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Israel after Goldstone

The Goldstone Report, accusing Israel of war crimes in Gaza, and the report’s subsequent endorsement by the UN Human Rights Council, exposes serious flaws in the system of international law. Even so, Israel's leaders must now take more resolute steps toward peace if their argument aimed at derailing the report – that it “hinders the peace process” – is to have any credibility.

TOLEDO – Israel’s predicament with the Judge Richard Goldstone’s report accusing it of war crimes in Gaza, and the report’s subsequent endorsement by the United Nations Human Rights Council, brings to mind the reaction of United States Vice-President Spiro Agnew to his indictment on corruption charges in 1973: “The bastards, they changed the rules, but they never told me.”

Indeed, the rules have changed, and Israel cannot say that it was not warned that this is an era in which international law and universal justice are being forcefully promoted as pillars of an improved world order. That was not the case when the Arab-Israeli conflict started more than 60 years ago. Now, however, the international community is bound to scrutinize how wars are conducted, and crimes of war will not be allowed to go unpunished.

Or so it should be. Alas, the new rules apply in fact only to those countries that are not world powers. The UN’s Human Rights Council would not have dared to put Russia in the dock for razing Grozny, Chechnya’s capital, or China for brutally suppressing the people of Tibet and the Muslim Uighur minority.

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