Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Goldstone Myths and Facts

JTA reports that the Obama administration will not allow the Goldstone report recommendations on Israel's conduct in the Gaza war to reach the International Criminal Court.

A top White House official told Jewish organizational leaders in an off-the-record phone call Wednesday that the U.S. strategy was to "quickly" bring the report -- commissioned by the U.N. Human Rights Council and carried out by former South African Judge Richard Goldstone -- to its "natural conclusion" within the Human Rights Council and not to allow it to go further, Jewish participants in the call told JTA.
See this Myths and Facts online exclusive detailing the fallacies of this report. Here are highlights:

The three-person panel, led by Judge Richard Goldstone, based virtually all of its 575-page report on unverified accounts by Palestinians and NGOs. The Goldstone Commission fixated on Israel’s incursion into Gaza while failing to adequately address the provocation – three years of Hamas rocket bombardment of Israeli towns and villages – that led to the Israeli operation. The Israeli government did not cooperate with the Commission because of its one-sided mandate that presumed Israel was guilty of war crimes.311

During the Commission’s five-month investigation, a handful of Israelis were allowed a few hours to testify about Hamas terror attacks. Photos taken while an Israeli described their ordeal show Richard Goldstone taking a nap.312

While ignoring journalistic accounts of the activities of Hamas, the Commission relied on critical reports of Israeli actions by groups such as Human Rights Watch (HRW), which had already been disputed. HRW, in particular, has been discredited by revelations that it has tried to raise money from Saudi Arabia by touting its history of anti-Israel reportage and that its “senior military expert,” Marc Garlasco, is a collector of Nazi memorabilia.313

When interviewing Gazans, the Commission was chaperoned by
Hamas officials.313a Hence, it was not surprising that investigators made little effort to investigate Hamas activities before or during Operation Cast Lead. It was equally unremarkable for the commission to then report that it found no evidence that Hamas fired rockets from civilian homes, that terrorists hid among the civilian population, fired mortars, anti-tank missiles and machine guns into Palestinian villages when IDF forces were in proximity, or that they seized and booby-trapped Palestinian civilian houses to ambush IDF soldiers. In fact, the report refers to Hamas “police” as civilians, absolving them of terrorist rocket attacks against Israeli civilians and their illegal actions in Gaza during the conflict.314 This directly contradicts the ample photos, video and reports by journalists that depict Hamas militants participating in all of these illegal activities.315

Hamas viewed the Commission’s investigation as an opportunity to score propaganda points against Israel and it is therefore not surprising that members interviewed by the commission would fabricate stories to support accusations against Israel. For example, Hamas official Mouteeh al-Silawi stated that he was giving a sermon in a mosque filled with Palestinian civilians seeking refuge. Al-Silawi claimed that no Hamas militants were inside the mosque or in its vicinity, and that the IDF attacked civilians inside the mosque. Palestinian sources, however, identified all of the casualties at the mosque and they turned out to all be Hamas operatives.316

The Goldstone Report is rife with inaccuracies, mischaracterizations and falsehoods, which do nothing to better the lives of Palestinians living under the rule of
Hamas in Gaza or deter Hamas from targeting Israeli civilians. The report makes no mention of Hamas’ illegal activities in Gaza, such as using human shields and utilizing mosques, hospitals and schools as bases of operation, and downplays the firing of rockets at Israeli civilians. By not holding Hamas accountable for targeting Israeli civilians, the report essentially legitimizes terrorism and criminalizes self-defense.

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