Rabbibrian's Blog

A Voice for Justice and Peace in Israel/Palestine

Goldstone Report: The Cover Up

Posted by rabbibrian on October 5, 2009

It took Israel about two weeks to collaborate with the U.S government and the Israel lobby to bury the Goldstone Report.  They even got the Palestinian Authority to do the dirty work for them!   Building on its brilliant defeat of the Obama Administration’s demand for a complete freeze on settlements, the Netanyahu government masterfully  deflected any discussion of the substance of the report with bogus claims that it would never again take risks for peace (what risks? when?),  with charges of “anti-Semitism”, with charges against the bias of the United Nations Human Rights Council, with the insistence of innocence (“the most moral army in the world”).  The only charge that had any truth was the bias in the resolutions of United Nations Human Rights Council but their bias has no bearing on the content of the report.

They accomplished all this without responding to any of the egregious and shocking human rights violations carefully documented in the report.  Repeatedly Israel, the U.S. government, American Jewish leaders called the report “deeply flawed” without ever providing  any challenge to the substance of the report.

The big winner in all this is the right wing government of Israel and the big losers are the Palestinians who will continue to be subject to any actions Israel takes against them.   Israel is celebrating its victory.  The Occupation will continue with home demolitions in Jerusalem, attacks on the West Bank (there was a report a few days ago of a Palestinian youth in Bilin who was run over by a jeep), and the cruel blockade of Gaza which Judge Goldstone’s commission correctly called a war crime and suggested that it may also constitute  a crime against humanity.

The word that kept coming up for me over the past two weeks is cover upWe are all involved in the cover up of a massive crime. The barrage of Israeli, American and American Jewish propoganda against the report is all part of a successful cover up.   They have not only successfully taken the report off the table but they have done so without any serious debate about the substance of the report.

The Goldstone report was by no means the first to describe the crimes committed in Gaza, many Israeli and international human rights organizations have already documented most of the allegations of the report.  In the case of the reports by other organizations:  Gisha, B’tzelem,  The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Shovrim Shtika (Soldiers Breaking the Silence), Human Rights Watch, and others, the Israeli government took one of the following three actions:

1. Didn’t pay much or any attention to it;

2. Attacked the researchers involved in the report (Human Rights Watch);

3. Acted to effectively cut off the funds of the organization (Shovrim Shtika and other Israeli human rights organizations).

Facing this barrage of criticism orchestrated by Israel, the United States government and the Israel lobby, was Judge Goldstone, a man of profound moral integrity and moral courage.  I grew up in South Africa and the only good thing about this very distressing affair is the moral courage of Judge Goldstone, who despite the fact that he is a committed Zionist with deep commitment to Israel, had the courage to insist that Israel should be bound by international human rights law. As he said repeatedly all states must be held accountable for violations of human rights.

For me, as a former South African Jew,  I am so proud of his role in this investigation and was very pleased to be in Washington DC on Thursday last week when he appeared before the National Press Club.  I will write a separate post about that experience.

The role of American government, American Jewish leaders and organizations in this cover up is shameful.   As a rabbi, it is so disturbing and painful to see the ways in which rabbis and Jewish leaders cover for Israel, giving it a pass on egregious human rights violations including the killing of civilians.  Is Jewish blood more precious than the blood of Palestinians?

In the first murder recorded in the Torah, God calls Cain to account and says, “the blood of your brother cries out to me from the earth”   Those responsible for the blood that was spilled in Gaza and Israel must be held accountable.  It is a sad day for all of us when an honest and dedicated effort to ensure accountability is squelched.   All who care about human rights, about Jewish values and about the soul of Israel must continue to demand that both Israel and Hamas launch credible and transparent independent investigations in the next three months. If they fail to do so, the Goldstone report should be referred to the Security Council and ultimately to the International Criminal Court.  We should do all in our power to ensure that the report is not completely buried.

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17 Responses to “Goldstone Report: The Cover Up”

  1. Ellen G said

    Thank you for speaking out. The immediate barrage of attacks on Goldstone from those in the US who will tolerate none of the truth of what Israel has done to come out is shameful, and licenses further crimes.

  2. I agree with all you’ve said with the exception of calling it a ‘cover-up’. Since the truth has been so plainly visible and available to the world, it can hardly be called a ‘cover-up’ – which would also imply an attempt to conceal behavior the perpetrators recognize as shameful.

