Probe the investigators
What does it take to launch a probe into Israel’s conduct nowadays? Not much. If you are Jenny Tonge, classically antisemitic allegations that Israelis were harvesting organs of victims of the Haiti earthquake, published on an obscure website, seem to be enough. If you are the UN, the word of terrorists is helpful, too.
And yet, when Israel and its supporters — including world-renowned human rights activists like former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler and Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz — put together a thoroughly documented case that the Goldstone Commission was too biased against Israel to judge it fairly, they are completely ignored.
Concerns began with the very resolution which defined the commission’s mandate from the UN, which opened by “strongly condemn[ing] the ongoing Israeli military operation… which has resulted in massive violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people”. Even Judge Goldstone called it “biased” and “uneven-handed”.
Then commission member and LSE professor Christine Chinkin signed a letter declaring that Israel’s actions were a “war crime” and that Hamas’s attacks were not serious enough to entitle Israel “to act in self-defence” — even before the investigation had begun.
On the ground in Gaza — there for just 10 days — Judge Goldstone and his colleagues accepted evidence of Hamas members as truth, and the Israeli side was never heard. “We did not apply a criminal standard of proof,” Judge Goldstone admitted.
And now come the allegations that yet another member of the panel was hopelessly prejudiced, talking freely of the “Jewish lobby” in Britain, taking for granted that Israeli soldiers murdered children in front of their parents, inventing Israeli weapons that never existed, and dismissing photographic evidence simply because it was Israeli.
The UN has a case to answer here: that its own commission was unfit to judge Israel, that it betrayed the very notion of justice, and that it has forever undermined the international community’s cases against genuine human rights abusers elsewhere. There is a hell of a lot more evidence for all of that than of Israel committing war crimes in Gaza. But don’t hold your breath for an inquiry. Jenny Tonge’s in line first.
Miriam Shaviv is the JC’s foreign editor