Goldstone, cont’d

This just in: the United Nations Human Rights Council has endorsed the Goldstone report, despite Israel’s (and the US’s) full-bore attempts to quash it.

I’ll go out on a limb and say this is a good thing.  I’ll go out even further and say I think the organized Jewish community’s attempts to bury the report and personally tarnish Goldstone is a huge shandeh. I’ve written about it elsewhere if you’d like to read why.

Further news on the G’stone front: This Sunday, Judge Goldstone will be discussing the report with Jewish clergy, in a conference call convened by Ta’anit Tzedek – Jewish Fast for Gaza and co-sponsored by the Brit Tzedek Rabbinic Cabinet and Rabbis for Human Rights -North America.  I think this is also a good thing.

To be continued…

52 Responses to “Goldstone, cont’d”

  1. You really should read the report before endorsing it, all 575 pages. Even Goldstone has been stepping back from its findings. Yaacov has been covering it extensively this week.


    Avigdor · October 16th, 2009 at 6:01 pm
  2. Avigdor,

    I have read the report – all 575 pages. I’ve also read the Gisha and B’tselem reports, which reach very similar conclusions. It’s not a perfect report, to be sure (probably would have been better if Israel had cooperated) but neither is it worth rejecting wholesale, no matter what “Yaacov” says.

    I believe your claim that Goldstone has “stepped back” from his findings is spurious – but I’ll make sure to ask him to clarify this on the call this Sunday.


    Shalom Rav · October 16th, 2009 at 7:28 pm
  3. Yaakov is an excellent master of losing the forest (the report) for the trees (the instances he can question a small factoid) and in discrediting something by repeating that it’s incorrect, not providing evidence that it’s incorrect.

    The Goldstone report is incomplete without Israel’s involvement, but the Jewish community should sit up and take notice that it’s the closest the UN has come in recent years to objectivity and addressing violations on both sides. Through years of Israel claiming to be a victim, the UN finally chose an internationally credible, Jewish, Zionist judge who investigated also Hamas’ violations. That after all this, Israel still has not emerged as the knight in shining armor should be a big clue.

    Contrary to what the right wing claims, Israel chose to fight fire with fire — breaking international law to fight those with disregard for international law. Now they are claiming unfair play when the gavel comes down? I don’t think so.

    This is truly tough love on Israel. The country’s leaders stepped out of line with Gaza and killed far too many people. The IDF behaved with overeager violence. This whole episode is an embarrassment to the value of life and the so-called security of the state.


    Kung Fu Jew · October 17th, 2009 at 12:39 pm
  4. If Israel simply paid the palestinians to pack their bags and live their lives elsewhere Israel wouldn’t be forced to use military force. Both the left and right-wing have failed their country in this respect by not even considering it.

    The left especially, since they are the most opposed to the idea, have lost all right to the moral high ground. If they will not even consider paying the pals to leave, thus leaving military force as the only option they shouldn’t complain when it’s used.

    In case nobody has noticed I’ll state the obvious. This report and this entire conversation is about the degree of legitimate violence and not about the the legitimacy of military force itself. It’s an unwinnable argument because you’re forced into defending the act of killing. Logically, you could do it but no-one will allow logic to get in the way of emotional and moralistic grandstanding. Therefore I say,

    screw Goldstone and his report.


    formermuslim · October 17th, 2009 at 6:42 pm
  5. This whole episode is an embarrassment to the value of life and the so-called security of the state

    Wait a second . . . back when Cast Lead was going on, many people here were writing that it wouldn’t work, it wouldn’t deter Hamas, and it would only strengthen Hamas’s popularity among Palestinians.

    In fact, Hamas was demonstratably deterred by Cast Lead. And most polls, and the reality in the territories, indicate that Cast Lead seriously hurt Hamas’s prestige and popularity among Palestinians.

    Let’s be honest. Let’s not ignore that.

    The country’s leaders stepped out of line with Gaza and killed far too many people.

    You’re right. Next time, we should only kill a “proporionate” amount of people. So if, God forbid, there is another suicide bomb, that kills, say, 15 people, we should just send the army into a Palestinian village, shoot and kill the first 15 people we see, and then leave . . . and then we’ll all be able to sleep soundly at night.


    Jonathan1 · October 17th, 2009 at 8:16 pm
  6. Let’s be honest. Let’s not ignore that…and then we’ll all be able to sleep soundly at night.