    Sadly, that’s not the case. In our shared sense of exceptionalism (where one’s behavior is self-justifying) both the U.S. & Israel have chosen to justify & extol Israel’s crimes as necessary, laudable, and legal actions of a state defending it interests and are, therefore, unworthy of prosecution as war crimes and warn that they will be repeated whenever and as often as needed to secure Israel’s interests.

    Would that Israel & the U.S. had the shame to attempt to cover-up such atrocities. Had they, there would likely be fewer of them.

    • rabbibrian said

      Rael,
      Undoubtedly there is widespread indifference in Israel to Palestinian suffering. I agree that Jewish/Israeli and U.S. notions of exceptionalism contribute to the blindness to the suffering. I have a sense that the source of the intensity of the attack on those who are pointing to the egregious human rights violations is an underlying feeling of shame. This may just be wishful thinking. I have also been struck recently by the arrogance of Israelis, even progressive Israelis. They feel a deep sense of entitlement and power, that in my mind will ultimately lead to self destruction.

      • I’ve no doubt that you’re correct. There is no religious or ethical system that promotes self-aggrandizement and disregard of the ‘other’ as virtues. I suspect most Israelis are using a sense of entitlement, residual from the Shoah, as a reason to disregard the effects of their actions on the Palestinians. And, the louder they proclaim their righteousness, the more one can intuit their shame… a case of “the lady doth protest too much”.

        I also suspect Israel’s actions (as endorsed by national plebiscite) reflect the “child of a battered child” syndrome with the Israelis representing the battered ‘children’ of their Nazi ‘fathers’ passing on the ‘harsh justice’ they learned at their ‘parent’s knees’ to their own recalcitrant ‘children’, the Palestinians.

        I agree that Israel’s current direction is self-destructive. Israel is charging head-long into becoming a racist, totalitarian, fascist society. No society with those characteristics has survived for long.

  3. David Frankfurter said

    Well said, Reb Brian! To bury it at Yom Kippur, no less . . .

    • rabbibrian said

      How right you are! Yom Kippur, the day on which we confess our sins, the Israeli government, the U.S. government and the leaders of mainstream Jewish organizations are all working on ways to bury the report. What an irony!

  4. Louis Frankenthaler said

    Well Brian, What can I say? It never ceases to amaze me to hear and see the utterly banal self righteousness of Israelis… I had an argument here in Jerusalem in community center locker room with people who labeled Justice Goldstone as a “Kapo”. It is totally amazing to hear this Garbage yet it is expected.

    Israel is pleased with itself, with what it did in Gaza, with what it does in the rest of the OPT, with its place in the world… it sees its actions as Just and if they are not Just they do not care… This has been supported by far too many of Israel’s “friends” these people and groups who advocate on “Israel’s behalf” when what they are actually advocating is so far against the Interest of people, all people living in Israel/Palestine… But they do not care… they have a higher calling…

    As the old saying goes, with friends like these who needs enemies?

    • rabbibrian said

      I am hoping that there is a growing movement of people in the U.S. who will challenge Israel. I am not sure they even care, as I think they are banking on support from right-wing evangelicals who will support them all the way to the War of Gog and Magog!

  5. As an American Jew with family in Jerusalem, I an continually chagrined, even horrified, by the actions of Israel in Gaza and the West Bank. There is an arrogance on the part of the Israeli government that I find unforgivable. They have the strongest army in the region, and one of the strongest in the world, and they do not wield power with humility or grace. Israel is a bully. Let’s call it what it is. It is a bully around its neighbors. It is a bully in the world of nations. It is a bully in the world of diplomacy. And, like an individual with Borderline Personality Disorder, they can admit not wrong. As long as this attitude by the nation of Israel continues, there can be no peace in the Middle East. I do not believe that the issue in the Middle East is Islam and Judiasm. It is turf. Plain and simple. Solve turf, and much of other problems start to go away. At this point, Israel is not a player. It is only an obstacle.

    • rabbibrian said

      The Israeli government and it’s American supporters are convinced that the entire conflict is one between good and evil. Arab terror and violence against Jewish democracy and decency! This is the story line they believe and share at every opportunity.

