Richard Goldstone confuses International Law

While Richard Goldstone deserves credit for publishing a fair report about Israel’s war crime during its assault on Gaza — especially in light of the storm of vilification that he has had to weather — one need not be so swayed as to exempt his claims from scrutiny. There are serious problems with his interpretation of International law, and far from being too critical of Israel, he is too generous. In this interview he makes the tendentious claim that jus in bello, that is conduct during war, is unrelated to jus ad bellum, the justness of the war. He in fact goes so far as to claim that ‘it was a given’ that Israel had a right to attack Gaza. He makes this claim despite stating before hand that it wasn’t his remit to investigate jus ad bellum. This is therefore an astonishing statement to make for someone even remotely familiar with international law. Before one can consider jus in bello, the conditions for jus ad bello need to be satisfied. That is to say that before you investigate conduct you have to make sure that the war was just. And if this wasn’t the case — and it wasn’t — then Israel is responsible for launching a war of aggression, the ‘supreme crime’ in international law. This also means that Israel bears the responsibility even for the violations of human rights carried out by Hamas because the supreme crime carries within it the accumulated evil of all that follows. For more on this, see my detailed argument in this earlier article.

Al Jazeera’s Shihab Rattansi talks to Judge Richard Goldstone about the investigation into the Gaza war. He travelled to the United Nations in New York to find out if the war on Gaza has transformed Richard Goldstone from a sober jurist into a man on a mission to discredit Israel on an international stage.

Author: Idrees Ahmad

I am a Lecturer in Digital Journalism at the University of Stirling and a former research fellow at the University of Denver’s Center for Middle East Studies. I am the author of The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War (Edinburgh University Press, 2014). I write for The Observer, The Nation, The Daily Beast, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Al Jazeera, Dissent, The National, VICE News, Huffington Post, In These Times, Le Monde Diplomatique, Die Tageszeitung (TAZ), Adbusters, Guernica, London Review of Books (Blog), The New Arab, Bella Caledonia, Asia Times, IPS News, Medium, Political Insight, The Drouth, Canadian Dimension, Tanqeed, Variant, etc. I have appeared as an on-air analyst on Al Jazeera, the BBC, TRT World, RAI TV, Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon, Alternative Radio with David Barsamian and several Pacifica Radio channels.

2 thoughts on “Richard Goldstone confuses International Law”

  1. Now, now. If you accept 5 or 6 of Israel’s assumptions, Israel had the right to respond in self-defense. E.g. that it was not occupying Gaza, that Hamas violated the ceasefire, that Israel had no available diplomatic options, that the rocket fire amounted to more than a border incident, and that Israel’s response was defensive in nature.

    BTW Israel is not just responsible for the results of the massacre as the aggressor, but also as the occupier. Israel had the duty to protect and defend the residents of Gaza from harm, which arguably entails that it had the duty to attack itself.

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