Sunday, October 25, 2009

Investigation Team, Go!

B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, took a position held I think by many Jews and Israelis, arguing that the Goldstone commission was fatally flawed, but that nonetheless the Israeli government should launch an investigation into alleged misconduct during Operation Cast Lead. And it looks like Israel is, somewhat belatedly, setting up a review team to do just that (albeit not as extensive as many might like).

There's been a weird thread running through the debate about how Israel should respond to the Goldstone report. On the one hand, the Israeli government rightfully points to its record of investigations following human rights allegations as a showing that the commission wasn't necessary. On the other hand, many "pro-Israel" defenders seem adamant that Israel should not conduct an investigation here, sacrificing that very moral high ground. I understand the politics, and I understand how infuriating it must be to appear to be giving into the UNHRC -- this dynamic is one that Judge Goldstone should have taken into account but obviously didn't. Nonetheless, an investigation is the right thing to do -- and it would have been just as right if (in some fantastical land) the world's eye wasn't fixated on Israel.

In any event, hopefully this is a move that lets everyone save face. Israel conducts an investigation, thus once again demonstrating its commitment to rule of law. Goldstone defenders get to pat themselves on the back as being the precipitating cause of the investigation (whether that's true or not). The question of whether Israel should be referred to the ICC is taken off the table (as the Commission's only request of the investigated parties was that they conduct a credible internal investigation). Hopefully, some justice will be served and some truth will come out for any victims of improper or criminal behavior. Lemonade is served.

UPDATE: I just received an email from a member of B'tselem, wishing to clarify that they never labeled the Goldstone investigation "fatally flawed". "Although B'Tselem has indeed criticized aspects of the Goldstone report, it has also stated very clearly that this critique does not nullify the report or it's main recommendation: that Israel hold an independent, credible investigation into 'Cast Lead'." Their full position is outlined here.

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