Melanie Phillips

9 October 2009

Goldstone's human wrongs

Published in: Jewish Chronicle

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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.

About Melanie

Melanie Phillips is a British journalist and author. She is best known for her controversial column about political and social issues which currently appears in the Daily Mail. Awarded the Orwell Prize for journalism in 1996, she is the author of All Must Have Prizes, an acclaimed study of Britain's educational and moral crisis, which provoked the fury of educationists and the delight and relief of parents.

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Melanie Phillips
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