Saturday, 7 November 2009

Love of the Land: The Goldstone Illusion

The Goldstone Illusion

What the U.N. report gets wrong about Gaza--and war.

Moshe Halbertal
The New Republic
06 November 09

(This is a long but thorough explanation of the topic, a worthwhile read.)


In 2000, I was asked by the Israel Defense Forces to join a group of philosophers, lawyers, and generals for the purpose of drafting the army’s ethics code. Since then, I have been deeply involved in the analysis of the moral issues that Israel faces in its war on terrorism. I have spent many hours in discussions with soldiers and officers in order to better grasp the dilemmas that they tackle in the field, and in an attempt to help facilitate the internalization of the code of ethics in war. It was no wonder that, when the Goldstone Report on the Gaza war was published, I was keen to read it, with some hope of getting a perspective on Israeli successes or failures in this effort to comprehend war, and to fight it, morally. Unlike many who responded to the report, in praise or in blame, I gave this immensely long document a careful reading.

Let us begin with a sense of the moral stakes. Since the early 1990s, the nature of the military conflict facing Israel has been dramatically shifting. What was mainly a clash between states and armies has turned into a clash between a state and paramilitary terror organizations, Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north. This new form of struggle is now called “asymmetrical war.” It is defined by an attempt on the part of those groups to erase two basic features of war: the front and the uniform. Hamas militants fight without military uniforms, in ordinary and undistinguishing civilian garb, taking shelter among their own civilian population; and they attack Israeli civilians wherever they are, intentionally and indiscriminately. During the Gaza operation, for example, some Hamas militants embedded in the civilian population did not carry weapons while moving from one position to another. Arms and ammunition had been pre-positioned for them and stored in different houses.

In addressing this vexing issue, the Goldstone Report uses a rather strange formulation: “While reports reviewed by the Mission credibly indicate that members of the Palestinian armed groups were not always dressed in a way that distinguished them from the civilians, the Mission found no evidence that Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian population with the intention of shielding themselves from the attack.” The reader of such a sentence might well wonder what its author means. Did Hamas militants not wear their uniforms because they were inconveniently at the laundry? What other reasons for wearing civilian clothes could they have had, if not for deliberately sheltering themselves among the civilians?

As for the new “front” in asymmetrical warfare, we read in another passage, which is typical of the report’s overall biased tone, that, “On the basis of the information it gathered, the Mission finds that there are indications that Palestinian armed groups launched rockets from urban areas. The Mission has not been able to obtain any direct evidence that this was done with the specific intent of shielding the rocket launchers from counterstrikes by the Israeli armed forces.” What reason could there possibly be for launching rockets from urban centers, if not shielding those rockets from counterattack? And what is the moral distinction that is purportedly being established here?

By disguising themselves as civilians and by attacking civilians with no uniforms and with no front, these paramilitary terrorist organizations attempt nothing less than to erase the distinction between combatants and noncombatants on both sides of the struggle. Suicide bombers exploded themselves on buses and in restaurants in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Dimona, Eilat, and many other places. Qassam rockets and Katyushas were fired randomly at various Israeli civilian centers, as far as their range allowed. So the war had no defined place and was waged by unidentified murderers. It justifiably felt like a change in the very nature of warfare. The goal of this momentous transformation was to create a war of all against all and everywhere. It aimed at shifting the Israeli population from a healthy sense of cautious fear attached to a particular place-a border, a security zone--to a generalized panic that has no location. Everywhere and everyone is now regarded as dangerous. This is not paranoia. It has a basis in a new reality, and is the outcome of a new strategic paradigm.

(Full article)

Love of the Land: The Goldstone Illusion

Love of the Land: The mullahs' big week

The mullahs' big week

Caroline Glick
06 November 09

At first glance, this past week seems like a week that Iran's mullahs would very much like to forget. Early Wednesday morning, IDF naval commandos boarded the merchant ship Francop and diverted it to the naval base at Ashdod. There the IDF displayed its cargo of 3,000 rockets and various and other sundry ordnance useful only to terror forces.

The Francop originated in Iran and was intercepted en route to Iran's Hizbullah proxy force in Lebanon via Iran's Arab toady Syria.

As Israel's political leadership noted, this shipment constitutes hard proof that Iran is actively sponsoring terrorist armies in Lebanon, and doing so in full breach of binding UN Security Council resolutions. The commando raid also exposed the depth of Syria's collusion with Iran in arming Hizbullah. After Israel's seizure of the Francop, voices claiming that Syria is but a bit player in the terror game can be laughed off the international stage.

Israel's interception of the Francop came a week after Yemeni forces seized an Iranian ship transporting armor-piercing weapons to Houthi Shi'ite rebels in northern Yemen. As Saudi Arabia's Al-Watan reported over the weekend, Iranian Revolutionary Guards are training Houthi rebels in Eritrea and sponsoring their insurgency against the Yemini regime.

Earlier in October, the Hansa India, which sailed from Iran to Germany, fell under suspicion as it made its way to Syria. It was diverted from Egypt to Malta, where its cargo of bullets and industrial materials intended for weapons production was removed.

On Wednesday morning, just as Israel was announcing the capture of the Francop, scores of thousands of Iranians in cities throughout the country took advantage of the regime's planned demonstrations celebrating the 30th anniversary of the seizure of the US Embassy in Teheran to protest against the regime. These regime opponents willingly placed themselves in front of the batons, tear gas cannons and guns of Iranian regime goons to protest June's stolen presidential election and to call for the overthrow of the mullahs' regime of tyranny and its replacement with a democracy.

The protesters turned regime supporters' calls for "Death to America," and "Death to Israel" into big, deadly jokes by calling out, "Death to the Dictator" (that is, supreme ruler Ali Khamenei) and "Death to Russia."

Far from embracing the regime's 30-year war against the US and the nation-state based international system, representatives of the "Green Revolution" asked the US to forgive Iran for taking 52 US Embassy personnel hostage in 1979.

Back in Israel, for the past two weeks some 1,400 US military personnel have been deployed throughout the country for the biennial Juniper Cobra missile defense exercise with the IDF. Although Juniper Cobra is a routine maneuver, this year's exercise was unprecedented in size and scope. Observers claim that there have never been so many American generals in Israel at one time.

No previous Israeli-American joint exercise has been conducted with such a high profile. And Israeli leaders did not hesitate to name the enemy in this year's exercise. This year's Juniper Cobra exercise, they said, was part of the two nations' preparations for a joint response to a potential Iranian strike against Israel. The obvious message Israel and the US hoped to transmit to Teheran was that the strategic alliance between the two countries remains strong.

