In the body of the Goldstone report on Israel’s actions in the Gaza war, the authors include this curious caveat: “[W]e did not deal with the issues…regarding the problems of conducting military operations in civilian areas and second-guessing decisions made by soldiers and their commanding officers ‘in the fog of war.’”
Well then. If you won’t talk about the difficulty Israel faced in routing an enemy that hid among a civilian population, and refuse to acknowledge the awful trade-offs between legitimate self-defense and the inevitable costs of fighting in heavily populated areas, what else is there to talk about?
In fact, the authors of the United Nations Human Rights Council report found plenty to talk about, mostly allegations that Israel deliberately attacked citizens and committed war crimes. No surprise, really, especially since one member of the investigating team had, before the committee ever met, declared Israel guilty of committing atrocities.
The unwillingness of the report’s authors to discuss the context or background of Operation Cast Lead (also missing from the report is acknowledgement of the rain of Hamas rockets that precipitated Israel’s response) is only one reason their findings should have been dead on arrival. The Obama administration recognized this; UN Ambassador Susan Rice declared the report’s mandate “unbalanced, one-sided, and basically unacceptable.’’
Now Congress has seconded this verdict in a nonbinding resolution that further urges the administration to oppose any endorsement of the report in international and multilateral forums. The resolution, introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), declares the report “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy.” The House was expected to take up the measure this week, and we anticipated and supported its swift and overwhelming adoption.
Israel understands the tragedies that often accompany the “fog of war,” and — unlike any of its neighbors — has a track record of investigating its own actions in the wake of military conflicts. The loss of civilian life is regrettable, but the awful calculus of Israel’s enemies seems to make such losses inevitable. By refusing to examine that calculus in any serious way, the Goldstone report demonstrated yet again the United Nations’ cynical attempts to undermine and delegitimize the Jewish state.