Our generation hasn’t injected more justice into politics than previous generations, but we’ve certainly injected more politics into justice. One pioneer in the lucrative field of politics in black robes has been Judge Richard Goldstone, a former South African jurist and UN war crimes prosecutor. A leading figure in the dispensation of bewigged politics, Judge Goldstone’s latest product has been a 575-page report on the 2008 “war” between Israel and Hamas, issued on behalf of the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, whose members include such bastions of human rights as Libya, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
UNHRC is an organization former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan reportedly described as one of his biggest mistakes. Considering the whoppers Annan has made, that’s saying something. Anyway, UNHRC investigating war crime allegations has the credibility of a commission made up of Ted Bundy, Paul Bernardo, Jeffrey Dahmer and Jack the Ripper investigating allegations of sexual misconduct.
Not surprisingly, the Goldstone Commission’s report finds Israel’s incursion into Gaza last year “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself and to force upon it an ever-increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.”
This conclusion comes notwithstanding Goldstone acknowledgement that Hamas had been firing rockets into Israel without distinguishing between civilian and military targets. I suppose he would have been hard put to deny it. The commission levels “crimes against humanity” charges against Hamas, too, although not for lobbing explosives at Jewish civilians but for the extrajudicial executions and arbitrary arrests of its Palestinian opponents.
The report doesn’t say what a proportionate response might be to a belligerent whose political program is your destruction. Nor does it say what rock of international law the doctrine of “proportionality” was hiding under until it made a sudden appearance in relation to Israel. Throughout history, sowing the wind meant reaping the whirlwind. In modern times gunboats for restless natives came in the form of NATO’s stealth bombers sweeping over the heads of restless Serbian natives. Proportionality?
Israeli President Shimon Peres, not exactly a hawk, has responded to Goldstone’s report by saying it “makes a mockery of history and fails to distinguish between aggressor and those acting in self-defence.” He observed that the report legitimized terrorism and ignored the right and obligation of a state to stop mortar and rocket fire from reaching its citizens and their children. Peres didn’t add that if silencing rocket launchers that target civilians is a war crime, criminalizing self-defence is a peace crime. I’ll add it for him. “Peace criminal” fits Judge Goldstone perfectly.
The Goldstone Commission threatens to refer Israel’s leaders to the International Criminal Court unless they act on the UNHRC report by investigating themselves and punishing some scapegoats. The threat illustrates (1) why people should read the fine print before they sign ICC-type treaties on the dotted line (wisely, Israel never signed but Canada did) and (2) how nations surrender sovereignty to international institutions at their peril.
“For the victors of the Cold War,” wrote Margaret Thatcher in relation to the yet-to-be born International Criminal Court, “to submit to an unelected, unaccountable and almost certainly hostile body such as that envisaged would be the ultimate irony.” The threat was only looming in 2002 when Lady Thatcher sounded her warning. Today it’s acute. International bodies like the UNHRC are hostage to the West’s enemies, to democracy’s enemies, to the enemies of Canada no less than Israel. What Judge Goldstone does to Israel today, he or his colleagues will do to Canada tomorrow, in Afghanistan or elsewhere.
“Oh, my prophetic soul!” Hamlet exclaims in Act 1, Scene 5. It’s classier than saying “I told you so!” but it’s really the same thing. Here’s a paragraph from a print debate I had with former solicitor-general Warren Allmand when everyone was euphoric about ICC and its safeguards against frivolous accusations.
“A country like Canada,” I wrote in 2000, “would have a choice. It could prosecute one of its peacekeepers accused of a war crime by a signatory state to the Rome agreement — say, Senegal. But if no Canadian court considered the Senegal accuser or evidence credible or substantial enough, then the ICC would try to extradite the Canadian suspect, or nab him if he ventured abroad.
“This may put Mr. Allmand’s mind at rest. All it does is chill me.”
This week the American lawyer Alan Dershowitz wrote in the Jerusalem Post that “[i]f the methodology and conclusions of [Goldstone’s] infamous report were ever applied generally to democracies seeking to combat terrorists who hid behind civilians — as in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq — it would constitute a great victory for terrorism and a defeat for democracy.” Dershowitz went on to say that we don’t have to worry because the report isn’t intended to establish general principles of international law and is directed — “for shame” — only at “the Jew among nations — Israel.”
Yes, singling out Israel would be shameful, but Mr. Dershowitz is mistaken. Israel is where it begins. It doesn’t end there.
Human rights organisation? NO, it"s really human wrongs!
Posted by Ronit on 2009-09-24 23:57:19 GMT
Judge Goldstone, who understands legal issues, should have the right, to face his accused!. So,:- let a small unit of Israeli police, bring Judge Goldstone to Israel, (as was done for Adolf Eichman), and let him face the citizens of Israel, in an Israeli court
by Steve Sattler on 2009-09-24 23:49:09 GMT