UNHRC endorses Goldstone report, angers Israel

UNHRC endorses Goldstone report, angers Israel


UN inquiry finds Israel guilty of Gaza war crimes – 15 Sept 09


UN endorses Gaza war crimes report 


Judge Richard Goldstone (of Goldstone report) speaks to Al Jazeera on 15 Sept 09


Israeli Activists Criticize US House for Considering Resolution Condemning Goldstone Report on Israel


‘Israeli commander admits Gaza crimes’


Israel gets off scot-free, again




Goldstone Challenges Obama to Point Out Flaws in Report


Judge Richard J. Goldstone


Goldstone dares US on Gaza report


Falk: Goldstone is historic blow in the war Israel is losing– the ‘Legitimacy War’


So the Goldstone Report does not get buried at the Security Council


Top Democratic & Republican foreign affairs leaders in the US Congress are calling on the Obama administration to quash the Goldstone Report


US House Approves Resolution Condemning Goldstone Report


Russia’s Daring Vote:


UN prosecutor: Lieberman opposes peace


Prosecuting the Gaza War criminals on both sides


ICC receives more info on Gaza war crimes


Family who lost 29 members in Gaza war: We envy the dead


Iran: Israelis should stand trial over war crimes


Israel to rely on US veto


White House phones Jewish leaders to promise veto on Goldstone


Reality Check /18 /10/ 2009/ Part3


This is how the United States Shows Support to Israel via AIPAC hack Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen:



Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has been PAID $115,740 by pro-Israel PACs. She gets the money and she opens her mouth





Israel threatens to quit peace talks over UN war crimes vote


Netanyahu: Prepare for long struggle against the Goldstone report:


Israel vows to fight UN report amid France, UK support


Israel Attacks Gaza, Silence from Mainstream Media about Israeli Violations of International Law


Turkey’s Erdogan slams Israel as ‘persecutor’



General (Ret) James David (who is mentioned on the cover of the third edition of former Republican Congressman Paul Findley’s ‘They Dare to Speak Out’ book about power/influence of the pro-Israel lobby – AIPAC and similar – on the US political system and media) wrote the following: 




The Israelis killed more than 1400 innocent Palestinians, including 323 women and children and nearly wiped Gaza off the map. The deliberate targeting of civilians is something that no-one should seek to defend.  We must “Never Forget” these kind of crimes.  Nor should we forget the kind of actions which Israel engaged in. There will be suffering for decades and many more deaths from the aftermath.  Will there be “war crimes” trials for the perpetrators of these atrocities? Will the Israeli killers of civilians be hounded to the ends of the Earth and to the end of their lives, and deported to the Arab world to stand trial for their atrocities? Think carefully and decide for yourselves how much longer you will accept the Jewish double standard.  The United states provided those helicopters and those rockets. Yes, you paid for those tanks, the aircraft, the missiles, the phosphorous bombs that burned women and children to death.   Israel must pay for their crimes and the United States must stop its support.  Let’s hope this is the beginning of the end.  Most of the countries in the U.N. supported this resolution.  It is time for the U.S. to see the light.  It is time the U.S. ended its unconditional support of the criminal state of Israel.  We look as fools to the rest of the world.  This vote proves it.
UN human rights chief endorses Goldstone Gaza report – Haaretz – Israel News
Indiscriminate use of firepower; deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian structures, including hospitals, schools, mosques, water and sewage plants, and rescue vehicles; use of white phosphorus munitions in built-up areas; use of human shields; abusive treatment of detainees; imposition of a blockade on Gaza before and after the attack itself–the report concludes that Israel violated international humanitarian law, committed “grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of wilful killings and wilfully causing great suffering to protected persons,” and war crimes, possibly even crimes against humanity.   



Israel feels the heat over UN meeting on Gaza war



MIDEAST: Israel Crushes Local Dissent, Attacks Global Criticism


Mel Frykberg

RAMALLAH, Jan 20 (IPS) – Israel is lashing out at international criticism and attempting to crush local dissent in what appears to be growing sensitivity to reproach of its policies.

