This month the U.N. General Assembly is debating the "Goldstone Report," authored by the U.N. Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.

The report calls for both Hamas and Israel to conduct thorough, independent investigations of possible war crimes committed during Israel’s 22-day siege of Gaza, called “Operation Cast Lead,” or face possible prosecution by the International Criminal Court in six months.

According to Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), the report is “a crucial mechanism for ensuring that all parties are held accountable for war crimes against civilians.”

Internationally respected South African judge Richard Goldstone, a Jew and self-declared Zionist, led a team in Gaza last April to investigate what occurred there during Operation Cast Lead. Goldstone “was the chief prosecutor for the international war crimes tribunals in Rwanda and Yugoslavia,” according to Joshua Holland, writing on AlterNet.

The 575-page “Goldstone Report,” which resulted from the mission’s investigations, accuses both Israel and Hamas of war crimes and was immediately attacked as biased and unfair by U.S. proponents of the Israeli government’s foreign policy.

JVP has found the “Goldstone Report” to be well-researched and fair-minded. As the organization says, the report “accuses both Israel and Hamas of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity, while rightfully placing greater emphasis on Israeli violations of international law, especially regarding the killing of civilians.”

***

Last week U.S. Representatives Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the leaders of the U.S. House Foreign Relations Committee, introduced House Resolution 867, a nonbinding resolution that urges President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to unequivocally oppose any endorsement of the report.

"Internationally respected South African judge Richard Goldstone, a Jew and self-declared Zionist, led a team in Gaza last April to investigate what occurred there during Operation Cast Lead."

Speaking on the House floor on Nov. 3, U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) said of H.R. 867:

“Today we journey from Operation Cast Lead to Operation Cast Doubt. Almost as serious as committing war crimes is covering up war crimes, pretending that war crimes were never committed and did not exist. ... The resolution before us today, which would reject all attempts of the ‘Goldstone Report’ to fix responsibility of all parties to war crimes, including both Hamas and Israel, may as well be called the ‘Down is Up, Night is Day, Wrong is Right’ resolution.

"Because if this Congress votes to condemn a report it has not read, concerning events it has totally ignored, about violations of law of which it is unaware, it will have brought shame to this great institution."

Congress’s actions since Kucinich’s speech “have brought shame” to that institution. According to the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, on Nov. 3 the House of Representatives passed H.R. 867, condemning the “Goldstone Report” as "irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy" by a vote of 344 to 36, with 22 abstentions. The resolution “urged the Obama Administration to ‘strongly and unequivocally oppose’ any discussion of [the report] at the U.N.,” wrote Matthew Rothschild in The Progressive.

As Stephen Zunes concluded in Foreign Policy in Focus, “This resolution constitutes nothing less than a formal bipartisan rejection of international humanitarian law. U.S. support for human rights and international law has always been uneven, but never has Congress gone on record by such an overwhelming margin to discredit these universal principles so categorically.”

***

The war crimes and crimes against humanity that Hamas and Israel reputedly committed during Operation Cast Lead are one of the topics explored in the documentary film Occupation 101: Voices of the Silenced Majority.

"Occupation 101, winner of eight international awards and called “one of the best documentaries” by the Los Angeles Journal."

Watch the film and assess the conflict for yourself at the Monroe County Public Library at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 18. As part of its “Real War” series of documentary films on U.S. foreign policy, current military occupations and wars, the Bloomington Peace Action Coalition will screen Occupation 101 that day.

Focusing on the current and past underlying causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Occupation 101, directed by Sufyan and Abdallah Omeish, presents an exhaustive and vivid analysis of the facts and hidden truths surrounding the conflict and dispels many of the long-lived myths and misconceptions about it.

Occupation 101, winner of eight international awards and called “one of the best documentaries” by the Los Angeles Journal, also details life under Israeli military rule, in which 1.5 million people are living amid rubble, are forced to depend on insufficient U.N. food deliveries and lack such basics as hearing aids and school books, according to CODEPINK.

The film also details the role of the United States in the conflict and the major impediments to a just and lasting peace. The film’s explanations of the roots of the conflict come from interviews with Middle East scholars, journalists, religious leaders, humanitarian workers, and members of the Palestinian and Israeli peace movements, all of whose voices the U.S. media usually ignore or suppress.

Occupation 101 covers a wide range of events from the late 19th century to the present, among them the first wave of Jewish immigration from Europe in the 1880s, the 1920 tensions, the 1948 war, the 1967 war, the first intifada in 1987, the Oslo Peace Process, Israeli settlement expansion, the second Intifada in 2000, the “apartheid” wall and the recent Israeli attacks on Gaza. It also features many testimonials from survivors of the conflict.

Admission is free and open to the public.

JVP is gathering signatures in support of the “Goldstone Report” at the Support Goldstone Web site.

Linda Greene can be reached at lgreene@bloomington.in.us.