after they came under fire from his cabin.

Israel’s Jewish human rights community is also under attack to a degree never before seen. Their leaders are now presented as traitors, and new legislation is designed to make their work much harder.

The few brave souls in the Israeli media who try to hold the system to account have been given a warning shot with the exile of Haaretz’s investigative journalist Uri Blau, who is threatened with trial on spying charges if he returns.

Finally, Israel’s treatment of those onboard the flotilla has demonstrated that the net against human rights activism is being cast much wider, to encompass the international community.

Foreigners, even high-profile figures such as Noam Chomsky, are now routinely refused entry to Israel and the occupied territories. Many foreign human rights workers face severe restrictions on their movement and efforts to deport them or ban their organizations. The Israeli government is agreed that Europe should be banned from “interfering” in the region by supporting local human rights organizations.

The epitome of this process was Israel’s reception of the UN report last year into the attack on Gaza by Richard Goldstone, a respected judge and international law expert who suggested Israel had committed many war crimes during its three-week operation. Goldstone has faced savage personal attacks ever since.

But more significantly, Israel’s supporters have characterized the Goldstone report and the related legal campaigns against Israel as examples of “lawfare,” implying that those who uphold international law are waging a new kind of war of attrition on behalf of terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.

These trends are likely only to deepen in the coming months and years, making Israel an ever greater pariah in the eyes of much of the world. The mad dog is baring his teeth, and it is high time the international community decided how to deal with him.

A version of this article originally appeared in The National, published in Abu Dhabi.

Goldstone and Finkelstein tell it like it is

May 4, 2010
Morning Star Online, Monday 03 May 2010

By Ramzy Baroud

His language showed that he was aware that the former is an occupying power with sophisticated weapons and the latter a besieged, occupied faction in a state of self-defence.

Although Goldstone must have been aware of the hysteria his report would generate, he still did not allow ideological or ethnic affiliation to stand between him and his moral convictions.

In April 2009 the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Goldstone to lead the mission of investigating war crimes committed by Israel in the devastating war in Gaza between December 27 2008 and January 18 2009.

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A Tale of Two Richards

March 6, 2010

By Nadia Hijab, Agence Global,  March 4, 2010

They hail from opposite parts of the globe, but they have much in common: Jewish; experts on and passionate defenders of international law; and pummeling bags for Israel and the Palestinian Authority. And the future of the law of war lies at the heart of the campaigns against them.

Richard Goldstone, whose international stature was cemented as chief prosecutor in the Yugoslavia and Rwanda tribunals, has been excoriated by Israel and its allies ever since his team submitted the report on the Gaza war requested by the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2009. The steady stream of invective (the report is “full of lies,” and he has “used his Jewishness to jeopardize the safety and security of Israel” are just two of the milder attacks) has also targeted his family and taken a toll on the publicly stoic judge.

Richard Falk, professor emeritus at Princeton University and UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, has been attacked by Israel for years. But now, in a new twist, he is being hung out to dry by the Palestinian Authority in perhaps the unkindest cut of all.

The PA pummeling is more discreet. It has quietly suggested to Falk himself that he resign. One reported reason is that Falk can’t do his job because Israel will not allow him into the country — though this should, one would have thought, be all the more reason to defend him.

And the PA has asked the Human Rights Council to take Falk’s report off the March 22 agenda and “postpone” it to June, which the Council has done. The PA-appointed representative to the UN in Geneva insists that there are simply more important reports than Falk’s on the agenda — yet at the same time he says the PA has “many” reservations about the Falk report. The real reasons seem to be that the PA did not like the mention of Hamas in Falk’s report and his earlier criticism when the PA tried to “postpone” the Goldstone Report in September under pressure from Israel and the United States. A public outcry among Palestinians reversed that decision.

The attacks on Falk and Goldstone are hard for the two men to bear. And they tear at the very fabric of international law and the mechanisms put in place to uphold it. The Human Rights Council has stepped on a slippery slope by agreeing to postpone Falk’s report. Instead of listening to the PA (and Egypt) the Council should have backed its special rapporteur. If it does the unthinkable and relieves Falk of his duties because the PA does not want him, the system of independent special rapporteurs would be undermined, just as it would if the Council gave in to Israeli or American pressure.

