Loving the Libel
By Ben Dror Yemini
Maariv (translated from Hebrew)
April 15, 2011
The central claim of the Goldstone report is that Israel intentionally killed civilians. Killing for the sake of killing. There’s a lot of nonsense in the report’s nearly 600 pages. But in my opinion it was not by chance that this claim received the most publicity.
How would one test for such intentions? There are many methods. One, for example could be the test of proportionality. If for instance in a particular battle a thousand civilians were killed together with ten combatants, there would be serious suspicion that the operational goal was the killing of civilians, rather than combatants. Collective punishment. This is what the Goldstone report claims.
Goldstone retracted. “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document” wrote Goldstone two weeks ago, causing uproar. Let’s ignore Goldstone for a moment. Thousands of articles have been written attempting to analyse the recesses of his mind. It’s difficult to forgive him for creating the libel. Even so, he deserves our forgiveness. He retracted. The problem is those who love the libel. They’re not moved. Such are Goldstone’s fellow committee members, who released a statement yesterday, in their favourite paper, Britain’s Guardian. The paper that will continue to propagate the report’s libels.
Time after time, reporters would ask Goldstone about Israel’s killing of civilians, in comparison to, for example, that of the U.S. army. Initially he would answer, as he did for example to Channel Two’s Yonit Levy, “I have not investigated the US army”. A reasonable answer. Only few weeks later, the same Goldstone responded to PBS’s Bill Moyers that “The US army gone to extremes to protect innocent civilians”. It would seem that in the intervening period he managed to conduct an investigation, without anybody hearing about it.
Seriously, it’s clear that Goldstone doesn’t have a clue. He was requested to provide Israel’s head on a platter, to announce that Israel was a terrible monster - and that’s what he did. His fellow committee members and a group of useful idiots from Israel and the world aided him in the concoction of the libel. Not all of their claims are false. But when cases on a micro level are taken and inflated to monstrous proportions the conclusion will be that Israel is a monster.
In order to test the claim of intentional killing, we can take a look at a number of conflicts that included Gazan like battles, a state versus a hostile, semi military entity. Russia vs. Chechnya for example. Or America versus the various Jihad organisations of Fallujah. Or Sri-Lanka versus the Tamil Tigers. Or Pakistan versus the Taliban in the Swat valley. In all these conflicts the amount of civilians killed is far greater than the number of combatants killed – far greater both relatively and absolutely, in comparison to the Gaza conflict. Significantly greater. There were tens of thousands in Chechnya and Sri-Lanka and thousands in clashes with the US and Pakistan, in Fallujah and the Swat valley. Only Israel, alone, manages to minimize civilian casualties. One wouldn’t expect the United Nations Human Rihghs Council (UNHRC) to send flowers to Israel thanking it for its major efforts in protecting human life. But that same UNHRC did in fact send flowers to Sri-Lanka, who only a few months after Cast Lead decimated the Tamil Tigers, while in the process massacring tens of thousands of innocent civilians.
These are the facts. They’re as clear as day. But Goldstone’s fellow committee members aren’t moved. The truth is that they weren’t moved even before they were appointed to the committee. Or, to be precise, they were appointed to the committee because their opinion was known from the outset. Christine Chinkin published a letter in the London Times where she claims that “Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is not self-defence – it’s a war crime”. The other two, Hina Jilani and Desmond Travers signed a petition for an investigation into war crimes committed during the Gaza operation.
This is the background to the statement that the three published in their favourite newspaper, The Gaurdian. They won’t give up on the libel. Are they alone? Naomi Chazan, the president of the New Israel Fund is participating. She released a statement, at the outset of the operation, about the “slaughter” that Israel was committing. This was just a precursor to the torrent of accusations against Israel that culminated in a shameful report. Now she needs to decide – will she recant like Goldstone or will she side with the other committee members? The public that supports the NIF and the other ngo's who contributed to the commission’s report have the right to receive an answer.
Ben-Dror Yemini is a journalist, researcher and a jurist - firstname.lastname@example.org
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