Firstly, as ‘Just Journalism‘ has already pointed out, there’s the apparently uncontrollable obsession with Israel which caused whoever wrote this editorial to open it with two paragraphs on the subject of the Goldstone Report. As we know, the Guardian is very heavily invested in the defence of that particular document, having been one of its main advocates and the platform of choice for the other three members of the commission who do not share Judge Goldstone’s second thoughts about its content. But even so; why the need to drag the Goldstone Report into a piece about events half a world away?
The clue comes in the second paragraph:
“A UN panel has just produced such a report about the carnage of civilians which took place two years ago when government forces crushed the Tamil Tigers. It is as hard-hitting as anything Goldstone produced, and therefore is just as likely to be shelved. The point is that truth and accountability, let alone international justice, are not divisible. One country’s ability to bury the evidence of war crimes endangers how civilians are treated in all other conflicts. A single failure of international justice is also a collective one.”
What is the Guardian trying to tell us here?
First it suggests that the questioning of the Goldstone Report’s findings is an attempt to create a special and different standard for Israel. Secondly, it tries to turn ‘evidence of war crimes’ into an indisputable fact and accuses Israel of an already executed cover-up of those supposed crimes. Then it goes on to assert that Israel is or will be responsible for the deaths of civilians thousands of miles away in totally unrelated conflicts.
In other words, what the Guardian is saying here is that Israel is responsible for the corruption of collective standards; that it has somehow managed to undermine the ability of the peace-loving, human rights and international law-respecting world (of which the Guardian appears to consider itself a part) to pursue its laudable aims. And why did Israel do this, according to the Guardian editor? For its own selfish and perfidious ends, of course.
I must admit that when some commentators refer to the Guardian as some sort of modern-day Der Sturmer I usually feel very uncomfortable with the comparison. However, in this case the similarity between the accusation of Israeli corruption of the moral standards of the international judiciary (the pinnacle of the community of human rights advocates) and the old Nazi trope of Jews corrupting ‘pure’ German culture is just too obvious to ignore.
Of course the ironic thing about the Guardian’s zealous defence of the Goldstone Report and its commissioning body the U. N. Human Rights Council is that some of the world’s worst human rights offenders and nose-thumbers at international law are to be found sitting on that body. Despite the Guardian’s apparent bizarre belief to the contrary, even UN officials themselves have expressed concern over the blatantly disproportionate focus on Israel at the UNHRC. In 2006 Kofi Annan said:
“But, I am worried by its disproportionate focus on violations by Israel. Not that Israel should be given a free pass. Absolutely not. But the Council should give the same attention to grave violations committed by other States as well.”
A year later, Ban Ki-moon stated that:
“The Secretary-General is disappointed at the Council’s decision to single out only one specific regional item, (Israel) given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world.”
But significantly, the Guardian has not a bad word to say about the collection of human rights-abusing despots at the UNHRC. Not even the growing possibility that Syria will soon replace Libya on that council even whilst Assad guns down hundreds in the streets and tries to starve rebellious towns into submission shakes the Guardian’s blind faith in that organization.
And that, I’m afraid, is what happens when obsession and malice take over from logic as they apparently have among Rusbridger and his merry men. Defending an organization dominated by undemocratic and brutal regimes and flirting with Nazi-style propaganda becomes par for the course when the focus of a once respected publication becomes to delegitimise Israel at every opportunity.