View Full Version : Goldstone report

Peter Presland
10-06-2009, 07:03 AM
More on postponement of UN discussion of the Goldstone report. It was done at the request of the PLO leadership. So why would the nominal (though illegitimate since the presidential term expired last January) Palestinian leadership do such a thing?

Norman Finkelstein has the answer (http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/oh-people-of-palestineif-not-bulletspray-tellwhere-are-your-shoes/). It stinks to the heavens but has a solid ring of routine Israeli modus operandi to it. Abu Mazen and his cronies are clearly so compromised that I doubt they will escape with their lives if the general Palestinian population ever get a say in the matter

Ma’ariv (p. 5) by Amit Cohen et al. — A Palestinian press agency claims that the surprising decision by Palestinian Authority officials to postpone the discussion of the Goldstone report in the UN Human Rights Council is the result of an Israeli threat. According to a report by Shihab, the Palestinian Authority refused Israel’s demand that it withdraw its support for the harsh report, which Israel considered one-sided. Following this, Israeli figures showed the PA a series of tapes in which Palestinian Authority officials could be heard urging Israel to continue the operation in Gaza. Israel threatened to reveal the material to media outlets as well as to the UN and this, in turn, resulted in the Palestinian retreat. It was further claimed that the Palestinians were shown footage showing a meeting between Abu Mazen, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and then foreign minister Tzippi Livni. In the course of the meeting, according to the report, Abu Mazen attempted to convince Barak to continue the operation. Barak appeared hesitant whereas Abu Mazen was enthusiastic. In addition, a telephone conversation recording between Abed Al-Rahim, secretary general of the Palestinian Authority and director of Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi’s bureau was presented. The Palestinian senior official can be heard saying that now is the time to bring ground forces into the Jabalya and Shati refugee camps. “The fall of these two camps will bring about the fall of the Hamas regime in Gaza, and will cause them to wave a white flag,” says Abed Al-Rahim. According to the report, Dov Weissglas told Abed Al-Rahim that such a move could result in the deaths of thousands of civilians. “They all voted for Hamas,” says Abed Al-Rahim, “they chose their fate, not us.” Following Hamas’s allegations against him, Abu Mazen ordered the establishment of an investigative committee to examine the cause for the postponement of the discussion of the Goldstone report, which sparked a furor and much criticism in the Palestinian street. Officially, Israel argues that Abu Mazen withdrew his request for the discussion as a result of Netanyahu making it clear that such a move would greatly harm the peace process.PS The Goldstone Report probably warrants a separate thread but I posted this here because of my referral to postponement of the report in my previous post.

Keith Millea
10-06-2009, 04:16 PM
According to the report, Dov Weissglas told Abed Al-Rahim that such a move could result in the deaths of thousands of civilians. “They all voted for Hamas,” says Abed Al-Rahim, “they chose their fate, not us.”

Someone is going to get a spanking!!!!!!!!


Keith Millea
10-07-2009, 04:12 PM
Someone is going to get a spanking!!!!!!!!


For a second I thought I'd hit the wrong link and entered an S & M website.

But all is well that ends in a spanked botty, I suppose.

Oh crap,I thought I was posting to my "special friend".I've been outed!!!!!


Magda Hassan
10-09-2009, 01:34 AM
Arabs Seek International Court Action on Israel’s Gaza Invasion


