Richard Goldstone’s repudiation of the eponymous blood libel he authored in 2009 provides a number of lessons about the nature of the political war against
the Jewish state and how we must act if we are to defeat it. Learning these
lessons is an urgent task as we approach the next phase of the war to
By all accounts, that phase will culminate in September
at the UN General Assembly’s annual conclave in New York. As America marks the
10th anniversary of the September 11 jihadist attacks, the Palestinian
Authority’s well-publicized plan to achieve UN recognition of a Palestinian
state in all of Judea, Samaria, Gaza and northern, southern and eastern
Jerusalem will reach its denouement.
The UN Charter spells out the
procedure through which new states receive membership. The procedure dictates
that the Security Council must recommend to the General Assembly that a state
Following the Security Council recommendation, the
General Assembly calls a vote. If two-thirds of the UN member states vote in
favor of recognition, a state is accepted as a member state.
Palestinian case, General Assembly support is a forgone conclusion; 118 out of
192 UN member nations already recognize “Palestine.”
Legally the General
Assembly cannot act without Security Council sanction. So if the US vetoes a
Security Council resolution on the issue, the General Assembly would be formally
barred from moving forward.
But legal norms applied to the nations of the
world are rarely applied to the Palestinians. Consequently, it is possible that
the General Assembly will illegally vote on Palestinian statehood even without a
Security Council recommendation to do so.
OVER THE past year or so since
this new Palestinian plan to delegitimize Israel began coming into view, a
swelling chorus of doom and gloomers has warned that if the General Assembly
recognizes “Palestine,” in Judea, Samaria, eastern, northern and southern
Jerusalem as well as the Gaza Strip, it will be a disaster. Defense Minister
Ehud Barak has called it a “diplomatic-political tsunami.” The New York Times
claimed Sunday that it “could place Israel into a diplomatic vise” as “Israel
would be occupying land belonging to a fellow United Nations
Certainly it is true that we will not benefit from such a UN
action. But the fears being sown by the likes of Barak and Haaretz
The fact is that while acceptance of “Palestine” as a UN
member state will be a blow, it will mark an escalation not a qualitative
departure from the basic challenges we have been facing for years.
already claims that by maintaining sovereignty over its capital and control over
its heartland in Judea and Samaria, Israel is illegally occupying the
Palestinians’ land. So does the Obama administration.
As we approach the
September deadline, the question we need to consider is what the concrete
consequences of Palestinian membership in the UN would be? What new anti-Israel
activities will international organizations and states engage in following such
a move? And how can we meet those challenges? In general, the acceptance of
“Palestine” will present us with new threats from three different actors: the
International Criminal Court, the EU and the US.
If “Palestine” is
accepted as a UN member nation, we have been warned, it will join the
International Criminal Court and file war crimes complaints against us. While
this is probably true, the fact is that even without the prerequisite UN
membership, the Palestinians have already filed war crimes complaints against us
at the ICC. Although “Palestine” must already be a state for the ICC to
entertain the complaints, it has not rejected them.
But two can play this
game. Say “Palestine” joins the ICC. Even if Israel remains outside the treaty,
it can use its membership against it. Both Fatah and Hamas have committed
innumerable war crimes. Every terrorist murder and attempted murder, every
missile, mortar shell and rocket fired is a separate war crime. And every terror
victim has the right to file war crimes complaints against “Palestine” with the
As to the Europeans, the fact is that they have already
joined the Arab onslaught on the international diplomatic stage and they have
already imposed limited economic sanctions. They have set aside negotiations on
upgrading the EU-Israel Economic Association Agreement. Several EU member states
have unofficially enacted trade boycotts. Britain, for instance, implemented an
unofficial arms embargo several years ago.
Looking ahead, we need to
consider how they may escalate their hostile behavior and develop plans to
minimize the damage Europeans can cause the economy. Unfortunately, the
chattering classes are behaving as though when faced with the specter of further
European economic sanctions, we have no option other than to throw ourselves at
Europe’s feet and beg for mercy. But this is ridiculous.