    That’s like saying, “Hey, the Holocaust was bad, but at least we got Israel out of the deal.” No go, my friend. The number dead, the loss of Israel’s political capital abroad, the downgrading of her strategic alliance with Turkey, and the Goldstone report itself do not even come close to making this a strategic victory. The position of my writing was always that this was a costly, Pyrrhic mistake. Any such deterrence would have been better achieved through other means, namely extending the ceasefire and allowing more product into Gaza.

    I stand by that statement today, which I feel has become painfully obvious. The Gaza “victory” is a silver lining a hair thick.

    Let’s not forget that either.


    Kung Fu Jew · October 18th, 2009 at 12:14 am
  7. Shalom Rav, I strongly endorse you asking Goldstone precisely what his latest position on his own report is. The growing consensus, faced with his changing statements, is that he himself did not read the entire report, and is truly stunned that it does not say what he thought it did.

    Not that Dershowitz is a paragon of impartiality here, but he raises some excellent questions. Combined with questions raised by others, including the Forward, the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, and a growing number of military professionals and more military professionals and <a href=”http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?apage=1&cid=1249418620191&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull”legal academics, not in the least how Goldstone arrived at such serious conclusions in less time that it takes to evaluate the evidence in a domestic violence dispute… and heads start tilting.

    And then, of course, there is “Mr. Deer in Headlights” himself!

    Goldstone Slams Human Rights Council for Ignoring Hamas

    Goldstone told the Swiss newspaper Le Temps before the vote that the wording of the resolution was unfortunate because it included only censure of Israel. He voiced hope that the Human Rights Council would alter the wording of the draft.

    Hahaha! That’s sweet of him. Getting pwnd is never pleasant. I’d start hitting that chest. In my experience, Teshuvah is never easy.

    Lastly, I don’t know how anyone can read this report, as I am doing so now (page 291′ish), and determine that at least half of it has anything to do with the Gaza War. For example, the section I’m starting now is called:

    TREATMENT OF PALESTINIANS IN THE WEST BANK BY ISRAELI SECURITY FORCES, INCLUDING USE OF EXCESSIVE OR LETHAL FORCE DURING DEMONSTRATIONS

    What the hell does that have to do with the war in Gaza?
    Or this one, page 332:

    New settlements, land expropriation and the
    demolition of villages in Area C

    How about the ONE PAGE devoted to Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, in the ENTIRE REPORT!!!!?!!! ONE PAGE?!

    This report is a sad joke. It could have been written by Nigel Perry and the rest of the gang at electronic intifada.

    I don’t think the Yevsekziya who support this report really care what it says; I think it neatly fits the template they wish to advance – Israel as oppressor. They’re even willing to embrace this report – a behemoth of a injustice masquerading as law – to meet their ends.

    One day soon, Goldstone will apologize for his role in this perversion of truth. Not if, but when; a matter of time. He’ll do it when he no longer matters. A crime against the entire Jewish people will require a public apology, and Goldstone will apologize. He’ll claim that he was misled, that he didn’t know what he was doing, that he came into this with the best intentions. Judge my intentions, he’ll beg. He’ll be judged on his actions, and on their consequences, and then we’ll forgive him.

    Ask him that, too, Shalom Rav. Ask him when he will apologize.


    Avigdor · October 18th, 2009 at 3:11 am
  8. Great Holocaust comparison. Way to encourage debate on the topic.

    So I’m going to otherwise ignore it. Please read the forward editorial on Goldstone here: forward.com/articles/116771/

    The problem with the Goldstone report–which we can certainly blame on Israel–is that he only got one side of the story on what happened inside Gaza. Sure, by talking to Sderot residents he concluded that Hamas is guilty of war crimes. But without hearing what IDF soldiers retell about what happened in Gaza, of course anyone would conclude that what Israel did was war crimes. But I’m willing to bet that with a few exceptions, most people on this blog have never taken part in a war.
    So yes, KFJ, I do say that if you believe a war is justified, you need to except that horrible things will occur. A moral army that makes every effort to distinguish will still kill civilians, and that’s a tragedy. So go ahead and say every war is in and of itself a crime, but saying that a just war doesn’t necessary have to include horrors is ridiculous.
    As for every report being published, I think it’s inappropriate to dismiss B’Tselem, BtS, Amnesty, and Goldstone out of hand. But those reports are based on the testimonies of Palestinians in Gaza. Why do some people accept everything they say, while rejecting everything an IDF soldier that didn’t scream “atrocities” say? It sounds as if some people have made up their minds about what happened without being open to multiple perspectives. And that’s a shame.


    anon · October 18th, 2009 at 7:51 am
  9. “the downgrading of her strategic alliance with Turkey”

    Turkey and the Turks do not like Israel. Never will. They will screw Israel over when it’s convenient for them.


    formermuslim · October 18th, 2009 at 8:12 am
  10. anon, the Breaking the Silence testimonies are from Israeli soldiers who voluntarily served in combat units. No Palestinians involved. How do you explain what they experienced?