ALL IN all then, on the surface, this past week seemed like a horrible week for the mullahs. But appearances can be deceiving. Unfortunately and counterintuitively, the past week has been one of the best weeks the mullahs have had for a long, long time. Certainly, it was the best week the Iranian regime has had since it falsified the results of the June 12 presidential elections.
(Full article)

Love of the Land: The mullahs' big week

Love of the Land: Dr. Aaron Lerner responds to Peace Now "Excuse me, your bias is showing..."

Dr. Aaron Lerner responds to Peace Now "Excuse me, your bias is showing..."

Dr. Aaron Lerner
07 November 09

Noam Shelef issued an offer to me on the Peace Now website that I endorse requiring a national referendum to approve settlement construction as well as agreements that involve territorial concessions.

[He offered it on the website (click here) - but didn't actually send me a message with the offer - but thanks to Google Alert I received the item in my e-mail mailbox. But that's not the point of this note.]

There is a fundamental difference between settlement construction and territorial concessions Israel makes in diplomatic agreements and implements.


As was well illustrated in the retreat from Gaza and destruction of settlements in northern Samaria under the Sharon Administration, settlements can be unilaterally removed by Israel without requiring either the cooperation or approval of third parties..

In sharp contrast, Israel cannot unilaterally retake territory it ceded to another country without profound diplomatic and other consequences.

So a politician who betrayed his constituents by promising them to, for example, keep the Golan, in order to get elected and then cut a deal to hand it over to Syria might very well get the boot come election time - but the Syrian would still have the Golan.

This fundamental difference was recognized in the Oslo agreements. Changing the status of territory was banned - not settlement construction.

Article XXXI Paragraph 7 of the Interim Agreement: "Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations."The meaning of "status" means "legal status". A violation of the agreement would take place if Israel annexed part of the West Bank or Gaza Strip orthe PA declared an independent state in the area before the negotiations were concluded. Israeli settlement activity is no more a violation of theAgreement than Palestinian construction.

This is not just an Israeli interpretation.

"the Oslo agreement was not clear in the need to stop the settlement machine"

That's straight from "The political agenda of the national liberation movement Palestinian "Fatah" Submitted to the Sixth Conference of the Movement " June 28, 2009 Draft.

Related: Powerful Need for National Referendums

Love of the Land: Dr. Aaron Lerner responds to Peace Now "Excuse me, your bias is showing..."

Love of the Land: Gaza, According to Lawrence Wright

Gaza, According to Lawrence Wright

Noah Pollak
07 November 09

Lawrence Wright wrote The Looming Tower and is generally considered to be a reasonable journalistic voice. His piece in the current New Yorker should tarnish his reputation for seriousness.

It is a long and credulous recitation of stories he heard on a trip to Gaza. It is at turns deceptive, inaccurate, incomplete, and downright mendacious. He calls Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, “a Fatah loyalist.” Fayyad is a member of the Third Way party, not Fatah. But that’s a nitpick. Here is a good example of one of Wright’s many more serious distortions:

We drove past the site of a former Jewish settlement. Across the road were the remains of the greenhouses that the settlers had left behind, intact, with the understanding that Gaza farmers would take them over. The greenhouses were meant to become an important part of the agricultural economy. Gaza’s main exports were strawberries, cherry tomatoes, and carnations, destined mainly for Israel and Europe. But then the borders clamped shut and the fruit rotted. The carnations were fed to livestock. Now the greenhouses are nothing more than bare frames, their tattered plastic roofing fluttering in the sea breeze.

So, there were nice greenhouses, but then “the borders clamped shut” and “now the greenhouses are nothing more than bare frames” — just one more example of Israeli cruelty and collective punishment. But how, exactly, did the greenhouses become bare frames? How can border closings physically destroy buildings? Isn’t this a bizarre and confusing way to describe a series of events?

It is written this way because Wright is trying to deceive his readers. He wants to leave the impression that Israeli border closures starved the Gaza economy so completely that the Palestinians had to let perfectly good greenhouses fall into decrepitude.

But that’s not what happened — not even close. Here is an AP report dated September 13, 2005 — days after the disengagement:

Looters strip Gaza greenhouses

NEVE DEKALIM, Gaza Strip – Palestinians looted dozens of greenhouses on Tuesday, walking off with irrigation hoses, water pumps and plastic sheeting in a blow to fledgling efforts to reconstruct the Gaza Strip.

American Jewish donors had bought more than 3,000 greenhouses from Israeli settlers in Gaza for $14 million last month and transferred them to the Palestinian Authority. …

Palestinian police stood by helplessly Tuesday as looters carted off materials from greenhouses in several settlements, and commanders complained they did not have enough manpower to protect the prized assets. In some instances, there was no security and in others, police even joined the looters, witnesses said.

This is a well-known story — one of the best-known stories of the disengagement, in fact. It has been reported and discussed extensively. Why would Wright lament the greenhouses without pointing out that the Palestinians themselves destroyed them? When you read the piece, you’ll understand why.

Love of the Land: Gaza, According to Lawrence Wright

Love of the Land: Palestinian Affairs: Abbas's big bluff

Palestinian Affairs: Abbas's big bluff

Khaled Abu Toameh
06 November 09

Mahmoud Abbas's decision to hold new presidential and parliamentary elections at the beginning of next year is seen by some of his aides as one of the strangest moves he has made since he was elected to succeed Yasser Arafat five years ago.

These aides are now trying to persuade Abbas to find an honorable way to come down from the high tree he climbed when he issued a "presidential decree" a few weeks ago calling for a vote on January 24. One aide in Ramallah said that Abbas was "actually digging his own grave" by insisting on holding the elections before reaching an agreement with Hamas.

The Islamic movement has already made it clear that it won't participate in the elections. Moreover, Hamas has declared that it won't allow the vote to take place in the Gaza Strip and would punish any Palestinian there who is involved in the electoral process.

Hamas's decision means that the elections, when and if they are held, would be confined to the West Bank, where Abbas is partially in control, and perhaps some areas in Jerusalem that are under Israeli sovereignty.

Abbas's opponents can then argue that since the election was not held in the Gaza Strip, he does not represent the entire Palestinian people. As Hamas legislator Salah Bardaweel explained: "Abbas will then become the mayor or governor of the West Bank."

As such, maintaining the status quo would be the best option for Abbas. Under the current circumstances, Abbas can always argue that he represents a majority of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip who voted for him in the 2005 presidential election.

If Gaza is excluded from the planned elections, Abbas or whoever replaces him as head of Fatah will never be seen as a legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. This means that the new Palestinian leader would not have a mandate to negotiate or sign a peace agreement with Israel because he was not elected by a majority of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
(To full article)

Love of the Land: Palestinian Affairs: Abbas's big bluff

Love of the Land: Next, Locusts?

Next, Locusts?

