Monday, 04 April 2011 00:00
For Immediate Release
Contact: Naomi Paiss
Since its establishment, the New Israel Fund has striven to strengthen both Israel and its democratic character. Following "Operation Cast Lead," the human rights organizations supported by NIF called for the Israeli government to set up an independent commission of inquiry. Had the government agreed, this would have prevented the establishment of the Goldstone Commission.
When the Goldstone Commission began its work, the organizations then called on the government to cooperate with the Commission, out of belief in the importance of transparency, and out of concern for Israel's international image. The government's refusal to set up a commission of inquiry, and then its refusal to cooperate with the Goldstone Commission, altered the findings of the Goldstone Report, with negative results.
The comprehensive work of Israel's human rights organizations provided information for dozens of subsequent investigations by the IDF. Those investigations, in turn, led the IDF to improve its operational procedures and also enabled Judge Goldstone to revise his conclusions in his article last week. In the article, Goldstone welcomes the internal investigations carried out by Israel. It was these investigations that led him to the conclusion that Israel did not employ a deliberate policy of attacking civilians. The article emphasized that the Israeli government's non-cooperation with the Goldstone Commission meant that Goldstone himself did not have the facts, or the IDF narrative, to contextualize the original report.
A real-time response to NIF and the human rights organizations' demands by the Israeli government would have prevented political damage to Israel. A democracy that examines itself and is transparent and accountable to both its citizens and critics, and that abides by the norms of liberal democracy, will best be able to protect its values and its standing in the world.