    If you’re still hiding behind excuse “it’s a war, wars kill civilians, there’s no other way about it” then you’ve not read very deeply: Israel chose war over diplomatic means. The ceasefire offer on the table was turned down by Israel. Israel bears the responsibility even for civilians killed accidentally.


    Kung Fu Jew · October 18th, 2009 at 3:03 pm
  11. KFJ, I don’t want to mischaracterize your position, which we all know is easy to do in this format, so I’d like to ask you to make your exact stance clear, as a strong voice in the pro-peace camp. Perhaps you could go on record, in a formal blog post, on your final, unequivocal position relating to both the Goldstone Report and the UNHRC resolution which adopted the anti-Israel part of the Goldstone Report.

    Again, I want to make sure we get to understand your precise position on these two, not on what you believe happened in Gaza, or on tangential issues spanning 60 years, but on the Goldstone report itself – its personnel, methodology, legal validity, etc., and its partial adoption by the UNHRC.

    In other words, it’s one thing to say, the report is severely flawed and the UNHRC is a travesty of justice, but the pro-peace camp warned that such an unbalanced international response would be the result of Cast Lead. It is another thing to say that the Goldstone report and its conclusions are exactly on the mark, and the UNHRC made an important step in promoting peace by adopting it in part (and excluding Hamas). I want to make sure we understand exactly where you come down here.

    Thanks.


    Avigdor · October 18th, 2009 at 7:23 pm
  12. What kind of “ceasefire” is it when a ceasefire means occasionally shooting rockets instead of constantly shooting rockets? Obviously fewer rockets were fired during the tahadiyeh, but it was not a complete of ceasing of fire. So yes, accuse me of hiding.

    As for Breaking the Silence, I miswrote in saying that it was based on Palestinian testimonies, and of course I know that it came from soldiers who served. And I think their testimonies are healthy, and I’m glad that the Israeli public (or anyone else) heard it. But what I’m still asking is why do we accept testimony that claims wrongdoing but reject any testimony that suggests morality? When given a choice between accepting two accounts of an incident, many on this site automatically accept that the IDF misbehaved. If you truly believe that every action was wrong because the Israeli government could have avoided war, then I disagree with you, but so be it. But I continue to have trouble with those who dismiss any claim of morality on the part of the IDF out of hand.


    anon · October 18th, 2009 at 8:35 pm
  13. anon,

    It was a ceasefire between the Israeli government and Hamas, which means that while Hamas stopped shooting rockets, some groups who oppose them continued to do otherwise. However, Hamas put effort into stopping those who did shoot rockets, even arrested some. That reduced the rocket attacks on Israel to a tiny faction of what they had been, far less than what Israel was capable of doing even before withdrawing to the borders.

    Hamas even held up their end despite Israel keeping up the blockade strangling Gaza, and it wasn’t was until Israeli troops stormed in and killed six Hamas members that Hamas started firing their rockets again. Then after about a month of that, Hamas proposed trying the truce again but the Israeli government had no interest in anything of the sort, as KFJ noted above.

    So instead the Israeli government launched their long planned Gaza massacre shortly later. Of course one could hardly expect anything but, peace is antithetical to the goal of continued colonization across what little is left of Palestine, which leaves attempting to pummel Palestinians into submission as the only viable course of action. This leaves me to wonder; are you arguing here because you one of the cynical few who support that goal, or are you just one of the masses beguiled into cheering the conquest on?


    kyleb · October 19th, 2009 at 9:34 am
  14. That’s like saying, “Hey, the Holocaust was bad, but at least we got Israel out of the deal.”

    No. The analogy would be: if somebody on Jewschool had written, repeatedly, during the Holocaust, that Israel would not emerge from it . . . and then Israel did indeed emerge from it (for argument’s sake, I’ll agree that Israel came from the Holocaust.)

    If somebody on Jewschol wrote, repeatedly, during Cast Lead, that it would only strengthened Hamas among the Palestinians and not stop the rockes, and then the reverse happened, they should admit as much. They shouldn’t ignore that.

