Sarah Stern and Alexander Levkovich
The Goldstone report commissioned by the United Nations Council on Human Rights as a result of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last winter, has totally ignored the founding charter of its illustrious institution of which the Human Rights Council is an heir. While the report goes into great detail of the obligations that “an occupying power” has under the Geneva Convention, it is questionable whether, under international law, Gaza is still considered an “occupying power”. Israel had been an occupying power prior to the unilateral disengagement of July and August of 2005. However, people tend to selectively ignore the fact that Israel uprooted every last resident and soldier during the Hitnatkut, or Disengagement, in order to give the Palestinians an opportunity to prove to the world that they can conduct themselves peacefully and democratically under their own sovereignty. A few months after that, in January 2006, the people of Gaza independently went to the polls and freely and independently elected Hamas, a terrorist organization with known ties to Iran. To ignore the fact that the Gazans were given independence, and yet are treated by the United Nations and the international community as “occupied” is truly akin to the classic illusion of a child killing his parents and pleading to the judge for leniency because he is an orphan.
What is also glaringly absent from the report is any reference whatsoever to one of the founding principles of the United Nations Charter, Article 51. Article 51 is a fundamental cornerstone of international law and is commonly referred to as a basis for discussions of jus in bello laws. It’s wording is “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations” (emphasis added). Why is there a glaring omission of any reference to Israel’s right to self defense? To neglect to mention this right, which is the core rationale for Israel’s military operation, is to strip Israel of legal justification for defending its citizens. The conceptual pre-requisite to the exercise of self-defense is a nations’ desire to live in peace, and once that peace is disturbed, international law and common sense allow that nation to defend itself. The Goldstone Report, by not mentioning Israel’s right to self-defense, has effectively undermined Israel’s right to exist as secondary to the interests and goals of fundamentalist Islam. More importantly, this omission has undermined the entire legal foundation of the report and rendered itself an un-credible legal review of Israel’s acts during this war.
What has occurred is a cataclysmic outbreak of global selective amnesia. In a perverse inversion of both morality and of causality, the report seems to omit any reference to the more than 10,000 Kassam rocket missiles that the people of Gaza’s bordering Israeli town of Sedrot had to endure until Operation Cast Lead, (7,000 of which occurred in the few years since the Gaza Disengagement up until the war last winter). The report closes its eyes to the daily wail of the siren shouting “Seva Adom” on the average of eight times per day. It ignores the enduring psychological effects and trauma of the children that had t live through this nightmarish hell, many of whom still suffer from the lingering effects of post traumatic stress, including nightmares, insomnia, excessive clinginess and bedwetting. It ignores the fact the men, women and children had exactly 15 seconds, once they heard the sounding of the siren, to run for their very lives. It ignored the fact that when the people of Gaza independently elected Hamas, they elected an organization whose charter calls for the immediate destruction of the state of Israel and of all Jews everywhere.
The UN Council on Human Rights only spoke to Gazans, after the war. Never once did they bother to interview a single resident of Sderot. Nor did they bother to even investigate any claims of the Hamas use of Red Crescent ambulances to transfer terrorists and weaponry to the front, or to use the weapons to shield the terrorists. The report makes no mention of Hamas’ use of children as human shields or of hiding in their hiding in school buildings, hospitals or in densely populated urban centers. It totally omits any investigation of the vast network of tunnels running between Egypt and Gaza, which Has used to smuggle in terrorists and weapons. EMET was fortunate to have sponsored Colonel Bentzi Gruber for an enlightening seminar on Capitol Hill where he was able to elucidate these points, using videotaped aerial footage to a room full of congressional members, staffers and the public at large.
By ignoring Israel’s inherent to self defense under international law, the Goldstone Commission has inhibited that right to any democracy against terrorist organizations. This is the way warfare is being conducted in the twenty first century and what tapplies to Israel vis-a- vis Hamas and Hizballah applies to America and all other countries in regard to Al Qaeda and the Taliban and all other extremist Islamic terrorist groups.
As one of our founding fathers. John Adams once wrote, “Facts are stubborn things”. And these are the kind of facts that one doesn’t get from CNN or NPR. Colonel Bentzi’s words were like water on scorched, arid soil. The earth has been scorched with distortion and deception, and we have a moral obligation to get out the truth.
Sarah N Stern is the Founder and President of EMET. Alexander Levkovich is a practicing attorney in Manhattan and did his dissertation for George Washington LLM in International Law on self defense against non state actors.
The Word out of Zion
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