Thursday, October 08, 2009

From the Summary of Legal Findings section of the Goldstone report:

1933. In addition to the above general findings, the Mission also considers that Israel has violated its specific obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, including the rights to peace and security, free movement, livelihood and health.
Goldstone sites the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women no less than eight times in the report.

What is this Convention? It describes itself this way:
For the purposes of the present Convention, the term "discrimination against women" shall mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.
As its very name implies, it is a component of international humanitarian law to stop discrimination against women. This means that in order to violate this convention, Israel would have had to treat Gaza women worse than it treated its men, simply because they are women.

Goldstone looks at Gaza, where the run by the Islamist Hamas movement, where sharia law is considered the major component of its legal system - and it sees Israel discriminating against women!

Obviously, Goldstone finds no discrimination against women by Israel at all in the report, and he doesn't bother to look for any from Hamas. He takes a very tortured view of a sub-paragraph of the Convention and stretches it way beyond its intent:
Article 12

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning.

2. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph I of this article, States Parties shall ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.
Paragraph 2, according to Goldstone, applies to Israel, not (for some reason) the Gaza government. It seems obvious that this convention applies to parties who actually control the territory in which women reside, but Goldstone apparently believes that Israel has this responsibility.

However one chooses to interpret the convention, Goldstone is wrong.

If this convention applies to enemy parties in wartime, then Hamas should be equally in violation of this law for every rocket sent to Sderot or Ashkelon that forced any pregnant woman or mother affected by rockets in Sderot, whose access to services and food was impaired because she had to run to a shelter, or whose sleep was disturbed by sirens. Needless to say, Goldstone does not say that Hamas violated any such humanitarian laws.

If the convention does not apply to opposing parties, than Hamas is the one responsible to ensure that women under its control continue to get access to medical services, prioritized above military needs. As far as I can tell, Hamas did no such thing. NGOs took over the bulk of humanitarian needs for Gaza during the conflict.

If one reads the convention as being specifically about discrimination against women, Goldstone does not come anywhere close to proving any discriminatory policy done by Israel against women. Nor does he try to, as it would be absurd. On the contrary, if Israel's war policy was to indiscriminately shoot at Gaza civilians, one would expect roughly half of the casualties to be female. Yet out of roughly 1400 deaths in Gaza, only about 15% were female. If anything, Israel discriminated against males aged between 18-35, who were most of the casualties.

The applicability of other legal conventions and covenants that Goldstone quotes are equally bizarre upon examination.

From reading other references in the report, Goldstone appears to be saying that Israel has the responsibility of providing food and medicine for its enemies. For example, earlier in the report he lists a number of conventions that he thinks Israel violated by destroying a flour mill:
941. The Mission finds that, as a result of its actions to destroy food and water supplies and infrastructure, Israel has violated article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and article 12 (2) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights states:

1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international co-operation based on free consent.

2. The States Parties to the present Covenant, recognizing the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger, shall take, individually and through international co-operation, the measures, including specific programmes, which are needed:

(a) To improve methods of production, conservation and distribution of food by making full use of technical and scientific knowledge, by disseminating knowledge of the principles of nutrition and by developing or reforming agrarian systems in such a way as to achieve the most efficient development and utilization of natural resources;

(b) Taking into account the problems of both food-importing and food-exporting countries, to ensure an equitable distribution of world food supplies in relation to need.

Presumably Goldstone holds Israel to these standards because he considers Gaza to be "occupied" by Israel. Ironically, this text proves that Israel does not occupy Gaza, because it would be literally impossible for Israel to perform the part of the convention highlighted above - it simply does not control Gaza to the extent that this convention assumes a "state party" does. How, exactly, would Goldstone expect Israel to teach proper nutrition or modern agricultural techniques to Gazans?

When Goldstone says that Israel violates paragraph 1 above when it seemingly destroyed a flour mill, he must also allow that Israel is violating paragraph 2 by not teaching Gaza schoolchildren how to eat properly. Yet paragraph 2's clear inapplicability to Israel proves paragraph 1's inapplicability to Israel's relationship with Gaza as well. Goldstone is quoting international law provisions that cannot apply to Israel in Gaza and that were clearly not intended for warring parties to provide for each other.

Goldstone's other citation, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is even more of a stretch in this context. Article 1 of that covenant is simply a statement on the rights of people for self-determination. Citing that covenant to say that bombing a flour mill is illegal is bizarre, as every bullet in every war can be interpreted to violate that very same covenant.

Thus far in my readings of Goldstone, I have not ascribed any sort of malice to him. I certainly detect obvious bias and some very distressing blindness, but I felt that he was doing this report in good but misguided faith.

But it is hard to ignore these findings and continue to give him this benefit of the doubt. Goldstone is a lawyer, a judge, someone who should be expert in international law. His misrepresentations of international law shown here as well as in previous posts I have written are astonishing. Either he does not know the law, or he is purposefully misrepresenting it in ways that are designed to make Israel look as guilty as possible.

His citations listed here indicate the latter. He is twisting international law to apply solely to Israel. No international convention is too far afield for him to hang criticism of Israel on. The connections between these citations and the reality of Gaza are incredibly tenuous, but only someone with a level of legal expertise could even imagine them to begin with.

One cannot help but conclude that Goldstone's misuse of sources for international law is deliberate.


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