Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The U.S. Congress doesn't condone human rights

The Goldstone report identified 'war crimes' and 'crimes against humanity' in Operation Cast Lead (the 2008-2009 Gaza offensive). The U.S. Congress proposed resolution 867 (the full resolution isn't too long and is an interesting read) which called on the "President and the Secretary of State to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration" of the Goldstone report.

The resolution passed 344-36. A nearly unanimous decision by Congress to call on the U.S. administration to reject a report from an international body documenting war crimes in a recent offensive in which mosques, schools, and apartment building were destroyed.

Haaretz reported on the passing of the resolution:
With a 344-36 vote, the House passed a nonbinding resolution that urged President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to oppose unequivocally any endorsement of the report. Twenty-two representatives voted present.

The report, commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council, accuses both Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group of war crimes but presents Israel's actions as much more serious.

The Ros-Lehtinen/Berman resolution defines the report as "biased and unworthy of further consideration," U.S. Representative Howard Berman, chairman of the Foreign Relations committee, said recently at the Jerusalem Conference.

Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Chairwoman of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, warned lawmakers that further consideration of the Goldstone report could seriously harm Middle East peace negotiations.

"Israel, like all sovereign nations, has the responsibility to respect human rights and adhere to international law," she said, "However, its defense of its citizens against attacks by Hamas militants simply cannot be conflated with terrorist actions.

"Facilitating a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians is among our most important foreign policy priorities, and further consideration of the Goldstone report could hinder movement toward peace negotiations," said Lowey.

The Anti-Defamation League addressed Goldstone, also appearing in Haaretz:
Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman of ADL called on Goldstone to repudiate his report: "I have had great respect for you over the years. Your work at the head of the South Africa Reconciliation Commission and in helping to find a just solution to the Bosnian conflict deserves the highest commendation.

"Moreover, I know you to be a proud Jew who serves on the Board of Trustees of Hebrew University and who has a daughter living in Israel."

"With this background, I wondered in the first place how you could take on the chairmanship of the investigation of the war in Gaza mandated by the UN Human Rights Council," he said. "After all, the Human Rights Council has repeatedly demonstrated its bias against Israel and in its stated mission for the investigation began with assumptions presuming Israeli guilt."
Goldstone responded to the madness of U.S. Congress resolution 867. Goldstone looked at each main clause in the resolution and responded. The trend seen is his responses to each clause is this: "this assertion is factually inaccurate," or "this is taken out of context," or "this is misquoted." Basically the resolution is full of inaccuracies about the report. Goldstone at one point urges those voting on the resolution to read the report, he probably says this because it appears those who drafted the resolution hadn't even read the report. Read Goldstone's full response here, it's worth your time.

But seriously, 344-36? This is a harrowing day for the prospect of peace in Palestine and Israel. It seems the United States is a million miles away from supporting international law and supporting human rights for all people. This resolution simply shows, yet again, that Israel can do no wrong; it can even bomb schools, mosques, and U.N. compounds; and still be called the victim.


David said...

This is actually an improvement in vote count over the "cheerleading for Israel" resolution passed during Operation Cast Lead.

Which doesn't make me feel much better, but does make me feel like throwing up a bit less.

David said...

We'll have our analysis up by the end of the day I think, but a post on Mondo saying the same general thing:

Anonymous said...

Once again, the cowardly U.S. Congress licks the Israeli boot. Lowey's comments are particularly reprehensible--like there's any connection whatsoever between the non-existent peace process and Israel being held accountable for its crimes. She should be in the Likud, not the U.S. Congress.