Michael Oren’s must-read column is both a defense of his prime minister’s UN speech (as a necessary rebuttal to Holocaust denial) and an insightful explanation as to why the Goldstone report is so insidious. And, yes, the two are very much related.
On Bibi Netanyahu’s UN speech, Oren takes exception to those in Israel who didn’t care for the notion that its prime minister should stoop to, in effect, debating the “Iranian thug”:
Perhaps because they were raised in a society suffused with Holocaust consciousness, some Israelis might be unaware of the extent of ignorance of the Final Solution throughout the world, even in the United States, and especially among youth. Confronted with the enormity of the horror, many young people today–much like American Jewish leaders in 1942–react with incredulousness, rendering them susceptible to denial. Millions of Muslims, moreover, subscribe to the syllogism: If Israel was created by Europeans out of Holocaust guilt, and the Holocaust never occurred, then Israel’s existence is unjust. Where better than the General Assembly, a body established in response to World War II and affording a global audience, to reaffirm the veracity of an event now so widely questioned if not refuted?
But it is in taking on the Goldstone report that Oren provides the most critical analysis. He explains that the report ignored Hamas’s effort to deploy women and children as human shields (in order to maximize casualties and their own vicious propaganda campaign) and instead “handpicked Hamas witnesses, several of them senior commanders disguised as civilians, and uncritically accepted their testimony. Inexorably, the report, which presumed Israel’s guilt, condemned the Jewish state for crimes against humanity and for mounting a premeditated campaign against Gaza civilians.” This is, he explains, worse than Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust-denial act:
The Goldstone Report goes further than Ahmadinejad and the Holocaust deniers by stripping the Jews not only of the ability and the need but of the right to defend themselves. If a country can be pummeled by thousands of rockets and still not be justified in protecting its inhabitants, then at issue is not the methods by which that country survives but whether it can survive at all. But more insidiously, the report does not only hamstring Israel; it portrays the Jews as the deliberate murderers of innocents–as Nazis. And a Nazi state not only lacks the need and right to defend itself; it must rather be destroyed.
And that brings us once again to the timid and equivocating U.S. response to the Goldstone report. Surely someone in the administration must understand Oren’s central point — that the report strikes at the Jewish state’s right to exist and defend itself. Or is it that all facts and all positions are subject to the Obama split-the-baby school of foreign policy? “Well, yes, the Goldstone report is bad, but we don’t want to aggravate the Palestinians” is the formulation that seems to have prevailed. Forget for a moment that it is not the “Palestinians” who might be most aggrieved by a forceful condemnation of the Goldstone report, but Hamas. (We are still in favor of undermining and delegitimizing Hamas, right? Maybe not so much.)
The Goldstone report may come before the Security Council today. If so, we will see how the U.S. reacts and whether we finally get a fulsome response. It nevertheless remains deeply disturbing that the U.S. has tried to slide by with saying and doing as little as possible on this latest round of Israel-bashing. It is part of a disastrous and morally offensive strategy — distance ourselves from Israel, downplay threats to the Jewish state, ingratiate ourselves with Israel’s foes, and fudge historical events to fit the desired narrative (i.e., both sides are equally to blame). Let’s see if the Obama team has learned anything from the collapse of its settlement gambit (the most vivid example of this approach) and can step back from the cliff of moral equivalence.