The Goldstone Report: a Defining Moment in U.S. Foreign Policy?

I’ve been enthusiastic about Barrack Obama since the U.S. elections, and I have always had a good feeling about the type of change we might witness in the rest of the world. Such enthusiasm was rewarded during Obama’s speech to the Muslim world, where it became evident that – according to U.S. claims – the United States intends to become more fair, balanced, and open in their foreign policy. My enthusiasm was rewarded further during Obama’s United Nations speech, and most recently, the Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. Suddenly, enthusiasm and hope evolved into an expectation of the inevitable: sometime soon, the U.S. will take a big step that changes the dynamics of International Relations within the International Community; I felt it was inevitable that – soon – the U.S. will transform to a “cooperator” in international relations after decades of being a “barrier” that waves that veto banner every time something of substance was about to happen.

Such expectation has come under test in the final few days with the Goldstone Report. Richard Goldstone, a South African Constitutional Court judge, has been appointed to head the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, to investigate the issue of war crimes in the 2008-2009 Gaza War, in particular the issue of War Crimes by Israel against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. You can see my opinion on the Gaza War here.

The Fact Finding Mission concluded that both Israel and Hamas are guilty of war crimes, but with Israel getting the majority of the criticism. According to Goldstone, the report is completely objective and challenged all critics to point out what exactly about the report makes it biased, and to date, no critic responded with a specific complaint about bias.

For me, criticizing the report, (like what Israel has been doing), is similar to having Neo-Nazis say modern accounts of holocaust history are biased because the majority of the crimes they mention are by Nazis; of course they are – because factually, they were responsible for the most crimes! The same applies to Israel in this case: of course Israel is criticized the most in the report for war crimes; they killed 1,417 Palestinians, including 925 civilians, while Hamas was only responsible for killing 13 Israelis, of which 3 are civilians. Who is the offender? Who should be punished more? Jee, I don’t know.

Anyways, also quick to criticize the Goldstone Report, was the U.S., whom criticized the mission for reasons similar in baselessness and content to Israel’s own. The U.S. says the report is harsh towards Israel but provides no evidence on any instance in which the report was factually biased or omitted.

So here’s the deal, the U.S. veto superpower and its close ally Israel are the only two nations who oppose the report. By induction from observations from throughout the last decade, one might expect that it is inevitable that the U.S. will veto any decision regarding holding Israel accountable to the war crimes it has committed (according the UN mission report). Such expectation is reinforced by Israel’s own claimed, who say Hillary Clinton “promised Israel” to veto any decision against Israel that can occur as a consequence of the mission’s findings.

If that is true, then I’ll be disgusted and disappointed. Vetoing a decision that has been adopted by every single other country in the world because shows that the U.S. has not changed its thinking. In other words, a veto against a decision that holds Israel accountable to crimes it committed means that Obama is not serious in caring about “Palestinian children growing up in peace”. It also means that the little girl in Gaza who died on the hands of Israel’s war crimes isn’t worth a change. Most importantly, a veto by the U.S. would mean Israeli war crimes can repeat themselves; it is an unpunishable offense that is acceptable.

Israeli children will grow up in peace, as they always have. Their largest fear will be some image they saw on TV which they have no personal experience with. Israel will continue to grow, and socioeconomic life will be fine as always. If that’s all that the U.S. cares about, then I understand the sentiment behind possibly vetoing holding Israel accountable.

If however, I am correct in my enthusiasm… If the U.S. is really serious about the change… If Barrack Obama’s words about wishing for Palestinian and Israeli children to grow up in peace alike are truly serious… then, they must acknowledge that passing such decision will put an end to social injustice, and Palestinian children will finally begin to have security.

How wonderful a world would it be if all children growing up, across all continents and countries alike, would realize that if any entity is to offend or oppress them, justice will be served eventually.

If the new Administration agrees with such sentiments, then I needn’t worry; justice will be served, the offender will be held accountable.

Conflict in Gaza

As if an anti-humanitarian siege wasn’t enough, our peaceful neighbors have done it again, this time with a full-fledged war against the (people?) of the Gaza strip.

Israel – as any sovereign entity – has the right to exist, granted. Israel – as any other nation – has the right to defend itself, again: granted. But these two statements cannot justify an entire military operation with the magnitude of what is going on now, because they are irrelevant.

Is Hamas’s decision to fire al-Qassam rockets at southern Israel wrong? Sure it is. Does Israel have the right to defend itself from ‘attacks’? Yes it does. But: how can THIS be seen as a self-defense act?

From the ‘hundreds’ of Qassam rockets fired at Israel, only 3 Israeli civilians died. My deepest condolences to their families, really. But how can the death of 3 prompt a massacre being launched against Gaza? How can the death of 3 citizens justify the death of 915 from Gaza? Why is Palestinian blood being considered that cheap? Its normal for a government to value the lives of its citizens, but when 3 civilian lives are valued more than nine-hundred-something (and still rising) lives on the other side, something is unjust.

Israel isn’t attacking Hamas, its attacking the people of Gaza. Maybe it doesn’t mean to attack them – but the bottom line is: the people of Gaza are the ones suffering, so what is the point really?

Israel is breaking the Fourth Geneva Convention, which it ratified, because its military actions and hostilities are collective measures that fail to distinguish between civilians and militias (the “hostile entities”).

The head of the UNRWA in Gaza made an emotional televised appeal yesterday, I recommend you search for it.

And here’s a nice statistic: for every Israeli that dies (that is, including members of the Army), 71 Palestinians are killed by the Israeli forces in the Gaza conflict. When taking the entire Arab-Israeli conflict into consideration, Ehud Olmert states that – in 2008 – for every Israeli killed by Palestinians, 25 Palestinians were killed by Israel. TAKE THAT, Human Rights!