Israel Rebuffs UN Human Rights Investigation

Wanted to post something on this yesterday, but I didn’t. So now you’re seeing it today.

JERUSALEM, April 15 (Reuters) – Israel does not plan to cooperate with a U.N. agency’s investigation into alleged war crimes by Israeli troops and Hamas militants during fighting in Gaza, an Israeli government official said on Wednesday.

The investigation by a Judge named Richard Goldstone, a “highly regarded South African jurist and international humanitarian law scholar,” and also importantly, a Jew. What’s more, Goldstone has said his inquiry will also examine possible breaches of human rights by Palestinians.

There are a lot of ways to react to this, but first, let me say this is probably exactly like what certain Bush Administration policies played abroad — anything from refusing to ratify the Kyoto protocol, to snubbing the security council, to torture, to wiretapping, etc. On a less immediate level, actions like this undermine Israel’s much vaunted moral authority, straining further relationships with Western countries who Israel relies on for military, financial, and diplomatic support. Additionally, it’s not clear that a clean report from the UN would win the affection of moderate Palestinians, but giving the impression that there’s something to lose will certainly help extremists make the case that Israel is a malign force in the region.

Finally, I can’t help but react on a personal level that Israel’s sheer bellicosity is embarrassing as  a Jew. It was striking to read a Passover prayer calling that Israel, understanding the misery of oppression, lead all nations as a peaceful light, and juxtapose that with behavior like Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s campaign call for loyalty oaths from Arab-Israelis or the strategic privation of Palestinians.

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