THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Rep. Ellison Blasts Goldstone Vote -- Plus How Your Representative Voted

By a 344-36 vote (22 voting "present"), the House of Representatives condemned the so-called Goldstone report, which found that both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes in Gaza. (See how your representative voted here)

The resolution basically adopted the Israeli view that the war was necessary and that its military behaved with high regard for the safety of civilians (despite the fact that 1400 Palestinians were killed -- including 320 children -- versus a total of 13 Israeli soldiers). Israelis complained that the Goldstone report did not reflect the views of Israelis who participated in the attack. But Israel refused to cooperate with the Goldstone investigators.

In any case, this vote will give more evidence to those who argue that Congress is afraid to take any steps on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that do not track Israel's position (and the Israel lobby's).

Writing in Politico yesterday, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) strongly criticized the House vote:

Congress is poised to oppose the Goldstone report without holding a single hearing on a document that few members of Congress, if any, have read.

This is a mistake. The stance of this Congress will erode U.S. credibility in the post-Obama world, and it will tarnish our commitment to the principle that all nations must be held to the same standards. Rather than undermine the report or Goldstone, we are at risk of undermining Congress's and President Barack Obama's reputation as honest brokers.

Israel can still pursue its own investigation, and critics of the Goldstone report should recognize that Israel is strong enough to withstand inquiry. Self-reflection is one of the hallmarks of a strong democracy. In fact, Israel has investigated itself in the past in connection with the Sabra and Shatila incidents. When nations like the United States, Israel, South Africa and others have pursued the truth through investigations -- however uncomfortable -- their people and politics have emerged stronger.

We stand for the values of democracy, truth and justice. There is no reason for Congress, Israel or any other party to fear an honest judge. Richard Goldstone is such a judge, and his report should be studied, not dismissed.


Ellison is right. The House cast a cynical vote; one that, no doubt, many are ashamed of. The United States should be an honest broker between Israelis and Palestinians, not act as if "Israel Is Us." Actions like the House's yesterday are not just wrongheaded, they endanger America's security. We simply cannot afford to have every Muslim and Arab on the planet believe that our concern for human rights extends to everyone, but not to them. We need a course correction fast, for the sake of Israelis and Palestinians, but mostly for our own.