The abject failure of the Obama administration's Middle East policy

Eliot Abrams
The Weekly Standard
11/16/2009, Volume 015
Issue 09

Can anything else possibly go wrong for the Obama administration's Middle East policy? In the past ten days, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has twice reversed herself publicly on her attitude toward the Israeli settlements. Palestinians have refused her direct request to rejoin peace talks with Israel, and Palestinian Authority president Abbas has said he will not run for reelection. U.S.-Israel relations are in a state of frozen mistrust. The New York Times and Washington Post, among others, are calling Obama's policy a complete failure--in news stories as well as editorials. The only thing missing is a plague of locusts.

The policy is indeed a complete failure. In ten months the administration has managed to offend and demoralize Israelis and Palestinians, lose the support of Arab governments, and reduce previously excellent relations with the government of Israel to levels unmatched since the James Baker days. Meanwhile, George Mitchell's trips to the region are increasingly reminiscent of the Colin Powell visits in 2002 and 2003--producing little but embarrassment. The Israeli "100 percent settlement freeze" and the Arab outreach to Israel, early goals of the Obama team, are now forgotten, as is an early resumption of serious Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

These disasters are mostly the product of an ignorant and belligerent attitude toward Israel and especially its prime minister. The ignorance was most evident in the administration's view that a total construction freeze could be imposed not only in every settlement but in Jerusalem itself. But the U.S. policy was worse: We demanded a freeze that would apply to construction by Jews, but not by Arabs; could any Israeli leader be expected to support such a position? One does not need to be a member of the Knesset to understand that such a freeze was impossible for Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition as it would have been for any Israeli prime minister--but apparently this fact was beyond the understanding of Mitchell, Rahm Emanuel, and all the other "experts" on the Obama team.

The belligerence toward Netanyahu has been evident all along, but is best shown by the refusal to tell Israel's prime minister whether or not the president will see him this coming week when Netanyahu (like the president) addresses the United Jewish Communities annual general assembly in Washington. The Israelis gave the White House weeks of notice that Netanyahu had agreed to speak, would be in town, and hoped to see Obama. The White House reaction has been to keep him twisting in the wind, with news stories several days before his arrival saying the president had not decided yet whether to see Netanyahu.

Think of it: Our closest ally in the region, critical issues at stake (from Iran's nuclear program and the recent Israeli seizure of an Iranian arms shipment meant for Hezbollah to Abbas's announcement), yet the Israelis get no answer. Obama and his "experts" may think they are reminding Netanyahu who is boss, but they are in fact reminding all of us why Israelis no longer trust Obama--and making closer cooperation between the two governments that much harder.

Love of the Land: Next, Locusts?

Love of the Land: Goldstone and the Rule of Law

Goldstone and the Rule of Law

Ted Belman
Hudson New York
06 November 09

The International Court came into being by virtue of the Rome Treaty in 2002.. To date, 110 states have signed on and a further 38 states have signed but not ratified it. The U.S.and Israel are among those who have yet to ratify the treaty.

The same year, Richard Goldstone delivered a speech at a Toronto synagogue arguing that it was in the interests of Israel and the U.S. that they sign on. It was asked if Israelshould sign on as she would never get a fair hearing. Goldstone vehemently disagreed.

Fast forward: In the days before to Operation Cast Lead, during a period when the Gazans were committing war crimes daily by firing rockets indiscriminately at Israeli civilians, Dr. Abraham Bell in his article on International Law and Gaza set out the basic principles and subtitled his article The Assault on Israel’s Right of Self Defense.

But what do these principles and rules he set out mean in practice? Did Israel have no choice but to invade or could it just have used artillery and bombs, even unintelligent inexpensive bombs?

Bruce Tucker Smith, JD, LL.M. (International Law), Lt Col USAFR (ret). who is currently a US military Judge, summarized his opinion as follows:

“In short…Israel’s defense forces are entitled to use whatever means is at her disposal to search out and destroy terrorist operatives. Nothing in international law precludes a vigorous, intense and effective military campaign to destroy terrorist operations. That means, Israel may use air and ground-artillery resources -as she will-against those Hamas operatives (I hesitate to us the word “military” - since Hamas is NOT a recognized military force.) which are used to inflict casualties upon Israel.

“That means Israel may use her army in large or small measure to attack any place or person that attacks Israel. That means Israel can bombard Hamas targets as militarily necessary to render it impotent against a subsequent wave of Israeli soldiers. Although politically preferable, nothing in international law absolutely requires Israel to use “smart” munitions in its operations against Hamas.

“If Hamas attempts to shield its operations with truly innocent civilians or children—it is Hamas and not Israel, who has committed an atrocity -an actionable war crime-of the most heinous proportion!”

In sum: Israel is free to employ ALL munitions, tactics, equipment and personnel in her arsenal to defend herself against the outlaw Hamas terrorist organization. Short of the intentional targeting and murder of truly uninvolved and innocent civilians, Israel can (and should) operate as freely as she desires to protect her territorial sovereignty and the lives of her citizens.

(Continue article)

Love of the Land: Goldstone and the Rule of Law

Love of the Land: Fort Hood massacre provokes outcry in Guardian and BBC…over “fear-mongering hysteria” against Muslims

Fort Hood massacre provokes outcry in Guardian and BBC…over “fear-mongering hysteria” against Muslims

Robin Shepherd
Robin Shepherd Online
07 November 09

A Muslim, Palestinian-American soldier massacres 12 fellow soldiers and a civilian at the Fort Hood military base in Texas. Evidence is already available that the perpetrator, Major Nidal Hasan, a military psychiatrist, was incensed at the prospect of being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan and that he had compared suicide bombing to the bravery of soldiers in combat who might fall on a grenade to protect the lives of their comrades.

It is also clear that he is a very devout Muslim who opposes the wars he feared being sent to fight in. According to the testimony of a former colleague, Col. Terry Lee: “He said maybe the Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor…At first we thought he was talking about how Muslims should stand up and help the armed forces in Iraq and in Afghanistan, but apparently that wasn’t the case.”

So clearly, there are good grounds for suspecting that this might at least have something to do with the kind of Islamist agenda which has provoked massacres from Bali to Tel Aviv, from London to New York and from Madrid to Mumbai. Note that all I am suggesting here is that there are “good grounds for suspecting”. In other words, I am arguing that any open minded and intelligent analyst would want to take that possibility into consideration.

Well, not if you write for the Guardian which raced out two op-eds with the aim not of expressing sympathy for the victims but of starkly warning that red neck, Islamophobic loons were about to have a field day. But if its loons you’re after you rarely have to search further than the Guardian’s editorial page.

