Israel and Gaza: Which Standards Apply?
by Richard Sideman
President, American Jewish Committee
New York, September 18, 2009
To the Editor:
Re “Justice in Gaza” (Op-Ed, Sept. 17):
Richard Goldstone displays the same disregard for Israel and naivety regarding Hamas that permeates the report he wrote for the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Since its inception in 2006, the council has consistently demonized Israel while giving a free pass to some of the world’s worst tyrants, from Sudan to Iran. Mr. Goldstone largely neglects what prompted Israel to act militarily against Hamas.
Let’s be clear for historical accuracy. Israel’s military operation came after eight years of relentless rocket attacks from Gaza on Israeli towns and villages. Indeed, thousands of rockets were launched after Israel transferred the entire Gaza Strip to the Palestinians four years ago.
While the United Nations made no effort to stop the Palestinian rockets, Israel showed remarkable restraint over the years until it could not hold back anymore.
More disturbing, the Goldstone report has set a new standard for equating the behavior of democratic nations and terrorists.
He makes no moral distinction between Israel, a United Nations member state, and Hamas, a terrorist organization that violently seized control of Gaza two years ago from the Palestinian Authority.
The implications of this moral equivalency go beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In fact, they undermine the United States and other democracies facing asymmetrical warfare from adversaries who care little for international norms of war and international humanitarian law.
In sum, Mr. Goldstone’s conclusions are a disservice to the credibility of the United Nations itself.