Goldstone’s apparent U-turn does not change the reality on the ground

Jody McIntyre

112177473 210x300 Goldstone’s apparent U turn does not change the reality on the ground Last week, scores were killed in Gaza after renewed Israeli air strikes.  Initial rumours of plans to launch an ‘Operation Scorching Summer’ seem to have been dispelled, although it was another bloody week for the battered yet resilient people of Gaza.

It seems that the Israeli government momentarily took Richard Goldstone’s comments last month as a green-light for a renewed attack on the Gaza Strip.  Goldstone had said that he regretted some aspects of the report he made on Operation Cast Lead, during which around 1400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died.  Four of the Israelis were killed by other Israeli soldiers in ‘friendly fire’ incidents.

The Goldstone Report concluded that individual Israelis could be held criminally responsible for potential war crimes committed by the State of Israel. But now, Goldstone, a supporter of Israel – perhaps a strange choice for an ‘impartial’ report on a war launched by Israel – has said subsequent Israeli military reports show that Israel did not target civilians as a matter of policy.  Oh, Israeli military reports, that infamous source of unbiased and accurate information.

Perhaps we had a duty to do more to support Goldstone, after the vile, racist attacks against him and slurs of ‘self-hating Jew’ following the publication of the report.  In an interview with the Middle East Monitor, co-author of the report and retired Irish peace-keeper Desmond Travers expressed the view that Goldstone was particularly targeted because of his Jewish background; “the reason I think that they really savaged Richard Goldstone was because he’s a Jew”, Travers said, “they ignored me completely.”

Nevertheless, his recent comments do not change the reality on the ground in Gaza.  I remember, whilst living in Gaza, meeting Gazan fishermen who had been shot at whilst fishing in Gaza’s waters, Gazan farmers who had been shot at whilst working on their land up to a kilometre away from the border with Israel, and Gazan tunnellers working every day at the risk of being bombed.  “ Every day you leave your home, without guaranteeing that you’ll be back,” one tunneler told me in an interview.  “How can you see a future from within a box of matches?”  Israel will point to arms smuggling, whilst ignoring the continued siege and suffocation of the Gazan people which makes the tunnels necessary.  Israel will point to Gilead Shalit, whilst ignoring the 11,000 Palestinian prisoners imprisoned in Israeli jails.  Israel will point to Hamas rockets landing in southern Israel, whilst ignoring the assassinations of Hamas officials which almost always precipitate a rise in rocket fire.

Above all, they are ignoring a colonialist occupation of another people’s land which began in 1948.  That is why they are so afraid of the declaration of a Palestinian state, even if it is made by the collaborationist Palestinian [Non-] Authority, who have gone beyond the realm of some national liberation movements, and embraced neo-liberalism before the occupation has even ended.  Because it discredits the colonialist belief of ‘a land of no people for a people of no land’, and forces Israel to accept a state which, in its very existence, goes against the founding tenets of Zionism.

Goldstone’s recent comments were roundly condemned by the other three members of the UN fact-finding mission which authored the report – Pakistani human rights lawyer Hina Jilani; Christine Chinkin, professor of international law at the London School of Economics; and Travers.  But even if they were true, it is very telling that the Israeli government celebrate an opinion that civilians were not ‘intentionally’ targeted as some kind of justification for their crimes.  The facts remain; they were civilians, and they were killed by the Israeli military.

It is important that the Israeli government are made aware that the eyes of the world are on Palestine.  We will refuse to be silent; after all, as Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”  We must make abundantly clear which side we are standing on.

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  • Jake_K

    If that were the case, yes that would be sick.

    If, on the other hand, he is criticising Jodi for poor writing / reporting, that is entirely legitimate and proper. If you are suggesting we should all simply clap dutifully every time Jodi turns out an article, regardless of quality, just because he is disabled – well, I think you may like to ask around a few of your disabled acquaintances to determine what they think of that.