AS THE 18 years
since Oslo have shown, begging Europeans for mercy on the basis of concessions
to the Palestinians is a losing strategy. Europe is not interested in displaying
mercy toward the Jewish state, and it does not view any concessions as
sufficient. But Europe does respond to power politics. With India now producing
cars and Israel developing its own natural gas and shale oil fields, it is the
job of the government and business leaders to make the Europeans think long and
hard about how willing they will be to alienate our consumers and
This brings us to the US. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s
greatest fear is that President Barack Obama will fail to veto a Security
Council resolution recommending General Assembly approval of Palestinian
membership in the UN. The gloom and doomers advise the premier the only way to
avert this prospect is to render such a resolution superfluous by preemptively
capitulating to all of Obama’s demands.
Obama has let it be known that he
expects Netanyahu to announce his surrender in an address before both Houses of
Congress in May. And this makes sense from his perspective. If Netanyahu gives a
speech before Congress in which he effectively embraces Obama’s anti-Israel
positions as his own, he would make it practically impossible for Republican
lawmakers and presidential candidates to criticize those
Perversely, if Netanyahu bows to Obama’s wishes, he will not
avert US support for Palestinian UN membership and UN recognition of Palestinian
sovereignty in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and Gaza. He will facilitate it by
making it appear noncontroversial.
Netanyahu’s best bet in this case is
not to ask Obama for favors. Since the General Assembly will likely approve
Palestinian membership even if the US does veto a Security Council resolution,
Obama’s ability to prevent the gambit is limited. And the price he wants to
exact for a veto is prohibitive.
AND THIS brings us back to Richard
Goldstone. His repudiation of his own report did not happen in a vacuum.
Goldstone’s admission Friday that his report’s central conclusion – that Israel
committed war crimes in its campaign against Hamas in Gaza – was wrong is a case
study in how we must contend with difficult political challenges if we are to
emerge victorious in the political war. The fate of Goldstone and his report
hold several vital lessons for our leaders.
The first lesson then is
never to surrender or give any quarter to lies. We greeted Goldstone’s
mendacious report on Operation Cast Lead with justified indignation and furor
and never backed down. In the face of the massive international pressure that
followed his presentation of his lies, we stood our ground. Our behavior denied
Goldstone and his cronies the ability to portray his mendacious report as the
unvarnished truth. Because of this reaction, from the beginning it was clear
that its findings were at best dubious.
The second lesson is that the
government must hold firm. In the Internet age when everyone can have a say, the
most important commodity a person can have is legitimacy. The government confers
legitimacy on its defenders and so empowers them to take action. If the
government had capitulated to Goldstone, half the voices attacking his blood
libel would probably have never spoken out or been heard.
lesson from the Goldstone experience is that people make up governments and
people make policies. Since people are social animals, the social sphere is a
critical one in foreign affairs. Our diplomats and leaders tend to act as though
the only possible goal of their personal relations with other diplomats and
leaders is to make the foreigners love them. The Goldstone case study shows us
that as Machiavelli taught, it is just as good if not better to be
When Goldstone issued his tendentious report, he no doubt assumed
he would suffer no personal consequences for claiming IDF soldiers and
commanders are war criminals and that Israeli Jews are neurotic. After all,
everyone libels Israel and gets away with it.
But rather than get a pass
for his behavior, Goldstone got ostracized. Following the government’s lead,
Jewish activists throughout the world attacked him for his lies. Everywhere he
went he was challenged. Obviously, these attacks had an effect on him that
attempts to appease him would not have had.
The final lesson of the
Goldstone experience is found in the fact that the publication of malicious
slander did not paralyze the country. The IDF continued to strike Hamas targets.
Fear of more lies from Goldstone and his Israel-bashing associates did not
convince the government to stop defending the country. The lesson is that we
must not allow the misdeeds of others to deny us our rights. Rather, we must
assert them in the face of condemnation and wait until the condemners realize
they cannot defeat us.
Israel is being challenged by a political war that
escalates every day. But we are not powerless in this fight. As we prepare for
the Palestinians’ UN gambit, we must keep in mind the lessons from Goldstone. If
the government remains faithful to the truth and to our rights, it will empower
our supporters throughout the world to rally to our side. If we are good to our
friends and bad to our enemies, we will know how to reward our friends and
punish our enemies. And if we boldly assert our rights even in the face of
international condemnation, we will see that in the fullness of time, the
rightness of our position will carry the firstname.lastname@example.org
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