f11af6ef78d49210VgnVCM100000e56411acRCRDapproved/thenational/Articles/Migration/2010-06Bloody Sunday has lessons for Israel's inquirye11af6ef78d49210VgnVCM100000e56411ac____Bloody Sunday has lessons for Israel's inquiryYou would think that the Israeli government would heed the message of the path London has taken towards accountability for the events in Londonderry in 1972. Guess what.<p>There is an important lesson for Israel in the British government's inquiry into the killings of 14 demonstrators by British soldiers in Northern Ireland in 1972 and it is this: whitewashes seldom, if ever, work.
Nearly four decades after British troops levelled the barrels of their high-powered combat rifles on protesters in the city of Londonderry, the British prime minister David Cameron this week embraced the conclusions of an official inquiry into the shootings, announcing: "What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable."</p>
<p>For good measure, Mr Cameron then did the decidedly impolitic thing and apologised. "On behalf of the government," he said, "I am deeply sorry."
This overdue reckoning was neither easy nor cheap. The Saville inquiry, named after the high-ranking judge who oversaw it, lasted 12 years, took evidence from nearly 2,500 people, cost $280 million and produced a 5,000-page report. Just as significantly, it came after an earlier government inquiry, whose 60-page report exonerated the soldiers and said they were fired upon first. The victims' families never relented in their insistence that this was a cover-up.</p>
<p>You would think that as the Israeli government prepares to conduct an investigation into what happened in international waters off Israel's coast on the evening of May 31, it would heed the central message of the crooked path that London has taken towards some semblance of justice and accountability for Bloody Sunday. Sadly, you would be wrong.
The commission of inquiry approved by the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet on Monday will not be allowed to directly question the soldiers who took over the ships. Furthermore, it will consider the actions of those who organised and took part in the flotilla "and their identities" - a blatant attempt to smear and demonise the activists as "terrorists" and to justify the soldiers' actions.</p>
<p>Finally, in deference to what it says are "international demands for impartiality", the commission will include two foreign observers, including David Trimble, a Nobel Peace laureate from Northern Ireland and one of the international leaders that joined the "Friends of Israel" initiative launched in Paris some two weeks ago. The initiative aims at defending Israel's right to exist. Be that as it may, Lord Trimble's selection hardly meets the standard for "impartiality".</p>
<p>Israeli officials are likely to argue that its investigation of the Gaza flotilla incident, like the Saville inquiry, illustrates how a government can credibly investigate itself. All told, however, their decision to carry out the probe is likely to produce an unbelievable, one-sided verdict that once again belies the democracy that Israel claims to be.
The truth about "Bloody Sunday" has prevailed at last. The truth about "Bloody Monday", it seems, will have to wait.</p>