Several recent incidents have dominated media headlines, including the arrest of a Jewish-American journalist on the grounds of security, threats by an Israeli minister against international diplomats and the arrest of Israeli and Palestinian peace activists.

The raid on a foreign activist’s home in Ramallah, supposedly under full Palestinian control, by a large Israel Defence Forces (IDF) contingent allegedly for a visa infringement, and her subsequent arrest at gunpoint and deportation has also raised eyebrows.

“We will not allow a situation where every country will kick us. If there will be an attack on Israel, we will leave all options open, including the expulsion of ambassadors,” Israel’s deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon said on Saturday.

“We do not want to argue with anyone, but we will not sit idly by,” he added. Ayalon’s outburst followed, amongst other incidents, a much publicised political confrontation with Turkey over a Turkish TV programme critical of Israel.

This outburst led Israeli analyst and journalist Zvi Barel to comment acerbically in the Israeli daily Haaretz, “Britain wants to boycott Israeli goods? We’ll summon the British ambassador and have him sit on a bed of nails’’.

“The United States handles the settlements unfairly? We’ll point an unloaded gun at the American ambassador’s head and pull the trigger, just to scare him. We’re not murderers. We’re just trying to frighten, which, as is well known, creates respect. Just ask the Godfather,” was Barel’s scathing comment.

Furthermore, Haaretz recently broke a story over the extent of Israel’s political blackmail of the Palestinian Authority (PA) over last year’s Goldstone report, which has received unanimous support internationally, and highlighted how sensitive the Jewish state is to negative publicity.

Justice Richard Goldstone was sent by the U.N. to the region to investigate war crimes committed by both Palestinian resistance groups and the IDF during Israel’s military assault on Gaza last year.

His report overwhelmingly criticised Israel’s deliberate targeting of Palestinian civilians and its disproportionate use of force.

Goldstone’s report was due to be transferred from the U.N. General Assembly to the Security Council after receiving overwhelming support from the U.N. Human Rights Council.

To everybody’s surprise, not least the Palestinians, PA President Mahmoud Abbas asked for a vote on the report’s recommendations to be postponed until March this year.

According to Haaretz, Abbas’ request to the U.N. Human Rights Council to delay the vote followed a meeting with Yuval Diskin, the head of Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, the Shin Bet.

Abbas was warned by Diskin that “if he did not ask for a deferral of the vote on the critical report on last year’s military operation, Israel would turn the West Bank into a ’second Gaza’.” A senior IDF officer is alleged to have made similar threats to the PA at around the same time.

Diskin, who reports directly to Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, also warned the Palestinians that the easing of restrictions on movement within the West Bank would be revoked as well as permission to operate a second mobile phone company Wataniya.

The PA would have lost tens of millions of dollars in compensation payments to the company.

Israeli sensitivity to its critics was highlighted again several weeks ago in the early hours of the morning when the Ramallah apartment of Czech national Eva Novakova, 28, was raided by Israeli soldiers after they broke her door down.

Israeli armed personnel carriers surrounded the area while about 20 heavily armed soldiers took up positions on surrounding rooftops.

Novakova was forced at gunpoint to dress and was subsequently arrested and deported to Prague on the grounds she had overstayed her visa. She was denied access to a lawyer.

As Ramallah is supposedly under full Palestinian control, this kind of military operation is usually reserved for arresting armed Palestinian resistance fighters who are suspected of involvement in attacks against Israelis.

Critics allege Novakova’s political involvement in peaceful protests against Israel’s separation barrier, which expropriates Palestinian farmland illegally for the benefit of Israeli settlers primarily, and the international support received for the protests, is a more likely explanation for the overkill.

In a further crackdown on an increasingly critical media, the arrest and detention of Jared Malsin, a Jewish-American journalist and English editor at the Palestinian news agency Maan, at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport last week has sparked outrage.