  6. Rainbow Warrior said

    I think what we need to do is to get a letter writing campaign going. Apparently they are going to look at the Goldstone Report again in the spring of 2010.
    Israel cannot be allowed to continue on it’s path of destruction. They are the cause of the Antisemitism around the world. If you speak out against anything they do you are demonized and called anti semite by Israel. This only enhances the problem. People have every right to condemn what Israel has done. Israel like many other countries have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. Even those who stand against the crimes in Israel itself risk punishment. The leaders of Israel also try to say they speak for all Jews. This is not true. They speak only for themselves. This attitude must be quashed. When those leader condemn and demonize, anyone who speaks out against them, Jewish communities included that in itself is a crime. All that accomplishes is more hatred. People need to be educated to the fact that there is a difference between Zionism and being Jewish. I see them as two totally different entities. Unfortunately with all the propaganda that Israel spews many see them as being one in the same. Many do not even realize how many in Israel oppose what their government is doing. People around the world are angry and with good reason. They have every right to question and be angry with UN Israel who over the years refuses to even comply with UN Resolutions. The leaders see themselves as being above the laws everyone else must live by. In view of the recent events and the Goldstone Report being treated as it has, the world view is even more scornful of Israel’s behavior.
    Israel dares to condemn Iran who has done nothing. Iran is perusing their Nuclear plans to use it for Hyrdro and Medical Isotopes. Iran has signed the NPT and have allowed inspectors in where as Israel has not. So why the warmongering on Iran. They are not a threat.
    One has to question why the US or any other country is always backing Israel in view of the constant Human Rights violations and war mongering. Are they being threatened? Mossad has assassinated many in Palestine and around the world. They have even targeted Jewish communities. They then say the only place you will be safe is in Israel. They have pulled that one many times. It seems to me the leaders in Israel pull many tricks on the world at large.
    People around the world are getting educated on their dirty deeds and are not about to fall for them any longer.
    The Zionists leaders are responsible, not the Jewish communities who must endure the aftermath of what they do. Many in the Jewish communities around the world must voice their opposition to Israels deeds. Israels actions can no longer be tolerated.
    That being said:
    After reading the report one thing did stand out and that is there was never any testing done for DU or Radiation from the weapons they used. That I found very disappointing. Israel did have Bunker Busters from the US and they have Radiation in them. I am sure there was also DU used as well. In both cases the fall out will also be in Israel itself. Not only did Israel contaminate Gaza it also contaminated the Israeli citizens as well. The cancer rates will in the end climb. The wind blows and Radiation goes. Israel also contaminated the surrounding countries also.
    Here is a something a few of us could use some help with while we figure out what to do about the Entire problem.

    Please write or email President Obama: Free Mohammad Othman Now http://wp.me/p4271-1rI
    It is a small step in the right direction.

  7. Where are the voices in Israel that are opposing this failed attempt at a cover-up? Brian, do you have a sense of what, if anything, the Israeli peace movement is doing at this point? Ultimately, the opposition within the country will have to get active again for any change to come. Do you see any signs of this happening?

    Thanks for continuing to speak out fearlessly.

    Steve

    • rabbibrian said

      Steve,
      Thanks so much for your comment. No, I don’t think there is much chance at present for any serious change to emerge from within Israel. The peace movement is smaller than ever with very little support in the population. I think Gideon Levy commented that in 82 Israel provided cover as the Phalangists murdered Palestinians and there was a demonstration of 400,000 Israeli Jews in Tel Aviv. This time Israel killed about 1400 people of whom as many as 700 or more were civilians and there was a demonstration of 10,000 and I think many of the demonstrators were Palestinian citizens of Israel.
      i have come to believe that the best chance we have for change will come from outside, from the American government if it ever feels like it can really demand anything from Israel, or from civil society. The BDS movement is growing and I think it could play an important role. I support Neve Gordon’s call for selective application of boycott, divestment and sanctions, especially against anything that is directly connected with the Occupation. It is hard to have a discussion about cuts in American aid or BDS among progressive Jews. Many feel that any BDS action will be counterproductive.
      One more comment: I believe that Netanyahu has run circles around the Obama administration. They have three huge victories so far: rejecting Obama’s clear and unequivocal demand for a settlement freeze, turning that conflict into an affirmation of their right of Israel to completely “Judaize” Jerusalem (they have already displaced several Palestinian families), and their joint action with the U.S. government to bury the Goldstone Report. Many conjecture that the U.S. may have got a promise from Israel to be more compromising in terms of the the “final status negotiations” in return for the U.S. position on Goldstone. I am not sure how one can believe that Israel will be forthcoming in final status negotiations which will include the most difficult issues: refugees, Jerusalem, the right of return, the need for a real contiguous Palestinian state that includes both the West Bank and Gaza, when there was a complete deadlock on the issue of the settlements.
      Bottom line, I think the best shot for non-violent change lies outside of Israel.

