Israel should not investigate Goldstone claims

I can’t think of a single good reason that Israel should set up a commission to investigate the IDF’s actions in Gaza on the basis of the Goldstone report, or even, as PM Netanyahu seems to have suggested at one point, to create a ‘team’ (this is supposed to be less than a ‘commission’) to ‘reevalute’ the IDF’s examination of its own behavior.

On the other hand, there are many good reasons not to do so.

1) The main one, as I’ve argued before, is that to deny wild accusations is to suggest that, while false, they are not so wild. It is to suggest that they could be true. Otherwise, why investigate them?

The most damning accusation in the Goldstone report, of course, is that Israel intentionally hurt and killed noncombatants and destroyed civilian infrastructure in order to ‘collectively punish’ Palestinians. That this was not collateral damage, but deliberate damage. That this was part of Israel’s strategy.

The Goldstone report claims to prove this, but actually presents no evidence. Further, it can be shown that it cannot be true. Why, then should this libel be given even the weight of a hypothesis?

2) An investigation of Goldstone’s claims would imply that the report’s method — which was apparently to accept Palestinian ‘witness’ testimony as prima facie true, or to repeat claims made by organizations such as HRW or even Hamas-related groups who did the same — was capable of reaching unbiased conclusions. It would imply that the mandate of the commission and its makeup could produce a fair result. None of these is the case, and that can be shown without an investigation.

3) An investigation by anyone except the IDF itself, which is already investigating numerous incidents that occurred during the war, implies a lack of confidence in the IDF. But the government, which was aware of the precautions army commanders took to minimize civilian casualties, has no reason except for the clearly biased Goldstone report to second-guess the IDF. To do so would not only be unfair, but would have a chilling effect on officers’ initiative in future campaigns.

4) No Israeli investigation will be taken seriously by any UN body. Remember the International Court of Justice decision that the Security Barrier was ‘illegal under international law’, a decision which did not mention terrorism even once? An investigation will not protect Israel from hostile acts of the UN.  Since unfriendly European governments will likely take their cues from UN resolutions, it won’t protect Israelis against local ‘war crimes’ prosecutions either. So why incur the damage described in 1-3 above?

Here is another idea: Investigate the investigators, and the defective process by which the report came about.

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