When the head of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict, Judge Richard Goldstone, appeared on Al Jazeera after releasing the findings of his commission’s report last week, he shed some more light on the purpose of his mission’s report. Speaking with the Al Jazeera interviewer, Goldstone elucidated that he personally hoped that the commission’s report would ultimately lead to prosecutions of Israel and Palestinian armed forces in the International Criminal Court. Such prosecutions would hold Israel accountable for alleged human rights violations that the UN has worked for years to expose.
Goldstone explained in the interview that it is the obligation of the international community to hold sovereign states accountable of alleged human rights violations.
Of course, this is most ironic when the Human Rights Council that established Goldstone’s Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict is composed of countries that have frequently and freely violated international human rights laws, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Syria and Somalia.
Throughout the Al Jazeera interview, graphic video footage of wounded Gazans continually popped up next to Goldstone’s face. At one point in the interview, the Al Jazeera reporter worriedly asked Goldstone if Israel could indeed be prosecuted as it never signed the statute recognizing The Hague when it was set up in 2002. Goldstone resolutely assured her that Israel could indeed be prosecuted as long as the UN Security Council was involved.
The Al Jazeera interviewer also made sure to note how the ‘unsophisticated’ Palestinian rockets were incomparable to Israeli military measures.
While the Al Jazeera reporter’s questions and Goldstone’s answers were formatted to highlight Israel’s offenses, one must ask–has the UN report really accomplished anything?
Blasting Israel for human rights violations has done absolutely nothing to advance the quality of life for Palestinians in Gaza and Israelis living in the south. Considering the countless UN resolutions and international condemnations against Israel as well as thousands of pages in reports accusing Israel of war crimes, residents of both sides of the Gaza border continue to live under the same difficult conditions.
One must then ask what is the actual purpose of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council and these UN commissions—do they truly work on behalf of the Palestinian people or to simply delegitimize the Jewish state of Israel? If the Goldstone Commission believed that by holding Israel exclusively accountable for the Palestinian situation would solve the region’s problems, the commission is completely incorrect.
By assigning the majority of the blame on Israel, the Goldstone Commission, like other UN investigative ventures in the past years, ignores one critical factor that has fueled the continued hostilities of the Middle East.
That factor is that a generation of Palestinian children under the Hamas regime are being prepared for war — not peace — with Israel.
Each year, the Hamas government spends millions of dollars inculcating Palestinian children into a hate culture that celebrates Palestinian martyrs who have killed civilian Israeli Jews and who have terrorized countless innocent Jewish fathers, mothers, and children.
Most recently, Hamas summer camps for Palestinian children were established to advance this hate-agenda. The 2009 summer camps entailed an intensive process of political and Islamic indoctrination implemented by senior Hamas figures and officials who visited the camps (according to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (IICC) report).
Hamas activist, Mahmoud Abu I’d stated that the objective of the camps was to prepare Palestinian children to take on the leadership path of victory and liberation upon themselves. Furthermore, participants in Hamas summer camps underwent semi-military training as seen in photographs published in Palestinian media. Such photos of Palestinian child-soldiers have surfaced as early as 2004.
The Safa News Agency, an independent Palestinian news agency, published photographs of Palestinian adolescents wearing Hamas caps, training with wooden and plastic rifles on August 11, 2009. In the background of the photos, the camps’ banners read “Allah is our goal, Muhammed is our role model, the Qur’an is our law, jihad is our path and death for the sake of Allah is our most exalted hope.”
This past summer, Hamas ran over 700 summer camps for over 100,000 Palestinian children in Gaza, according to a CNN report by Christiane Amanpour (CNN Special Report, Generation Islam, August 2009). The camps’ spokesman Amir Abu al-Amarin reported that the budget for the Hamas summer camps was estimated at $2 million (Al-Quds Al-Arabi, July 21, 2009).
With the start of the 2009 school year, Gaza’s children are continuing their education under a Hamas-influenced school system. This year, Hamas attacked the UNRWA education system for planning to include basic Holocaust studies in its 8th grade human rights curriculum. According to the IICC, Hamas spokesmen denounced UNRWA and called the Holocaust “a Zionist lie.” Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Yunes al-Astal went even further and called support for teaching Holocaust studies “a war crime” and “support and service to the Zionists.” (Filastin al-Yawm, August 30, 2009)
Hamas representatives have had no qualms flouting their Holocaust denial opinions and educational ideologies to the international press. Sami Abu Zuhri, another Hamas spokesman told Associated Press on August 31, 2009 that it was more important to teach Palestinians the “crimes of Israeli occupation.” And Abd al-Rahman al-Jamal, the head of the Palestinian Legislative Council’s education committee for Hamas, told a BBC correspondent that the Holocaust was “a big lie.” (BBC website, August 31, 2009)
Indeed, if the United Nations and the Goldstone Commission were truly concerned about improving the quality of life in Gaza, Hamas’s efforts to establish a new generation of youth soldiers dedicated to destroying Israel should be the subject of an investigation. Furthermore, a school system that inculcates hate into the hearts and minds of the young begs for an international outcry.
As long as the international community and the United Nations continue to ignore the hate-education system in Gaza, any real advancement for regional peace is generations away. True justice for the children of Gaza and Israel will not emerge in The Hague, but rather in classrooms and summer camps that teach tolerance and respect.
In the meantime, Gaza’s children will grow up to be the martyrs in Hamas’s cocoon of hate, while much of the world community will continue to sanctimoniously point their finger at Israel.