By Bill Varner
Oct. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Arab nations will press the [URL="http://un.org/"]United Nations (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aqghCqlUfQNk#) Security Council to refer allegations of Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip to the International Criminal Court, Sudan’s ambassador said today.
Envoys representing the council’s 15 member governments agreed to Libya’s request for a meeting on the Middle East conflict on Oct. 14. Egyptian, Sudanese, Libyan and Palestinian ambassadors said they’d use it to discuss a UN-appointed panel’s findings that Israel and Hamas committed war crimes during Israel’s three-week offensive against the militant group that began in late December.
The panel recommended that the Security Council (http://ww.un.org/docs/sc) require Israel to “launch appropriate” investigations within three months and, if that doesn’t happen, refer allegations of illegal acts to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
“We want this report operationalized,” Sudan’s Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohammad said, speaking as head of the Arab group of nations.
U.S. Deputy Ambassador Alejandro Wolff (http://search.bloomberg.com/search?q=Alejandro+Wolff&site=wnews&client=wnews&proxystylesheet=wnews&output=xml_no_dtd&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&filter=p&getfields=wnnis&sort=date:D:S:d1) said discussion of the report should be confined to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, which has postponed such talks until March.
Israel launched a military offensive in Gaza on Dec. 27 to stop rocket attacks on its southern towns and cities from the Hamas-controlled seaside enclave. The Israeli military said during its Gaza operation that more than 10,000 projectiles had been fired from the area into Israel since 2001.
Disputed Counts
The Hamas Ministry of Health in Gaza said that 1,450 Palestinians were killed during the military operation, while Israel puts the number at 1,166. The army said 13 Israelis were killed in the fighting.
Israel’s military committed “grave breaches” of international law, including “willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health and extensive destruction of property,” a summary of the UN panel’s report (http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/specialsession/9/docs/UNFFMGC_Report.pdf) said on Sept. 15. It also said Israel used human shields, which “constitutes a war crime.”
Israeli Ambassador Gabriela Shalev (http://search.bloomberg.com/search?q=Gabriela+Shalev&site=wnews&client=wnews&proxystylesheet=wnews&output=xml_no_dtd&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&filter=p&getfields=wnnis&sort=date:D:S:d1) said the report was “very one-sided” and that its recommendations wouldn’t be respected.
The Israeli army presented the results of its own probe April 22 and rejected the allegations that it committed war crimes. The UN panel said those investigations “lack the required credibility.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Bill Varner (http://search.bloomberg.com/search?q=Bill+Varner&site=wnews&client=wnews&proxystylesheet=wnews&output=xml_no_dtd&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&filter=p&getfields=wnnis&sort=date:D:S:d1) at the United Nations at wvarner@bloomberg.net.
Last Updated: October 7, 2009 19:37 EDT

Magda Hassan
10-09-2009, 01:36 AM
Libya war report request denied

http://english.aljazeera.net/mritems/Images//2009/10/7/2009107191921750150_5.jpg Gaza residents put up posters denouncing Abbas for blocking action against Israel [AFP] The UN Security Council has rejected Libya's request to hold a special session on the Goldstone report but agreed to advance a periodical meeting to address the issues it raises.
Published at the end of September, the UN-sanctioned Goldstone report identifies war crimes committed during Israel's war on Gaza between last December and January.
At a closed door session, the UN Security Council decided against an emergency session, but voted to bring forward its monthly meeting on the Middle East by six days, to October 14.
Abdurrahman Shalgham, the Libyan ambassador, flanked by ambassadors for Egypt, Sudan, the Arab League and the Palestinians, earlier said the goal had been to open discussion on what happened in Gaza and "the tragedy for Palestinians living there".
"We have to keep this momentum regarding this report," Shalgham said.

The Security Council met at the behest of Libyan diplomats, who requested an emergency session to discuss its findings.
The report authored by Richard Goldstone highlights a disproportionate use of force by Israel and its deliberately harming of civilians during its Gaza offensive. It also alleges that Hamas fired rockets indiscriminately at civilians in southern Israel.
Anger at Abbas

The council's move comes amid public anger among Palestinians over the support from Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and head of Fatah, that action be suspended in regard to the Goldstone investigation.

In video
Richard Falk on Palestinian leadership's backing for deferment of UN vote on Goldstone report
Hundreds of posters appeared in public areas around Gaza City on Wednesday criticising Abbas.

Abbas is accused of backing the postponement of a UN Human Rights Council vote in Geneva last Friday that would have condemned Israel's failure to co-operate with a UN investigation into the December-January war.
Such a vote would have been one of many steps to bring Israel before a war crimes tribunal, something many Palestinians want to see.
Ayman Mohyeldin, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Gaza, said: "There's no doubt the public outrage over the decision by the PA to withdraw support for the Goldstone report continues several days after that decision.
"We saw today some of the more powerful images of the people here in Gaza turning against the Palestinian Authority president."
He said a rally was held and that dozens of people - mostly intellectuals as well as university students, some of whom were relatives of the victims of the Gaza war – attended.
"During the course of that rally, we heard some very strong condemnation of the PA president," he said.
'Offensive gesture'
"We saw a very offensive public gesture. Many of them had taken off their shoes and slapped the posters of the Palestinian president."

In depth

Israel launched a major offensive on the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip in December 2008, saying it wanted to stop rockets fired by Hamas into its territory.