  • william beeby

    If the mass emigration of jews in 1881 was from csarist Russia to post revolutiony America what does that tell us about Palestine / Israel ? Surely it says that jews did NOT see palestine as their homeland and the best move for them at the time was to head west to America to make their fortunes . In those days there was no getting rich in the desert now was there ? In fact it does seem sensible to view jewish migrants as economic refugees seeking to make their living in a more prosperous and un developed land as it was then in America . Some may have been fleeing for their lives itsd true but I think those jews with the money , as in 1930`s Europe as well , chose to leave eastern Europe when they did and not because they were being persecuted . Mind you Csarist Russia did have programs against the jews and that was years before the nazis came to power in Germany .
    I contend that most jews spread around the world to this day are economic migrants and NOT Opressed people seeking shelter from abuse .

  • mightymark

    I’m sure the borders of Israel as of now are “documented” all over the place inlcuding in a numbe of atlases in my home – it doesn’t mean they are final, indeed how can they be? The UN resolution 242 calls for a peace agreement in which Israel in return for peace and security cedes [occupied] “terrirories” and it is clear from those involved in the drafting of the resolution that the definite article was left out precisely in order that the parties could negotiate exact borders. This alone is sufficient to show that the 1967 borders to which I imagine you refer, are not necessarilly final.

    By the way do you think Hamas accept that Israel’s borders are fixed – unless by that you mean somewhere a few humndered miles west into the Med!

  • mightymark

    I have a very fundamenal poroblem at this point in this type of disucssion in that people invariably start trying to negotoate for their preferred party. It is a silly thing to try to do as the Guardian discovered over leak of the “Palestine Papers” following which the paper ended up trying to be more Royalist than the King when they discovered that many of the concessions they had said were impossible were indeed envisaged by the Palestinain peadership. So for all I know Israel may one day accept all you say is reequired for peace – your scenariao is certainly not without its attractions.

    Yet I am not sure rthat Israel’s postion is as dire as you imply. It is certainly a pariah for the Arab and Muslim world (partly at least on the bassi of lies and anti semitism) and the so called left (largely on the basis of that part of the left having lost any moral compass whatsoever in its desperate embrace of Islamism). But Israel is on very good terms with at least two of the world’s superpowers, its economy largely missed out on the recession. Interestingly so did that of the West Bank and I wonder whether there might not be the beginings of peace in a mutual desire not to risk such luck?

  • Richard_SM

    The only borders recognised by the UN are those defined in 1948. Israel hasn’t given back the land for peace despite the fact full peace has been offered many, many times.

    I can assure you that whatever you have in your home won’t be relevant; the UN won’t be visiting, so you don’t need to wait in any more. Enjoy your new freedom.

  • mushsterek

    May I suggest you go back to any reputable history book and read up about the Spanish Inquisition and the fate of the Jews during that period or further back to the Roman conquest of Jerusalem.
    In your text I presume you meant “Csarist Russia did have pogroms”…do you have ANY idea the extent of violence and terror that was meted out against the Jews during that period ? That the Jews were persecuted in England from around 1066 until 1290 when they were banned altogether from the country ? It was only when Cromwell came to power in 1655 that the Jews were allowed back to England.

    That the largest single Jewish community now lives in Israel which as you rightly said was hardly the golden medina.

    May I therefore suggest that your contention is way off.

  • mushsterek

    I believe the report refers to some 8,000 rockets fired at Israeli civilian targets over a period of several years in which Israel did not retaliate on the scale of Operation Cast Lead. Exactly what ceasefire are you referring to ? give us a break !!

  • mushsterek

    Over 100,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq since the U.S. and British forces have operated in that country… a Google iraqbodycount

    10s of thousands of civilians have been killed Afghanistan since the U.S. and British forces have operated in that country….

    Will we ever know how many Chechnyan civilians were slaughtered by Russian forces.

    All the UNHCR and world can do is focus on the regrettable deaths of some 700 civilians in Operation Cast Lead where Israel was legitimately defending its internationally recognised border.

    How do you expect any sensible person to take the UNHCR (chaired by a member of the Gaddafi government) seriously ? What was Goldstone thinking when he took on the task ?

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