Rabbibrian's Blog

A Voice for Justice and Peace in Israel/Palestine

Goldstone challenges the U.S. government to explain opposition to Report

Posted by rabbibrian on October 23, 2009

Yesterday the New York Times reported that Judge Goldstone had challenged the U.S. government to explain it’s  “deep concerns” about his Report on Gaza.  On the rabbinic call on Sunday night (see my previous two posts),  Judge Goldstone pointed out that Israel, the U.S. government and the many critics of the Report either attack him personally or use terms like the Report is “deeply flawed.”    None of them address the extensive details in the Report of outrageous violations of international law.

I wrote the following letter to the editor of the New York Times this morning.

To the Editor,

Critics of Judge Goldstone’s report on Gaza have consistently ignored the substantive claims in his report (“Gaza Report Author Asks U.S. to Clarify Concerns” October 22,2009).

In a recent phone conference with American rabbis, Judge Goldstone described his shock when he saw the devastation in Gaza.  He asked the rabbis on what basis was the one American school in Gaza razed to the ground?  On what basis does one plow up and bulldoze huge tracts of agricultural land, bomb the water works, destroy the only flour factory, destroy thousands of houses? And so on.

It is not good enough for the American government to call the report “deeply flawed” without addressing the detailed substantive description of the devastating attack on the infrastructure of Gaza during the war, not to mention the number of civilians, including hundreds of children, who were killed.


Rabbi Brian Walt
Co – Founder Ta’Anit Tzedek Jewish Fast for Gaza


5 Responses to “Goldstone challenges the U.S. government to explain opposition to Report”

  1. marharlan said

    Having read the transcript of the telephone conference with J.Goldstone, there is a problem with his rhetorical questions and your repeating them: Goldstone was responsible for conducting a fact finding mission into the Gaza conflict. Yet, his mission failed to engage a military expert who even in the absence of Israeli cooperation could answer these questions. It is quite possible and reasonable to expect that these actions by the IDF hold military purpose and were taken porpotional. But we dont know because Goldsonte failed to undertake his responsibilty to impartially find facts.

    • rabbibrian said

      You’re not serious. I don’t know if Goldstone had a military expert, what I do know is that Israel, the U.S. Government and all those who have rejected the report, have had two months to respond to Goldstone’s claim that the bombing of the flour factory, the killing of chickens, bombing of the water wells etc. were all necessary military targets or somehow were legitimate military targets. The onus is on them to respond. The U.S. government claims the Report is “deeply flawed” (the words of Michael Posner, I believe, formerly of Human Rights First, now Asst. Secretary of State for Human Rights), all Goldstone is demanding is a response to the substantive charges. As far as I can tell it is only the far right advocates who have even tried to respond to these charges. I would be willing to weigh the facts if the U.S. or Israeli government was even making an attempt to respond to the substance of the report. Instead there is no response except for vicious personal attacks and repeated complaints about the commission that have nothing to do with the substance of the report.

      • marharlan said

        Substantive analysis and critique of the Goldstone report is out there and easily found. And indeed, if you read my response to your blog posting, I am not attacking Golstone or his fellow commisioners personally.

        That said, itis quitre reasonable to question the partiality of one retained as a judge. In the US legal system, if one has articulated a prejudgment of a claim, he typically recuses himself from the process. In this case public pronoucements about Israel’s guilt by members of the comission were made prior to the investigation begining. Certainly more impartial persons could have been retained. Unless of course the conclusions were pre-ordained. Given the formulation of the mandate as codified, a resonable person could reach such a conclusion.

        A further observation, when speaking to Jewish organization (see, Forward interview), Goldstone seeks to constrain criticism by saying that his report is not a legal document. But, the document itself reads as legal opinion – with statements of fact and conclusions of law. And the document not only calls for internal investigation with possible referral to ICC, but more pointedly seeks indictments by countries with the legal construct of ‘universal jurisdiction’. Thus this report should be analyzed with a higtened level of scrutiny. In the our (USA) legal system, a defendant is entiteld to a presumption of innocence before the court and bears no responsibilty to participate in the investigatory process. As such, with regard to the Goldstone questions that you repeat, he fails to articulate guilt by clear and convincing evidence and your claim that one is only not guilty by virtue of a defense falls flat.