Read the rest of this entry »

Love of the Land: Fort Hood massacre provokes outcry in Guardian and BBC…over “fear-mongering hysteria” against Muslims

Love of the Land: All It Takes

All It Takes

Democracy in Iran, opposition demonstrations in Tehran are crushed by Ahmadinejad : Dry Bones cartoon.

"All it takes . . ." is a reference to the often quoted and more often ignored piece of folk wisdom "All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing".

* * *

Below is an editorial from yesterday's (Nov.5, 09) Wall Street Journal about Obama's response to the pro-Democracy protests in Iranian cities:

Obama on Tehran's Democrats:
"We do not interfere in Iran's internal affairs"

Tens of thousands of protesters yesterday braved police batons and tear gas canisters in the streets of Iranian cities to denounce their theocratic rulers and call for a change of regime. In spite of repression by the Basiji thugs and the West's short attention span, the Green Revolution lives on.

On this, the 30th anniversary of the hostage taking at the U.S. Embassy, their message was to a large degree intended for America and President Obama. The opposition hijacked the day, usually an occasion to denounce the Great Satan, to declare their desire to break with that past and build a free Iran. They marched alongside state-sanctioned rallies, before their protests were broken up violently.

For this broad coalition of democrats, America is a beacon of hope and the Iran of the street arguably the most pro-American place in the world. Earlier this year, before the huge demonstrations in the wake of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's brazen theft of the June presidential election, one popular opposition chant was, "O ba ma!"—in Farsi a play on the new American President's last name that translates as, "He with us!"

But the opposition's dreams of American support, moral as much as anything, have been dashed. Mr. Obama was slow and reluctant to speak out on their behalf and eager to engage the Iranian regime in nuclear talks as soon as the summer of protest tapered off. Iran's democrats are now letting their disappointment show. The new chant passed around in Internet chat rooms and heard in the streets yesterday was, "Obama, Obama—either you're with them or with us." -more

Love of the Land: All It Takes

Love of the Land: Weekly Commentary: Yossi Beilin unintentionally brings powerful argument for national referendums

Weekly Commentary: Yossi Beilin unintentionally brings powerful argument for national referendums

Dr. Aaron Lerner
05 November 09

"If you are in power with the responsibility for the future of the People on your shoulders and if you are convinced that it is the correct path don't hesitate. Don't knowingly make the wrong decision only because you found yourself saying something in the heat of the election campaign. In any case in the next elections you will face the judgment of the public. There will be those who won't vote for you because you were ostensibly disloyal, and there will be those who will vote for you because of your wisdom and courage."
Yossi Beilin - column in Yisrael Hayom - 2 November 2009

The purpose of the democratic process is to enable the electorate to impact policy.

Yossi Beilin's view of the democratic process is that politicians should have no qualms getting elected on one platform and implementing another - so long as they are willing to risk getting the boot.

Beilin unintentionally presents a powerful argument for the need for national referendums to approve agreements involving territorial concessions.

That's the only way to insure that the public's will is ultimately honored.

Love of the Land: Weekly Commentary: Yossi Beilin unintentionally brings powerful argument for national referendums

Love of the Land: Disfigured Terror Victim Confronts Goldstone in U.N. Debate

Disfigured Terror Victim Confronts Goldstone in U.N. Debate

04 November 09

U.N. Human Rights Council witnesses dramatic face-off when head of controversial UN "fact-finding" mission on Gaza unexpectedly confronted by one of his own witnesses. Dr. Mirela Siderer, an Israeli doctor brutally disfigured by a 2008 rocket attack fired from Gaza into her Ashkelon medical clinic, pointedly accused Judge Richard Goldstone of ignoring her July oral testimony in his report, and of failing to disclose material information concerning the mandate and members of the mission. Both declared Israel guilty in advance. Testimony arranged by the Geneva human rights organization UN Watch.

Love of the Land: Disfigured Terror Victim Confronts Goldstone in U.N. Debate

Israel Matzav: Goldstone v. Gold, the videos and more

Israel Matzav: Goldstone v. Gold, the videos and more

Israel Matzav: What would you do?

What would you do?

Here are my impressions of what Aussie Dave called the Dore Gold v. Richard Goldstone cage match debate.

Overall, I really felt that Dore Gold won the debate. That assessment is based on the audience reaction and on the comprehensiveness of his presentation. Goldstone seemed dumbfounded at the slides and video that Gold produced.

I was surprised that most of the crowd was not hostile. I was prepared for a crowd that would react with much hostility to Gold and Israel. That was not the case for the most part.

Once the videos are online and you've had a chance to see them, I believe you will agree with me.

I entitled this post "What would you do?" because that was the question Gold left with the audience: What would you do if you were facing the situation that Israel was facing from Gaza?

Gold managed to get in all the points he wanted. He even worked in the Iranian arms ship seizure on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, I am going to have to shut this post off for now - I'm losing my Internet connection. Will try to post more later Thursday night or Friday morning (I'm still in Boston now).

Israel Matzav: What would you do?

Israel Matzav: Richard Goldstone v. Dore Gold Liveblog

Richard Goldstone v. Dore Gold Liveblog

This is the first of at least three posts tonight that will deal with the Goldstone - Gold debate I just saw at Brandeis. The first one is my liveblog notes of the debate. The second will include video of the entire debate, which is being uploaded to YouTube as I am typing this. The third one will be my general comments about the debate.

I am going to post my raw notes of the debate in the interest of getting them up quickly, and then I will go back and add links, so if you see something you don't understand, hang in there.

Here we go:

I was hoping to liveblog this debate, but my wireless is acting up again and so I am typing into a Word document as things go along, and hopefully will find a way to upload later.

Security was much less tight than I thought it would be. I entered through an entrance that was neither ‘ticketed’ nor ‘general admission.’ They asked for an ID, I showed them a photo ID and told them I was ‘media.’ They asked what media, I said I was a blogger. The police officer asked for the name of my blog, and I was in. I’m sitting upstairs in the media section, but there are a lot of people here who are clearly not media. The funny thing is that it says “no cameras or cell phones” and as soon as you walk in there is a whole row of television cameras filming the entire event.

For those wondering about Mr. Sussman (the gentleman from SDS whose email I published at the beginning of the week, and which was cited by Caroline Glick in her Friday column) and his ilk, I have been told that the university has threatened to severely sanction anyone who disrupts this event.

I just noticed that there’s a cameraman from Israeli Channel 10 filming next to me…. Well, I didn’t get interviewed.

I’m sitting next to a Reuters correspondent and just ran into an old friend whose daughter is here covering for JPost. The friend said that the line to get in wrapped around the building twice.

Brandeis’ President Reinharz is giving an introduction about how the university seeks truth and how they have always hosted people on both sides. Goldstone will speak first, Gold second. He says that there is substantial agreement on the underlying principles involved in the Goldstone report.

The event is being streamed all over the world.

