Richard Goldstone 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Just when Israelis thought we had a respite from the harmful repercussions of the profoundly unfair Goldstone Mission Report, it transpires that Hamas is insisting Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas push the Security Council to consider Richard Goldstone's bill of particulars against Israel (during Operation Cast Lead at the turn of the year) - or else the deal due to be signed between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo on October 26 will be in jeopardy.
Abbas is also under withering pressure from within his own movement to exploit Goldstone for all its worth. That would have been Abbas's natural inclination too, but the Fatah chief bowed to US pressure to allow the report to be shelved at least until March 2010.
The Obama administration appreciates that if Goldstone monopolizes the daily agenda, Binyamin Netanyahu's government will be too preoccupied to conduct meaningful talks with the Palestinian Authority. Moreover, a toxic environment dominated by Goldstone will sap any popular support within Israel for further compromise with the Palestinians.
Indeed, even very dovish Zionists, former Haaretz editor David Landau for instance, think Goldstone is "misguided." Centrist theoreticians such as Yossi Klein Halevi, meanwhile, posit that the report might compel a fundamental shift in Israeli security strategy - one that simply will not tolerate a Hamas enclave in Gaza because it is "legally" impossible to protect Israeli civilians from such an enemy.
GOLDSTONE - as by now everyone knows - would apply fanciful notions of international legality to stymie Israel from protecting its people.
Fortunately for the US-led coalition fighting in Afghanistan-Pakistan against the perpetrators of 9/11 and their supporters, the Goldstone principles have not been unleashed on it. And, providentially for Western civilization, there were no Goldstone principles to inhibit Roosevelt and Churchill when they confronted fascistic fanaticism in their day.
Put aside the barefaced anti-Israel bias of Goldstone which allowed the report to find that Hamas did not use hospitals for its command posts; did not commandeer Red Crescent ambulances to transport its rockets; did not shoot from within UN-operated buildings; and did not use mosques as ammunition depots. Forget how comparatively little space Goldstone spent worrying about whether Israeli children were returning from school, or whether the streets of Sderot were crowded with people going about their daily business when Palestinians unleashed their rockets. Ignore the long swaths of the report which have nothing to do with Gaza, but gave the jurists an excuse to pontificate about "Palestinian Occupied Territories" and the relentless repression of free speech within Israel.
Focus instead on how the Goldstone precedent would limit other democracies from defending themselves against terrorist organizations specializing in anti-civilian warfare. Goldstone would make quarantining enemy territory illegal. A last-resort embargo on Iran to block it from fielding an atom bomb? That would be illegal because Iranian civilians would suffer.
Imprisoning captured terrorists? Illegal. Using sophisticated weapons against a less well-armed terror infrastructure? Illegal. Bringing non-lethal pressure to bear on non-military targets - such as flour factories, sewage treatment or roads - to hasten the end of a conflict? Illegal.
Heaven help Barack Obama, Gordon Brown and Nicholas Sarkozy if even prima facie evidence turns up to suggest that their militaries deliberately inflicted suffering on enemy civilians.
Because of "structural flaws" in the Israeli legal system, Goldstone has given this country just months to set up a process that basically self-enforces the emasculation of our army - or our leaders could, ultimately, be hauled before an international tribunal as war criminals.
To add insult to injury, Goldstone expects Israel to pay reparations to Hamas for the damage caused when we tried to get them to stop violating our border.
OF COURSE, we're supposed to give Goldstone credit because he's a friend of Israel; because his daughter lived here for some time; and because his name appears on the stationery of a number of worthwhile organizations here. Moreover, didn't he ask Hamas to release Gilad Schalit "on humanitarian grounds?" And didn't he give Hamas hell, too?
Well, actually, he originated the convoluted idea that attacks against Israeli civilians "would constitute war crimes and may amount to crimes against humanity." In any case, Hamas is so plainly unconcerned that anyone will understand such prattle as blame that it is using the Goldstone Report to batter the hapless Abbas.
And it's too early to assess how much damage the judge's work will yet do....