Powered by WebAds

Monday, October 19, 2009

Goldstone writes an op-ed

Richard Goldstone has an op-ed in Monday's Jerusalem Post which, according to a friend with inside sources at the Post, was not solicited by the Post. Apparently, according to the source, Goldstone is feeling the heat from all the criticism, and asked the Post to publish an op-ed in a bid to deflect some of the criticism. He did not succeed. Let's start with the first paragraph of Goldstone's op-ed:
Five weeks after the release of the Report of the Fact Finding Mission on Gaza, there has been no attempt by any of its critics to come to grips with its substance. It has been fulsomely approved by those whose interests it is thought to serve and rejected by those of the opposite view. Those who attack it do so too often by making personal attacks on its authors' motives and those who approve it rely on its authors' reputations.
That's patently false. Someone asked me earlier today to write a summary of my Goldstone posts for another blog. I did a quick search. I found 136 posts on Goldstone, 126 of them written since the report was published on September 15. Admittedly, I have not attempted to come to grips with the entire 575-page report. But I have attempted to come to grips with a lot of it. I am not alone.

Along with several other serious pro-Israel bloggers, and under the leadership of Boston University Professor Richard Landes (who debunked the al-Dura fraud), I have been part of a group of bloggers who have created a web site that confronts the Goldstone Report head on. If any of you have not yet been to that website, I strongly suggest that you check it out. Our eventual goal is to respond to the Goldstone Report line by line. We're not there yet, but we're getting there, and it will take you days to figure out what we haven't addressed yet.

The problem is that to Goldstone, the only way to 'come to grips with the substance' of his report is for Israeli heads to roll - for IDF officers to be placed on trial for 'war crimes' and convicted. And hopefully that won't happen at all unless the IDF's pending investigations conclude that it ought to happen.

Goldstone whines about all the flack he is taking:
Israeli government spokesmen and those who support them have attacked it in the harshest terms and, in particular my participation, in a most personal and hurtful way.
There is good reason for those attacks. Goldstone accepted a mandate that presumed that only Israel committed 'war crimes.' He worked with a panel in which three out of the four panelists had signed a letter before the panel's hearings started deploring the destruction in Gaza (only), and on which the fourth panelist signed a letter during the war accusing Israel of war crimes. He then rejected a petition presented by UN Watch to remove that panelist from the panel.

Goldstone claims to have dealt with Hamas' war crimes, and yet the sheer volume of the material against Israel makes it appear as if Hamas has done nothing. The fact that Hamas has greeted the report with approval and glee probably says it all. And although he claimed that his panel was not 'judicial,' it made findings of fact and drew conclusions of law as a court would and it is now holding its 'recommendations' over the State of Israel (the idea that Hamas will 'investigate' anything is too laughable to even consider) like a sword of Damocles. Yet its evidentiary standards were non-existent: The panel believed everything Hamas told them.

Yes, a lot of the recent criticism is personal to Goldstone. It didn't start that way. In the days leading up to the report, when our group was forming, we agreed that we would attack the message rather than the messenger. That has changed because facts have come out during the course of our investigation that point to Goldstone's blind ambition (to be UN Secretary General), carelessness (during the Yugoslavia investigation, he actually had a fictitious person indicted), duplicity throughout his career in South Africa, and disingenuous responses to how the report was used.

Also, while we would have preferred to target only the message, Goldstone's use of his own Jewishness as a shield against attack has forced us to attack him personally as a means to discredit the report.

When I started to write this post, I determined that I was not going to 'fisk' the article (respond line by line). There are two reasons for that. One is that Richard Landes has already fisked the entire article and I urge you to read his response. The other is that the JPost carried a response from Alan Baker, former legal counsel to the foreign ministry, and that also deserves a few words without this post spreading down an entire column.

