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[Essay] Israel versus Gaza
Fifteen Months and the 'Goldstone Report' Later
Jay Hauben (jhauben)     Print Article 
Published 2010-03-17 10:48 (KST)   
Three recent events addressed the Israeli attack on Gaza which occurred 15 months ago

First Event: Dinner and Protest in New York City

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Israel, Gaza and International Law
On the evening of March 9, the Chief of the General Staff of the Israeli Defense Force, Gabi (Gabriel) Ashkenazi, was honored by what the organizers claim was 1200 people at a dinner in the well-known Waldorf-Astoria luxury hotel in NYC. The event was $1000/plate and was sponsored by the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF) of America. Major General Ashkenazi was the overall commander of 쏰peration Cast Lead, the 22 day military operation in the Gaza Strip section of the Palestinian Territories that lasted from Dec 27, 2008 to Jan 18, 2009.

To protest that dinner, about 600 New Yorkers marched with some spirit but silently around the Waldorf-Astoria, according to their own estimates. They were responding to a call for a demonstration to show opposition to the Israeli attack on Gaza. Their slogans included, "Palestinians Hunger for Peace", "Israeli Forces Killed 348 Children", "We Will Not be Silent", "End the Siege on Gaza", "Israeli War Criminals Feast at the Waldorf-Astoria" and "US Dollars Feed Israeli War Crimes". There were a few marchers who occasionally hit gongs.

Another 150 protesters had a standstill anti-imperialism protest in a police corral diagonally opposite the Waldorf-Astoria.

Opposed to the 750 pro-Palestinian protesters, about 60 pro-Israeli protesters had a demonstration at a nearby corner. Their slogans were mostly in support of the perpetual existence of Israel and against Hamas, labeling it as a terrorist organization. One sign said, "Israel is on the Frontline Fighting the Battle for America".

There was no US mainstream media coverage of the demonstrations. In the US, the mainstream media rarely carries any criticism of Israel or support for the Palestinian people. But there was some coverage elsewhere. A reporter for a channel that broadcasts in Arabic, shot video of the march and interviewed some of the participants. In the broadcast some of the protest signs in English were seen and some of the interviewees speak in English. (1)

Two days later the Jerusalem Post also reported the evening셲 events.

Second Event: European Parliament Vote Endorsing Goldstone Report

On March 10, in Strasbourg, France by a vote of 335 votes in favor, 287 against and 43 abstentions the European Parliament adopted a resolution that endorsed the recommendations of the 쏳eport of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict known as the Goldstone Report. The Resolution urged EU Member States to work towards a strong EU common position on the follow-up to the Fact-Finding Mission report. Besides requiring implementation of the Goldstone Report, the Resolution required the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Member States to monitor whether the investigations required of Israel and the Palestinian authorities meet "international standards of independence, impartiality, transparency, promptness and effectiveness".

The report is known as the 쏥oldstone Report because the Fact Finding Mission of four members was headed by Judge Richard Goldstone, former South African Constitutional Court judge who served as the chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. The Report found evidence that during the Israeli attack on Gaza, international law and international human rights law appear to have been violated. The report recommended that the Israeli government and Palestinian authorities undertake independent, credible investigations that meet international standards to find if there were such violations and to take necessary action against people found guilty of the crimes if any.

Third Event: Panel addresses Gaza Operation and International Law

On March 11, the UN NGO Working Group on Israel/Palestine sponsored a panel of two experts in international law, Richard Falk and Peter Weiss and one Rabbi, Lynn Gottlieb(2) on the question, "The Goldstone Report: Does International Law Really Matter?"

That was the same question debated in the UN General Assembly in November 2009. As Ronda Hauben wrote in OhmyNews International, 쏷he underlying principle at stake in the United Nations debate over the Goldstone Report is whether Israel is obligated to respect the tenets and obligations of international law. Israel claims it is fighting terrorism and that the need to defend its citizens requires new international laws or it must make its own rules rather than being subjected to the obligations of international law.

All the speakers and all but two of the perhaps 15 questions from the audience rejected Israel's justification for its military action in Gaza.

For example, Richard Falk said the Goldstone Report accepts that Israel was acting in justifiable self defense, but the facts do not justify that acceptance. Israel was operating under the Dahiya doctrine (3) of military strategy. That doctrine requires reprisal that inflicts overwhelming and disproportionate damage, "100 homes for every rocket." Falk emphasized that international law requires proportionate reprisals and measures and forbids targeting of civilians and non-military objects. On these counts and others Falk concluded that Israel had violated international law. He asked, "Does the UN have the political will to implement international law under these conditions?"

Conclusion: International Law versus 'Might makes Right'

International opinion in general, seems more and more to be rejecting Israeli's claim that the murder and destruction in Gaza last year, in a planned operation having that result as its aim, should be the new norm of internationally sanctionable acts of self defense.

The attack on Gaza violated many of the norms of international law. Israel is challenging that current international law should continue to apply to modern warfare. There are people and institutions taking up that challenge.

(1) The report can be downloaded from http://www.ais.org/~jrh/Protest030910.wmv.

(2) The three panelists were: Richard Falk, Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories of the UN Human Rights Council, Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University, and since 2002 Visiting Distinguished Professor, Global Studies, UC Santa Barbara. Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Co-founder of Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence and the Co-director of Middle East Programming for the American Friends Service Committee셲 Pacific Mountain Region and Mr. Peter Weiss, Vice President of Center for Constitutional Rights CCR in the US and International Federation for Human Rights FIDH-USA

(3) The Dahiya doctrine is discussed in the Goldstone Report in Section XVI.B. "The development of strategic objectives in Israeli military thinking."

©2010 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Jay Hauben

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