Reinharz makes the connection between Israel’s fight with Hamas and America’s fight with terrorists who melt into the civilian populations. Brandeis students and faculty will get priority in questions. He asks for civility during the speeches.

Daniel Terrace is introducing Goldstone. Professor Ilan Trohn is hosting the event with him. This is not a debate. But the format of the event is ‘illumination, not confrontation.’ Terrace will moderate the question and answer session at the end and then the speakers will give closing comments. This event is part of a continuing conversation on campus, and Professor Terrace asks again for civility.

Most important development in international law in the last two decades is development of protections for the world’s most vulnerable people. He talks about Goldstone’s background. Goldstone is a familiar figure at Brandeis. Goldstone gets a standing ovation from about five rather vocal older people in the second row.

Goldstone says he’s grateful to Dore Gold for agreeing to participate. He says that it’s to Israel’s credit that it’s concerned about many of the accusations in the Gaza report. Israel is a democracy that is committed to human rights. He says that the same cannot be said about Gaza (note – he does not refer to Hamas). He hopes to avoid the ‘personal attacks’ and then launches into a rant about all the personal attacks against him resulting from the Gaza report.

Four core and fundamental issues:

Human Rights Council’s record: Unfortunately, some members are human rights offenders and they impact the HRC’s record as an arbiter of human rights. He decries the disproportionate focus on Israel and notes that Kofi Annan also complained of the disproportionate focus on Israel. He notes that at the Council’s most recent session in Geneva they adopted resolutions relating to other countries but regrettably refused to investigate war crimes in Sri Lanka. He believes US sitting on HRC is a positive step.

His mandate: He says that the mandate he accepted was not biased against Israel. The original mandate was biased against Israel. As you all know, the mandate was never legally changed. He’s telling the story of the ‘new mandate.’ The Nigerian ambassador to the HRC asked him how he would word an even-handed mandate. Goldstone wrote out the mandate and the Nigerian ambassador – President of the HRC – asked him to accept that mandate. He said that it was the first even-handed HRC mandate in the Middle East. He quotes from the mandate he wrote. It is limited to 27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009 whether before during or after. He says that he hoped Israel would go along with the mandate, and that HRC adopted the ‘whole report,’ including that Hamas committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. He complains that they were not allowed to visit southern Israel and they were not allowed to go to the ‘West Bank’ either. He said he spoke to the Israeli ambassador to the HRC, but the response was that the ambassador had no authority to meet with him and that the Israeli government was not prepared to cooperate with the HRC mission. He referred to the mandate. Goldstone responded that was not his mandate. He said that two months later he got a response to his letters to the Prime Minister and to his request for reconsideration in which it was said that there would be no cooperation. He cites an article from Haaretz October 28 citing Yitzchak (Isaac) Herzog saying that not cooperating with Goldstone was a mistake.

What the mandate included: Violations of human rights and humanitarian law (what used to be called the laws of war). He says that Israel has the right to protect its citizens under international law and that it has the duty to do so. The mandate did not call on them to evaluate the right to use military force, but whether the manner in which it was used was consistent with international humanitarian law. He said that they conducted 50 phone calls with witnesses in southern Israel in addition to the interviews they conducted in Geneva. The rocket attacks terrorized women and children every day of their lives. He refers to militants who fired rockets who committed serious war crimes.

It’s not a judicial or quasi-judicial proceeding and did not use criminal evidence standards. He said that the journalist from the Forward misunderstood him. He called for independent investigations in Israel and in Gaza.

He refers to the Dahiye doctrine explained by Gabi Eisenkot in 2006, who said that disproportionate force would be applied to any quarter from which rockets were being filed on Israel. He claims that’s a war crime. He cites Eli Yishai on January 6, 2009 saying that all of Gaza should be destroyed and homes should be razed to the ground. Goldstone claims that doctrine was applied in Operation Cast Lead. 5000 homes were destroyed. He notes high civilian death toll and huge number of homes destroyed. He complains of attacks on Gaza infrastructure – 200 factories. He lists flour mill, water supply, etc.

Unemployment in Gaza at 60% and 90% of people live on less than $1 per day. He cites Isaac Herzog again criticizing cabinet ministers’ remarks during the war as giving Goldstone ammunition. He cites comments again by Eli Yishai and Chaim Ramon [which were cited by Herzog. CiJ]. He says that response must be proportionate and up to now Israel accepted that.

Methodology: Relied on what they saw and were told. He complains that they were not informed of the Israeli government’s views.

As long as people are being treated without dignity there will be no peace.

He finishes. There was polite applause. Same people who stood up before applaud more vigorously.

Professor Ilan Tohrn introduces Dore Gold.

This is the first time that an Israeli of Ambassador Gold’s stature responds to any member of the Goldstone Commission. Israel argues that the official mandate was never rescinded by the HRC even if Goldstone objected to it. Canada, Japan and EU voted against the resolution. The number of states opposing the report has grown. He cites House resolution casting the report as biased 344-36. Condemnation of report is not narrowly based. The 575-page report emphasizes Israel and its bulk is about Israel.

Goldstone Report is the most comprehensive and damaging against Israel. There is nothing like it about Hamas or Palestinian society. Ambassador Gold has to explain why so many Israelis find this report so objectionable. He says that Gold must address the accuracy of the facts collected by the fact-finding mission and whether there are any facts it does not include. What alterations would Gold suggest and what suggestions would he offer. He asks the audience to extend the same attentiveness and courtesy that they extended to Goldstone.

Several people toward the back give a standing ovation. They just dimmed the lights – I’m not sure why. [Subsequently, I found out why: Gold was using slides and video for his presentation. CiJ].

Gold says the report is the most serious indictment of the State of Israel bearing the UN’s seal since the UN General Assembly adopted the Zionism is racism resolution from 1975. (There’s now a screen up with pictures of Gaza during the war – so far just one picture but let’s see if Dore’s going to show movies). Report delegitimizes Israel. He cites the weapons ship that was stopped on Wednesday morning with thousands of rockets. The UNHRC or any major UN body will not point out Iran’s constant involvement in human rights violations or war crimes against the State of Israel.

The IDF is not what appears in this report. The Israeli army for generations is taught to avoid civilian casualties at all costs. He cites the 35 who captured an Arab shepherd and released him (Students with signs are standing the front rows on the other side. They’re all dressed in black. I can’t see what the signs. Dore Gold addresses the interruption and says that the US fought a war seven years ago for freedom of speech and discussion). The IDF tells the story that even though the 35 were killed, but orders to kill civilians must be disobeyed. He talks about the Jenin refugee camp where there was house to house combat to minimize civilian casualties and 23 Israeli soldiers died. (There’s a slide presentation going along with this). Hamas used Shifa Hospital as a command and control center and Israel refused to attack it.

