Australia Rejects the Goldstone Report

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Goldstone Report Timeline
  • December 27th 2008, Israel commenced a three-week assault on the besieged city of Gaza, resulting in the death of some 1400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis. Tens of thousands of Palestinians were also left without homes and around 400,000 with no access to running water.
  • April 3rd 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Commission appointed respected South African Jewish jurist and former war-crimes prosecutor, Richard Goldstone, to head up a fact-finding mission into the Gaza conflict,  to investigate all violations of human rights.
  • September 15th 2009, the mission releases its final report (which becomes known as ‘The Goldstone Report’). It accuses both Palestinian militants and Israeli Defense Forces of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.
  • The Israeli Government immediately rejects the report as prejudiced and full of errors.  Hamas calls upon the world to embrace the report.
  • October 15th 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Commission endorses the report, thus forwarding it on to more significant UN bodies for action
  • November 3rd 2009, the US Congress resolves that the Goldstone Report is “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration” by a vote of 344 to 36.
  • November 4th 2009, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly endorses the Goldstone report and calls for independent investigations into the alleged war crimes. The vote is 118 nations in favour of the report with only 18 against and 44 abstentions.  Amongst those voting against the Goldstone report were the US, Israel, Germany and Australia.

28 November 2009

The Hon Stephen Smith MP
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Mr Smith,

re:- Australia’s rejection of the Goldstone Report in the UN

While I have been encouraged to see our country expressing some support in the United Nations for Palestinian self-determination, I feel that such statements  are almost void of meaning when seen alongside our simultaneous failure to support the Goldstone Report.

I am sure that the decision to reject the report was not ,made without fore-thought, and yet I find the official explanation – that the report displays an “unbalanced focus on Israel [and] insufficient attention to Hamas’ actions prior to the conflict, especially rocket attacks” – hard to take seriously.

Given that the Gaza assault resulted in the deaths of more than a thousand Palestinians, compared to only thirteen dead Israelis, one would hardly expect the focus of the report to be on violations committed from the Palestinians side.  Moreover, it appears that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) deliberately targeted the civilian infrastructure of Gaza – a crime to which Hamas could not possibly reciprocate.

As to the actions leading up to the conflict, I appreciate that there has been some debate over who officially broke the ceasefire – whether it was Hamas who initiated rocket attacks or whether these attacks were themselves provoked by the IDF’s incursion into Gaza in November 2008, where Israeli forces killed a number of Hamas personnel who were allegedly involved in building a tunnel.

Either way though, it seems meaningless to me to speak of a ceasefire as having ever been in place when the IDF at no time lifted its siege from the city of Gaza – consistently blocking the import of food, medical supplies and building materials – and thus maintaining a constant state of militant hostility

By failing to take account of this it seems that Australia has not only helped to legitimise the assault on Gaza that began last December, but has also served to legitimise the siege, which is ongoing and continues to be the cause of enormous human suffering!

Given the hollow justification for our vote on the Goldstone report, I am forced to conclude that the real basis of our position is either an anti-Palestinian bias at the highest levels of the Australian government or that our position at the UN is simply being dictated to us by our American friends.  Either way it is a shameful reflection on Australia’s level of commitment to justice and peace.

I would note in closing that there are encouraging signs in North America that the official position on Israel/Palestine is gradually evolving.  While the US Congress did vote overwhelmingly to dismiss the Goldstone Report, there were numerous representatives who spoke very strongly in its defence.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich, for example (the Democrat representative of Ohio), warned those who would reject the report that, “Almost as serious as committing war crimes is covering up war crimes, pretending that war crimes were never committed and did not exist.”

It is shameful to think that our country is involved in helping to cover up war crimes, and it will be an even greater shame if we have to wait until our allies change their position before we are willing to take a stand for justice.

Yours sincerely,

Rev. David B. Smith

Rev. David B. Smith, B.A. (Hons), B.Th., Dip. A
Acing Rector, Holy Trinity Dulwich Hill
Managing Director, Fighting Fathers Ministries
Marrickville ‘Citizen of the Year’ 1994 & 2009
Nominated ‘Australian of the Year’ 2005 & 2009

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About Father Dave

Preacher, Pugilist, Activist, Father of four
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