By a 344-36 vote (22 voting "present"), the House of Representatives
condemned the so-called Goldstone report, which found that both Israel
and Hamas committed war crimes in Gaza. (See how your representative voted here)
The resolution basically adopted the Israeli view that the war was
necessary and that its military behaved with high regard for the safety
of civilians (despite the fact that 1400 Palestinians were killed --
including 320 children -- versus a total of 13 Israeli soldiers).
Israelis complained that the Goldstone report did not reflect the views
of Israelis who participated in the attack. But Israel refused to
cooperate with the Goldstone investigators.
In any case, this vote will give more evidence to those who argue
that Congress is afraid to take any steps on the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict that do not track Israel's position (and the Israel lobby's).
Writing in Politico yesterday, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) strongly criticized the House vote:
Congress is poised to oppose the Goldstone report without holding a
single hearing on a document that few members of Congress, if any, have
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This is a mistake. The stance of this Congress will erode U.S.
credibility in the post-Obama world, and it will tarnish our commitment
to the principle that all nations must be held to the same standards.
Rather than undermine the report or Goldstone, we are at risk of
undermining Congress's and President Barack Obama's reputation as
Israel can still pursue its own investigation, and critics of the
Goldstone report should recognize that Israel is strong enough to
withstand inquiry. Self-reflection is one of the hallmarks of a strong
democracy. In fact, Israel has investigated itself in the past in
connection with the Sabra and Shatila incidents. When nations like the
United States, Israel, South Africa and others have pursued the truth
through investigations - however uncomfortable - their people and
politics have emerged stronger.
We stand for the values of democracy, truth and justice. There is no
reason for Congress, Israel or any other party to fear an honest judge.
Richard Goldstone is such a judge, and his report should be studied,
Ellison is right. The House cast a cynical vote; one that, no doubt,
many are ashamed of. The United States should be an honest broker
between Israelis and Palestinians, not act as if "Israel Is Us."
Actions like the House's yesterday are not just wrongheaded, they
endanger America's security. We simply cannot afford to have every
Muslim and Arab on the planet believe that our concern for human rights
extends to everyone, but not to them. We need a course correction fast,
for the sake of Israelis and Palestinians, but mostly for our own.
M.J. Rosenberg is Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network. Previously, he worked on Capitol Hill for various Democratic members of the House and Senate for 15 years. He was also a Clinton political appointee at USAID. In the early 1980s, he was editor of AIPACs weekly newsletter Near East Report. From 1998-2009, he was director of policy at Israel Policy Forum.