For that reason, the UN Gaza report has been condemned across the political spectrum in Israel. The commission inferred ill will where it was not warranted while Hamas – a terror organization – is almost protected throughout the text. Hamas appears as ‘Palestinian armed groups’ throughout the report. Moussa Abu Marzouk concluded – correctly – that the report acquits Hamas almost entirely. The report omits the fact that Cast Lead was a war of self-defense (applause). He quotes paragraph 18 of the report.

He cites Christine Chinkin’s letter to the Times of London on January 11, 2009 and quotes from the letter. The report claims Israel tried to punish Gaza from electing Hamas (paragraph 1884). He shows video of Kassam attack in Sderot.

By 2008, terror had spread as far away as Be’er Sheva. Shows direct hit on school in Be’er Sheva (picture). By 2008, nearly one million Israelis were under the reach of Hamas rocket fire. Israel withdrew from Gaza and rocket fire increased by 500% from 2005 to 2006. Hamas declared it was ending the quiet on December 19, 2008. There is no question of who committed aggression against whom. Israel went to war on December 27, 2008 to bring a halt to the rocket fire.

Report’s problem is the repeated claim that Israel deliberately killed Palestinian civilians. He puts up a slide with quotes from report. How do they reach these conclusions? Three ways:

Those ways were deliberate attacks against civilians, scope of destruction, attacks on public buildings. He puts up a military map of northern Gaza City of Hamas’ military positions embedded purposely inside civilian populations – shows red dots with white dots inside them, which were rocket launching sites. What would you do if your population was facing repeated rocket attacks for eight years and enemy has embedded its military capability within the civilian population? Your choices: indiscriminate attacks like Russia did in Chechniya, give up or try to separate Palestinian civilians from military capability. Israel chose the third means. They said that they would hit any house that stored rockets, but sent multiple warnings to the civilian population. They entered into radio transmissions, leaflets were dropped, and then there was an attempt to directly contact families through cell phones or home phones. He put up a message in Arabic with an English translation.

How do we know that they received those warnings? Here’s a Hamas TV clip and how Hamas tried to keep the civilians among the military. (I haven’t seen these before – this is impressive). He said that the Goldstone Report wanted proof that the Palestinians were forced to be human shields – that’s an impossible standard to meet. He shows the famous video that I have of Fathi Hamad telling a rally that they must act as human shields and how they desire death. There’s no separation between Hamas and the ‘armed elements’ that fight Israel. He talked about Israel redirecting missiles while putting up a slide about the Palestinian police station strike.

Does this sound like a country that engages in deliberate attacks against a civilian population? How can this be seen as consistent with the principle charge of the Gaza report that Israel deliberately attacked Palestinian civilians? The report views Palestinian policemen as non-combatants. But he shows that some of the Palestinian policemen were involved with al-Qaeda and another was involved with the murder of Americans in 2003.

He shows a Hamas map that shows that roughly 20% of the houses in northern Gaza City were booby-trapped. In some areas there were secondary explosions caused by Hamas.

He says that the report claimed that no mosques had weapons in them. He cites Travers from the commission in Harpers’ Magazine claiming that there was no evidence that mosques were used for munitions. Travers claims that this is a result of the idea that Islam is a violent religion. But he shows a video of a mosque with anti-aircraft missiles. He mentions Fallujah and the mosque attacked by Hamas that was full of Salafists.

Some of the sources that the report used felt the report went too far. He cites Jessica Montrell [of B'Tselem. CiJ] at HuffPo, “Breaking the Silence” which says that there were briefings by commanders to avoid civilian causalities, and finally he notes the reluctance of witnesses in Gaza to speak who seemed to be afraid of reprisals.

Gold concludes by putting Richard Kemp’s speech from the HRC meeting last month. Gold was excellent. There is a lot of applause and lots of people standing. I’m shocked at how many people were standing and applauding.

They are taking questions. President Reinharz throws out initial question. He asks about the 36 incidents that the mission investigated and asks Goldstone to give a sense of one or two of the incidents that make the most compelling case and why. Now there are three questions from the audience. First question is a student asking Ambassador Gold why the Israeli government has refused to launch an internal investigation, don’t Israelis deserve to know the truth. Second question, asks Ambassador Gold to address the question of disproportionate response and to look at the situation on its own without comparisons. The third question asks Judge Goldstone how this report can be considered fair and unbiased when Christine Chinkin was on the panel and was not removed from the investigation. All the questioners were students.

Justice Goldstone talks about what led them to the conclusion that civilians were intentionally attacked. He says that they chose the incidents – they were not given to them by Hamas. The one attack that affected him was the attack on the mosque in Gaza City during a service with over 300 people attending by a missile from IDF forces that killed 21 people and injured many more. He said that there were no secondary explosions, but even if there was, there is no permission under law to shoot at a mosque during services – it should have been done in the middle of the night when no one was there. The other example he cites was the demolition of the American school in Gaza City. He doesn’t understand why it was chosen – it was the center of anti-Hamas activity. He says there is no explanation for ordering a compound attacked with white phosphorus. He complains why the whole food infrastructure of Gaza was destroyed. If that isn’t collective punishment, what is?

Regarding Professor Chinkin, he says that everyone saw what was going on by watching al-Jazeera. He said that an occupying power cannot act in self-defense. He says that it didn’t matter – Israel could take military or police action to defend its population and that the letter added that Hamas had committed war crimes.

The microphone passes to Dore Gold who explains that in the Israeli military justice system does not allow any soldier, event etc. to escape investigation, and if the military advocate general won’t investigate, the attorney general can investigate and so can the Israeli Supreme Court. He has full confidence in the Israeli legal system. Of the 36 incidents, the IDF has never heard of 12 of them and is investigating them today. He doesn’t believe we need a new special investigation because of this report.

Gold discusses the al-Maqadmah mosque (the one Goldstone cited) and says that Israel did not attack the mosque. But how do we reconstruct a reality that is no longer with us? Do we know who was in the mosque? The web sites of Hamas tell us who was killed. But he believes that there are other possible outcomes that can be investigated through Arab websites. Israel didn’t attack that mosque.

He says proportionality is a legal doctrine and suggests that Goldstone explain it.

Goldstone complains that nine months after the allegations, the IDF is still investigating itself behind closed doors. So far there is only one conviction for the theft of a credit card and says that’s demeaning of the victims of Gaza (mild applause). He says that they found remnants of Israeli ammunition in the mosque.

