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May 16, 2011

Turning over Goldstone

By Spear's

Most of the pro-Arab Western European media continues to throw mud at Israel, as the murderer of innocents

Most of the pro-Arab Western European media continues to throw mud at Israel, as the murderer of innocents. To my surprise, one notable exception, and the most unbiased account of alleged Israeli attacks on Palestinian civivilians, is Open Secrets, the book about Wikileaks published by The New York Times.

A section of the book was drawn to my attention by Alan Dershovitz. Dershovitz is Julian Assange’s American legal consultant. I am no supporter of Assange, but sometimes an ill wind blows good. Parts of the Guardian book, typically not picked up on by the mainstream British media, shed an entirely new light on the highly-inflammatory Goldstone report.

Richard Goldstone has recently reconsidered his report’s central conclusion, namely that Israeli political and military leaders specifically intended to kill innocent Palestinian civilians. But even before Goldstone’s retraction, it was difficult to find any hard evidence to support that anti-Israeli conclusion, for an obvious reason: none existed.

Recently a leader of Hamas in Gaza acknowledged — indeed boasted — that most of the Palestinians killed during Operation Cast Lead were Hamas fighters. The number of civilians killed now appears to be about 500-600. Even one civilian death is too many but such deaths are inevitable when combatants hide among civilians, fire rockets from civilian areas and use civilians as human shields — as Hamas routinely does.

The Goldstone commission adamantly refused to accept testimony that would have shown that the Israeli army took greater care to reduce civilian deaths than any other armed forces fighting comparable wars. For example, they would not hear the testimony of Colonel Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan and a recognized expert on this type of warfare, who would have testified that:

“[F]rom my knowledge of the IDF and from the extent to which I have been following the current operation, I don’t think there has ever been a time in the history of war when any army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF is doing today in Gaza.”

The Guardian book summarized some Wiki Leaks disclosure about Afghanistan as follows:

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“We today learn of nearly 150 incidents in which coalition forces, including British troops, have killed or injured civilians, most of which have never been reported.”

No civilian deaths whatever are recorded by the army loggers. Monitors from the unofficial Iraq Body Count group, on the other hand, managed to identify more than 1,200 civilians who died during the Falluja fighting.As to the investigation of alleged war crimes, the Wiki Leaks disclosures illustrate that:
“US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.’

Whenever efforts are made to put Israel’s actions in a comparative context with other democracies, opponents of Israel, who impose a double standard on the Jewish state, respond: “We’re talking about Israel now; don’t change the subject by talking about other democracies.”

According to the new evidence, Israel positively shines in comparison to other democracies. It has a significantly better ratio of combatant to civilian deaths; it takes greater steps to avoid such casualties, and it does a better job investigating negligent and criminal behavior on the part of its soldiers. Moreover, it is seeking to protect its own civilians directly from ongoing cross-border rocket attacks and other terrorist acts, whereas the other democracies are fighting wars of choice many miles from its civilian areas.

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