I’m still trying to plumb the meaning the Goldstone report. The Media Line has an interesting story interviewing Israeli legal experts who are critical of it about the potentially “dangerous” implications for Israel:
The…report…called on Israel to launch “genuine, impartial and independent” investigations into possible war crimes. Should Israel fail to do so, Goldstone recommended that Israel face the International Criminal Court and that individual countries use “universal jurisdiction” to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes.
Such a call could have extraordinary consequences both for Israeli military commanders and the country’s image as a whole.
“If European states allow unfettered universal jurisdiction, then it will be very difficult for Israelis of any kind to travel,” Dr Avi Bell, a professor in international law and the laws of war at Bar Ilan University told The Media Line. “If universal jurisdiction is open all over Europe, it’s going to be a very bad outcome for Israel, as plaintiffs can bring universal jurisdiction suits against Israelis to any sympathetic judge they like.”
Dr Bell said that the report’s potential consequences should be understood from two perspectives.
“On a technical level this will have no impact,” he said. “The commission made all sorts of recommendations which it had no authority to make and there is nothing in the UN security council’s charter or the International Criminal Court’s charter that indicates an obligation to listen to this commission.”
“On a political level though, it’s potentially disastrous,” he warned. “This report is designed to create fuel and ammunition for the UN’s diplomatic campaign against Israel and for a global legal campaign against Israel, including lawsuits by individual states.”
…”The International Criminal Court is more difficult to predict,” he added. “It’s really up to the judgment of the prosecutor and it’s a political decision more than a legal one. He’s under a lot of pressure to throw the Arabs a bone after indicting Sudanese President Bashir. This could make for an ideal bone.”
Another legal scholar noted the unlikeliness of the prospect of ICC jurisdiction:
“The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court will have to determine whether or not they have jurisdiction.”
“The International Criminal Court only has jurisdiction if the citizens they want to put on trial are from countries that are party to the International Criminal Court, if the crime took place in a country which is party to the International Criminal Court or if the Security Council refers the case to them,” he explained. “But Israel is not a party to the ICC, and there is no legal country Palestine, and the US has veto power in the Security Council. So it’s highly doubtful that will ever happen.”
I think the jurisdiction issue is not as clear cut as he’s making it out to be. But if the U.S. has veto power to stop the referral it will undoubtedly use it. What may be interesting is whether Obama will want to barter with the Israelis in return for the veto in order to get something useful for the peace effort (do I hear “settlement freeze” anyone?).
I do not know whether the report minus the ICC referral gives Europeans standing to file claims in European courts under the rubric of universal jurisdiction.
The Jerusalem Post carries an interesting interview today with Richard Goldstone’s daughter in which she speaks in a heartfelt way about his Jewish and Zionist (yes, Zionist) background:
“He is a Zionist,” she added. “My dad loves Israel and it wasn’t easy for him to see and hear what happened. I think he heard and saw things he didn’t expect to see and hear, and I am 100 percent sure he [conducted the investigation] in the hope that the Israelis would come to cooperate, and he wanted to help find a long-term solution for the State of Israel.”
Nicole, who lived in Israel for six months, said that the country “is the most important thing in my life, my heart is there…. I love Israel more than my family and friends and anything else.”
So much for the IFA and pro-Israel smear industry tarring him with the anti-Israel brush. The latest such is by Danny Ayalon likening the report to the UN “Zionism is Racism” resolution. Not to mention that Goldstone was chief prosecutor for the UN International Criminal Tribunals on Yugloslavia and Rwanda and chaired the International Inquiry on Kosovo. Hard to impeach his impartiality and probity, but it won’t stop them from trying. Maybe he has a Garlasco-like hobby and collects Boer War memorabilia (for any smearmongers out there, that’s a joke)?
“Nicole, who lived in Israel for six months, said that the country ‘is the most important thing in my life, my heart is there…. I love Israel more than my family and friends and anything else.’”
One wonders why she only gave it six months of her life if it is so important to her and she loves it so much.
Let’s see: she met a nice young Jewish man and his home and job was elsewhere, she moved to take care of someone, she got a fantastic job or study opportunity. Or, she came, like so many Jews do to spend some time in the country.
All these are perfectly reasonable, unlike your posting.
By the way, I knew Nicole through friends; you would not have posted this if you knew her too
You have missed my point, Michael. If she left Israel for a nice young Jewish man, or a job, or just went to Israel to spend time in the country, then it doesn’t sound like it is the most important thing im her life, or that she loves it more than her family, her friends, or anything else. It sounds like there are plenty of people and things that are more important to her and that she loves more.
This is nothing against Nicole. If she is anything like her father, then she is a person to be admired and respected, but her actions are not consistent with her words.
Richard Silverstein says
I don’t believe someone has to make aliya to feel a commitment or love for Israel. Just like I don’t believe a Palestinian needs to live in Israel or Palestine to retain great love for their homeland. No, Israel is not my physical native land. But all of us who live in Diasporas have affinities for what we perceive as the homeland.
That is true, but if I insisted that Syria was the most important thing in my life, and that I loved it more than anyone or anything else, a person would be completely justified in asking me why, if it was more important and I loved it more than anything or anyone else, I did not make it my primary home, and at least did not spend more time there than I do. In fact, I would ask myself that question because my actions would contradict my words.