Three more questions (all the questions are downstairs so I can’t ask). First question is for Justice Goldstone: If they had no access to the Israeli side, how could the report be unbiased and given that, why did they go ahead with the report? Second question is from a ‘Palestinian’ student who has a sign and is complaining that that the ‘Palestinian’ perspective is not being presented. So she asks Justice Goldstone how he feels since she feels disrespected in his name. Justice Goldstone said it’s not his question – it’s a question for the organizers. Third question is for Justice Goldstone and asks him to speak about conditions in Gaza both before the invasion and since.

Justice Goldstone says that he was saddened that they did not get Israel’s cooperation and asks why the information shown by Ambassador Gold was not shown to them during the investigation. He complains about Israelis having to be brought to Geneva and to Amman, Jordan to meet with the Commission. Goldstone says he would have liked to see a ‘Palestinian’ representative. This draws wild applause from the protest crowd. He talks about how he so feared being in Gaza. He said he feared being kidnapped and that Israelis would rejoice. He says that the people in Gaza were similar to the people in Israel, that they were warm etc. He talks about the conditions in Gaza and how people cannot rebuild their homes.

Dore Gold responds that there is no question that there was enormous damage in Gaza. But why doesn’t Hamas appear as a responsible party for what happened? (Applause). The report relates to ‘armed groups.’ Which armed groups? The report almost grants legitimacy to Hamas. He says that to invite the ‘Palestinians’ you’d have to decide whom to invite – Hamas or Fatah. He asks who started the war, who launched rockets, who booby-trapped homes. This war would never have happened if rockets were not fired at the State of Israel. Israel withdrew from Gaza in September 2005 and had no desire to go back there. He says that huge amounts of goods and services running between Egypt and Gaza (mild applause). Why should Israel open its borders when it’s being pelted by rockets every other day? The report would have real credibility if it treated Israel fairly and if it pinned the blame on the leadership of Hamas who created this tragedy for the ‘Palestinian’ people.

There are three final questions. First is an Israeli PhD student. He asks Justice Goldstone: How would you suggest to states to respond to terrorist threats in the future and how would you suggest that Israel engage with Hamas? A second student question asks Justice Goldstone and asks about the Israelis who suffered from rockets for eight years, and wasn’t that collective punishment and where was your voice then? Third question is another student who asks Justice Goldstone what he would have considered a proportionate response to the rocket attacks on Sderot.

About the rules of war – proportionality has nothing to do with comparing what one side uses and what the other side uses. Rather it’s doing things in the way that causes the least possible casualties. Hamas is the government of the Gaza Strip and it has a military wing. He said that they got an unsatisfactory response from Hamas. They asked Hamas from where the rockets were fired and were told that Hamas didn’t know because it’s from the military wing. They gave the same answer regarding Gilad Shalit. How to deal with that would make a good politics paper.

He says that we should read Chapter 24 of the report regarding the collective punishment of the people of southern Israel.

What is a proportionate response? He suggests commando operations but that costs lives. A proportionate response would be to bomb the places where Israeli intelligence has information that rockets and ammunition are being stored and if there is collateral damage, as long as it’s proportionate to the military aim, it would not be a war crime. But you can’t use anti-personnel weapons – that’s disproportionate.

Dore Gold responds that one of the central elements of our disagreement is how to treat Hamas. Do you recognize Hamas as legitimate or do you say that it’s a terror organization? In Afghanistan, the US decided to take down the Taliban regime. They set a principle that you cannot allow a terrorist regime to give sanctuary to terrorist organizations that attack civilians and commit war crimes. Hamas’ hosting terrorism and the report does not deal with it by referring to armed groups.

Summing up, Dore Gold. He brings comments back to UN and UNHRC. It’s no secret that they systematically mistreat the State of Israel. What are the rights of a minority state in the international system that repeatedly faces the majority in the UN? The UN will be judged on how it treats minorities. Israel is not in a position to be protected in the General Assembly or the Human Rights Council and that is a good enough reason for the State of Israel not to cooperate with this investigation (applause) and to leave the investigation in the hands of Israel’s military and civilian justice systems.

Justice Goldstone believes that Israel because of its isolation should have cooperated with an even-handed mandate. He questions whether the report has been condemned by all spectrums of Israeli society. He’s gotten lots of emails that say otherwise. He asks why the Israeli government made public overtures to the British and Dutch governments from financing Breaking the Silence. Finally, he still hopes that over Barak’s objections there will still be an ‘open investigation.’ He thanks Brandeis for living up to its reputation of speaking the truth.

Some thoughts summing up in a separate post.


Israel Matzav: Richard Goldstone v. Dore Gold Liveblog

RubinReports: Understanding the Ft. Hood Attack: America’s the Bad Guy This I Know, Because My TV Told Me So

Understanding the Ft. Hood Attack: America’s the Bad Guy This I Know, Because My TV Told Me So

[Please subscribe, original analysis by a 30-year veteran Middle East expert]

By Barry Rubin

My teenage daughter watches the “Bones” series and described the latest program to me. An American soldier who had served in Iraq is found dead in the United States. FBI agents discover he was in a battle where U.S. soldiers had stormed a house and one of his friends was killed by Iraqis posing as civilians before the Americans wiped them out.

Of course, you know what happens. The soldier killed in the house really died from friendly fire; the rest of the soldiers murdered all the Iraqis in cold blood and planted guns on them. She hasn’t seen the end yet but I can guess that one of the other murderous American soldiers who’d been there had also finished his enlistment, returned to America, and killed the second soldier to shut him up.

I feel sorry for American veterans, soldiers, and their families who must put up with anti-American slanders from rich American show business types who live in luxury, feel smug, and never do anything for their country but bash it. This is also the kind of thing that brings us to a world where Libya, Iran, and Sudan condemn Israel for alleged war crimes as part of the Western intelligentsia cheers.

Might such an incident have happened? Yes, but I doubt if there are one hundred other shows presenting the heroic and decent acts of U.S. soldiers there and elsewhere, the kind of ratio that probably prevails.

Of course, other kinds of incidents also happen so here’s my outline for a future script. A young man, the son of Palestinian immigrants to America, grows up hearing constantly about how heroic (Arab/Muslim version) or provoked and justified (Western version) were Palestinian terrorists who deliberately murdered Israeli civilians.

For whatever psychological and other reasons, he becomes increasingly pious in his religious beliefs. But his piety is developing in an environment in which radical Islamists are overwhelming conservative traditional Islam in offering their interpretations. He reads in the holy texts injunctions to wage Jihad, to conquer the non-believers, and of how they are enemies. And he reads on the web sites interpretations which stress the radical passages and interpret them for the present day.

Is this the only and inevitable interpretation of Islam? Of course not, but what’s important is that this is the prevalent one, the exciting and trendy one. These interpretations may be opposed by those of a more traditional bent but it is not daily and energetically denounced by them in effective terms.

