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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The Goldstone Report: A biased witch hunt against Israel

Published: October 30, 2009
Section: Opinions

The Goldstone Report–a war crimes report by Justice Richard J. Goldstone of the United Nations–is not objective, and is in fact tainted by bias from not only one sector of the United Nations (The Human Rights Council) but the body as a whole.

This report came out strongly condemning Israel for their part in a military operation in Gaza, also known as Operation Cast Lead. In Cast Lead Israel responded with a strong military force to years of rocket attacks by Hamas into the Israeli town of Sderot as well as casualties stemming from those rocket attacks.

Something that should also be noted is that Hamas is a recognized terrorist organization that has used malicious tactics in order to harm Israeli civilian lives not to mention lives of Palestinian opponents in Gaza.

During Operation Cast Lead, many Palestinian civilians died as a result of Israeli military operations, not due to Israeli negligence but because of Hamas’ blatant use of innocent civilians as human shields. At the same time the international community responded negatively to Israel’s right to defend its people and its land.

Recently, a United Nations factfinding mission headed by South African Judge Goldstone, found that Israel had “committed actions amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity.” Judge Goldstone’s report uses 575 pages to examine Israel’s Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in Gaza while severely condemning Israel in the process.

The report does condemn the Palestinian terrorist group as well, yet saves its harshest criticism for Israel. The report states, “While the Israeli Government has sought to portray its operations as essentially a response to rocket attacks in the exercise of its right to self defense, the Mission considers the plan to have been directed, at least in part, at a different target: the people of Gaza as a whole…”

This statement claims that Israel deliberately attacked civilians in Gaza with the aim of causing civilian casualties, which is something completely unthinkable and unjust to claim in an official UN factfinding report.

In this case a question must be posed as to why the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) dropped thousands of warning leaflets, made hundreds and thousands of phone calls warning Palestinian civilians, transferred tons of humanitarian aid into Gaza, and opened a field clinic for Palestinians on the border of Gaza? Israel took these actions not for show, but to avoid mass civilian casualties and to respond in the most humanitarian way possible.

In reality, the Goldstone Report is one that uses less than reliable sources to claim that the State of Israel committed war crimes. But in fact the United Nations Human Rights Council operates with a double standard in cases such as these.

Where were these threats of war crimes when the United States completely bombarded Afghanistan? Or when Russia unleashed their military power on Georgia?

In addition to that, many leading democratic members of the Human Rights Council have dismissed the Report. The European Union, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, and the United States have all refused to back a resolution that would include the Goldstone Report as the basis of evidence that war crimes had been committed by Israel.

Conflicts such as this stem from a cycle of war, death, devastation, and more often than not, civilians are the ones that suffer the most. For years the Israelis living in Sderot have lived in complete fear and agony. Since Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005 and completely dismantled the settlement of Gush Katif while handing it over to the Palestinians, Sderot has been a besieged city. Just one mile from the Gaza Strip, its citizens have suffered an endless and daily barrage of Qassam rockets while effectively becoming human shields for the rest of Israel.

They have lost loved ones to terror and have lost themselves in their own fear of leaving the bomb shelters that protect them. My personal experience with this conflict goes back to January of 2008 when I visit Sderot for the first time.

I remember it like it was yesterday; I drove into Sderot with my father, passing an army checkpoint on the way. We had been discouraged from going there, but I knew I wanted to see it. I wanted to feel it and understand the fear Israelis in Sderot were living in.

As we drove we saw a small falafel stand so we pulled over to get something to eat. The second I shut the car door the siren went off. At first I was taken aback–I didn’t know if it was even real then the fear set in.

My father grabbed me and we ran to a bus stop. In Sderot the bus stops are reinforced with concrete to act as temporary and less than reliable bomb shelters. Within seconds of ducking into the bus stop, I felt the ground beneath me shake, once then twice. The siren stopped. We waited a few minutes and we heard police and ambulance vehicles in the distance.

My first time in Sderot was memorable and life changing but my second visit was completely heartbreaking. Even months after the operation in Gaza, people in Sderot still lived in complete fear. When I visited in July the streets were as empty as they were the day I had been there in January 2008, during a peak in rocket attacks.

Even though there hadn’t been a Qassam rocket launched into Israel since May 19, mothers still hid their children in bomb shelters and very few people ventured into the streets of this once lively and beautiful city. This is the toll that terror takes on a nation and on humanity.

In this conflict, both the Palestinian and Israeli people suffered tremendously. The only ones at fault for the thousands of Palestinian casualties are Hamas, the terrorist group that currently governs in Gaza. The Goldstone Report does little to assist the peace process and negates the justification that Israel had to defend its people. Goldstone refers to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorists as “armed groups” that have the right to defend themselves while the world clearly recognizes Hamas as a dangerous terrorist organization.

In addition to that, the IDF stands accused of targeting Gaza’s civilian population when they did so much to avoid civilian casualties. The report has created an unjust equivalence of a democratic state with a terrorist organization and has come to show the world just how onesided the UN is in regards to Israel.

The standards the United Nations holds Israel to are significantly different to those world superpowers are held to. The Goldstone Report is a demoralizing insult to the people of Israel and specifically to the innocent people of Sderot who have endured years of suffering because of Hamas.