Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hatred Masquerading as Law

Irwin Cotler, a world famous professor of law and a previous Canadian Minister of Justice and Attorney General has a two-part article about the Goldstone commission which is preparing a report on the Gaza operation for the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
Part one is here. Part two is here.

Given the client for whom the report is being written, it's no surprise to learn that the verdict was written before the investigation, and enshrined in the mandate of the investigation.
Indeed, the mandate that was handed over to Goldstone was deeply one-sided and flawed, by his own admission. For the resolution of the UNHRC creating the mandate already served as a direct indictment of Israel - it began by "strongly condemn[ing] the ongoing Israeli military operation… which has resulted in massive violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people and systematic destruction of Palestinian infrastructure." Canada, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the United Kingdom - among others - accordingly refused to support it.
The a-priori flaws of the investigation are so glaring, that Mary Robinson - Mary Robinson, she of Durban infamy! - refused to head it:
Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson stated that "the resolution is not balanced because it focuses on what Israel did, without calling for an investigation on the launch of the rockets by Hamas. This is unfortunately a practice by the Council: adopting resolutions guided not by human rights but by politics. This is very regrettable." Asked to head up the mission before Goldstone, Robinson refused.
Then there's the matter of who was chosen to sit on the commission:
Notably, one Professor Christine Chinkin accepted the appointment. Now Chinkin joins Goldstone in an inquiry that bears the hallmarks of bias and politicization that he supposedly shunned. Indeed, before the mission began - as if to add insult to injury - Chinkin notoriously signed her name to a public letter that was titled "Israel's bombardment of Gaza is not self-defence - it's a war crime." Why she feels qualified at this point to hear witness evidence along with the rest of the commission - without triggering a reasonable apprehension of bias - is not entirely clear.

Cotler, being who he is, has no problem with inverstigations into Israel's actions. So long as they're reasonable.
None of this is intended to suggest, nor would I wish to have it inferred, that Israel is somehow above the law, or that Israel is not to be held accountable for any violations of law. On the contrary, Israel is accountable for any violations of international law or human rights like any other state. The Jewish people are not entitled to any privileged protection or preference because of the particularity of Jewish suffering.
But the problem is not that Israel seeks to be above the law; it is that Israel has been systematically denied equality before the law in the international arena. The issue is not whether Israel must respect human rights, but that the human rights of Israel and its people have not been respected. The discrimination emerges not from suggesting that human rights standards should be applied to Israel - which they must be - but from the fact that these standards have not been applied equally to anyone else.

There's a lot more in there. I recommend reading the whole thing. And of course, bookmark it for the near future, when the report gets published to international fanfare of the antisemites.

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