Israel Needs to Take A Step Back and Listen to Goldstone about Gaza

DAN-CHYI CHUA
Oct 20, 2009
*Special to asia!

If Israel keeps fudging on an inquiry into Gaza, all it is doing is pronouncing itself guilty as charged.

A friend sent this article my way. "Family who lost 29 members in Gaza war: We envy the dead" (Haaretz, October 18, 2009).

This was the saddest line in the entire article:

"They all believed that the Hebrew they had learned would assist and if necessary save them during encounters with soldiers."

As a Palestinian survival tactic, it failed rather spectacularly for Salah Samouni's father and uncle. The Israeli soldiers still killed them anyway.

The Samounis are Gaza's most famous family. 29 of them were massacred by the Israeli army's offensive into Gaza earlier this year. Yes, let's just call it a massacre. Why hold back on the rhetoric against soldiers that deemed it necessary to kill five-year-old Nasser Ibrahim, A'zza Salah, who was two, Mu'atassem Mohammed, one and Mohammad Hilmi, just six months old?

Something deplorable went down in Gaza. Even if that it was an accident, the murder of children and babies is a disgrace. These are one of the truths we hold sacred.

Richard Goldstone knows that. The South African judge explained why - despite being Jewish

- he agreed to lead a United Nations commission to investigate Israeli actions during the Gaza War:

"As a Jew, I felt a greater and not a lesser obligation to do so."

He spoke of how it wasn't possible to "drive a block in Gaza City or Rafah without seeing destroyed buildings, without seeing people living in makeshift tents,"  and compared what he saw in Gaza to Sarajevo.

It is to Goldstone's credit that he did not flash his "Jew" card, but instead went ahead with the report which largely criticised the Israeli army's strategies in Gaza.

Is Israel so lacking in moral leadership that - after reports from witnesses, human rights organisations and now this from Judge Goldstone - instead of taking a hard look at what went down in Gaza, it turns its fury against those who dared to question the conduct of its mighty Defense Force?

Israel can continue to blame anti-Semitism for criticism lobbed its way, but the more it uses it, the less effective it will become.

Not everyone has an axe to grind with the Jews. Most of us don't really have an opinion about them, really. What we do take offense at are the violence, killings and injuring of women and children we keep seeing on our screens, telecast from Gaza.

It doesn't matter if the Goldstone report was excessively critical of Israel and let Hamas off too easily for its part in the Gaza conflict. It is not even that consequential that a high-ranking American commander in Afghanistan believes the Israeli Army did its utmost to minimise civilian casualties.

We are beyond that now. Israel's image has been utterly rubbished. When it had the chance to launch its own inquiry before the United Nations got involved, it didn't. That's why now it's got a report criticising its actions in Gaza.

Maybe it thought - obviously wrongly on hindsight - what happened in Gaza will stay in Gaza. Well it hasn't. The best course of action for Israel now is to be proactive, launch its own independent inquiry into what went down in Gaza. Better 'fess up than wait to be proven guilty.

This is Israel's chance to grab hold of the chance to do minimise damage, take control the narrative, and perhaps walk away from the whole episode with some semblance of integrity left.

Keep whinging about the inadequacies of the Goldstone report, and that will look like that's Israel's only defence regarding Gaza.

 

dan-chyi chua

Dan-Chyi Chua was a broadcast journalist, before forsaking Goggle Box Glitz for the Open Road. A three-year foray led her through the Middle East, China, SE Asia, Latin America and Cuba, and she's now grounded herself as a writer for theasiamag.com, content with spending her days in Jerusalem.

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