On Tuesday the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (344 to 36) to approve a resolution calling on the President and Secretary of State “to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration” of the Goldstone Report. This report, commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council and conducted by internationally respected jurist Richard Goldstone, finds that war crimes were committed by both Hamas and Israel and calls for investigations. Not surprisingly, according to Goldstone, Israel received the bulk of the report’s attention, since its devastating attack on Gaza last winter was disproportionately greater than the damage and casualties caused by Palestinian rockets.
While expected, the House vote underscores the power of the pro-Israeli lobbies in the face of the administration’s attempt to deal more evenhandedly with the conflict and to pressure Israel on settlements. Advocacy groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), one of the most powerful lobbies on the Hill, are major contributors to Congressional campaigns (not directly, but through a network of local political action committees and bundlers– as much as 10 million in one election cycle).
The State Dept., while recognizing the report may be biased, prefers the matter to be handled within the UN. But clearly, Congress knows on which side its bread is buttered. It is unfortunate that most members of the House probably never even read the 575 page report, which concludes that both sides committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.
But more tragically, the vote also underscores the Hill’s deafness to Muslim frustrations over U.S. bias toward Israel. This deafness is a major factor in the growth of jihadist recruitment worldwide and one of the reasons our troops now occupy two Middle Eastern countries.
Mr. Obama appeared irenic toward the Muslim world in his speech in Cairo earlier this year, showed a firmer hand in dealing with the Israeli settlement issue, then suddenly backpeddled in response to the Goldstone report, an action seen as a betrayal by most Muslims.
Is it so hard to see the report as tied, not just to Israel’s security, but to our own? Apparently so, especially with the cascade of money drowning out the voices of fairness and reason. But must our security as a nation be forever endangered by the 2-year election cycle, in which reelection takes priority over issues of national security and international peace? And what sort of example do we set, preaching democracy and human rights to other nations, while working to subvert the same. Muslims are certainly right to see us as hypocritical, a 400-pound gorilla they want off their chest.