Talking to myself about foreign policy, US politics, technology, &c.

The Company You Keep: Goldstone and Israel

cranesThe Goldstone Report on potential war crimes during the Gaza conflict Operation Cast Lead last winter has set off a frenetic flurry of spin and pushback in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government. The report could even lead to International Criminal Court prosecutions for Israeli leaders.

Goldstone’s report, commissioned by the somewhat ridiculous UN Human Rights Council, condemns both Israel and Hamas for violating humanitarian law by targeting civilians. The Human Rights Council is a travesty packed with governments that sometimes, say, torture their own people. Despite that and the fact that the group relentlessly bludgeons Israel the Council, in this case, still has a point worth investigating.

The Israeli government and allies have been running a full-court press to try and quash and discredit Goldstone’s report and the man himself. A past president of of Human Rights Watch excoriated the criticism of Israel, suggesting that rights defenders have no business criticizing largely open governments.

I disagree completely. As someone deeply concerned with civil liberties here in the United States, I vociferously criticize developments in my country that I think are human rights violations, and I applaud outside groups who apply pressure and scruitiny to the US on these topics as well.

This does not mean that the US – or Israel – is as bad as Zimbabwe or Hamas. It does mean that one must speak out about injustice in your home as well as abroad. Countries that are more open and more liberal – and that proudly claim to be so – have a special obligation to acknowledge mistakes, investigate them, and attempt to ensure they do not occur again.

You don’t need to get into a who-is-more-awful pissing match to recognize faults that need to be corrected.

Oh, but Israel doesn’t need to worry about referral to the ICC. The Chinese have promised to veto any Security Council move to do so.

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