Malsin, who has been based in the West Bank for two years, was accused of being a security threat for writing reports hostile to Israel and reporting from within the Palestinian territories.

On Friday, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) called for Malsin’s deportation order to be revoked while The Committee to Protect Journalists called for his immediate release.

“We condemn this intolerable violation of press freedom,” said Aidan White, IFJ general secretary. “The ban of entry in this case appears to be a reprisal measure for the journalist’s independent reporting and that is unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, in another development Hagai Elad, the Israeli head of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, was amongst a group of 13 activists arrested last week for a peaceful assembly in East Jerusalem against Palestinian home demolitions and expulsions.



US Media and Israel: Sharing A More Balanced Truth about Israel Media Coverage in the US


 The Truth of how the American media reports on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict:


20 Responses to “UNHRC endorses Goldstone report, angers Israel”

  • Patriot says:

    The primary motivation for the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993 and on 9/11 was US support for Israel’s brutal oppression of the Palestinian people (can read James Bamford response to the question about such at the bottom of the following URL):


    Take a look at the exchange with Lee Hamilton in the following youtube video:

    What motivated the 9/11 hijackers? See testimony most didn’t:


    “Sit Down!” The Power to Silence the Truth about 9/11 Part 2


    So one can clearly argue that 9/11 happened because of Israel and that the US invaded Afghanistan because of 9/11 and therefore because of Israel (look up ‘Israel as a terrorist’s motivation’ in Bamford’s ‘A Pretext for War’ book as the paperback version of ‘A Pretext for War’ includes an additional section about the AIPAC espionage case).

    US support for Israel’s brutal oppression of the Palestinians PRIMARY MOTIVATION for tragic attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993 and on 9/11:


    You might be interested in taking a listen to the following youtube which includes the call for Karen Kwiatkowski and Dr. Stephen Sneigoski (author of ‘The Transparent Cabal’ about the Iraq quagmire):


    Additional at the following URL:


    Karen was a Lt. Colonel with the US Air Force working at the Pentagon and resigned after she saw what JINSA Neocon Douglas Feith was up to via his Office of Special Plans there. She also saw Israeli generals walking to Feith’s office on a regular basis before the Iraq invasion got underway (see the following article for the American Conservative):


  • Patriot says:

    Roy wrote:

    Having known of Goldstone since my days in Pretoria, I would put my money with that report. The report certainly does call a spade a spade. It did examine in some detail a number of alleged war crimes committed by the Israeli forces during their three week excursion into Gaza. On the other side, Palestinian groups killed and injured Israeli civilians when they fired those rockets into southern Israel. I agree with the report that both sides were responsible for violations of human rights and humanitarian law.Notably the report did and indeed does charge Israel with disproportionate force. Mahmoud Abbas, with little wiggle room due to the public outcry of the report, the Palestinians did themselves no favors by vehemently denouncing the report. And there has been lots of criticism inside FATAH. and some of its leaders want Abbas to resign. Abbas has gotten himself into a terrible muddle and now he has backed a request by Libya for the Security Council at the UN to debate the Goldstone report. That will go nowhere due to American veto threats.

    The PA has now a rather tarnished image.
    Abbas weakened his position by meeting Netayahu in Geneva-something he vowed he would not ever do until there is some kind of settlement freeze. FATAH for its part probably can be charged with being tghe wheeler dealers of the Palestinian bunch -they do cohabit with the Israeli occupiers in a type of apartheid.And the BBC reports about the situation on Temple Mount-Abbas usually hesitant to side with harsh voices in the Palestinian Authority, did accuse Israel of harassing worshipers, which I have seen. He does not need to always be weak and submissive for Israel will take advantage of him.