At least 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died during the three-week war.
Hussein Ibish, a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, told Al Jazeera it was possible Libya might try to put a draft resolution forward "but I think there is no chance of any consequential action being taken by the security council".
Still, Ahmed Gebreel, a Libyan government spokesman, said his country had requested the emergency meeting at the UN "because of the seriousness of the report and because we think it's too long to wait until March [to discuss it]".
Hamas and Abbas both backed the Libyan move, with Abbas even sending a delegate to add weight to the Libyan request.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, Abbas's senior adviser, told the Voice of Palestine radio that backing the postponement of the UN human rights council vote was "a mistake".
"We have the courage to admit there was a mistake," he said, but added that the situation "can be repaired".
Palestinians, including members of Fatah, Abbas's party, have strongly criticised the Goldstone vote postponement, holding him responsible for the decision.
Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, said that the controversy surrounding the Goldstone report could affect the Palestinian reconciliation deal which Egypt has said will be signed later this month.
"All the Palestinian factions, including Hamas, are angry at the [Palestinian] Authority after what happened with the Goldstone report and this could affect the arrangements for the [reconciliation] dialogue," he said on Wednesday.

Magda Hassan
10-09-2009, 01:38 AM
Falk: The PA Betrayed Its People

By The Palestinian Information Center

October 08, 2009 - GAZA, (PIC (http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/en/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MDI46m9rUxJEpMO%2bi 1s7mPnlVetLfqP3Jy2Ye25fjXpXLe0jWDPD1ANOBGWXw3Xipdz QVGHcz8ZwPiNDu9lHq0X5N%2b41B8NUt6Kphi1URZpSS5KJ2vL oK3sFbBunaCQ%3d))-- Richard Falk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that that the Palestinian authority (PA) in Ramallah betrayed its own people at a moment when the international community was so close to endorse Goldstone’s report accusing Israel of war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

"The Palestinians have betrayed their people, this was a moment when finally the international community indorsed the allegations of war crimes and it would have been an opportunity to vindicate the struggle of the Palestinian people for their rights under international law and for the Palestinian representatives in the UN themselves to seem to undermine this report is an astonishing development," he told al-Jazeera.

The UN official, however, said that the report, despite being delayed, is still very important because it exposed the inadequacy of Palestinian representation at the international level and will encourage groups supporting the Palestinian struggle to continue their efforts in this regard.

For his part, member of the central committee of the popular front for the liberation of Palestine Kayed Al-Ghoul said that delaying the vote on Goldstone’s report is a sin committed by Mahmoud Abbas, demanding him to apologize for this wrongdoing before the Palestinian people.

Ghoul stressed that this apology is a necessary step to stop the negative repercussions and to hold accountable all Palestinian officials who were responsible for what happened.

In the same context, PA official Sa’eb Erekat told Al-Jazeera satellite channel on Tuesday that the PA in Ramallah is responsible for delaying taking action on Goldstone’s report, alleging that there was a misunderstanding of the PA position.

Erekat during his talk to the channel appeared to be trying to absorb the popular anger towards the PA astonishing position against Goldstone’s report.

Senior Fatah leader and former Palestinian ambassador to Egypt Nabil Amr held Abbas on Monday in remarks on the same channel fully and directly responsible for what happened in Geneva and called on him to stop fabricating excuses.

Jan Klimkowski
10-09-2009, 04:56 PM
Abbas is, quite simply, a quisling.

Definition: A traitor who serves as the puppet of the enemy occupying his or her country.

Helen Reyes
10-11-2009, 11:22 AM
Sounds like they all need a beer summit. Goldstone, Goldstar, what's the difference?

Ehud and Zippythe Pinhead obv had west bank leadership convinced the gaza massacre was on behalf of the PA. inciting civil war, nothing new.

Peter Presland
10-16-2009, 12:42 PM
This is seriously good news.

From Al Jazeera: (http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2009/10/2009101610455533672.html)

The UN human rights council has endorsed the Goldstone report on Israel's war on Gaza, which accused the military of using disproportionate force as well as laying charges of war crimes on Israeli occupation forces and Hamas.
The council's resolution adopting the report was passed in Geneva by 25 votes to six with 11 countries abstaining.
The Goldstone report calls on Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, to monitor whether Israel and Hamas conduct credible investigations into the conflict which took place last winter.
Should the two sides fail to do so, it calls on the UN Security Council to refer the allegations to the International Criminal Court.

