Gold­stone’s hu­man wrongs

The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment&analysis - ME­LANIE PHILLIPS

IN THE the­atre of the ab­surd that now passes for in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions, a Jewish hu­man-rights lawyer takes the side of those who wage geno­ci­dal war against the Jews. This is in turn deemed pro­foundly un­help­ful to a “peace process” that is at­tempt­ing to re­ward with ter­ri­tory oth­ers wag­ing the same geno­ci­dal war — al­beit with bet­ter man­ners — against the same Jews, a process that now ex­pects those Jews to make con­ces­sions to their as­sailants, who will them­selves be ex­empt from mak­ing re­cip­ro­cal ges­tures to their vic­tims.

Judge Richard Gold­stone can hardly have ex­pected that some of the strong­est re­vul­sion against his UN Hu­man Rights Coun­cil-spon­sored blood li­bel against Is­rael over its mil­i­tary action against Ha­mas in Gaza would have come from his own sup­posed al­lies.

The hu­man-rights lawyer Alan Der­showitz said Gold­stone’s name will be “for­ever linked in in­famy” with the most no­to­ri­ous haters of Is­rael be­cause he “aban­doned all prin­ci­ples of ob­jec­tiv­ity and neu­tral hu­man rights”. Ben­jamin Po­grund, renowned for­mer South African anti-apartheid ac­tivist, said Gold­stone treated Is­rael “as though it were a unique source of evil” and “fa­tally un­der­mined” his own com­mis­sion’s cred­i­bil­ity.

The less-than-wholly Is­rael-friendly State Depart­ment crit­i­cised the re­port for reach­ing “cookie-cut­ter con­clu­sions” about Is­rael while mak­ing only gen­er­alised re­marks about Ha­mas. The sim­i­larly hos­tile Econ­o­mist called the Gold­stone re­port “deeply flawed”.

Even B’tse­lem, the Is­raeli “hu­man rights” pres­sure group which never fails to con­demn Is­rael, gagged over Gold­stone’s con­clu­sion that Is­rael in­ten­tion­ally tar­geted Pales­tinian civil­ians rather than Ha­mas and the “weak, hes­i­tant way that the re­port men­tions Ha­mas’s strat­egy of us­ing civil­ians [in com­bat].” (Those wor­ried that B’tse­lem might be los­ing its pu­rity of ha­tred to­wards Is­rael will be re­as­sured to know that it went on to blame Is­rael for Gold­stone’s re­port.)

Such crit­i­cism has not pre­vented Gold­stone from do­ing great harm to Is­rael’s cause — prin­ci­pally be­cause he is a Jew and even, his daugh­ter says, a Zion­ist.

What does this mean, one won­ders? Maybe he’s a new, ec­u­meni­cal kind of Zion­ist who be­lieves the Jews have a his­toric des­tiny to turn the other cheek when at­tacked and go meekly into the slaugh­ter once again.

As was to be ex­pected, the Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity at first fell upon his re­port with un­bri­dled joy. But then, to gen­eral be­muse­ment, it dropped the UN res­o­lu­tion it had drafted on the back of it, thus forc­ing the UNHRC to put off un­til next March the show trial of Is­rael sched­uled for this week.

It seems the Amer­i­cans forced Mah­moud Ab­bas to de­fer this ar­raign­ment on the grounds that, if the Pales­tini­ans were wag­ing quasi-ju­di­cial war against Is­rael for try­ing to end Ha­mas ter­ror­ism — the project in which Ab­bas is sup­pos­edly a part­ner — the “peace process” would be ren­dered im­pos­si­ble. This would be a rea­son­able po­si­tion were the process not it­self a farce. As a re­sult of Obama putting the thumb­screws on Is­rael over set­tle­ment construction, Ab­bas de­clared he didn’t have to lift a fin­ger be­cause the US Pres­i­dent would de­liver Is­rael to him on a plate.

But when Is­rael held firm and sent the ball back into Ab­bas’s court by ask­ing whether he would recog­nise Is­rael as a Jewish state, Ab­bas re­fused unequiv­o­cally to do so. Which has left the peace process go­ing nowhere (if it ever was go­ing any­where).

So what pre­cisely is the Pales­tinian de­fer­ral of the Gold­stone res­o­lu­tion sup­posed to res­cue? Merely the il­lu­sion that Some­thing is Be­ing Done by Amer­ica to re­solve the Mid­dle East con­flict, to con­ceal the fact that Noth­ing is Be­ing Done to stop Iran from get­ting the bomb and that Obama’s for­eign pol­icy has gone pear-shaped ev­ery­where.

If Lewis Car­roll were alive to­day, he would find he was not writ­ing fic­tion.

Me­lanie Phillips is a Daily Mail colum­nist

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