  • Patriot says:

    APN Legislative Round-Up for the weeks ending October 23 and 30, 2009 – Americans for Peace Now



    On 10/29/09, Judge Goldstone sent the following letter to Chairman Berman (D-CA) and Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), regarding H. Res. 867:

    The Honorable Howard Berman
    Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs

    The Honorable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
    Ranking Member, House Committee on Foreign Affairs

    October 29, 2009

    Dear Chairman Berman and Ranking Member Ros-Lehtinen,

    It has come to my attention that a resolution has been introduced in the Unites States House of Representatives regarding the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, which I led earlier this year.

    I fully respect the right of the US Congress to examine and judge my mission and the resulting report, as well as to make its recommendations to the US Executive branch of government. However, I have strong reservations about the text of the resolution in question – text that includes serious factual inaccuracies and instances where information and statements are taken grossly out of context.

    I undertook this fact-finding mission in good faith, just as I undertook my responsibilities vis à vis the South African Standing Commission of Inquiry Regarding Public Violence and Intimidation, the International War Crimes Tribunal on the former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the International Panel of the Commission of Enquiry into the Activities of Nazism in Argentina, the Independent International Commission on Kosovo, and the Volker Committee investigation into the UN’s Iraq oil-for-food program in 2004/5.

    I hope that you, in similar good faith, will take the time to consider my comments about the resolution and, as a result of that consideration, make the necessary corrections.

    Whereas clause #2: “Whereas, on January 12, 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed Resolution A/HRC/S-9/L.1, which authorized a `fact-finding mission’ regarding Israel’s conduct of Operation Cast Lead against violent militants in the Gaza Strip between December 27, 2008, and January 18, 2009;”

    This whereas clause ignores the fact that I and others refused this original mandate, precisely because it only called for an investigation into violations committed by Israel . The mandate given to and accepted by me and under which we worked and reported reads as follows:

    “. . .to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after”.

    Whereas clause #2: “Whereas the resolution pre-judged the outcome of its investigation, by one-sidedly mandating the `fact-finding mission’ to `investigate all violations of international human rights law and International Humanitarian Law by . . . Israel, against the Palestinian people . . . particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the current aggression'”

    This whereas clause ignores the fact that the expanded mandate that I demanded and received clearly included rocket and mortar attacks on Israel and as the report makes clear was so interpreted and implemented. It was the report carried out under this broadened mandate – not the original, rejected mandate – that was adopted by the Human Rights Council and that included the serious findings made against Hamas and other militant Palestinian groups.

    Whereas clause #3: “Whereas the mandate of the `fact-finding mission’ makes no mention of the relentless rocket and mortar attacks, which numbered in the thousands and spanned a period of eight years, by Hamas and other violent militant groups in Gaza against civilian targets in Israel, that necessitated Israel’s defensive measures;”

    This whereas clause is factually incorrect. As noted above, the expanded mandate clearly included the rocket and mortar attacks. Moreover, Chapter XXIV of the Report considers in detail the relentless rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel and the terror they caused to the people living within their range. The resulting finding made in the report is that these attacks constituted serious war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.

    Whereas clause #4: “Whereas the `fact-finding mission’ included a member who, before joining the mission, had already declared Israel guilty of committing atrocities in Operation Cast Lead by signing a public letter on January 11, 2009, published in the Sunday Times, that called Israel’s actions `war crimes’;”

    This whereas clause is misleading. It overlooks, or neglects to mention, that the member concerned, Professor Christine Chinkin of the London School of Economics, in the same letter, together with other leading international lawyers, also condemned as war crimes the Hamas rockets fired into Israel .

    Whereas clause 5: “Whereas the mission’s flawed and biased mandate gave serious concern to many United Nations Human Rights Council Member States which refused to support it, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cameroon, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland;”

    This whereas clause is factually incorrect. The mandate that was given to the Mission was certainly not opposed by all or even a majority of the States to which reference is made. I am happy to provide further details if necessary.

