You may notice that of all things in this blog, I have stayed clear of blogging about Israel and the Gaza Strip. I have very strong personal reasons for staying well clear of this debate but this article seems too important to ignore.
I don't want it to be true and I don't want to take sides in this debate. The problem is that I have absolute respect for Judge Richard Goldstone, the man who headed the UN investigation into the conflict that incurred this past December and January in Gaza. He formally presented his findings to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva today.
"The lack of accountability for war crimes and possible crimes against humanity has reached a crisis point," Goldstone said Tuesday. "This is the time of action." - Judge Richard Goldstone, UN Human Rights Council, Geneva [CNN]
I first heard about Richard Goldstone when he headed the Commission of Inquiry Regarding Public Violence and Intimidation in South Africa regarding the political violence that occurred during the last years of Apartheid. Known as the Goldstone Commission, this enquiry was instrumental in fostering reconciliation at the beginning of the new democratic administration.
It found what we had known for years being that the political violence in the last years of Apartheid was fuelled by a 'Third Force'; by people who wanted the country to be destabilised and ungovernable, who wanted to derail the attempts at reform and the movement towards ending Apartheid.
Goldstone was also a judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa from July 1994 to October 2003. The Constitutional Court is the highest court in the country of South Africa. This often fills me with pride as South Africa is said to have the most liberal constitution on Earth and they have as their highest court that which protects their constitution and people's human rights.
During his term at the Constitutional Court, Goldstone served as the chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda from 15 August 1994 to September 1996. It was only later that I would hear from him again, however, and that was when he headed the International Independent Inquiry on Kosovo from August 1999 until December 2001. I bought the full report but was unable to complete reading it as my knowledge was not developed at that time. I hope to give it another try soon.
My question is this: if Judge Richard Goldstone is one of the most respected people on Earth, the one person that has been constant in our investigation of the worst humanitarian crises over the past 20 years, why are we so quick to call his enquiry biased and flawed?
"But Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Aharon Leshno-Yaar, questioned the report in strong language Tuesday, calling it one-sided and shameful.
"This report is based on carefully picked incidents, cherry-picked for political effect," Leshno-Yaar said. "The authors of this fact-finding report had little thought about finding facts."
Israel did not cooperate in the U.N. investigation, calling it flawed and biased" - CNN
Like I said, I don’t want it to be true. I think the creation of the state of Israel after the atrocities of World War II was the first major success of the newly formed United Nations and a necessary consequence after the persecution of the Jews but I for one am going to try get my hands on Judge Goldstone’s report and to read his findings.