In what universe is the U.S. House of Representatives? The rest of the world and American citizens look at Operation Cast Lead and see massacre (a Rasmussen poll during the war found 55% of Americans opposed it and only 33% supported it). Congress sees only the green of pro-Israel campaign contributions and dutifully calls the sun the moon for all the world to see. That’s why HR 867, which denounces the Goldstone Report, passed today despite the opposition of pro-Israel groups like Peace Now and human rights groups like Human Rights Watch.
Every Israeli human rights NGO denounced the Gaza war and supports the Goldstone Report. Yet, the U.S. Congress, whose members haven’t bothered to read the Report, arrogate to themselves the right to claim superior knowledge on the issue:
…Lawmakers approved a non-binding resolution that calls the report “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.”
The symbolic measure also urges President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “to strongly and unequivocally oppose” any discussion of the report or action on its findings in any international setting.
“I think the UN report is unbalanced, and unfair, and inaccurate,” said Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
“It’s unfortunate that the United Nations deals with Israel, in my opinion, in a totally biased and unbalanced way. And it is the only country in the world, Israel, that has a special focus by the United Nations,” he added.
There is one silver lining: 36 courageous lawmakers lined up against this smear (22 others voted “present” a milder form of protest). That makes 58 politicians willing to buck the wrath of the Israel lobby. Sol Salbe has also noted that there were 133 members who did not vote at all, which is an even milder form of opposition (but it’s still opposition). And who knows, if J Street’s position had been stronger, there might’ve been a few other votes in the right column. But I join Phil Weiss is praising these Congressmembers. They deserve our gratitude. Among them are:
Jim McDermott (my House member)
Brian Baird (another Seattle-area member)
Bob Filner (who spoke at the J Street conference)
As I read the list, only one Jewish member opposed HR 867, Bob Filner. Even more kudos to him.
Brian Baird said this in opposition to the Resolution:
“I have been to Gaza and I have read in its entirety the Goldstone report and I will tell you he says many things, that though unpleasant, are true, and must not be obstructed,” countered Democratic Representative Brian Baird.
Baird bolstered his speech against the resolution with photographs of dead Palestinian children and Israeli children seeking shelter during a suspected Palestinian rocket attack.
How many other House members have bothered to go to Gaza? You could count them on the fingers of one hand. How many actually read Goldstone? Probably only Baird.
I read passages of HR 867 and it is utter garbage. It could’ve been written by an Israeli foreign ministry lawyer (and probably was). It mistates facts and gets virtually everything it says about the Report wrong. It regurgitates Israeli propaganda against Goldstone. It makes no attempt to be in the least fair or balanced. Which is a less than can be said for Goldstone, which bent over backwards to incorporate the Israeli narrative when it could (considering Israel refused to cooperate this was made difficult).
This is Congress at its worst. This is why U.S. policy toward the Israeli-Arab conflict has been so abysmal for so long.
The Goldstone Report seeks to end Israeli impunity. It seeks to bring international law to bear on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It seeks to place limits and constraints on Israeli behavior during war. This is a struggle on which the IDF, the Israel lobby, and U.S. Congress are on the losing side of history. This is not Congress’ finest hour.