Rebuke Goldstone’s Report
[This has been published without links at the Jerusalem Post. Text in brackets was cut from the published version.]
Judge Goldstone has presented his Report on Gaza and, among other recommendations, suggested that Israel conduct its own inquiry. Israeli government officials, assuming he meant an investigation, like his, into Israel’s misdeeds, declined, noting that that they have and continue to investigate their army’s behavior on a constant basis.
But after reading most of the report, another possibility presents itself. It rapidly becomes clear to any reader not driven by a thirst for “dirt” on Israel, that Goldstone’s work represents a new low in the tragically deteriorating world of international justice. It fails on every count, from it’s handling of evidence, to its legal reasoning, to its unstated but pervasive assumptions of Israeli guilt and Palestinian innocence, to its astonishing conclusion (from someone who knows the gruesome details of Bosnia and Rwanda), that Israeli behavior was so bad it might well constitute “crimes against humanity.” As a result this report takes the army with the best record in the history of warfare for protecting enemy civilians (even by dubious Palestinian statistics ), and accuses it of targeting them. Goldstone makes Kafka’s Trial seem fair.
Nor is this legal and moral travesty just a “free shot” at Israel. It’s a direct assault on the right of any civilized nation to defend itself against enemies who worship death and hide among their civilians. Goldstone presents himself as someone who wants peace and decency in the world, and yet he could not have written something more encouraging to the worst war-mongers and war criminals around the globe, a roadmap for them on how to conduct an asymmetrical war with Western democracies. So the question arises: how could such an inversion of both deeds and intentions have happened, especially given Goldstone’s previously sterling reputation?
[From one point of view, the report embodies most of the major Western cognitive failures of the 21st century, failures especially acute among those who militate for human rights around the world. As one missionary for these failures noted at a party in Jerusalem, “Israel is the greatest violator of human rights, and her disappearance would constitute a victory for global human rights.” The moral inversion here is astonishing – she believes the accusations about Israel made by people who live in cultures of intimidation and scapegoating, and therefore wants to destroy the only place human rights exist in the Middle East. But, get rid of Israel, and the boot stamping on the human face triumphs. Goldstone, whether he understands or not, gives wings to that kind of disastrous Newspeak.]
Given all this, I’d like to suggest a different approach to the question of “investigation.” I propose that either the State of Israel, or an International Citizens’ Tribunal should begin an investigation into the Goldstone Fact-Finding Mission’s proceedings. In it they should ask the fundamental question: “How could this “Mission” have conducted itself with such systematic violation of the simplest rules of equity in judgment. In doing so Israel could bring to light three fundamental issues that the Goldstone Report systematically downplayed in their considerations:
- Israel’s plight (Sderot, surrounding population, long-term negative trends)
- the repugnant behavior of Hamas – human shields to maximize their own civilian casualties, indoctrination of genocidal hatred, suicidal death cult, and
- the role of the mainstream news media and the NGOs in giving credence to Palestinian claims, many of which could not stand up to serious examination.
They should gather high level legal and military experts, they should summon witnesses that Goldstone either refused to hear –Yvonne Green and Richard Kemp – or ignored – Dr. Siderer and Noam Bedein – people who have worked on the “data” – Jonathan Dahoah Halevy and Elihu Richter – as well as specialists on urban warfare to compare Israel’s records to other nations, not just to those like Sri Lanka and the Soviet Union, who have no concern for civilians, or to Arab “armies” who target civilians as in Sudan and Iraq, but also to theUS, Great Britain, and other countries who uphold the Geneva Conventions. And legal experts could highlight the way in the which the commission violated basic principles of legal procedure, equity, and reasoning.
At the same time, Israel could address a series of problems that Goldstone either ignored or dismissed, but lie at the heart, not only of his own Commission’s failures, but more broadly, the reason why Israel has been so maligned and the Palestinians treated so gently by both journalists and NGOs, why the only narratives they carry out of the Palestinian territories are lethal accusations against Israel, while a resounding silence reigns over Palestinian misdeeds.
- the role of intimidation, of advocacy, and of access in distorting and falsifying evidence
- the role of political correctness in making us incapable of discussing the problem
- the astonishing lack of critical thinking is assessing witnesses.
With these factors in mind, the Commission might reexamine the Palestinian testimony to the Goldstone Commission and offer some of the hard questions that, had these judges had any self-respect, they would have raised in challenge to the extraordinarily dishonest testimony they systematically accepted. Alas, the proceedings were geared at getting damning testimony – reliability be damned.
After going through these crucial issues with very broad implications for the way the rest of the world views this conflict, Israel could then conclude the investigation by interviewing people who could testify to the nature of the cognitive war that Jihadis like Hamas, Hizbullah, Hizb-a-tahrir, the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda, and so many others wage against the West. They could illuminate the way in which Israel, for peculiar reasons, represents the soft underbelly of the ultimate target in this war, the West.
Goldstone gave Israel the floor; let Israel take up the challenge, and strike back. To paraphrase Ecclesiastes: “there’s a time for receiving rebuke and a time for rebuking…” and the time for rebuke has come.
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Richard Landes is a member of the Board of Directors of Scholars in the Middle East