Following the publication of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict (“The Goldstone Report”) last September, British colonel Richard Kemp, who commanded British forces in Afghanistan in 2003, infamously told the UN Human Rights Council that Israel had done “more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone” during the 2008/2009 invasion of Gaza “than any other army in the history of warfare.”
In reality, as Norman Finkelstein shows in this meticulously-sourced polemic, “the post invasion reports of human rights organisations and the confessions of Israeli soldiers make clear that the goal of the Gaza invasion was precisely to demonstrate to Palestinians and neighbouring states that Israel was ready, willing and able to inflict disproportionate violence... on a civilian population.”
Moreover, the record clearly shows that – as with its 1982 invasion of Lebanon – Israel invaded, not to protect itself from rocket attacks but to derail a functioning ceasefire and pre-empt a diplomatic settlement of the conflict.
Nonetheless, there are grounds for hope in the wake of the carnage: in both Europe and the US, gentiles and Jews have become increasingly critical of Israeli policy; the attack on Gaza roused the world’s conscience; and “[t]he prospects have never been more propitious for galvanising the public not just to mourn but also to act.”
The challenge now, Finkelstein notes, is “to master, and inform the public of, the unvarnished record of what happened in Gaza; and then to mobilise the public around a settlement of the conflict that all of enlightened opinion has embraced – but that Israel and the United States, standing in virtual isolation, have rejected” ... “a settlement enabling both parties, everyone, to live proud, productive and peaceful lives.”
For anyone wishing to meet this challenge, there could be no better starting place than to read this book.