Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, November 6, 2009
Arab and Muslim Americans Oppose House of Representatives Resolution 867, Which Shields Israeli War Criminals
H. Res. 867
The Arab American Institute opposes H. Res. 867, a resolution calling on President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to oppose the endorsement or consideration of the 'Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict' (The Goldstone Report) in multilateral fora.
H. Res. 867 incorrectly defines the mandate under which the investigation into human rights violations was conducted; distorts the basis for the UN investigation and the findings of the Report; compromises U.S. leadership and the role of Congress on matters of accountability and transparency in international human rights law; and damages efforts by the Obama Administration to restore American credibility in the Middle East.
Congress should adopt responsible, constructive language that demonstrates U.S. commitment to upholding international human rights law. Tell your Representative to oppose H. Res. 867 when it is considered under Suspension of the Rules on Tuesday, November 3!
Please contact your member of Congress and tell them to vote NO on H. Res. 867
Use our political action website at www.capwiz.com/arab for additional contact information or call the Capitol Hill switchboard at 202-225-3121.
About H. Res. 867:
This bill, which was introduced by Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Howard Berman (D-CA), Dan Burton (R-IN) and Gary Ackerman (D-NY), incorrectly defines the mandate under which this investigation was conducted.
The language of this resolution inaccurately states the expanded mandate Justice Richard J. Goldstone, himself, requested and was granted to lead this investigation. The mandate under which Justice Goldstone conducted this fact-finding mission was "to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after..."
The language of the resolution distorts the basis for the UN investigation and the findings laid out in the Goldstone Report.
According to the Report, Justice Goldstone focused on the "mandate as requiring it to place the civilian population of the region at the centre of its concerns regarding the violations of international law" and investigated Israeli and Palestinian actions during 36 specific events.
The investigation team spent considerable time in Gaza, conducted nearly 200 interviews, read thousands of pages of reports, held public hearings in the Middle East and in Geneva, the product of which is the Goldstone Report--an exhaustive 452-page narrative on the investigation mandate, process and findings, including a review of applicable human rights law and conventions.
Several incidents covered in the Goldstone Report examine attacks on hospitals, mosques, and the widely reported killings of Gaza civilians. In Section XIII of the Report, titled "Attacks on the Foundation of Civilian Life in Gaza: Destruction of Industrial Infrastructure, Food Production, Water Installations, Sewage Treatment, and Housing" include: the total destruction of the Al-Bader Flour Mill, the bulldozing and "systematic flattening" of the Sawafaery Chicken Farm (killing all 31,000 chickens), and the bombing of the raw sewage lagoons of the Gaza Water Sewage Treatment Plant causing 200,000 cubic meters of raw sewage to contaminate neighboring farmlands. These, the Report concludes, were not military targets, and were instead evidence of, "unlawful and wanton destruction, not justified by military necessity," considered war crimes under international law.
Many sections of the Report also call Hamas into account for its violations of law, including the indiscriminate bombing of Israeli citizens in Section XXIV, titled "The Impact on Civilians of Rocket and Mortar Attacks by Palestinian Armed Groups on Southern Israel," as well as with regard to the detention and treatment of Gilad Shalit, and other methods of force determined by the Report to be unlawful.
For additional information about the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (Goldstone Report), visit the official website of the UN Human Rights Council: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/specialsession/9/FactFindingMission.htm
Executive Summary of UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (Goldstone Report)
Full Report on the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/12session/A-HRC-12-48.pdf
H. Res. 867 compromises U.S. leadership on matters of accountability and transparency in international human rights law.
This bill lends no support for credible, impartial investigations into allegations of human rights violations during the Gaza conflict in January 2009, even though the Obama Administration supports "appropriate domestic review procedures and meaningful accountability to investigate and address all credible allegations of misconduct or violations of international law."
Congress should play a constructive, responsible role in promoting U.S. leadership in international human rights law and call for the Israelis and Palestinians to launch independent investigations into allegations of human rights violations during the Gaza conflict.============
Action Alert: Call on Congress to OPPOSE H.RES 867, Act Now!
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) urges you to contact your US House of Representative and ask them to OPPOSE H.RES 867 introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). Currently, this resolution has 114 cosponsors out of 435 Members of the US Congress. H. RES. 867 calls on the President and the Secretary of State to unequivocally oppose any endorsement of the Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.
This Mission led by former South African Judge Richard Goldstone of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Judge Goldstone was also part of the International Panel of the Commission of Enquiry into the Activities of Nazism in Argentina, and part of the International War Crimes Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia. His current report to the United Nations regarding the Gaza conflict called for “the prosecution of persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law [which] would contribute to ending such violations, to the protection of civilians and to the restoration of peace.”Ask your Member of Congress to oppose this biased and inhumane resolution.
H. RES 867 challenges the legitimacy of the UN Fact Finding Mission, also known as the “Goldstone Report” In a letter to Members of the US House of Representatives concerning H .Res 867, Goldstone wrote, “I have strong reservations about the text of the resolution in question… which includes serious factual inaccuracies”. In his letter, Judge Goldstone debunks the misconceptions and inaccuracies made by H.RES 867. In H RES. 867, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen inaccurately accuses Judge Goldstone and his Report to the UN in only condemning Israel in violations of war crimes; in fact Judge Goldstone clearly accuses Hamas as well.
If Congress passes this resolution tomorrow, they are denying the right of security and an equal life to the people of Palestine. Please make your voice heard, and ACT NOW!
With your quick action, we can encourage opposition to H. RES. 867, and urge accountability for war crimes committed in Gaza. Act NOW!
Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent ccun.org.