A crisis of will

Brutality in Gaza could be minimized with a simple budget equation


OPINION In 2009, I was working in Congress when the eminent South African judge Richard Goldstone came to the House of Representatives to defend the UN report he authored on war crimes committed by both Israelis and Palestinians during that year's war.

Goldstone stood before a few of members of Congress and told them that before they condemned the report, they should at least read it. A few staffers and I sent emails across Capitol Hill offering to hand deliver a paper copy of the entire 575 page report. Only two members took up our offer. That afternoon 344 out of the 435 members of US Congress voted in favor of condemning the report. Most members said the same thing: we need to move forward and not point fingers.

But pointing fingers, Goldstone reminded us, is sometimes the most important thing to do. Without ascertaining who violated the law and therefore who should be held accountable, we create no system of punishment for those who harm civilians. We give them, in short, no incentive not to do such things again. As I left the Capitol building, an Israeli friend who worked with me in support of Judge Goldstone reminded me that in Congress the ultimate four letter word is "accountability."

Three years later Goldstone's fear has come true: The same war is happening again. And it is happening again because the US too often looks away when Israel violates international law.

You can almost copy a news article from 2009 and paste it into a newspaper today: Israel kills children in Gaza. Hamas fires rockets into southern Israel, killing civilians. The US issues a statement defending Israel's right to self defense. The US says Hamas must change its actions but will not deliver these messages to Hamas because the US does not talk to terrorists. Then a few months later, a fact-finding report is released saying Israelis used US weapons and failed to distinguish between civilians and combatants. The UN votes on the report, the US vetoes, and the report's author, like Goldstone, is vilified. Pundits come on TV and debate who fired first, and Fox News argues if there is a Palestinian proclivity to violence and hopelessness. And finally, NGOs put together donor pitches about how the solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict is getting Israelis and Palestinians to spend a summer on a picturesque lake in Maine.

But the solution is not getting Israelis and Palestinians to drink tea together. Nor is the solution to investigate Palestinian culture. The solution is addressing US aid to Israel. Last year, the US gave $3.1 billion to Israel. In comparison, Ethiopia received just $580 million. And while US law stipulates that no US weapon should be used to carry out human rights abuses, these laws are seldom applied to Israel. Even when 23-year-old American Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer, the US did not press Israel for justice.

This is not to absolve Palestinians of guilt—Israelis civilians have also been killed, and we must not forget that. But we should not think this is an Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is a issue of occupation.

Thankfully there is rising resentment over this lopsided support. Jon Stewart regularly skewers Israel and there is a growing group of Americans—across all faith lines—who wonder if the US should give Israel so much money given its record.

But this shift is not reflected among US politicians. This is a crisis of will, after all, not a crisis of solutions.


This article gives no weight to the constant terror attacks on Israeli civilians, mostly in areas within the so-called Green Line of 1967. The current situation is not a repeat of 2009 in all respects, although the aggression by Hamas is similar.

It also fails to acknowledge the flaws in the Goldstone Report, and Goldstone's own later repudiation of many of his own original findings after he obtained further information.

And it's not an "issue of occupation" in Gaza. Israel withdrew completely. It only makes a half-hearted effort to slow the traffic of weapons to Gaza, for reasons that are entirely understandable. No one is starving in Gaza, and Hamas has built luxury hotels (where do you think Anderson Cooper is staying?), McMansions, etc.

If "occupation" justifies terror as "resistance," then you won't mind when the remaining Native Americans bomb the home you live it. It is a complicated situation, which is nowhere reflected in this article. People need all the facts.

Posted by Guest Jon Webber on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

This post is bereft of fact. Mere smoke.
Costant terror attacks -- not factual, and ignores the legitimacy of resistance to illegal occupation. ALL of Isreal is occupied territory, just as all of North America, Hawaii and any other land where Europeans have usurped and extinguished or subjugated an indigenous population.

Goldstone conceded some investigative errors and modified some of his findings, true. But even after pressures that you and I could barely imagine, this lifelong Zionist with deep personal connection to Judaism and Israel never repudiated his basic finding: Israel intentionally targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure including civil government, and agricultural resources, targets that are by definition war crimes.

hen there were enough Native Americans to pose a threat to settlers, in the 1860s to 1890s, the US Cavalry worked full time to kill them into submission. hat's how the west was won, and it's underway now Palestine. A 19th century strategy in the Internet age. Not working out too well for the chosen ones.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 11, 2012 @ 10:35 pm

And the Zionists still control all the borders (land and sea) with Gaza, except for the one with Egypt, who are paid off to toe the line. So Gaza is still de facto occupied.

