It was all so predictable: The first deck – as it’s called – of a New York Times front-page headline on Wednesday read, in capital letters “U.N. INQUIRY SEES GAZA WAR CRIMES; ISRAEL CHASTISED.” (See page 28.)
The second deck, in smaller capital letters, read “FOCUS ON CIVILIAN TOLL.”
And then, finally, the third deck, in upper- and lower-case letters, managed to note this absolutely essential information that should have made it up top: “Report Also Criticizes Palestinian Militants for Rocket Strikes.”
The Goldstone Report, called for its author, Judge Richard Goldstone of South Africa, does indeed accuse both Israel and Hamas of war crimes, although Israel bears the brunt of the criticism. The Hamas component should not be overlooked by Jewish groups, who began churning out their (equally predictable) impassioned condemnations of the report at the instant of its release. We share their concerns; any condemnation of Israel gets top billing (see the Times’ headline). We also believe, as Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gabriela Shalev told a gathering sponsored in March by UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey, that “no other army has been as concerned with human life and dignity as the Jewish army.”
Goldstone has been called naÃ¯ve for even undertaking the U.N. Human Rights Council’s commission to investigate alleged war crimes during the Gaza incursion. After all, the council includes such high-profile human rights abusers as Saudi Arabia, China, and Cuba. According to Freedom House, which released its “U.N. Human Rights Council Report Card” on Sept. 10, “a small but active group of countries with very poor human rights records have so far succeeded in limiting the ability of the Council to protect human rightsâ€¦. The Council has issued condemnatory resolutions on only a few countries since 2007, including a disproportionate number on Israel.”
Goldstone’s Jewishness and his depiction as a Zionist may have weighed into his choice by the council – as a way to convey credibility to this unreliable forum.
It will be interesting to see what the council will make of the Goldstone Report. Will it use the report as yet another bludgeon against Israel? Or will it, perforce, acknowledge Hamas’ culpability?