Last night, the House of Representatives voted a whopping 344-36 (with 22 voting “present”) to condemn the report on Operation Cast Lead in Gaza by renowned human rights investigator Judge Richard Goldstone as “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.” Goldstone, a self-described Zionist, led investigations into human rights abuses in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia and his home country of South Africa. Goldstone turned down the original mandate to investigate Israel and only agreed to participate when he was given a mandate to scrutinize both Israel and Hamas. He found possible war crimes on both sides of the conflict and recommended internal investigations by both parties.
Judge Goldstone has been attacked, but as he himself has pointed out, critics in the US and elsewhere have not been able to point to specific substantive flaws in his findings. Watching interview with Bill Moyers, it’s hard to see how such a reasonable person could be demonized by so many.
You can find subsequent segments of the interview here.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), one of the few principled representatives who voted no on the resolution, explained in a Politico piece before the vote why Congress should read the Goldstone report rather than just dismissing it:
Instead, Congress is poised to oppose the Goldstone report without holding a single hearing on a document that few members of Congress, if any, have read.
This is a mistake. The stance of this Congress will erode U.S. credibility in the post-Obama world, and it will tarnish our commitment to the principle that all nations must be held to the same standards. Rather than undermine the report or Goldstone, we are at risk of undermining Congress’s and President Barack Obama’s reputation as honest brokers.
Israel can still pursue its own investigation, and critics of the Goldstone report should recognize that Israel is strong enough to withstand inquiry. Self-reflection is one of the hallmarks of a strong democracy. In fact, Israel has investigated itself in the past in connection with the Sabra and Shatila incidents. When nations like the United States, Israel, South Africa and others have pursued the truth through investigations — however uncomfortable — their people and politics have emerged stronger.
We stand for the values of democracy, truth and justice. There is no reason for Congress, Israel or any other party to fear an honest judge. Richard Goldstone is such a judge, and his report should be studied, not dismissed.
What does it say about our Congress that nearly 80% of the House would vote to condemn an even-handed report that so few have them have probably even read? Click here to see how your representative voted.