The Palestinian Authority had initially agreed to defer a vote on the UN-sanctioned report but later backtracked under heavy criticism.
Mike Hanna, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Geneva, said the vote was a "very strong victory" for the supporters of the resolution but that the large number of abstentions was also "very significant".
From Debka File: (http://www.debka.com/headline.php?hid=6323)

Israel outraged by UN Human Rights Council endorsement of controversial Goldstone report

The Goldstone report which condemned Israel and Hamas for war crimes in the January Gaza offensive, reserving special criticism for Israel, was carried by a majority of 25 of the 47-member Human Rights Council in Geneva Friday, Oct. 16. Six nations including the US, Italy, Holland and Israel voted against, 11 abstained and 5 members, including France and Britain, did not take part in the vote.Israel's Faux-outrage is becoming tedious. They have a BIG and growing problem - and they know it. They've been rumbled. Which makes them even more dangerous.

I await developments with interest and not a little apprehension

Peter Presland
10-16-2009, 03:04 PM
Following the failure of faux-outrage to forestall UN adoption of the report, the mood seems have turned to a sort of whining self-pity.

This from Debka file (http://www.debka.com/headline.php?hid=6324) who are a pretty reliable facilitator for whatever messages the Israeli government wants disseminating:

The UN body administered one of the most damaging blows Israel diplomacy has suffered in recent years, condemning Israel for alleged war crimes in its 22-day Gaza operation last January - but also for work in East Jerusalem such as archaeological excavations.

The damage was compounded by Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu's personal involvement in spearheading the campaign to have the report buried. Its endorsement has instead buried the stalled peace process between Israel and Palestinian Authority.


Netanyahu failed even to persuade French president Nicolas Sarkozy - described by President Shimon Peres as "a great friend of Israel," and the British prime minister George Brown, with whom he had a heated telephone conversation Thursday night - to vote against the HRC motion.
That neither was prepared to oppose Israel's condemnation for war crimes means that Jerusalem cannot count on their support for curbing Iran's drive for a nuclear weapon.


The hammer-blow from Geneva came at a bad time for Israel: Turkey has turned on the Jewish state tooth and claw. Israel finds itself up against the entire Arab world, even Egypt and Jordan, with whom it has signed peace treaties. It now finds itself abandoned by presumed friends Britain and France as well.So - it sees itself as friendless. Maybe an outrageous terroris attack is called for. That might do the trick eh?

Jan Klimkowski
10-16-2009, 07:34 PM
How they voted

In favour (25): Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Djbouti, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Zambia.

Against (6): US, Italy, Holland, Hungary, Slovakia, Ukraine.

Absentions (11): Belgium, Bosnia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, Japan, Mexico, Norway, South Korea, Slovenia, Uruguay.

Britain, France, Madagascar, Kyrgyzstan and Angola did not vote.


The British govt is trying to claim that not voting does not amount to an abstention.

Apparently, Brown & Miliband minor think there is a difference.

Magda Hassan
10-24-2009, 09:10 AM
Plus an executive summary.

UN Fact Finding Mission finds strong evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the Gaza conflict; calls for end to impunity.

Peter Presland
11-06-2009, 07:47 AM
General Assembly votes 118 - 18 with 44 abstentions to adopt the Goldstone Report.

This from Al Jazeera (http://english.aljazeera.net//news/americas/2009/11/2009115191843940640.html):

The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a UN-sponsored report which says Israel committed war crimes during last winter's military assault on the Gaza Strip.

The Goldstone report, which accuses both Israel and Hamas of war crimes, has already been endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council, which sponsored the fact-finding commission.

The General Assembly on Thursday voted by a margin of 114 to 18 to adopt the report after debating it for two days.

Forty-four member-nations abstained from voting.

The report calls on both Israel and the Palestinians to investigate accusations of human-rights violations during the 22-day conflict in December and January.

The debate at the General Assembly, which began on Wednesday, was called for by the Arab UN group, with the backing of the 118-member Non-Aligned Movement (Nam).

Offensive conduct

Most of criticism in the report, compiled by a fact-finding panel led by Richard Goldstone, a South African judge, was directed towards Israel's conduct during the offensive, in which human rights organisations say about 1,400 Palestinians - many of them women and children - were killed.

Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, were killed over the course of the war.

Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey, reporting from the UN in New York, said on Wednesday: "The Palestinians put forward this resolution with several co-sponsors knowing that they have the support to have it passed in the General Assembly.

"This is really an attempt to keep the Goldstone report alive. The resolution endorses the report and also attempts to force it upon the Security Council, by getting the secretary-general involved."

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian observer to the UN, said the report concluded that the Israeli military onslaught "was planned in all of its phases as a deliberately disproportionate and systematic attack aimed at punishing, humiliating and terrorise the Palestinian civilian population".

'One-sided mandate'

Mansour warned that efforts by Israel and its supporters to discredit the UN report and its authors would not deter Arab states from following up the recommendations "in all relevant international forums, including the Security Council and the International Criminal Court, until the realisation of justice with the accountability of the perpetrators of these crimes and violations".

Gabriela Shalev, Israel's UN ambassador to the UN, hammered Wednesday's debate at the UN as "yet another campaign against the victims of terrorism, the people of Israel".

"The Goldstone report and this debate do not promote peace. They damage any effort to revitalise negotiations in our region. They deny Israel's right of self-defence," she told the assembly.

"From its inception in a one-sided mandate, the Gaza fact-finding mission was a politicised body with predetermined conclusions," she added.

US House vote

The US House of Representatives on Tuesday dismissed the report as being "irredeemably biased" against Israel.

The house voted in favour of a non-binding resolution calling on Barack Obama, the US president, to maintain his opposition to the report.

Goldstone last week sent a letter to the US House of Representatives saying that the text of the US resolution had "factual inaccuracies and instances where information and statements are taken grossly out of context".

He offered several rejections and clarifications of the ideas expressed in the resolution.

In response to Goldstone's criticism, three parts of the resolution were amended on Tuesday to clarify that Goldstone had sought an expansion to the commission's mandate so that his team could investigate claims that Hamas had violated international law during the Gaza war.

The Goldstone report accused Israel of using "disproportionate force" and of deliberately targeting civilians.

The report called for cases to be referred to the ICC in The Hague if Israel and Hamas do not investigate the war crimes allegations against them within six months.

Hamas has agreed to hold such an investigation, but Israel has not.Impressive enough margin but, considering the decades-old annual Cuba sanctions vote where the numbers are generally US, Israel and maybe 1 or 2 others against the rest and the pusillanimity of Ban Ki Moon generally, I seriously doubt it will be of much use. Even if it gets to the Security Council, the US (with maybe a little help from its UK poodle) will undoubtedly veto it.

Magda Hassan
04-23-2010, 06:16 AM
In case any one is unaware there are currently huge divisions within the Jewish community and within families over Palestine/Israel and all the various issues connected to that. This is another example of how polarised things are at the moment.

After South African Synagogue Tells Judge Richard Goldstone He Is Not Welcome to Attend His Grandson's Bar Mitzvah, Rabbi Michael Lerner Invites Him to Have the Bar Mitzvah in San Francisco Where both Grandson & Goldstone Will be Honored

Rabbi Michael Lerner issued today (April 23) the following statement to the media:

Judge Richard Goldstone has been reviled in some sections of the Jewish world for his UN report which found prima facie reason to believe that Israel (and Hamas) had committed war crimes during Israel's invasion of Gaza December 2008 - January 2009. Judge Goldstone recommended that Israel do its own investigation and answer the specific allegations. Instead (like Hamas) it did no such thing, but rather high level officials of the Israeli government suggested that Goldstone (a long time supporter of Israel and a member of the board of the Hebrew University, and a universally respected jurist who had conducted similar investigations for the UN of the human rights violations in South Africa, in other African countries, and in Bosnia) was actually anti-Semitic or a self-hating Jew. Meanwhile, the US Congress passed a resolution urging the UN to ignore the Goldstone report, and the Obama Administration similarly dismissed it as "flawed" but did not specify any of its alleged flaws.
For those of us in the Jewish community who recognize that Israel's treatment of Palestinians and its overt violations of human rights are not only a rejection of traditional Jewish values, but are also dangerous both to the survival of the State of Israel and to the future safety of the Jewish people living all around the world, the pressure put by Judge Goldstone on Israel to clear its name was a welcome breath of fresh air. Goldstone made clear that his charges were not substantiated, that had Israel been willing to cooperate with his UN sponsored investigation they might well have helped him eliminate elements of the report that were not true according to Israeli information, which was not supplied to him, and that in any event his call for the UN to bring these matters before the International Court at the Hague was only to occur if Israel did not publicly appoint an independent judiciary of its own to investigate the charges in public hearings. As many of us in the peace community noted, the charges could easily have been responded to by Israel taking the stance that these acts were not part of its policy, that they regretted them and intended to take steps to make sure that things of this sort would never happen again, and that it would hold accountable and punish those engaged in or giving orders for or collaborating with human rights violations.
We in the peace community both in Israel and around the world see Justice Goldstone as upholding the best ethical values of the Jewish community, so we are outraged at the treatment he has received. The most recent, the banning of him from his own grandson's Bar Mitzvah in South Africa, led us at Tikkun to invite him to do his grandson's Bar Mitzvah here in the United States where many Jews would honor him. He was delighted with the invite, but said it was too late. So we have decided to award Judge Goldstone the annual Tikkun Award at the celebration of our 25th Anniversary in the Spring of 2011. Other recipients who appeared at previous conferences include Abba Eban, Allen Ginsberg, Irving Howe, Alred Kazin, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Marion Wright Edelman, Yehuda Amichai, Senator Paul Wellstone, and James Hillman.

For more info or to talk to Rabbi Lerner, contact Will Pasley at 510 644 1200 or will@tikkun.org.

Magda Hassan
04-23-2011, 06:33 AM
There is something tragicomic about the persona of Richard Goldstone.

