At the bottom of a British foreign office press release reporting that Britain is granting the Britain-Israel Research and Academic Exchange £29,000 it adds a sweet little message that Foreign Office Minister Ivan Lewis:
… welcomed Israel’s response to the Goldstone report and urged Israel to initiate an independent investigation into the allegations of abuses during the Gaza conflict.
Lewis is applauding Israel for burying a report that painstakingly details Israeli war crimes during its Gaza onslaught. The British government is formally congratulating Israel for avoiding accountability for the death of one thousand one hundred civilians. Bravo Lewis! Hurrah for Britain! Or is that Israel? And how can anybody in their right mind state that Israel itself should set up an “independent” inquiry.
Lewis has said previously when asked in parliament if the UK would be voting for the Goldstone report:
The UN General Assembly in New York considered the Goldstone report on 5 November 2009 where we made our position clear: some aspects of the report were flawed-particularly its failure to acknowledge fully Israel’s right to protect its citizens, and the inadequate attention paid to Hamas’ actions. We eventually decided to abstain on the resolution, with France and 42 others, because voting for the resolution would have meant endorsing the report and ignoring its flaws. However, the issues raised by the report were very serious, and they should be credibly and independently investigated.
On what basis Lewis makes these statements is completely unclear. To add some context according to B’Tselem 1,385 Palestinians were killed, 762 of whom did not take part in the hostilities. Nine Israeli’s were killed by Palestinian fire. The Goldestone report clearly condemned Hamas for firing rockets against Israel. As Tony Judt puts it:
To be sure, the Goldstone Report also itemizes the crimes of Hamas, notably in its campaign of rocket-firing into Israel. But the scale of human rights abuses by Israel vastly outdoes anything Hamas could hope to have achieved: Israeli civilian victims of Hamas rocket attacks numbered less than ten. The attack on Gaza by the IDF resulted in at least 1,100 Palestinian civilian deaths. The major perpetrator of human rights abuses in this conflict is without question the State of Israel, and Justice Goldstone records as much.
So why Lewis is Britain supporting an “independent inquiry”? How exactly is the Goldstone report not independent? How does the report not “acknowledge fully Israel’s right to protect its citizens” despite the fact it was written by a self confessed zionist and condemned Hamas for firing rockets into Israel? Is the ability to kill 1,100 civilians with no accountability the right to protect your citizens.
Back to Judt:
In the first place he [Goldstone] is not only Jewish but has close family links to Israel and the Zionist ideal. Secondly, Richard Goldstone has an impeccable resumé as a critic of racism, prejudice and repression — most notably as an active opponent for many years of the apartheid regime in his native South Africa. During the ’90s he served as Chief Prosecutor at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals dealing with human rights abuses, crimes and genocide in the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. It would be hard to fictionalize a more convincing biography for an engaged and ethically uncompromising jurist in the great tradition of Jewish political activism. Goldstone’s standing in the world will only rise as a consequence of Israel’s short-sighted attempts to discredit the man, the report and the facts. That our own government has chosen to join in this unworthy exercise should be a source of deep embarrassment and shame.
Whose interests are you serving Lewis/Brown? This goes to the heart of what is wrong with the foreign policy of Britain in the Middle East. I am deeply embarrassed and ashamed of this labour government. Spineless directionless cowards does not even come close to describing them.
Again we see a foreign policy that blindly follows and purses short-term Israeli security interests above all else. Marc Lynch describes what could happen if a more intelligent policy was approached towards the report. The legacy of Blair continues of which more will come later…
All this comes as the Goldstone report is fully buried as any sense of justice and human rights is completely eradicated as Ban Ki Bloody Useless actually applauds Israel for the probing of its actions in Gaza. Putting to sleep his own report.