Among the multitude of attacks on Israel the United Nations has sponsored over the decades, last year’s Goldstone report on the 2009 Gaza war stands out for its dangerous distortions of fact and law. Now the U.N. Human Rights Council has sponsored a second team of investigators to press forward with the report’s implementation. Just as with round one, the United Nations has guaranteed the result of round two by selecting individuals whose independence is compromised.
This second rendition of Goldstone was crafted by a March 2010 resolution of the Human Rights Council. That resolution declares that Israel — and only Israel — committed “unlawful acts” in the Gaza war. And then it establishes a committee of experts to monitor and assess all judicial and other proceedings taken by Israel to respond to the General Assembly’s endorsement of the Goldstone report and its long list of supposed Israeli crimes.
The mandate also asks the new committee to assess the proceedings of the enigmatic “Palestinian side.” In the many resolutions on the Gaza war from the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, no mention is ever made of Hamas, which keeps with the U.N. fiction that the war entailed wanton Israeli aggression in a vacuum. Instead of eight years of rocket attacks on Israel’s civilian population and an elected government that openly advocates genocide, the resolution creating the Goldstone inquiry describes the problem with the Palestinian side as “crude rockets … result[ing] in the loss of four civilian lives and some injuries.”
The fact that the mandate of the Goldstone inquiry was tainted from the outset did not deter three more lawyers from taking this latest U.N. job. They are German Christian Tomuschat (chair), Malaysian Param Cumaraswamy and American Mary Davis.
All three of the new committee members are affiliated with the International Commission of Jurists. Tomuschat and Cumaraswamy were members of the ICJ’s executive committee. Cumaraswamy was ICJ’s vice president until 2006. Currently both are honorary members. Davis is on the board of the American Association for the ICJ. The ICJ has been closely connected with the Human Rights Council’s campaign to vilify Israel over the Gaza war, and in particular, the Goldstone report and its follow-up.
The mandate establishing the committee, however, demands the assessment of the “independence” and “effectiveness” of Israeli proceedings and their conformity with international standards. The ICJ claims that the prosecution and punishment of Israeli “civilian leaders and military commanders” for Goldstone’s list of crimes is “essential” to conform to those standards.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference, the League of Arab States and the United Nations apparatus are furiously pretending this is all about law. In reality, of course, the target of the Goldstone report and its follow-up has always been Israel.
Today it happens to take the form of a partisan committee charged with investigating the independence of Israel’s own investigations, supported by pro-Palestinian advocates doubling as U.N. human rights officials.
The only way to respond is to challenge the legal bona fides of the report and its progeny and expose the venality of the political agenda inseparable from them.
Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.