Among these radical Islamist interpretations—so contrary, it should be noted, to Arab nationalist doctrine, in which he seems to have no interest--is that all Muslims must always fight on the side of other Muslims, above any national loyalty. But what if Muslims are fighting Muslims? Then whichever side is allied with non-Muslims must be wrong, according to the radical Islamist ideology.

So he rejects without even considering it the obvious counter-argument: the United States if fighting to help some Muslims who are fighting other Muslims. Then, too, the “other Muslims” are radical Islamists, like him. He knows which side he’s on. And it is logical to think that in his inner turmoil the question that tortures him is this one: Do I have enough guts, am I a good enough Muslim, to put my beliefs into action or am I just a cowardly hypocrite?

What about his taking in some assimilation, acculturation, American patriotism? They’re out of date. Hearing a public critique of contemporary Islam as a religion or of Islamism as an illegitimate offspring of Islam? That's out of bounds.

There are scenes of him joining the army and getting a free medical and psychiatric education at the American taxpayers’ expense. Ironically, to get to the armed forces medical college, he drives from Silver Spring to Rockville, Maryland, past the sites where the “Beltway Sniper”—a Mr. Muhammad with a very parallel story—shot his victims.

And then there’s footage, too, of September 11 and of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He’s shown to be getting a certain viewpoint from both sides: Jihadist into one ear; a constant, withering criticism of America from its own media pours into the other.

If his fellow soldiers speak differently, well that just marks them out as personal enemies, doesn’t it? At Walter Reed Hospital, where he’s posted, he preaches Islam trying to convert his colleagues and patients. Well, isn’t that what the doctrine says: give them a chance to become Muslims and if they reject that then all the worse for them? But he’s disciplined for this behavior. Can he have doubt, then who is the “enemy” of Islam according to the interpretation he accepts?

Did the Taliban and al-Qaida launch an attack on the United States and slay in the thousands? That doesn’t matter in this world view. If the United States fights back then America is the aggressor and must be fought and its people killed. When examined closely, many "condemnations" of terrorism by Islamic and certainly from Islamist sources only criticize terrorism against Muslims or within Muslim-majority countries.

And is the problem here a psychological one? Well, he is more closed, more serious, more fanatical, more deaf to nuance or to the appeals of just having a good time. But that’s not the cause of what happens, it’s only the difference between his becoming a terrorist personally and cheering on others who do so.

He is a loner. But so what? He needs no human leader. He has his divinely inspired texts, and also websites, and most important his ideology to guide him. And so one day, facing the prospect of being shipped out and being forced to “fight” (he’s a psychiatrist not an infantryman but still part of the “enemy” army) he takes a gun and starts shooting his fellow American soldiers.

To cite only two of many examples, when anarchists threw bombs or assassinated leaders 100 years ago or when groups like the Red Brigades launched terrorist attacks in Europe thirty years ago, was the cause the fact that they were pursuing their versions of anarchist or Communist politics or that these individuals had personal psychological and social maladjustments? Whatever the mental elements in their behavior, the motive and direction were political ideology.

Jihadist attacks in the United States have been defined out of existence. No matter what happens--a planned attack on Ft. Dix, the murder of two people standing in line at the El Al counter at Los Angeles airport, a driver deliberately running down people or two others with a trunk full of weapons in the Carolinas, or honor killings all over the place--we will be told this has nothing to do with Jihad or Islamism or an interpretation of Islam.

Afterward, there will be a different type of a cover-up in pretending that this had nothing to do with Islamism or Jihad but is merely a matter of an individual's mental illness. In contrast to the plot of the "Bones" show cited above, those who speak out on these points won't be killed but merely will have their characters assassinated.

We will be told that this is a unique case which has nothing to do with anything else.

Set the story at Fort Hood in Texas.

RubinReports: Understanding the Ft. Hood Attack: America’s the Bad Guy This I Know, Because My TV Told Me So

RubinReports: Goldstone, U.S. Policy and the Looming Veto: If the UN is so Irresponsible Why is Obama Its Biggest Cheerleader?

Goldstone, U.S. Policy and the Looming Veto: If the UN is so Irresponsible Why is Obama Its Biggest Cheerleader?

[Please subscribe. Reality is just getting started in beating up on the Obama Administration and the world in general. Lots of analysis to come.]

By Barry Rubin

Now that the UN General Assembly has endorsed the Goldstone Report--a collection of Hamas propoaganda without any independent investigation--the ball is in the court of the Obama Administration. The non-courageous abstention of Britain and France highlights that fact. Despite all the current president's talk of partnership and multilateral cooperation, a great deal of European policy is based on the premise that the United States has to do most of the work, especially the dirty work.

President Barack Obama made a controversial decision in deciding to have the United States participate in the radical-run UN Human Rights Council, reversing Bush administration policy of boycotting the group. Moreover, the president has gone out of his way to talk about how useful the UN is as a force, sometimes it seems to be in his eyes the most important force, to keeping the world peaceful and making it more so.

The new administration argued that by participating it could moderate the course of a body that never defends human rights in a long list of dictatorships (many of which are members and even leaders of it) but just focuses on bashing Israel.

But now that the point about the Council’s function as a propaganda organ for extremist dictatorships is proven, what does the United States do? Its ambassador isn’t going to the discussion in the General Assembly that’s discussing using the ludicrous Goldstone report as a basis for punishing Israel.

If you need to know just one thing about the Goldstone report, here it is: the commission did not investigate anything. It heard a lot of Palestinian and some other anti-Israel witnesses; wrote down what they said; and put it into the report without verifying anything.

A couple of sidebars:

The U.S. Congress, over the opposition of the anti-Israel pretending to be pro-Israel J Street lobby, passed a resolution criticizing the report.

The EU position was presented by Sweden, a country whose government tried to destroy any Swedes who published the “Muhammad” cartoons but refused to condemn the publication of an article portraying Israel as murdering Palestinians to steal their organs. The Swedes, and hence the EU, said the report was serious and the accusations should be investigated further.

The last point sounds reasonable in the abstract but in context is helping the global anti-Israel haters get the report sent for action to the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

Will the United States veto the resolution in the Security Council? It will take some courage to do so because Obama’s popularity with everyone (including lots of countries generally considered anti-American and even more who want to wipe out Israel) is going to take a big hit as a result.

Or will the United States back down and settle for some easing of the resolution’s language which still makes it a disaster?

This is going to be a big test for Obama, and it is one he cannot avoid.It is also one more step in showing the unworkability of both his ideas and his strategy. Ultimately, his presidency's foreign policy will be judged on whether he and his colleagues can adjust to that factor, admit (at least to themselves) that they were wrong, and change course.

RubinReports: Goldstone, U.S. Policy and the Looming Veto: If the UN is so Irresponsible Why is Obama Its Biggest Cheerleader?
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