Richard Silverstein says
It’s hard to explain, but Jews live a completely bifurcated existence. We are Jews, we are natives of our Diaspora home country, we love Israel (some of us), we embrace universalist values. For some, it’s impossible to parse this jumble of conflicting identities. That’s one reason Jews have been so mistrusted by anti-Semites & others who can’t figure out where our loyalties lie.
From the sound of that interview, it would seem that Nicole Goldstone might be a young woman. As such, I don’t think her feelings about these things are prob. fully formed. She’s prob. exploring her various identities as we speak & might say things about Israel that might seem contradictory based on the life decisions she’s made. When I was her age I faced the same issues. I studied in Israel two yrs. Considered making aliya. Didn’t. But kept Israel close to my heart nevertheless.
Her comment did strike me as youthful gush.
As for the rest of it, this afternoon I had a great conversation with Jordan Elgrably at the Levantine Center, and I must say I prefer his view of identity to the one you described.
Someday, maybe soon, Americans will start to say, “I am an American and I love America more than anything else; more than friends, more than family, more than life itself.”
Israel? not so much.
That’s always a sad day when people start putting their country – any country – before friends, family, and life itself.
It would be a great deal better for everyone if they would say “I am a human being, and I love humanity more than anything else.” Blind nationalism is the source of most of the worlds ills.
Donald Johnson says
” then it will be very difficult for Israelis of any kind to travel,”
I didn’t understand that–why would most Israelis find it difficult to travel? Are they all going to be regarded as possible war criminals? Is there any substance to this worry?
Of course, many or most supported the Gaza war, but ordinary people aren’t prosecuted for supporting an illegal and immoral war, AFAIK. (If they were, a great many Americans would have to worry when they travel overseas.)
Americans will not have anything to worry about until and unless members of the U.S. government and military are made to account for their crimes. So far that has not happened.
Donald Johnson says
That’s true, Shirin, but I meant my last sentence as more of a sarcastic joke. Though I do think the US is guilty of massive war crimes and wars of aggression and quite a few Presidents and their top advisors should be prosecuted.
My question, though, is serious-are ordinary citizens considered suspects when their government is accused of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity? I don’t think they are, but I might be wrong. Ethically, it’s an interesting question, since in a democracy the citizens who give their support to an unjust war share some of the responsibility, but as a practical matter I don’t think anyone would say they should be prosecuted.
You are correct. Ordinary citizens are not at risk of arrest for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by their government or military.
In fact, there are a lot of misconceptions about war crimes. Countries do not commit warcrimes, individuals do. So, George Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Condoleeeeeeeezzzzzza Rice (ridiculous name for a ridiculous woman) could be prosecuted for war crimes, but other members of the cabinet, and members of the Congress would not be part of that. Individual soldiers and/or commanders would be prosecuted, but not the entire unit, and so on. In other words, there is no collective guilt, at least in terms of the law.
Patrick Clawson, WINEP’s go-to goy, wrote an essay on the morality of sanctions in which he assessed the claim that it is legitimate to punish innocent civilians on the theory that they are responsible for placing or retaining their leaders in power. Even if their leaders are tyrants, ie. Saddam Hussein, the people still bore culpability — and were, therefore, legitimately subject to collective punishment — because they did not take action to remove their tyrannical leader.
I’d say that Patrick Clawson is a piece of scum, but that would be terribly unkind to scum.
I doubt anything will come of this. If we can’t prosecute Bush and co. for Iraq, then we sure as hell won’t be doing anything to ‘defends of the Jewish State’ [that is how it will be framed].
If there was no justice for the Palestinians before, why would there be now? What’s changed? The violence has intensified.
We’ll just keep hearing more of the usual back and forth.
BDS has been the only effective campaign IMO. Nothing else works, because you are working within corrupt institutions OR you have to pass through them (like the MSM for example).
Whereas BDS is grassroots and you go straight for the money and corporations don’t care about politics so it’s effective.
RE: “…plaintiffs can bring universal jurisdiction suits against Israelis to any sympathetic judge they like.”
MY COMMENT: Faster, please!
Mary Hughes-Thompson says
“Israel on Wednesday asked a number of senior members of the Obama administration to assist in curbing the international fallout from the Goldstone Commission report released this week, which accuses Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.”
I wonder who are these “senior members of the Obama administration…?”
According to this in Haaretz, Israel has brought out its big guns in an effort to get Obama to help it avoid prosecution:
Israel seeks Obama backing over Gaza war probe
Obama’s big gun has spoken. That would be Susan Rice
“Rice said that violations of human rights in Gaza should be addressed by the U.N. Human Rights Council, which created Goldstone’s panel in April, and not by the Security Council, which has the authority to authorize an international probe”.
She also in kumbaya fashion stated that we really shouldn’t be looking at the past, but looking towards the future and “negotiations”.
France, Germany and Belgium have already made it clear that they don’t plan to abide by international law which requires the exercise of univeral jurisdiction over war crimes and torture. Cases against Rumsfeld and Bush were dropped in those countries. France claimed that Rumsfeld enjoyed “head of state immunity” — which extended to AFTEr he left office (quite unlike the case of Pinochet)
And since secrecy laws have made it impossible to proceed against Rumsfeld in US courts, he essentially got away scottfree.