First there was a veritable storm of fury when the original Goldstone report was issued.
What a fiend! A Jew who claims to be a Zionist and an Israel-lover, who publishes the most abominable slanders about against our valiant soldiers, aiding and abetting the worst anti-Semites around the world! The very prototype of a self-hating Jew! Still worse, a “mosser” – a Jew who turns another Jew over to the evil Goyim, the most detested figure in Jewish folklore.
And now the turnabout. Goldstone, the Jew who has recanted. Goldstone who has publicly confessed that he was wrong all along. That the Israeli army committed no crimes in the 2009-2010 “Cast Lead” Gaza operation, On the contrary, while the Israeli army has conducted honest and meticulous investigations into all the allegations, Hamas has not investigated any of the horrendous crimes it has committed.
Goldstone, the Man of Stone, has become Goldstone, the Man of Gold. A man of conscience! A man to be admired!
It was, of course, Binyamin Netanyahu who had the final word. Goldstone’s recantation, he summarized, has confirmed once again that the IDF is the Most Moral Army in the World.
My heart bleeds for Judge Goldstone. From the beginning he was placed in an impossible situation.
The UN commission which appointed him to head the inquiry into the allegations of war crimes committed during the operation was acting on a seemingly logical but actually foolish calculation. Appointing to the job a good Jew, and an avowed Zionist to boot, would disarm, it was thought, any allegation of anti-Israeli bias.
Goldstone and his colleagues undoubtedly did an honest and conscientious job. They sifted the evidence laid before them and arrived at reasonable conclusions on that basis. However, almost all the evidence came from Palestinian and UN sources. The commission could not interrogate the officers and soldiers of the Israeli forces because our government, in a typical and almost routine act of folly, refused to cooperate.
Why? The basic assumption is that all the world is out to get us, not because of anything we do, but because we are Jews. We know we are right, and we know that they are out to prove us wrong. So why cooperate with these bloody anti-Semites and Jewish self-haters?
Today, almost all influential Israelis concede that this was a stupid attitude. But there is no guarantee that our leaders will behave any differently next time, especially since the army is dead set against allowing any soldiers to appear before a non-Israeli forum, or, for that matter, before an Israeli non-military forum either.
Bact to poor Goldstone. After the publication of his commission’s report, his life became hell.
The full fury of the Jewish ghetto against traitors from its midst was turned on him. Jews objected to his attending his grandson’s Bar Mitzvah. His friends turned away from him, He was ostracized by all the people he valued.
So he searched his soul and found that he had been wrong all along. His findings were one-sided. He would have found differently if he had heard the Israeli side of the story. The Israeli army has conducted honest investigations into the allegations, while the barbarous Hamas has not conducted any investigations at all into their obvious war crimes.
So when was Goldstone wrong? The first or the second time?
The answer is, alas, that he was wrong both times.
The very term “war crimes” is problematic. War itself is a crime, never to be justified unless it is the only way to prevent a bigger crime – as with the war against Adolf Hitler, and now – on an incomparably smaller scale – against Muammar Qaddafi.
The idea of war crimes arose after the horrendous atrocities of the 30-year war, which devastated central Europe. The idea was that it is impossible to prevent brutal actions if they are needed to win a war, but that such actions are illegitimate if they are not needed for this purpose.
The principle is not moral, but practical. Killing prisoners and civilians is a war crime, because it serves no effective military purpose, since both sides can do it. So is the wanton destruction of property.
In Israel this principle was embodied in the landmark judgment by Binyamin Halevy after the 1956 Kafr Qasim massacre of innocent farmers, men, women and children. The Judge ruled that a “black flag” flies over “manifestly” illegal orders – orders which even a simple person can see are illegal, without talking to a lawyer. Since then, obeying such orders has been a crime under Israeli law.
The real question about Cast Lead is not whether individual soldiers did commit such crimes. They sure did – any army is composed of all types of human beings, decent youngsters with a moral conscience besides sadists, imbeciles and others suffering from moral insanity. In a war you give all of them arms and a license to kill, and the results can be foreseen. That is one reason why “war is hell.”
The problem with Lebanon War II and Cast Lead is that the basic approach – the same in both cases – makes war crimes as good as inevitable. The planners were no monsters – they just did their job. They superimposed two facts one on the other. The result was inevitable.
One consideration was the requirement to avoid casualties on our side. We have a people’s army, composed of conscripts from all walks of life (like the US army in Vietnam but not in Afghanistan.) Our public opinion judges wars according to the number of (our) soldiers killed and wounded. So the directive to the military planners is: do everything possible so the number of our casualties will be next to nil.
The other fact is the total disregard for the humanity of the other side. Years and years of the occupation have created an army for whom Palestinians, and Arabs in general, are mere objects. Not human enemies, not even human monsters, just objects.
These two mental attitudes lead necessarily to a strategic and tactical doctrine which dictates the application of lethal force to anyone and anything that can possibly menace soldiers advancing in enemy territory – liquidating them in front of the soldiers preferably from afar by artillery and air power.
When the opposition is a resistance movement operating in a densely populated area, the results can almost be calculated mathematically. In Cast Lead, at least 350 Palestinian civilians, among them hundreds of women and children, were killed, together with about 750 enemy fighters. On the Israeli side: altogether 5 (five!) Israeli soldiers were killed by enemy fire (some six more by “friendly fire”).
This result did not contradict the undeclared political aim of the operation. It was to pressure the Gaza Strip population into overthrowing the Hamas government. This result, of course, was not achieved. Rather the opposite.
The logic – and the balance of casualties – of Lebanon War II were about the same, with added huge material destruction of civilian targets.
Folllowing the Goldstone report, our army did indeed conduct quite extensive investigations into individual incidents. The number is impressive, the results are not. Some 150 or so cases were investigated, two soldiers were convicted (one for theft), one officer was indicted for the killing – by mistake – of an entire extended family.
This seems to satisfy Goldstone, who this week gratefully accepted an invitation from the Israeli Minister of the Interior – perhaps the most rabid racist in the entire government, in which racists abound – to visit Israel. (When the conversation was leaked, Goldstone cancelled the matter and stated that the report would not be withdrawn.)
On the other side, Goldstone is aflame with indignation against Hamas, for launching rockets and mortar shells at civilians in Israel and conducting no investigations at all. Isn’t it rather ridiculous: using the same standards for one of the five mightiest armies in the world and a band of irregular and poorly equipped resistance fighters (alias terrorists)?
Terrorism is the weapon of the weak. (“Give me tanks and airplanes, and I promise I won’t plant bombs’” a Palestinian once said.) Since the entire military strategy of Hamas is terrorizing Israeli communities along the border in order to persuade Israel to put an end to the occupation (and, in the case of Gaza, to the ongoing blockade), Goldstone’s indignation seems a bit surprising.
Altogether, Goldstone has now paved the way for another Cast Lead operation which will be far worse.
I expect , however, that he can now pray in any synagogue he chooses.
Uri Avnery is chair of the Israeli peace movement, Gush Shalom