First, for those of you who thought that Israel totally ignored the Goldstone Commission, Baker says that was not the case.
While indeed the mission heard, saw and was persuaded by the very one-sided picture elaborately staged by Hamas in Gaza, including hand-picked witness testimony and internationally televised and web-circulated public hearings, Goldstone's complaint that they were not provided with input from the Israeli side is simply untrue to the point of being ridiculous. Several prominent Israeli and other international lawyers (including myself) and Jewish organizations forwarded to the mission and to Goldstone personally, vast amounts of information, including the official papers issued by Israel's Foreign Ministry, legal opinions, facts and media cuttings regarding the Hamas rocket barrages, violations, ambulance hijackings and the like.

I appeared before the mission in Geneva, together with a senior delegation of Magen David Adom (MDA), in an attempt to persuade it of the seriousness of the terrorization of Israel's southern population by the Hamas rockets, and the psychological effect on the public. The delegation detailed the wide-ranging activities by MDA in treating those affected - including Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip. Others, including representatives of Israeli families harmed by Hamas, appeared before the mission.

But obviously all this was to no avail, since Goldstone and his team chose, for whatever reason, to ignore this extensive information in favor of a Hamas-organized production and some very selective Israeli and foreign non-governmental organizations known for their criticism of Israel.
Indeed. Goldstone also could have gone through and found the same videos that my colleagues and I found that present the Israeli case (most of them came from the IDF, are on YouTube or LiveLeak and are publicly available). But the Commission had no interest in hearing the Israeli side of the story. Perhaps the most significant proof of that assertion is the Commission's refusal to hear British General Richard Kemp, who was heard by the 'Human Rights Council' for about three minutes on Friday, long after the game was over. In fact, one Israeli witness who testified before the Commission has claimed that Goldstone fell asleep during his testimony.

But here's where I break with Baker:
THE ISRAELI government cannot ignore the call by Goldstone and everyone else, to institute an official governmental inquiry. If indeed Israel has the substantive answers to the accusations levelled by Goldstone, then there is no reason to delay any further the establishment of such an inquiry. It would not, as has been claimed, be perceived as submitting to terror or caving in to international pressure, and would not be seen as lack of faith in our soldiers and officers.

Considerable damage has been done by the Goldstone accusations. Such damage cannot be repaired by hasbara, which has proven itself to be utterly useless, or by repetitive, weak statements by Israeli ministers and deputy ministers.

Israel must act to control that damage by establishing an inquiry manned by a prominent retired Supreme Court justice and serious military and legal experts. Such a move would instantly neutralize and deflate international criticism; it would provide a viable claim of non-admissibility to any attempt to prosecute Israel or Israeli leaders before international or national courts and tribunals.
The implication of those statements is that the IDF is not capable of self-examination and that the more than 100 investigations that have been opened since the war ended are insignificant and unimportant. I cannot buy that. The world wants blood from the Goldstone Report - Israeli blood. All the investigations in the world will not suffice unless and until we give them the blood of IDF soldiers and officers. And by Jewish law, we are prohibited from doing that. If an enemy comes and insists that we hand over a certain number of people for no reason, we are prohibited from doing so. Are we to keep handing over more and more IDF soldiers and officers until the world's blood lust is satisfied? The thought is absurd.

Let the IDF conduct its investigations (the results of which, in any event, may be appealed to the courts). And if those investigations conclude that there were no war crimes, then so be it. To date, nearly all (and maybe all) of the 36 incidents cited in the Goldstone Report have been debunked anyway.


At 7:17 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 8:05 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I disagreed with Alan Baker about appeasing the world's wrath and said so in my Jerusalem Post feedback. Israel must NOT do anything to give Goldstone credibility. In fact, just the opposite. The report IS a blood libel - an attack on Israel's character, its institutions, its values, its self-image, its history, how it has waged war and its right of self defense.

Goldstone wants to change the subject. Well he shouldn't be allowed to get away with it and no one in Israel wants to give assent to inquiry bent on delegitmizing the Jewish State and aiding its enemies' drive to destroy it. The truth will come out sooner than later and Goldstone and its perverted conclusions will go where they ought - to the dustbin of history.


Post a Comment

<< Home