June 3, 2010
by Anne Bayefsky
The Obama administration is pushing for an internationalized investigation of Israel's recent effort to preserve its naval blockade of Hamas-run Gaza. In an extraordinary interference with the sovereignty of a democratic society and its right of self-defense, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said Wednesday that the United States wants "a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation. ... We are open to different ways of assuring a credible investigation, including international participation ... "
Assistant Secretary of State Philip J. Crowley elaborated that the administration was demanding Israel produce "an investigation that is broadly viewed as credible by the international community." That would be the same international community which has condemned Israel without the facts, and which has refused to walk back their spontaneous reactions, though the video evidence of armed "civilian" attackers and martyr-seeking "humanitarians" now stares them in the face.
Late Monday night President Obama agreed to a unanimous U.N. Security Council presidential statement, which demanded "a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards." At the U.N. everyone knew that such language meant a new U.N.-sponsored investigation mirroring the infamous U.N. Goldstone Report on the 2009 Gaza war. That report was produced by four investigators who had all publicly declared Israel guilty before they began, and who operated under a mandate that incorporated a guilty verdict from the outset.
Right on cue--and encouraged by the Security Council statement--on Wednesday the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a resolution deciding "to dispatch an independent international fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from the Israeli attacks on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance."
In other words, once again the U.N. created a fact-finding mission to determine the facts it had already found. Among other things, the resolution states: "the Human Rights Council ... condemns in the strongest terms the outrageous attack by the Israeli forces."
While the Obama administration voted against the HRC resolution, it did not use its membership on the council to impede in any way the numerous breaches in procedure which made the debate and the introduction of the resolution to condemn Israel possible in the first place. Never in its history had the council held what was uniquely labeled an "urgent debate" on any human rights issue at all, anywhere. The HRC has specific requirements for holding "special sessions" and decided to ignore them, without American objection. In order to move with lightning speed, the substantive resolution was introduced under an agenda item on procedural issues, again without American objection.
Before Wednesday's HRC vote, the U.N. Secretariat was required under U.N. rules to produce a statement of the financial implications of the new "international fact-finding mission." Given the mad scramble to condemn Israel, it could only say this: "owing to the brief duration of the preceding debate, the Secretariat has not benefited from the requisite 48-hour period in which to prepare and present the related statement of financial implications for the draft resolution." So instead they guessed "approximately $530,000." Since the resolution was adopted, barring a move to insist Congress refuse to fund the mission, American taxpayers will pay 22% of the bill.
The Obama administration is doing nothing to slow down the extraordinary pace of international condemnation racing forward minus the facts. On the contrary, its support of some form of internationalization of an Israeli investigation--which would obviously occur in this fully democratic society in a manner consistent with the rule of law--is a blatant attempt to pile on the pressure. It also goes to the very heart of Israeli sovereignty. Imagine the response if anyone tried to force the United States military to subject its actions in self-defense to the judgment of an international overseer, just hours after the event.
The statements on Iran by Assistant Secretary Crowley at the same news conference at which he was lecturing Israel suggest the nature of the arm-twisting going on between Washington and Jerusalem behind the scenes. Crowley talked about the United States putting forward an Iran resolution at the Security Council in the coming days and expecting full support in the next three weeks. But given the fact that the Russian exemption clauses in the draft resolution have already made it a mockery, its adoption ought not to be enough for Israel to agree to what is undoubtedly a Trojan horse.
Israel should not believe for a second that such an internationalization would somehow make the second Goldstone-like report go away. Any investigation conducted by Israel that includes international participants who are not chosen by the U.N. lynch mob--or any inquiry which is not controlled in terms of its mandate and outcome by the same hordes--will fail to silence the hatemongers. At the same time the signal sent of a democracy unable to rely on its own to be truthful and just in matters affecting the very life and security of its citizens would set a very dangerous precedent.
It is time for Israel to unambiguously say no to President Obama, who finds it easier to jump on international bandwagons than stand against the rising tide of intolerance threatening the Jewish state.
Anne Bayefsky is no longer a Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute.
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