    The number dead, the loss of Israel’s political capital abroad, the downgrading of her strategic alliance with Turkey, and the Goldstone report itself do not even come close to making this a strategic victory. The position of my writing was always that this was a costly, Pyrrhic mistake. Any such deterrence would have been better achieved through other means, namely extending the ceasefire and allowing more product into Gaza.

    This all could be true. Only time will tell.

    and then we’ll all be able to sleep soundly at night

    I wrote this in reference to the “proportionate” conflict idea (beloved by so many here,) by which Israelis and Palestinians can do whatever ghastly acts they wish to each other, as long as the same amount of people are killed on both sides.


    Jonathan1 · October 19th, 2009 at 12:59 pm
  15. is antithetical to the goal of continued colonization across what little is left of Palestine,

    So why did Israel uproot the Gaza settlements?


    Jonathan1 · October 19th, 2009 at 1:04 pm
  16. But what I’m still asking is why do we accept testimony that claims wrongdoing but reject any testimony that suggests morality?

    Does it not depend on who is listening to the testimony? In many circles, BTS soldiers and their stories are dismissed as self-hating Israeli propagandists.

    In other circles, soldiers who argue that the IDF is indeed a moral army are dismissed as being zombies to IDF proganda.

    That’s just the name of the game, unfortunately.


    Jonathan1 · October 19th, 2009 at 1:08 pm
  17. I guess those of us who believe that there were soldiers who did their utmost to protect civilians (and even commanders at high-levels that did the same) and also believe that there exceptions (and that those exceptions need to be prosecuted) are a rare breed.
    And I’m glad that by thinking the situation in Israel is more complicated than colonizer-colonizee that I’m either a cynical proponent of ethnic cleansing or a naive idiot. Thanks Jewschool!


    anon · October 19th, 2009 at 1:36 pm
  18. And I’m glad that by thinking the situation in Israel is more complicated than colonizer-colonizee that I’m either a cynical proponent of ethnic cleansing or a naive idiot.
    The situation is Israel is more complicated. In the territories it’s not complicated at all.


    Amit · October 19th, 2009 at 3:55 pm
  19. anon,

    withdrawing to Gaza’s borders was done to put the peace process in “formaldehyde”, as Dov Weissglas so aptly characterized the intent. The focus of the continued colonization of what little is left of Palestine is over in the West Bank, which even Israel’s biggest benefactor was able to persuade a temporary freeze on. Again, I’m left to wonder if you are truly naive of this conquest, or just feigning as much to defend it.


    kyleb · October 19th, 2009 at 10:54 pm
  20. Kyleb’s tired arguments, no matter how cleverly rehashed, are a useless distraction.

    To be taken seriously, KFJ and other prominent progressive, pro-Peace Jews must take a clear, unequivocal and public position on the Goldstone report and its partial adoption by the UNHRC, as I wrote of earlier.

    Enough word games, smoke and mirrors.
    Take a stand. Be specific.


    Avigdor · October 20th, 2009 at 12:06 am
  21. kyleb,
    Palestine and Eretz Yisrael are the same things. To pretend that Palestine does not include the borders of ’49 to ’67 Israel is silly, just look pretending that Judea and Samaria are meaningless to Jewish history because we weren’t partitioned it/didn’t conquer it in the War of Independence. So I stand by statement that it is not a situation of colonizer/colonizee in Palestine/Israel. I’m also somewhat shocked that I’m suddenly “feigning as much as to defend this conquest.” If it’s the “conquest” of some part of Israel that I’m defending, so be it. I believe in Israel’s right to exist and for the rights of Jews, Arabs, guest workers, and others to have citizenship there.
    And Amit, you and I may agree that the occupation is wrong and needs to end, but that doesn’t make it simple.


    anon · October 20th, 2009 at 12:54 am
  22. Avigdor, I’m happy to give you such a post but you may have to wait for it, as I’m a busy boy. Though my opinion is both: not only did many of us say on Jewschool that Cast Lead was morally and diplomatically a mistake, but as the disparity in proportions became more apparent and as verifiable cases of military misconduct emerged, then we began to demand that Israel make a transparent accounting of what we fear to be true.

    The Goldstone report without a doubt specified a number of cases where Israel killed civilians and civilian infrastructure without cause. Reading the part about the hospital shot with white phosphorus was sickening. I’ve talked to soldiers about what white phosphorus does to a human when it burns. It’s a chemical fire that burns even through metal. That it was used at all in urban Gaza is extraordinary, much less on a hospital in a dense urban center. To use it on a hospital full of civilians is treachery to humanity.

