True to Alice in Wonderland where it’s “verdict first - trial afterwards,” Judge Richard Goldstone’s UN “fact-finding report” is in about Israel’s three-week military operation to end the hellish barrage of 8,000 rockets from the Gaza Strip, most launched after Israel unilaterally left in 2005. The Israeli government is understandably outraged about the prepackaged conclusions of a 600-page hatchet job that still calls Israel the “occupying power in Gaza” (!), giving Hamas a slap on the wrist, while condemning Israel for “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” inflicted on Palestinians used as human shields by Hamas fighters.
Refusing to view available video evidence (some on YouTube!), Judge Goldstone stood by while Hamas officials impudently lied to him about their responsibility for kidnapping Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and missile attacks on civilian centers.
Meanwhile, the first of a series of unintended consequences has already been unleashed by this report. It is already discouraging average Israelis from going along with the next big step desired by the international community: Israel’s withdrawal from West Bank strategic real estate adjacent to every major population center in the Jewish state.
Back in 2005, Prime Minister Sharon assured Israelis it was OK to withdraw from Gaza because if Hamas tried to make it into a launching pad for terrorist attacks, the IDF would respond decisively with the support of a sympathetic international community. But now - after ruthless Monday morning quarterbacking by the UN of Israel’s self-defense in Gaza - what sane Israeli government would cede the West Bank?
No democratically-elected Israeli leader could afford to be blamed for opening Israel to more terror even as it would suffer another round of condemnations as “an occupying power” by the next Judge Goldstone. Jerusalem has enough threats to deal with without worrying that its political and military leaders will face arrest and trial by the International Criminal Court in the Hague if they dare respond to attacks against Tel Aviv and Haifa - not from Gaza - but from Ramallah and Jenin.
Meanwhile, Team Obama is discovering that it’s impossible to keep any anti-Israel Genie bottled up in the UN. First, UN Ambassador Susan Rice said the US government had “serious concerns” about many recommendations in the Goldstone Report whose mandate the State Department labeled “unbalanced and one-sided.” But then, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Posner declared in Geneva in Judge Goldstone’s presence that - despite unproven “negative inferences about the intentions of Israeli officials” - the US was “seriously” ready to “engage in discussion of this report” at a future meeting of the UN Human Rights Council. Bear in mind that the US only recently rejoined the serially anti-Israel HRC on President Obama’s instructions.
But surprise, surprise: the US juggling act is being threatened by the newly sanitized Libyan regime which is leveraging its place on the UN Security Council to bring up the Goldstone Report at this Wednesday’s Mideast debate in New York. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff, America’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, even had to chide the representative of Sudan (with Darfur’s blood on its hands!) for having the chutzpah to suggest that the Security Council should refer Israeli officials for war crimes prosecution to the International Criminal Court.
Urgent to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton: The world according to Goldstone demands that you treat any new terrorist attack organized by a non-state player as a job for the NYPD - not the Marines. The US must preemptively veto any discussion of the Goldstone Report by the UN Security Council unless you are prepared for it to come back and bite America. Do you really want to risk Judge Goldstone’s meddling, not only derailing the Mideast peace process, but further unraveling NATO’s counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan as well as US unmanned drone attacks on al-Qaeda in Pakistan?
What goes around comes around. This year, it may be Jerusalem that’s the target of international kangaroo courts designed to strip it of the inalienable right to “the individual and collective inherent right of self-defense” guaranteed to every member state by Article 51 of the UN Charter: a minor detail to seems to have slipped Judge Goldstone’s mind. Next year, it may be Washington that is forced to defend its actions in Afghanistan - not behind closed White House doors - but at an arraignment at The Hague of President Obama for “crimes against humanity” as well as “war crimes” during anti-terrorist operations in the Af-Pak region.
In this Kafkaesque court, not even President Obama’s unexpected Nobel Peace Prize would provide him with a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Mr. President and Madam Secretary of State:Deep six the Goldstone Report, once and for all, before it buries every democracy confronted by terrorists. We cannot afford to respond to the threat of the next September 11 by agreeing to the perverse notion that international law suddenly means signing on to a suicide pact.
Abraham Cooper is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; Harold Brackman, a historian, is a consultant to the Center