    Whereas clause #6: “Whereas the mission’s flawed and biased mandate troubled many distinguished individuals who refused invitations to head the mission;”

    This whereas clause is factually incorrect. The initial mandate that was rejected by others who were invited to head the mission was the same one that I rejected. The mandate I accepted was expanded by the President of the Human Rights Council as a result of conditions I made.

    Whereas clause #8: “Whereas the report repeatedly made sweeping and unsubstantiated determinations that the Israeli military had deliberately attacked civilians during Operation Cast Lead;”

    This whereas clause is factually incorrect. The findings included in the report are neither “sweeping” nor “unsubstantiated” and in effect reflect 188 individual interviews, review of more than 300 reports, 30 videos and 1200 photographs. Additionally, the body of the report contains a plethora of references to the information upon which the Commission relied for our findings.

    Whereas clause #9: “Whereas the authors of the report, in the body of the report itself, admit that `we did not deal with the issues . . . regarding the problems of conducting military operations in civilian areas and second-guessing decisions made by soldiers and their commanding officers `in the fog of war.’;”

    This whereas clause is misleading. The words quoted relate to the decision we made that it would have been unfair to investigate and make finding on situations where decisions had been made by Israeli soldiers “in the fog of battle”. This was a decision made in favor of, and not against, the interests of Israel .
    Whereas clause #10: ‘Whereas in the October 16th edition of the Jewish Daily Forward, Richard Goldstone, the head of the `United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict’, is quoted as saying, with respect to the mission’s evidence-collection methods, `If this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.'”
    The remark as quoted is both inaccurate and taken completely out of context. What I had explained to The Forward was that the Report itself would not constitute evidence admissible in court of law. It is my view, as jurist, that investigators would have to investigate which allegations they considered relevant. That, too, was why we recommended domestic investigations into the allegations.

    Whereas clause #11: “Whereas the report, in effect, denied the State of Israel the right to self-defense, and never noted the fact that Israel had the right to defend its citizens from the repeated violent attacks committed against civilian targets in southern Israel by Hamas and other Foreign Terrorist Organizations operating from Gaza;”

    It is factually incorrect to state that the Report denied Israel the right of self-defense. The report examined how that right was implemented by the standards of international law. What is commonly called ius ad bellum, the right to use military force was not considered to fall within our mandate. Israel ‘s right to use military force was not questioned.

    Whereas clause #12: “Whereas the report largely ignored the culpability of the Government of Iran and the Government of Syria, both of whom sponsor Hamas and other Foreign Terrorist Organizations;”

    This whereas clause is misleading. Nowhere that I know of has it ever been suggested that the Mission should have investigated the provenance of the rockets. Such an investigation was never on the agenda, and in any event, we would not have had the facilities or capability of investigating these allegations. If the Government of Israel has requested us to investigate that issue I have no doubt that we have done our best to do so.

    Whereas clause #14: “Whereas, notwithstanding a great body of evidence that Hamas and other violent Islamist groups committed war crimes by using civilians and civilian institutions, such as mosques, schools, and hospitals, as shields, the report repeatedly downplayed or cast doubt upon that claim;”

    This is a sweeping and unfair characterization of the Report. I hope that the Report will be read by those tasked with considering the resolution.

    I note that the House resolution fails to mention that notwithstanding my repeated personal pleas to the Government of Israel, Israel refused all cooperation with the Mission . Among other things, I requested the views of Israel with regard to the implementation of the mandate and details of any issues that the Government of Israel might wish us to investigate.

    This refusal meant that Israel did not offer any information or evidence it may have collected regarding actions by Hamas or other Palestinian groups in Gaza . Any omission of such information and evidence in the report is regrettable, but is the result of Israel ‘s decision not to cooperate with the Fact-Finding mission, not a decision by the mission to downplay or cast doubt on such information and evidence.

