Re "Sifting through Gaza: A U.N. report finds war crimes in the fighting; now Israel must be held accountable," and "The Goldstone mission was skewed from the very beginning," Opinion, Sept. 18
The Op-Ed article by George Bisharat was right on point. The Goldstone report showed in detail what all observant people already knew in general about the events of last winter. It is long past time for our nation to take an unbiased approach to events in the Middle East.
Israel must be held to -- and hold itself to -- universally recognized human rights standards.
The report also rightly points out abuses by Hamas. But the reality is that the ordinary people of Gaza continue to suffer because of the unjust and inhuman blockade that the state of Israel continues to inflict on them.
What's most striking about Jeremy Sharon's response to the Goldstone report is that he does not disprove, or even challenge, the allegations in the report that Israel killed civilians, destroyed homes and infrastructure, and imposed collective punishment on the people in Gaza in violation of international law.
Rather, Sharon's argument is that Hamas has a policy of using civilians and civilian infrastructure as shields, and therefore Israel has not only the right but the obligation to wage total war against the civilian population of Gaza. He also says that the Goldstone report "embolden[s] terrorists and illegitimate guerrilla forces."
Though he may not mean it as such, Sharon's column is essentially an argument for ethnic cleansing and genocide.
Mark Gabrish Conlan
Bisharat's Op-Ed article is a wake-up call to Americans who still believe their tax dollars should go to support Israel.
America's long-standing bias toward Israel shames us all. Every day, Palestinians are deprived of their livelihood and their liberty by an out-of-control occupation force, heavily supported by U.S. funding. The Gaza blood bath was so horrendous that even Richard Goldstone, a strong supporter of Israel, concluded that war crimes were committed.
As usual, Israel opts to kill the messenger rather than heed the message. Fearful that it might be held accountable in the International Court of Justice, Israel now turns to its good friends in Washington to denounce the report and once again let it off the hook. America needs to put away its shovel and stop cleaning up Israel's mess. We have embarrassed ourselves before the world for too long.
Mary Hughes Thompson
Bisharat is clearly biased against Israel in his article. The U.N. report clearly cited war crimes from both the Palestinians and Israelis. However, in this article, all the onus seems to lie with Israel.
Thousands of missiles had been fired from Gaza into neighboring Israeli towns. The civilians of these towns were constantly put in danger. Israel had used much restraint and finally decided to defend itself.
During the counterattack, Bisharat noted that Gaza's flour mill, a sewage plant and other "civilian" structures had been destroyed. How does one distinguish what belongs to the civilian and what belongs to the terrorist?
The terrorists hide behind "civilians" as a shield. Loss and destruction are inevitable outcomes of war, unfortunately. Perhaps the terrorists should consider this before they cause trouble.
Bisharat claims the Goldstone report reinforces and justifies the universal anger over Israel's war crimes. It is true that many human-rights-oriented people see Israel as a mass war criminal.
Organizations like the United Nations are obsessed with Israel. There have been more resolutions condemning Israel than for all other countries combined. The Palestinians are the only group that has a whole section of the United Nations protecting their rights. The membership of the U.N. Human Rights Council is full of the world's worst human rights violators, many from Arab countries whose animosity toward Israel and Jews is breathtakingly intense.
Consider the original mandate given to the Goldstone commission: "to immediately dispatch an urgent, independent, international fact-finding mission ... to investigate all violations of international human rights law and ... law by the occupying power, Israel, against the Palestinian people throughout the occupied Palestinian territory ... due to the current aggression."
Israel was judged guilty even before the commission did its work.
Justice should be blind. Sadly, the U.N. Human Rights Council initially set up the Goldstone mission so it would only look into, and therefore "reveal," Israel's guilt. So much for the presumption of innocence.
Former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson turned down the chance to lead the investigation because it was "a fact-finding mission to only look at what Israel had done, and I don't think that's a human rights approach."
Bisharat is certainly right about one thing: "We ignore continuing abuse [of international law] at our own peril."
The writer is the regional director of the American Jewish Committee.