I wish the Native Americans would fight to take back their stolen land. Unfortunately, the colonizers were effective in decimating them to prevent such activities.

That outcome is what the Zionists are trying to achieve. Settle the occupied territories, take all the best land and water and force the Palestinians out.

The steadfastness of the Palestinians through 64 plus years of exile and occupation is inspiring. Africans reclaimed Zimbabwe and South Africa. Palestinians will win back their land eventually. Unfortunately for me, I may not live long enough to see it.

Posted by Eddie on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 6:12 pm

"Israel attacked first."

Yeah, Hamas fired only 1500 rockets into Israel in the ten months prior to Operation Pillar of Defense.

That wasn't attacking first, but only in an alternate universe...

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 6:51 pm

There are a great many families and clans in Gaza with grievances that, if you heard the details you would sympathize with. One major one is that many of the residents of Gaza were forcibly removed from the environs of those southern Israeli towns in1948 . Askelon os one of them. driven into Gaza at gunpoint, they fire rockets into cities built on their bulldozed villages. Israeli historians have written extensively on this. search
"plan dalet". And Hamas has a long history of cooperating with Israel on extended cease fires. There is no informed dispute over who broke the cease fire in Cast Lead or Pillar of Smoke.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 11, 2012 @ 10:44 pm

Yes, I live for the glorious day when Palestine is liberated, and the victors can start executing gay people, like they do in Iran and Saudi Arabia!

Palestine will be free!

Posted by Demented, Yet Terribly, Terribly, Persistent on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 6:57 pm


Click on the numbers for a list of individual names and details about the circumstances of their death.

Since some of the fatalities died of their injuries days, weeks and sometimes months after they were hurt, choosing the view affects the distribution of data.

Data , 29.9.2000-30.9.2012 Occupied Territories Israel
Gaza Strip West Bank Total
Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces 4660 1840 6500 69
Palestinians killed by Israeli civilians 4 46 50 3
Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians 39 215 254 500
Israeli security force personnel killed by Palestinians 106 147 253 90
Foreign citizens killed by Palestinians 11 7 18 40
Foreign citizens killed by Israeli security forces 6 6 12 0
Palestinians killed by Palestinians 537 134 671 0
Palestinians executed by the Palestinian Authority 8 2 10 0
Palestinians executed by the Hamas Government 14 0 0

Additional data (included in previous table) Occupied Territories Israel
Gaza Strip West Bank Total
Palestinian minors killed by Israeli security forces 1010 325 1335 3
Israeli minors killed by Palestinians 4 40 44 85
Palestinians killed during the course of a targeted killing 327 107 434 0
Palestinians who were the object of a targeted killing 177 82 259 0
Palestinians killed by Palestinians for suspected collaboration with Israel 25 109 134 0
Palestinians who did not take part in the hostilities and were killed by Israeli security forces ( not including the objects of targeted killings). 2190 839 3029 5
Palestinians who were killed by Israeli security forces and it is not known if they were taking part in the hostilities 284 404 688 4
Palestinians who took part in the hostilities and were killed by Israeli security forces 1762 473 2235 60
Palestinian police officers who were killed inside police stations 248 0 248 0

Fatalities since operation "Cast Lead"
Fatalities during operation "Cast Lead"
Fatalities since the outbreak of the second intifada and until operation "Cast Lead"
First Intifada Tables
More statistics

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Posted by Eddie on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 7:13 pm

Newsflash to the author: Goldstone himself disowned the Goldstone report a year and a half ago: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/reconsidering-the-goldstone-repor...

Another newsflash to the author: Gaza was completely evacuated by Israel in 2005. Not sure how you can still blame the "occupation" for the thousands of missiles fired at Israel since then.

Keeping blinders on isn't going to get you very far. Best of luck as a journalist -- you're gonna need it.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 25, 2012 @ 11:14 pm

Until Gazans are free to import and export as they wish, the Israeli occupation can't be said to be over.

Posted by Hortencia on Dec. 12, 2012 @ 8:43 am

Israel is fine with the Palestinians so long as they have no independent military, security or foreign policies, in short no state of their own and are subject to Israeli military, security and foreign control--occupation by any other name is still occupation whether there are troops on the ground so long as there are drones in the air.

Goldstone stood by his finding of illegal use of white phosphorous by Israel against civilian areas of Palestine in Gaza.

I wish that the Native Americans would have successfully fought back, but the military and FBI did to the Native Americans what the IDF and Mossad have done, are doing to the Palestinians.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 6:32 am