    Whereas clause #15: “Whereas in one notable instance, the report stated that it did not consider the admission of a Hamas official that Hamas often `created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the mujahideen, against [the Israeli military]’ specifically to `constitute evidence that Hamas forced Palestinian civilians to shield military objectives against attack.’;”

    This whereas clause is misleading, since the quotation is taken out of context. The quotation is part of a section of the report dealing with the very narrow allegation that Hamas compelled civilians, against their will, to act as human shields. The statement by the Hamas official is repugnant and demonstrates an apparent disregard for the safety of civilians, but it is not evidence that Hamas forced civilians to remain in their homes in order to act as human shields. Indeed, while the Government of Israel has alleged publicly that Hamas used Palestinian civilians as human shields, it has not identified any cases where it claims that civilians were doing so under threat of force by Hamas or any other party.

    Whereas clause #16: “Whereas Hamas was able to significantly shape the findings of the investigation mission’s report by selecting and prescreening some of the witnesses and intimidating others, as the report acknowledges when it notes that `those interviewed in Gaza appeared reluctant to speak about the presence of or conduct of hostilities by the Palestinian armed groups . . . from a fear of reprisals’;”

    The allegation that Hamas was able to shape the findings of my report or that it pre-screened the witnesses is devoid of truth. I challenge anyone to produce evidence in support of it.


    Justice Richard J. Goldstone

  • Patriot says:

    November 6, 2009
    Op-Ed Contributor

    Goldstone and Gaza


    Judge Richard Goldstone and the United Nations fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict have issued a report about Gaza that is strongly critical of both Israel and Hamas for their violations of human rights. On Wednesday, a special meeting of the U.N. General Assembly began a debate on whether to refer the report to the Security Council.

    In January 2009 rudimentary rockets had been launched from Gaza toward nearby Jewish communities, and Israel had wreaked havoc with bombs, missiles, and ground invading forces. Judge Goldstone’s claim is that they are both guilty of “crimes against humanity.” Predictably, both the accused parties have denounced the report as biased and inaccurate.

    It is good to remember that Judge Goldstone, from South Africa, is one of the world’s most widely respected jurists, with an impeccable record of wisdom, honesty and integrity. He is a devout Jew and has long been known as a fervent defender of Israel’s right to peace and security.

    In April 2008 I personally visited Sderot and Ashkelon, Israeli communities near enough to have been hit by rockets fired from within Gaza. While there, I condemned these indiscriminate attacks on civilians as acts of terrorism, and I consider their condemnation by Judge Goldstone to be justified.

    A year later, after the Israeli attack on Gaza, I was able to examine the damage done to the small and heavily populated area, surrounded by an impenetrable wall, with its gates tightly controlled. Knowing of the ability of Israeli forces, often using U.S. weapons, to strike targets with pinpoint accuracy, it was difficult to understand or explain the destruction of hospitals, schools, prisons, United Nations facilities, small factories and repair shops, agricultural processing plants and almost 40,000 homes.

    The Goldstone committee examined closely the cause of deaths of the 1,387 Palestinians who perished, and the degree of damage to the various areas. The conclusion was that the civilian areas were targeted and the devastation was deliberate. Again, the criticism of Israel in the Goldstone report is justified.

    He has called on the United States, Israel and others who dispute the accuracy of the report to conduct an independent investigation of their own. Hamas leaders have announced that their investigation is under way, but Israel has rejected Judge Goldstone’s request.

    Putting this dispute aside, it is important to examine present circumstances and the need to prevent further suffering. The rocket fire from Gaza is now being severely restrained, perhaps because of the certainty of Israeli retaliation, but the punishment of the 1.5 million Palestinian inhabitants of Gaza continues. Now and for the past 10 months, Israel has not permitted cement, lumber, panes of glass, or other building materials to pass their entry points into Gaza. Several hundred thousand homeless people suffered through last winter in a few tents, under plastic sheets, or huddled in caves dug into the debris of their former homes. The weather was warmer when I was there several months later, but the description of suffering through the winter cold was heartbreaking.

