All in a Name

To borrow from Hamlet, something is rotten in the state of Israel.

That is, something is rotten in the state of Israel if there is truth to the Goldstone Report.

Thankfully, the Obama administration—the same administration, it should be said, that strongly disapproves of Israeli settlement expansion and that gave the world the now-famous “Cairo Speech” this past June—seems to recognize the report for what it is: age-old anti-Israel bias couched in apparent UN objectivity. While any definitive U.S. ruling on the report has yet to come, Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, has already questioned the mandate Goldstone received from the U.N.’s Human Rights Council to even write the report as “unbalanced, one-sided, and basically unacceptable.”

As should be clear by now, the report, which concluded that Israel directly targeted civilian areas during the three-week Gaza War earlier this year, was essentially a foregone conclusion; the four allegedly “neutral” investigators used the report as a vessel for advancing the typical anti-Israel agenda we have come to expect from the United Nations over the years.

Yes, it is true that the report also deems a war crime the Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza into Southern Israel. But a cursory glance at just the index of the 575-page document reveals that such an item—a miniscule part of the whole—hardly fits at all with the larger themes of the “balanced” document, balanced only in its different biases toward Israel.

At this point, those who still believe the report to have any shred of credibility need only look as far as Christine Chinkin, a professor at the London School of Economics and one of the Goldstone Report’s four investigators, who signed a letter to The London Times accusing Israel of war crimes on January 11, 2009, 10 days before Israel even withdrew from Gaza to conclude the war. With Chinkin, we see an “unbiased” observer who had made up her mind far before participating in the investigation— and before the shooting had even stopped. Israel may have committed war crimes in Gaza, but with such a predisposition on the part of its investigators, how could such an enterprise as the Goldstone Report ever be called “balanced”? Moreover, how could the report ever be seen as credible?

Here we arrive at the one little fact that makes this particular report different from most of the other anti-Israel biases floating through the ether—and that, of course, is its author’s name. Richard Goldstone, who headed the investigation, is himself a Jew. For some, a Jewish imprimatur emblazoned on an Israeli-criticizing report’s title page lends its contents some instant credibility.

As the noted Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz has written, those who support the Goldstone Report do so not by drawing on the contents of the report but merely by pointing to the author. “Had Richard Goldstone, a distinguished judge and a prominent Jew, not been the author of the United Nations Human Rights Council,” Dershowitz wrote recently, “it would be tossed in the trash barrel along with other one-sided and biased reports by this prejudice group with targets only Israel for human rights violations.”

Hence the difficulty in convincing the world of the Goldstone Report’s inherent bias; hence its remarkably pervasive credibility, even after items like Chinkin’s letter to The London Times have, at least in the minds of cognizant individuals, exposed the report’s farcical attempts at balance as what they are—words alone. “After all, if a Jew wrote it,” the thinking goes, “then it must be true.”

But the assumption that the Goldstone Report is credible merely because its author happens to be Jewish is deeply problematic. To cite Goldstone’s Jewishness as the basis of his report’s credibility is to assume first that all Jews think alike and second that he should be celebrated for rising above what the world unfortunately perceives to be the “Jewish position” of unconditional support for Israel.

It is important to remember that not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, but this particular way of thinking implies a certain type of prejudice rarely applied to other Middle Eastern countries. Since when has it been acceptable to posit that all Jews think alike and that, in that sense, Goldstone should be praised for not “thinking like a Jew” and defending Israel? To that effect, many Jews worldwide do not fit the pro-Israel mold, a belief that the report’s proponents seem to harbor.

We can all agree that there are certain organizations that, in a bizarre way, relish any opportunity to criticize Israel whatsoever. But the fact that the UN seems to have allowed the Goldstone Report—and its Jewish name—to be used as a means for concealing its typical groundless scorn for Israel is perhaps the most troubling aspect of the entire affair, aside from the potential war crimes themselves.

So much for objectivity.

James K. McAuley ’12, a Crimson editorial writer, lives in Currier House.

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