Talking Points on the Goldstone Report

  • The Goldstone Report, the result of the United Nations Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission on Israel's Operation Cast Lead- which alleges that Israel "committed actions amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity"- was published on September 15, 2009. The 575-page document can be found here.
  • This Report evoked outrage throughout Israel, including from President Shimon Peres who declared that it "makes a mockery of history and fails to distinguish between aggressor and those acting in self-defense."
  • The State Department is continuing to review the Report. Assistant Secretary Philip Crowley said "there was a one-sided unacceptable mandate for this fact-finding investigation and that mandate was set forth before the United States joined the Human Rights Council. We should be cautious at this point that the Report should not be used as a mechanism to add impediments to getting back to the peace process."
  • Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, called the report a "pompous, tendentious, one-sided political diatribe." Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), ranking Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the UN is "continuing its relentless anti-Israel bias" and that Congress must enact "pending legislation that would leverage our contributions to the UN to produce sweeping, meaningful reform of that body."
  • Israel's military operation in Gaza took place after thousands of rockets targeted Israeli population centers for many years resulting in many deaths and injuries. It should be remembered that Israel completely withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and dismantled every settlement there with the hope of creating conditions conducive to peace.
  • After unsuccessful efforts to prevent the rocket attacks through non-violent means, Israel, exercising its right of self-defense, launched a military operation against the terrorists in Gaza.
  • Hamas combatants, unfairly referred to as "Palestinian Armed Groups," embedded themselves in heavily populated civilian areas, using apartment complexes, schools, mosques and hospitals as bases of operation.
  • Israel undertook serious efforts to target combatants in ways that would limit noncombatant causalities. Unfortunately, in times of war, especially this kind of asymmetric warfare, mistakes will be made, and tragically, innocent lives will be lost. That certainly was the case in Gaza, as it has been in the wars being fought by American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both Israel and the U.S. are learning about the challenges and dilemmas posed by conflict with an adversary that glorifies the "martyrdom" of women and children.
  • Unlike the terrorists and authoritarian regimes, Israel, as a democracy with self-correcting mechanisms, acknowledges its mistakes and conducts serious, credible, and ongoing examinations of its military conduct, not because a biased UN body calls for it, but because the IDF seeks to reflect the values of the Jewish people, including the sanctity of life.  Those who are found to have violated the IDF's code of conduct are prosecuted and punished.
  • The UN Human Rights Council habitually demonizes and singles-out Israel for criticism, and ignores gross human rights abuses occurring in countries like Iran, Sudan and China.   Its activities undermine respect for human rights and the rule of law. We hope that renewed U.S. participation in the Council will result in major reforms.
  • Ultimately, the solution to this tragic violence is a successful peace process that will lead to two states for two peoples. The Goldstone Report, unfortunately, will not contribute to that result. It will encourage extremists on the Palestinian side to believe that the UN can be used as a tool in the campaign to delegitimize Israel.