The U.N. sides with ter­ror­ists

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Sup­pose a United Na­tions in­ves­ti­ga­tion team found that the United States had com­mit­ted war crimes in its re­sponse to the Sept. 11, 2001, at­tacks. The re­port finds that while al Qaeda may have been cul­pa­ble for the at­tacks and the car­nage they wreaked, Amer­ica was equally to blame — if not more so — for the civil­ian deaths caused dur­ing Op­er­a­tion En­dur­ing Free­dom. The U.N. in­structs the United States to con­duct an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pun­ish the per­pe­tra­tors, or face action from the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court.

This is the frame­work es­tab­lished by the Gold­stone Com­mis­sion Re­port, which is the prod­uct of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion led by South African judge Richard Gold­stone. Its tar­get was Is­rael’s war against the Ha­mas ter­ror­ist group in Gaza last Jan­uary. The United Na­tions Hu­man Rights Coun­cil en­dorsed the re­port on Oct. 16, and it will now move to the in­ter­na­tional body’s New York head­quar­ters for fur­ther action.

On a fac­tual level, the Gold­stone re­port is no­to­ri­ously flawed and one-sided. Much of the 575-page doc­u­ment was cut and pasted from un­sub­stan­ti­ated and sus­pect re­ports from non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions with openly anti-Is­rael sen­ti­ments. Some of the “wit­nesses” in­ter­viewed by the mis­sion were dis­guised Ha­mas of­fi­cials. The fact that Ha­mas loves the re­port should raise eye­brows about its con­tents.

Even more trou­blingly is the re­port’s fa­tal moral blind spot, which is ig­nor­ing the dif­fer­ences be­tween Is­rael, a sov­er­eign state, and Ha­mas, a ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion. The Is­raeli armed forces are pro­fes­sional or­ga­ni­za­tions gov­erned by strict poli­cies to limit civil­ian deaths dur­ing the con­duct of war. Is­rael is a sig­na­tory to the Geneva con­ven­tions and re­spects the rights of non­com­bat­ants. Af­ter the con­flict, Is­rael con­ducted some 100 in­ves­ti­ga­tions into re­ports of mis­con­duct by its troops.

Killing civil­ians is cen­tral to Ha­mas’ mil­i­tary doc­trine. Ha­mas launched 7,000 rocket and mor­tar at­tacks on Is­raeli cities be­tween the pull­out from Gaza in 2005 and 2009. Dur­ing the ground fight­ing in Gaza, Ha­mas rou­tinely used mosques, schools and hos­pi­tals as mil­i­tary sites and em­ployed civil­ians as hu­man shields. Ha­mas ex­ploited the chaos of the con­flict to round up Pales­tinian po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents, some of whom were crip­pled with shots to the legs, while oth­ers were re­port­edly ex­e­cuted.

There is no moral equal­ity be­tween Ha­mas and Is­rael any more than there is be­tween al Qaeda and the United States. Yet un­der the Gold­stone logic, ter­ror­ists and sov­er­eign states are iden­ti­cal. The in­ci­den­tal, un­in­ten­tional civil­ian deaths Is­rael caused dur­ing the Gaza con­flict are con­demned as war crimes; the wide­spread and in­ten­tional Ha­mas at­tacks on Is­raeli civil­ians are ba­si­cally ig­nored. The Gold­stone model makes it im­pos­si­ble for civ­i­lized states to strike ef­fec­tively against the world’s bar­bar­ians who are fight­ing a shadow war against de­cency that views in­no­cent non­com­bat­ants as both le­git­i­mate tar­gets and use­ful shields.

The United States voted against the re­port and will pre­sum­ably use its veto power if action is taken be­fore the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. Amer­ica would do well to make it clear, pub­licly and pri­vately, that it will not coun­te­nance the re­port or its twisted logic, nor en­dorse any moves to level the play­ing field be­tween ter­ror or­ga­ni­za­tions and civ­i­lized states. If this move­ment gains trac­tion, one day the United States will be in the dock.

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