      I am not happy about this answer, but it is the way I see it.
      How do you feel about what happened at the Toronto Film Festival?
      These are very difficult times,
      Great to have chaveyrim,
      Brian

  8. Once again, Rabbi Brian, I kvel when I read your words of sense, fairness, and a desire to open the eyes of the world to the crimes being perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people. The Goldstone report condemned both the Israelis and the Palestinians for their separate war crimes, although the Israeli government denies such condemnation of the Palestinians acts exists in the report. This report has echoed and illustrated the allegations made against Israeli by several others impartial human rights groups and organizations. But once again, anyone who champions further actions and investigations based on the report are accused of being anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. What is truly anti-Semitic is the act of deliberately hiding evidence revealing how the Israeli government is engaging in war crimes against the Palestinian civilian population, which is against all Jewish precepts. That is a real act of anti-Semitism.

  9. Y. Ben-David said

    Have any of you self-righteous Israel bashers asked yourself WHY there is solid opposition in Israel to Goldstone EVEN AMONG FORMER SUPPORTERS OF THE SO-CALLED ‘PEACE PROCESS’? Israel pulls out all the Jewish residents and the IDF from the Gaza Strip and gets in return thousands of rockets fired indiscriminately at civilian targets. You twist yourselves into knots justifying it, while Israelis say “it seems if we make concessions to the Palestinians, all they do is pocket it, make more demands and use them to attack us further”. You ignore the endless drumbeat of genocidal Judeophobic propaganda that comes out of OFFICIAL Arab media sources including from entities with “peace agreements” with Israel like the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Egypt. You simply ignore it. WE pay attention to it becuase it signals their intentions. WE saw how it motivated suicide bombers who killed something like 1500 Israelis and wounded thousands in spite of the “peace agreement” Arafat signed with Israel.

    Now you want “outside elements” to force Israel to do what you want…i.e. damage its security and vital interests so that you “progressives” can feel better about yourselves in the comfort and protection of the US. How are you going to do this? Do you think the US government is going to impose sanctions on Israel? Even if Obama would like to, he doesn’t have the political strength to do so. Israel has very strong backing in the US among the population at large and would have strong support even if there were NO Jews or “Jewish lobby” in the US (American support for Zionism goes back to the 1830’s, long before there was a “Jewish vote” in the US). Do you think Obama will allow the UN to push Goldstone through to the point of initiating “war crimes trials” against Israel, knowing that the next time it will be HE who will be on trial for what HE is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    What kind of a world do you think we are living in? We are the front line fighting Islamic terror and all you can think of doing is tying our hands. In World War II, Allied bombing of German military targets in France and led to many thousands of deaths of Frenchmen who the Allies were attempting to liberate.
    This is the tragedy of war but there was no choice. HAMAS and HIZBULLAH hide behind civilian populations knowing the civilian casualties HELP their cause politically.
    We Jews saw how effective “progressive” opinion was when the chips were down a few decades ago in Europe. Now you will scream that I am bringing in the Holocaust but its memory is seared into many Israeli minds UNLIKE IN THE U.S., and we remember how the “progressive” Social Democratic countries like Holland and Norway were the BIGGEST collaborators with the Nazis and cooperated the most in handing their Jews quietly and efficiently over to the Nazis. “Progressive” Uri Avnery himself opposes BDS for the reasons I am stating…that whether or not you like it, whether or not you think it is fair, Israelis see the double standards of the world and BDS is simply going to cause further retrenchment. Politically, I am not worried, most of the world doesn’t care about Goldstone, the Palestinians, the settlements and the such, there are bloody wars going on all around the world all the time and nobody, including you “progressives” care about them, so Israel will do fine without your support. But the thing I DO worry about is that you are going to cause a damaging split in the Jewish people….that once again, as we saw in the past, that part of the Jewish people turn their backs on those of us who are in the front line (back then..in Europe, today in Israel) which will only end up damaging your souls and your relations with the rest of the Jewish world.

  10. Reggie Gray said

    You referred to the Israeli government cutting off of funds from Breaking the Silence and other human rights organizations. I read more details of this in the Oct. 5 issue of The Nation. I was appalled to learn they cutoff funds to Machsom Watch and B’tzselem from the Dutch, Spanish and British governments and threatened these sources saying their funding was illegal. Rabbis for Human Rights was not mentioned. I am wondering how this is all impacting their work. It is hard to imagine how the situation can get worse and yet it does.

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