Undermining the Goldstone Report would be an equally harsh blow to the human rights system. Several earlier reports have called for the application of international law to the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the International Court of Justice’s seminal opinion on the illegality of Israel’s separation wall in the West Bank. But the Goldstone Report has been published at a time when people are ready to listen, which is partly why Israel is fighting it with such ferocity and on so many fronts.

On one of those fronts, Israel is trying to change international law itself, as Israeli human rights advocate Jeff Halper reveals in an important article, “The Second Battle of Gaza.” Halper identifies the Israeli figures leading the campaign “to alter international law in ways that enable them — and by extension other states involved in ‘wars on terror’ — to effectively pursue warfare amongst the people while eliminating both the legitimacy and protections enjoyed by their non-state foes.”

No one is more aware of the dangers to international law than Palestinian human rights advocates. Their organizations have acted as a group to support the implementation of the Goldstone Report and to protect Falk and his role.

Last month, 11 Palestinian human rights groups wrote to the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressing dismay at the PA actions against Falk. His reports have provided “powerful instruments to advocate for Palestinian people’s rights” they said, urging Pillay to ensure that Falk enjoyed the highest level of support from her office. They also called on her to reinforce the independence of the special rapporteurs from UN member states so as to protect the UN’s own credibility.

More recently, 19 Palestinian groups wrote to PA president Mahmoud Abbas criticizing Falk’s treatment and pointing out the repercussions for the Palestinians’ internationally recognized human rights.

If the attacks on the two Richards succeed, the Palestinian cause will suffer and the world will be a poorer and more dangerous place — one in which the might of the strong is legally allowed to prevail against the rights of the weak.

Nadia Hijab is an independent analyst and a senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies.

Copyright © 2010 Nadia Hijab – distributed by Agence Global

Israel rules out independent probe of Gaza war

January 26, 2010

Axis of Logic, Jan 26, 2010

By Press TV

Israel has disdained international calls to conduct an independent probe into the war crimes its forces have been charged with during its 2008 Gaza offensive.

The call for an internal investigation of the alleged – and documented – war crimes is part of a damning report by a UN fact-finding mission led by the South African Judge Richard Goldstone.

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Gaza, War Crimes, and the Path to Accountability

January 8, 2010

by Sunera Thobani, Electronic Intifada, Jan 8, 2010

By protecting Israel from accountability for its war crimes in Gaza, the US, UK and Canadian governments are also ensuring their own impunity. (Hatem Omar/MaanImages)

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs David Milliband acted swiftly to withdraw the warrant for the arrest of former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, one of the architects of last winter’s Israeli attack on Gaza. A British magistrate issued the warrant under universal jurisdiction laws in response to allegations of war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza. This prompted Brown to phone Livni and assure her she was “welcome” in Britain, and Milliband stated his government’s intention to remove the power of UK magistrates to issue any such future warrants against Israeli politicians.

As foreign minister, Livni used the Israeli-dubbed “Operation Cast Lead” to brand herself as an astute politician who would ride to power on the bodies of dead Palestinians. She became a media darling in the West, and the Gaza attack was to be the ticket to her rise to prime minister. However, although the attack killed more than 1,400 Palestinians and wounded thousands more, Livni’s political ambitions did not materialize quite as planned. Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman out-hawked her, and the Palestinians are still paying the price for the invasion. Gaza remains under a murderous siege, enforced by the Israelis and backed by its Western allies and Egypt.

A number of reasons have been put forward for the British government’s eagerness to protect Israeli politicians from the threat of arrest. These include Britain’s staunch support for the State of Israel since its inception; the organizational strength of Zionist lobbies, and in particular, their ability to impact the outcome of electoral politics; and lastly, the desire to avoid being branded anti-Semitic. While these are certainly important considerations, there is yet another pressing concern that has received little attention. This is a concern shared by the Americans and Canadians, and it speaks directly to the specificity of this particular moment in the so-called War on Terror. Indeed, this concern may well eclipse all other considerations for the moment.

