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Monday, April 11, 2011

Goldstone still belongs in cherem

Peter Berkowitz, who was one of the participants in the debate on the Goldstone Report just a few days before Richard Goldstone partially recanted on the editorial pages of the Washington Post, says that Goldstone's retraction falls far short of counteracting the damage Goldstone did.
In fact, the Goldstone Report culminates with the conclusion—not a factual finding or suspicion but a legal conclusion—that in the Gaza conflict Israel undertook
a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability. (Part V, par. 1690)
With this calumny, the Goldstone Report went beyond asserting a moral equivalence between Israel and the terrorists it was fighting. It affirmed that Israel was worse than Hamas, since Israel was a state, since Israel used state-of-the-art weaponry, and since the death and destruction it supposedly deliberately inflicted on civilians in Gaza was much greater than the harm to civilians in southern Israel caused by eight years of Hamas bombardment.
Berkowitz explains just how over-the-line Goldstone's conclusion is.
To find that a military has used disproportionate force, international humanitarian law, also known as the law of armed conflict, requires an analysis of the understandings and intentions of commanders and soldiers and a determination of whether their decisions and conduct were reasonable in the circumstances. The Goldstone Report contains no such analysis. True, Israel declined to cooperate, but it was under no legal obligation to do so. The Goldstone Report, moreover, was precluded from inferring criminal intent either from Israel’s decision not to cooperate or from the absence of information about Israeli understandings and intentions. Yet the Goldstone Report leapt to grim legal conclusions about the use of disproportionate force without such elementary information as the rules of engagement under which IDF commanders and soldiers operated against terrorists who relentlessly sought to blur the distinction—fundamental in the law of armed conflict—between civilians and combatants by unlawfully positioning themselves in densely populated areas and unlawfully fighting without uniforms. In short, the Goldstone Report’s legal finding that Israel sought to “terrorize a civilian population” was based on inadequate factual findings and so was inherently invalid.
Jennifer Rubin notes the inescapable conclusion that Goldstone reached his conclusions with malicious intent.
You can’t come away from Goldstone’s retraction or Berkowitz’s insightful analysis without concluding that Goldstone was malicious in his findings, as were those who seized upon them. But to be clear, the Goldstone Report is fully representative of the sorry state of the international “human rights” movement, its member NGOs and the individuals who cheer them on.


Israel and international Jewry shrunk for decades from using the term “anti-Semitism” because the accusation was so devastating and the Holocaust still fresh in the world’s conscience that it was reserved for select cases (e.g. the Soviet Union, neo-Nazis). But now anti-Semitism is so pervasive and its practitioners are so “respectable,” it is, I would suggest, time to reintroduce it and conduct U.S. policy accordingly. Do we want to attend meetings of an anti-Semitic club (the Human Rights Council)? Do we entertain anti-Semites (e.g., those who are advocates of the BDS movement) at the White House? That’s how we should begin to assess this crowd and how the American Jewish community should assess groups regardless of their labeling, for it is only then that we will make it socially and politically untenable to practice the new anti-Semitism. Even that may not be enough. But it’s a start.
We might start by giving a blunt assessment of Goldstone. I've seen too many blog posts and newspaper articles trying to minimize what Goldstone did and to pretend that his apology was adequate.

I realize that I am only one small voice in the Jewish community, but as far as I am concerned, Goldstone still belongs in cherem. As the Torah says of the leper in the portion we read ten days ago "tamei tamei yikra" (impure, impure he shall be called) (Leviticus 13:45).

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At 9:37 PM, Blogger Mr. Gerson said...

It is not for us to juge Goldstone in the eyes of Hashem. We can encourage him to further renounce his report or even take legal measures against him though.

At 9:53 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Mr. Gerson,

Cherem is a sanction imposed by a court of mortals (a Beit Din) - not usually by Hashem.


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