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Goldstone’s Gambit: The Man Behind U.N. Report

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Scurrilous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:22 AM
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Goldstone’s Gambit: The Man Behind U.N. Report
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"Ask Richard Goldstone what possessed him, a Jew and self-described supporter of Israel, to accept the job of chief United Nations investigator of alleged war crimes committed in Gaza last winter, and the legendary South African judge invokes his past.

His decision in 1980 to accept the racist South African government’s offer of a judicial appointment was "the most difficult of my career," he has said. The government back then occasionally appointed liberals as judges in order to, as he described it, make good its boast of having an independent judiciary." The danger of lending legitimacy to an immoral system by serving it was very real.

But ultimately, the hope of liberals that the legal system could be expanded from within to effect social change was vindicated for him when one of his rulings effectively ended South Africa’s policy of racially-segregated neighborhoods.

On September 15, Goldstone submitted his team’s report on human rights violations in the Gaza conflict to the U.N. Human Rights Council. It is a 574-page review — based on 188 individual interviews; 10,000 pages of documents; 1,200 photos, including satellite imagery, and 30 videos — that blisters with specificity.

The report states that both Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian group controlling Gaza, committed war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity. It cites the many rockets launched by Hamas against Israeli civilians in the months preceding and during the conflict as war crimes; likewise, an instance of Israeli soldiers shelling a home in which they had forced Palestinian civilians to assemble and seven incidents in which it says Israeli soldiers shot civilians "while they were trying to leave their homes to walk to a safer place, waving white flags, in some of the cases, following an injunction from the Israeli forces to do so."

The report also found that despite its claims to have thoroughly investigated human rights allegations made against its military’s conduct, "the Government of Israel had not carried out any credible investigations into alleged violations." Nor, it found, had Hamas."

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Scurrilous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 12:10 PM
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1. Goldstone: Holocaust shaped view on war crimes
<snip>

"Judge Richard Goldstone, the head of a United Nations commission that this week charged Israel with committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip during its offensive there last winter, believes bringing war criminals to justice stems from the lessons of the Holocaust, according to a lecture he delivered in Israel in 2000.

Goldstone spoke about the subject at Jerusalem's Yakar: Center for Tradition and Creativity, at a lecture attended by former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak. The Israeli jurist introduced Goldstone as "a dear friend" with "very deep ties to Israel." Goldstone, in turn, said Barak was his hero and inspiration.

In the lecture, concerning international efforts to bring war criminals to justice, Goldstone said the Holocaust has shaped legal protocol on war, adding that it was "the worst war crime in the world."

He also said the perception of war crimes against humanity should resonate differently to Jewish ears, in light of how the Holocaust shaped conventions relevant to the subject.

Goldstone added that as a jurist, he viewed the Holocaust as a unique occurrence because of how it affected judicial protocol on war, as well as international and humanitarian judicial approaches.

The laws that had been in place before the Holocaust were not equipped to deal with crimes of the Holocaust's scale and therefore sought to define a new crime, which they labeled a crime against humanity, he said.

These crimes were so great, he explained, they went beyond their direct victims or the countries in which they were perpetrated, to harm humanity as a whole. This definition, he said, meant that perpetrators were to be prosecuted anywhere, by any country.

This rational, he went on to say, constituted the basis for the concept of universal jurisdiction, which is being applied by some countries where Israel Defense Forces officers are charged for alleged violations during their command in the West Bank and Gaza."

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