The US, UK and Canadian governments are all embroiled in attempts to immunize themselves from accountability under international law for their own actions in the War on Terror. Protecting Israel from international law has therefore acquired an added urgency, not only in the interests of the Zionist regime, but also in the interests of the US and its two staunchest allies in the War on Terror, Britain and Canada, to remain beyond the reach of international law. In other words, if Israeli politicians can successfully be taken to court under international law for committing war crimes, the precedent would greatly embolden attempts to do likewise with American, British and Canadian politicians in relation to their actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In September 2009, the UN-mandated Goldstone report on Israel’s invasion was released. Placing the treatment of civilian populations at the heart of the investigation, Judge Richard Goldstone, who was the Prosecutor for the International Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, found Israel’s attack on Gaza (as well as specific actions by Palestinian groups, including Hamas) to amount to war crimes. The Israelis refused to cooperate with the Goldstone mission, unlike the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas. Public hearings were held in Gaza. The Goldstone report called for credible independent internal investigations of Israel’s actions in Gaza which included: the deliberate bombing of civilian sites (including the Palestinian Legislative Council building, a Gaza prison, two hospitals, shelters and houses); the killing of civilian police forces; the use of mortars to hit “armed” Palestinian groups in the vicinity of large numbers of civilians; the destruction of food production factories, of water and sewage treatment facilities; and the direct killing of civilians. All were deemed violations of international law. In the absence of such independent investigations, the report called for the matter to proceed to the International Criminal Court.

In light of Israel’s refusal to cooperate with its mission, the Goldstone report unequivocally stated its “support for reliance on universal jurisdiction” as an avenue for further investigation and action on “grave breaches” of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and to “prevent immunity and promote international accountability.” Israel rejected the report’s findings, accusing Judge Goldstone — a Zionist and strong supporter of Israel — of anti-Israel bias. Other supporters of the report were likewise attacked as being anti-Semitic. The US ambassador to the UN, Dr. Susan Rice, admonished the report’s authors, and the US House of Representatives voted 344 to 36 to call on the Obama Administration to reject it. The Obama Administration has maintained this position and also exerted immense pressure on the Palestinian Authority to withdraw the report from consideration at the General Assembly of the UN. Neither the UK nor Canada supported the Goldstone report.

Many of the acts identified in the Goldstone report as constituting violations of international law are reported to have taken place in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The disproportionate killing of civilians in both countries is being tracked by human rights organizations; civilian sites are regularly reported to have been bombed, and targeted assassinations of “terrorists” are also reported to routinely kill family members of these alleged “terrorists,” as well as other bystanders. Collective punishment also seems to be meted out regularly, and the civilian infrastructure has been demolished in many places. There is also the question of the torture of detainees captured, held or transferred by US, British and Canadian forces. Indeed, some legal scholars have questioned the very legality of both the Afghan and Iraq “wars” and occupations.

As the Guardian reported on 26 November 2009, the UK’s Chilcot Inquiry recently heard that the government of former Prime Minister Tony Blair decided to participate in the American invasion of Iraq a year before it actually took place. Any concern about Saddam Hussein’s alleged amassing of weapons of mass destruction and his ties to al-Qaeda were nothing more than a red herring, and in any event, proved to be the result of falsified intelligence reports. Moreover, on 14 November, the Telegraph reported that British soldiers — men and women — have been dogged since 2003 with allegations of torture and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners in their custody. Noting that 33 allegations of torture, rape and sexual abuse have surfaced about particular incidents, the Telegraph stated that “a pre-action protocol letter has been served on the [Ministry of Defense]” by a lawyer representing Iraqis subjected to this abuse. It also cited British Armed Forces Minister Bill Rammell calling for “formal investigations” into the matter.

Meanwhile, Canadians are mired in their own allegations of complicity in the torture of Afghan detainees. Senior diplomat Richard Colvin testified to a parliamentary committee that many of the Afghan detainees captured by Canadian soldiers were innocent civilians who were most likely abused or tortured by the Afghan authorities to whose custody they were delivered. He has further testified that despite his warnings to the Canadian government about this likelihood, no action was taken by the government to avert this possibility. Malalai Joya, the Afghan Member of Parliament who fled the country after being suspended from that body, has substantiated Colvin’s claims. She has also added that many of those tortured and raped were women and children. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported on 26 November that Defense Minister Peter McKay and former Chief of Defense Staff General Rick Hillier both denied Colvin’s allegations. However, if Colvin’s claims are vindicated, it could well be the case that the Canadian government was complicit in the torture and abuse of these detainees under the rules of international law.