    Another winter is now approaching, and neither the Israelis nor the international community has taken steps to alleviate the Gazans’ plight. United Nations agencies and leaders in the European community have offered to provide an avenue of channeling funds and building materials directly to the people in need, completely bypassing the Hamas political leaders. These officials, both in Gaza and in Damascus, have assured me that they would accept this arrangement.

    There would be no chance for the misuse of such assistance for weapons, military fortifications, or other non-humanitarian purposes.

    I was informed recently by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia that he has pledged $1 billion, and other Arab leaders have added an additional $300 million for this purpose. There is little doubt that other nations would also be generous.

    Without ascribing blame to either of the disputing parties, it is imperative that the United States and the international community take steps to assure that the rebuilding of Gaza be commenced, and without delay. The cries of homeless and freezing people demand relief.

    Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981 and is a member of the Elders.

  • Patriot says:


    Attacking Richard Goldstone
    Personal attacks on the man who investigated the Gaza conflict by defenders of Israel are wrong.

    Daniel Terris

    9:21 AM PDT, April 21, 2010

    The worldwide Jewish community can be thin skinned about criticism of the policies of the state of Israel, but the vitriol reached a new low last week. After members of the South African Jewish community threatened to disrupt the ceremony if he attended, Justice Richard Goldstone, author of a controversial United Nations report on the conflict in Gaza, canceled plans to attend his grandson’s upcoming bar mitzvah ceremony in Johannesburg.

    The Goldstone report, released in September, concluded that both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes during the conflict in Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009, and that both had deliberately targeted the other side’s civilian population in attempts to achieve their goals. It recommended criminal investigation and possible prosecution of those found responsible.

    It is completely appropriate for critics to scrutinize, question and discuss the facts and conclusions of the Goldstone report. Intellectual and political dispute is deeply woven into Jewish learning, tradition and communal life, and the welfare of the state of Israel rightly engages the deepest passions of the Jewish people.

    But prominent critics of the report quickly made the leap from debate to invective. Israeli President Shimon Peres called Goldstone “a small man, devoid of any sense of justice.” Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School called him “a traitor to the Jewish people.” An Israeli minister and numerous blog posts have labeled him an anti-Semite.

    And now this. Threats that his grandson’s bar mitzvah would be disrupted if he attended have forced Goldstone to make the agonizing decision to stay away from one of the sacred milestones of his grandson’s life.

    One leading rabbi explained the feelings of members of the South African Jewish community to the Center for Law and Justice: “[T]hey believe he put Israel in danger, and they wouldn’t like him to be getting honor” by being called to the altar as part of the bar mitzvah ceremony. Goldstone clearly felt that after seven months of personal attacks, he could not put his family through yet another ordeal.

    This is a man who courageously challenged apartheid in his native country two decades ago; who helped build the first international war crimes courts since Nuremburg; who last year won the MacArthur Foundation Award for International Justice; and who has served on the board of governors of Hebrew University. Goldstone currently chairs the advisory board of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis University, which I direct.

    This incident did not come out of the blue. And it is not just about one man’s family occasion or about the content of one United Nations report. It grows out of a climate in which defenders of Israeli government policy have increasingly resorted to personal attacks on the government’s critics. Jewish leaders around the world should decry the kind of personal attacks Goldstone has endured and speak out more forcefully against those who resort to personal attacks in an attempt to delegitimize Israel’s critics.

    It is especially important that those who disagree with the Goldstone report make clear their opposition to such personal attacks. Rep. Gary Ackerman of New York, who has led the opposition to the Goldstone report in the U.S. Congress, should be commended for his letter of outrage to the South African Zionist Federation. Others should follow suit.

    Preventing Goldstone from attending his grandson’s bar mitzvah isn’t standing up for Israel. Labeling Jewish critics of Israel as traitors or anti-Semites isn’t standing up for the Jewish people. Such steps are instead a brand of hatred that represents a direct assault on Jewish values of tradition and justice and conscience.

    Daniel Terris is director of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis University.

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