Richard Landes: Investigate the Investigators: A Time to Rebuke Goldstone

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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:

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.

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.

Richard Landes teaches history at Boston University, blogs at the Augean Stables and the Second Draft , and has just launched a new collective website: Understanding the Goldstone Report .

Please visit the site and suggest articles to include.

Richard Landes is a member of the Board of Directors of Scholars in the Middle East

Richard Landes: Investigate the Investigators: A Time to Rebuke Goldstone

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Richard Landes

Richard Allen Landes is an American historian and author, specializing in Millennialism. He retired from teaching history at Boston University in the Spring of 2015. He currently serves as the Chair of the Council of Scholars at SPME.

His work focuses on the role of religion in shaping and transforming the relationships between elites and commoners in various cultures. He has coined the expression "demotic religiosity," an orientation that prizes 1) equality before the law, 2) dignity of manual labor, 3) access to sacred texts and divinity for all believers, and 4) a prizing of moral integrity over social honor. Trained as a medievalist, his early work focused on the period around 1000 CE, a moment, in his opinion, of both cultural mutation (origins of the modern West), and intense apocalyptic and millennial expectations.

From 1995-2004, he directed the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University which held annual conferences and published an online journal, Journal of Millennial Studies. This involvement refocused his work on millennialism the world over and in different time periods, and has resulted in the Encyclopedia of Millennialism and Millennial Movements, (Berkshire Reference Works; Routledge, NY, 2000); Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience (Oxford U. Press, 2011), and The Paranoid Apocalypse: A Hundred-Year Retrospective on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (NYU Press, 2011).

His work on the apocalyptic currents that built up during the approach to 2000 has led him to focus on Global Jihad as an apocalyptic millennial movement, whose relationship to the internet may parallel that of Protestantism to printing, and whose active cataclysmic apocalyptic scenario (Destroy the world to save it), makes it potentially one of the most dangerous apocalyptic movements on record.

In addition to his courses on medieval history, he offered courses on

Europe and the Millennium,

Communications Revolutions from Language to Cyberspace

Honor-shame culture Middle Ages, Middle East

The Biblical origins of the Democracy.

In 2011, he is a fellow at the International Consortium on Research in the Humanities at Alexander University, Erlangen, Germany. There he is working on the study with which his medieval work first began, the history of the “sabbatical millennium” with its expectation of the messianic kingdom in the year 6000 from the creation of the world: While God Tarried: Demotic Millennialism from Jesus to the Peace of God, 33-1033.

In 2005 he launched a media-oversight project called The Second Draft in order to look at what the news media calls their “first draft of history.” Since January 2005 he has been blogging at The Augean Stables, a name chosen to describe the current condition of the Mainstream News Media (MSNM) in the West.

As a result of this work on the MSNM, he has come to understand the role of cognitive warfare in the campaign of apocalyptic Jihad against the West in the 21st century, and the abysmal record of the West in defending itself in this critical theater of War. He plans a book addressing these issues tentatively entitled They’re so Smart cause We’re so Stupid: A Medievalist’s Guide to the 21st Century. 


  • Landes, Richard A.; Head, Thomas J. (eds.) (1987). Essays on the Peace of God : the church and the people in eleventh-century France. Waterloo, Ontario: Waterloo University. OCLC18039359.
  • Landes, Richard A.; Paupert, Catherine (trans.) (1991). Naissance d'Apôtre: Les origines de la Vita prolixior de Saint Martial de Limoges au XIe siècle. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols. 9782503500454.
  • Landes, Richard A.; Head, Thomas J. (eds.) (1992). The Peace of God: social violence and religious response in France around the year 1000. Ithaca, N.Y: Cornell University Press. ISBN 080142741X.
  • Landes, Richard A. (1995). Relics, apocalypse, and the deceits of history: Ademar of Chabannes, 989-1034. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674755308.
  • Landes, Richard A. (ed.) (2000). Encyclopedia of millennialism and millennial movements. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0415922461.
  • Landes, Richard A.; Van Meter, David C.; Gow, Andrew Sydenham Farrar (2003). The apocalyptic year 1000: religious expectation and social change, 950-1050. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195111915.
  • Landes, Richard A. (2011). Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Landes, Richard A.; Katz, Stephen (eds.). The Paranoid Apocalypse: A Hundred Year Retrospective on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. New York: New York University Press.

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