        Given the overwhelming history of one exceptional, negtive treatment of Israel at the UNHRC by those who have political agendas and unclean hands, is it any wonder why Israel would refuse to participate in this process.

  2. marharlan said

    Time has passed and more substantive crituque of the Goldstone Report has been published, some of which addresses the specific issues raised by J.Goldstone in his conference call. I hope that you have taken the time to read both the report and response.

    But lets focus for a moment on an issue raised by J.Goldstone in the call to your organization and a topic of our subsequent exchange: the targeting of the flour factory. It the Goldstone report itself, J. Goldstone and Company recognize that the flour factory was the highest structure in the area and the surrounding streets were understood to be mined by Hamas personnel. Therefore, the IDF warned of its intent to act and in fact did act. In the IDF action there were NO civilian casualties only the loss of property. The military objective/value is clear from information known to Goldstone’s group: the factory was the high point in the area which by its nature provide fields of fire which would endanger IDF troops and quite possibly civilians in the same area.

    Knowing that Goldstone had this information during his investigation, and prior to the conference call with you, his failure to acknowledge the logical reason for targeting the flour mill reflects Goldstone’s intent to smear Israel for taking action to stop the relentless rocket fire from Hamas controlled Gaza.

    We should also take a moment to further reflect on the assertions regarding the flour mill and chicken farm as being the sole such operations in Gaza. Before during and after Operation Cast Lead, the Isreaeli government was (and is) providing humanitarian aid to the Gaza population – far in excess of the internal ability to produce. That is to say, any impact of this destruction on the Gaza food supply was already far exceeded by foodstuffs being provided by Israel. Moreover, and more importantly, this limit on Palestinian food production is a recent domestically created circumstance. Upon taking control of Gaza following the Israeli pullout Hamas sytematically destroyed infrastructure that could have addressed these basic needs of the Gaza population – the greenhouses, farms, etc of the Gush bloc. were all destroyed. Thus, let us recognize that the status of Gaza is due in part to their own misconduct.

    Moreover, despite repeated assertions by Goldstone that Gazas border crossings are all controlled by Israel, the facts reveal that not to be true. Gaza shares a lengthy border with Egypt through which there is the Rafa crossing. That is to say, Gaza has a border crossing with a fellow arab state which is not Israel. And this arab state, Egypt, has no desire to allow open trade with Hamas controlled Gaza for its own security reasons. (Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Islamic Brotherhood. The Islamic Brotherhood is a disruptive/violent movement within Egypt.) Indeed, Palestinian control of the Rafah crossing was specifically noted by Sect State Rice, EU Rep Javier Solana and Palestinian Governmet Official Saeb Erakat. As stated by Rice at a Nov. 15, 2005 press conference, “for the first time since 1967, Palestinians will gain control over entry and exit from their territory. … [T]he Rafah crossing … is an international crossing, the Palestinians on one side, Egyptians on the other, with third-party help.” Solana added, “This is the first time that a border is opened and not controlled by the Israelis.” And Erekat stated that “this is the first time in history we will run an international passage by ourselves, and it’s the first time Israel does not have a veto over our ability to do so.” Thus for Goldstone’s commision to blame the Jewish state for deprivation of the Gaza territory is intellectually dishonest as best and perhaps evidences the opportunistic malicious intent of both the sponsors at the UNHCR together with Goldstone and Company.

    In am interested in your reply. Please post.

  3. Thank you so much for your letter Rabbi Walt.

    You are a true advocate of peace and justice.

    I hope your message makes it here to Melbourne this December with the World Parliament of Religions. I for one will tell of the good work people like yourself and rabbi Brant Rosen are doing. Rabbi Michael Lerner too will attend the Parliament.


    Stewart Mills
    Sydney, Australia

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