According to a report in Saturday’s Oregonian, the House of Representatives is poised to pass a nonbinding resolution (House Resolution 867) condemning the U.N. report on war crimes committed by Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The House should unequivocally reject this resolution and the United States government should resolutely support consideration of the report by the U.N. General Assembly and Security Council.
In April 2009, the U.N.’s Human Rights Council established a fact finding mission to investigate all violations of international law committed in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza by Israel in December 2008 and January 2009. Operation Cast Lead – as it was called – resulted in the deaths of more than 1200 Palestinians. Three Israeli civilians were killed, and ten soldiers. The mission was headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, a former justice of South Africa’s Constitutional Court. The 575 page Goldstone Report (one wonders how many House members will actually read the report before voting on the resolution) was issued in September. (The Report can be viewed at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/specialsession/9/FactFindingMission.htm). The Report concludes that war crimes were committed by both Israel and the Palestinians although, indisputably, the primary focus of the report is on the multitude of illegal actions by Israel: Deliberately bombing and killing civilians, destroying Palestinian homes, hospitals, mosques, crops and factories, using white phosphorous to amplify the devastation. The Report documents the missile attacks on Israel which preceded the invasion, recognizes Israel’s right of self defense, but also recognizes how that right in no way justified Israel’s disproportionate use of force in its attacks on Gaza, and its policy of collective punishment of a people under effective occupation.
While Hamas has agreed to investigate the Report’s findings – as mandated by the Report – Israel has refused to launch a similar investigation.
The spurious attacks on the report as not being even-handed, and allegations about the Report in the House Resolution, have been rebutted, most recently by a letter sent by Goldstone to the U.S. Congress. (http://warincontext.org/2009/10/31/goldstone-vs-us-house-of-representatives/). The personal attacks on Goldstone – a fierce advocate of human rights for decades, and himself a Jew and defender of Israel’s right to exist – have been shameful. The U.S. must support consideration and implementation by the U.N. of the recommendations in the Goldstone report, which is only being consistent with President Obama’s own words before the U.N. General Assembly on September 23rd when he said: “The world must stand together. We must demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise.”
Urge your Congressmen to vote against House Resolution 867.
3631 SW Ericwood Lane
Portland, OR 97221
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PS FROM FREE PALESTINE COMMITTEE Please keep in mind that there is a dispute over the numbers (1200 vs.1400 Palestinians killed in Gaza), but that people should use it with either number as a basis to build support in opposition to the House Resolution to be voted on this week?
Down load letter here Op Ed piece on Goldstone and Congressional resolution