The Zeitgeist Politics

Global Politics with a focus on The Middle East

Chickens, Flour & Crimes Against Humanity – Dissecting the Goldstone Report

with 4 comments

My esteemed colleague Saba is employing her renowned speed-reading abilities and has taken up the task of actually reading the entire 574 page report (full text linked in this previous post plus more background about the report), I myself unfortunately do not have such reading abilities and do not have time to read the entire report. However, I have seen a few little bits & pieces pointed out by various other people that are of interest.

Chicken Farm in Gaza - image credit:

Chicken Farm in Gaza - image credit:

Both Saba and Mondoweiss call attention to the chicken farms story:

There is the case of the chicken farms that were “systematically flattened” by armored bulldozers, killing 31,000 chickens, 10 percent of the egg production for Gaza.

What possible purpose could there be to “systematically flatten” chicken farms? Wait don’t tell me the chickens were actually laying Qassem rockets? Or perhaps there were some militants concealed among the bales of hay?

The Hamada Brothers flour mill story is even more horrible, basically it was struck by several missiles and then by helicopters, the primary machinery used for grain production was destroyed and the mill is still not operational some 9 months later. Mondoweiss has more:

The Goldstone mission found the Hamada brothers entirely credible. It asked Israel what was the purpose of the destroying the one mill that could produce the most basic staple of the Palestinian diet. The Israelis refused to respond. The commission concluded that the “wanton” destruction of the mill had only one purpose, to “put an end to production of flour in the Gaza Strip.”

And here’s a nice little sum up paragraph from the Report:

Finally, the Mission considered whether the series of acts that deprive Palestinians in the Gaza Strip of their means of sustenance, employment, housing, and water, that deny their freedom of movement and right to enter and leave their country, that limit their access [to] a court of law and an effective remedy, could be considered persecution, a crime against humanity.

Clearly this report is quite damning but only confirms what we have already known up to this point. Israel is engaged in systematic persecution and oppression in Gaza (not to mention the Occupied West Bank which the report doesn’t deal with, that’d be another 1000 pages). The fact that “persecution” and “crime against humanity” are the words used is significant. This is a major, and totally impartial, report to a UN Human Rights council after a thorough fact-finding mission. These words are now entering the mainstream political discourse when it comes to Israel and can no longer be brushed off as words used by zealots and anti-Semites. This is precisely why the Knesset is all in a tizzy about it.

The report is still only a few days old and we still need more time to see what the flow-on effects will be. Bibi will be delivering a speech to a possibly hostile UN General Assembly, he is likely to try to divert attention to Iran’s nuclear program but that may prove difficult (in light of the horrific things brought to light by the report). Mondoweiss seems to think that the US is going to help Israel stonewall the report internationally, and that is likely to be the case, I am looking forward to an interesting statement from the administration (more interesting than the “its concerning” and “we’re still reading” that I see now.)

I’d like to end this post with a few choice sentences from Obama’s brief message to those celebrating Rosh Hashanah:

At the dawn of this New Year, let us rededicate ourselves to that work. Let us reject the impulse to harden ourselves to others’ suffering, and instead make a habit of empathy – of recognizing ourselves in each other and extending our compassion to those in need.

Let us resist prejudice, intolerance, and indifference in whatever forms they may take — let us stand up strongly to the scourge of anti-Semitism, which is still prevalent in far too many corners of our world.

Speaks for itself really.


Written by alexlobov

September 18, 2009 at 3:31 pm

4 Responses

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  1. My biggest fear is that this will become another effort by the UN that will be swept under the carpet by the Americans. I found this tragically comical article that on Google Today- “U.N. Disgraces Itself Again; Obama Helps”. It gives us insight into the rhetoric that we are going to hear from the astroturfers. I am not too sure if the analogies that they draw to discredit the report are funny or just plain mad.
    Since the recession has brought about a season of “reform” globally, would it not be fair to “reform” the UN to make it more reflective of the realities of the world we live in. How can a hand-full bullies keep vetoing the rest of the world?


    Anand Bala

    September 18, 2009 at 5:38 pm

  2. Anand,
    Your concern is 100% justified, the UN is quite a joke sometimes and is in desperate need of reform. The Permanent Security Council vetoes are just one example of it’s absurdity, but it isn’t a surprise really. The world we live in is still primarily dominated by realist politics, nation-states acting in their own self interests and, sadly, reform for the UN seems to be a long way off.

    As for the report, it will be swept under the rug to some degree. For example, it’s unlikely that you will see Israelis in the dock at the Hague, but in another way it’s also very important. The language that’s entered the public discourse now and the general shift in consciousness has been quite dramatic. This Report is part of that momentum. Support for Israel is slipping among the general public, including the Jewish diaspora. We could be witnessing a turning of the tide and, if that is the case, that will be where the real war is won.

    Remember it took a long time for Apartheid South Africa to fall. Remember also that it wasn’t so long ago that Israel was unequivocally considered the bastion of democracy, progress and reason in a troubled region.

    Not much we can do but wait and see now 🙂


    September 19, 2009 at 2:55 am

  3. I am terribly, terribly cynical regarding this topic.


    September 20, 2009 at 10:29 am

    • you and me both, mate


      September 20, 2009 at 1:30 pm

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