If Israel can now be hauled before the International Criminal Court, who might it be next? If Israeli politicians can be arrested by warrants issued under universal jurisdiction, why not officials from the US, Britain and Canada as well? Who knows how quickly and how far things could unravel? If one occupying power could be held liable for war crimes, why not the other occupying powers who may have also engaged in collective punishment, in the destruction of civilian infrastructure, in the torture and killing of civilians? Where might it all end?

In seeking to protect Israel from the Goldstone report and Israeli politicians from the threat of arrest in the UK, the British, American and Canadian governments might well be engaged in a battle to save their own skins in the face of an emboldened legal activism. Gaza may well be the gateway to anti-imperialist accountability in the 21st century.

Sunera Thobani teaches Women’s Studies at the University of British Columbia. She is the author of Exalted Subjects: Studies in the Making of Race and Nation in Canada (University of Toronto Press: 2007). She traveled to Gaza in September 2009 with the Rachel Corrie Foundation Delegation

Bended Knees: Zionist Power in American Politics

December 22, 2009

By James Petras,  Information Clearing House, Dec 21, 2009

“Obama want to see a stop to settlements: Not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions”. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, May 2009

“What the prime minister has offered in specifics of a restraint on the policy of settlements… unprecedented, there has never been a precondition, it’s always been an issue within negotiations.” Hillary Clinton, BBC, November 1, 2009 (my emphasis)

“The US administration understands what we have always said … that the real obstacle to negotiations is the Palestinians (calling for a freeze on settlements)”. Israeli Minister of Science and Technology Daniel Hershkowitz, November 1, 2009 (my addition).

“America, stop sucking up to Israel!” Gideon Levy, Israeli journalist, Haaretz, November 1, 2009.

“US Zionists are sticking it to America, 24/7”, Anonymous Staff Official, Washington D. C., October 31, 2009.

The discussion of Zionist Power Configuration (ZPC) in the US political system revolves around several essential issues, including:

  1. The claims by the ZPC that it represents Jewish opinion and values as well as its authority to speak for the interests of the American people.
  2. Measuring the power of the ZPC and determining its influence over policy, appointments and political institutions.
  3. The question of whether the ZPC is a legitimate part of the US political system, another lobby, or something very different, an unregistered agent of a foreign power (Israel).
  4. The scope and depth of the ZPC influence in US politics beyond the focus on its “lobbying” in Washington on a “single issue”.
  5. The organizational weapons and techniques utilized by the ZPC to maximize influence and deny voice and influence to critics of Israel and itself.
  6. The similarities of the organizational linkages of the Israel-Zionist relationship to the Russian – Stalinist Communist Parties of the 1930’s.

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British govt. grovelling at the feet of war criminals

December 21, 2009
John Haylett, Morning Star Online, Dec  18, 2009

The British government’s grovelling apology to Israel after an arrest warrant was issued against former foreign minister Tzipi Livni was compounded by its promise to change the law to allow war criminals to roam freely.

Livni was up to her neck in the mass slaughter perpetrated against Palestinians in Gaza and declares her pride in all her decisions taken with regard to Operation Cast Lead.

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The international league of war criminals

December 17, 2009

Chris Marsden,, Dec 17, 2009

The issuing of a British arrest warrant for former Israeli Foreign Minister and current leader of the opposition Tzipi Livni is only the latest event confirming an international body of legal opinion that Israel should be tried for war crimes over its treatment of the Palestinians.

Livni was a member of the war cabinet during Operation Cast Lead, the offensive against Gaza between December 27, 2008 and January 18 this year. Some 1,400 Palestinians—the majority of them civilians, including 400 women and children—were killed, at least 5,000 people were injured, and 21,000 homes and other vital infrastructure were destroyed.

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Israeli War Criminal Olmert Welcomed in Australia

November 30, 2009
There is a danger that Australia could become a safe haven for Israeli war criminals.

By Sonja Karkar, The Palestine Chronicle, Nov 29, 2009

The news that former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was in Australia and was welcomed by the honourable members of our parliament came as somewhat of a shock. It is one thing to have allowed a man on corruption charges as well as facing war crimes indictments into Australia at all; it is another thing that he was listed as a distinguished guest in Hansard – the official record of parliamentary proceedings – and received a resounding “hear, hear” from our elected representatives.

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