    Having done the research behind this particular incident, I have enough reason to believe that enough of the report is valid to warrant war crimes trials for the Israeli commanders in those incidents. Israel — for her own peace of mind — needs to do what I and others were saying before the Goldstone commission issued the same recommendation, that Israel hold transparent investigations. The IDF is a boys’ club and cannot be relied upon to try its own.

    I doubt that the Goldstone report will be passed by the Security Council. But I believe that the threat of such will push Israel to address the criticisms. And part of me says, yes, those commanders who permitted war crimes should be tried by an international court. They are welcome to stay at home in Israel forever, never to leave her borders for fear of being arrested. That’s the consequence and any other nation who does the same as Israel did in Gaza should face the same consequences.


    Kung Fu Jew · October 20th, 2009 at 1:38 am
  23. Avigdor,

    while you apparently see no use for reality, a assure you it’s not just a distraction.

    anon,

    to claim Israel is anything beyond it’s 1967 borders, or that the Palestinian territories are anything beyond theirs, is an absurd denial of the reality of the situation as established under international law. That said, I’d gladly welcome the single state solution with equal rights for all that you suggest, and Palestinians have proposed as much, but most Israelis show no interest in anything of the sort. Regardless, as long as Israel is holding millions of people in the Palestinian territories under martial law, colonizing what little is left of their homeland out from under them, and killing off those who get in the way; you aren’t defending the utopian dream you propose, but rather a ethnic-nationalist conquest.


    kyleb · October 20th, 2009 at 3:57 am
  24. Bah, that was intended to be “I assure you” in my first line there.


    kyleb · October 20th, 2009 at 3:59 am
  25. That’s the consequence and any other nation who does the same as Israel did in Gaza should face the same consequences

    That’s all anybody can ask for: to be fair in your criticism of Israel.


    Jonathan1 · October 20th, 2009 at 10:51 am
  26. KFJ,

    Like many here, I follow several Jewish and non-Jewish progressive blogs. I’ve been on Jewschool for a while, and understand that what you, in particular, believe is an important barometer of views in the Jewish, and overall progressive community. It is not difficult to find a range of opinion on dkos, but much of it is not well informed, is poorly expressed and can be rationally dismissed.

    Please take all the time you need, KFJ. Though there are times when I have, I’m not making a judgment call right now about what you believe. I simply would like to know, specifically, what that is. This is not a simple issue, and I do think there a special responsibility on the (declared?) leadership of the Jewish progressive community to express their position with clarity.

    Let me give you some examples…

    Shalom Rav wrote this positive post about Goldstone, yet he prefaces with “I’ll go out on a limb…” Similarly, in some instances KFJ speaks quite forcefully, and in others he phrases himself in more a more tepid way (“part of me says…”).

    I’m not addressing anyone specifically here, but why do you need to “go out on a limb” if this is what you believe? Does a part of you say otherwise, and why? Are these qualification? Are you not well informed or uncertain of the details? And if you have some issues of concern, where are they? Are there any issues with the composition of the Goldstone commission? How about the Goldstone report’s legal methodology and conclusions? Do you consider the composition of the UNHRC relevant? How about its decision to focus solely on Israel?

    Reading this post, and some of the comments made by KFJ, most prominently, and others, you’d think there is no point of concern or disagreement with the report, the process, etc. If that’s the case, why does this need to be qualified? And if this is not the case, why aren’t those points of contention addressed?

    I more of less know how KFJ feels and what he thinks about the Gaza war – the questions, the outrage, the need for “tough love”. However, should that “tough love” come out of injustice? Or is the report justice? Is the report’s partial adoption by the UNHRC justice?

    Ultimately, KFJ being an opinion maker, this endorsement, or lack thereof, is what matters. Either KFJ unequivocally endorses this report and its adoption by the UNHRC, or he does so with reservations (in which case, what are those reservations), or he rejects the report and its partial adoption (while appreciating its “tough love” consequences).


    Avigdor · October 20th, 2009 at 3:38 pm
  27. An interesting piece from the New York Times:

    www.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/opinion/20bernstein.html


    Jonathan1 · October 20th, 2009 at 6:01 pm
  28. The only thing interesting about the NYT’s coverage of Israel is how flagrantly biased it is. Here is a good article on that, focusing on the NYT’s coverage of the Goldstone report:

    mondoweiss.net/2009/10/the-times-shows-zero-intellectual-courage-on-goldstone.html


    kyleb · October 21st, 2009 at 1:44 am
  29. It’s a good article, Jonathan1. Good, because the historical context is jarring. There was a time, not so long ago, when HRW meant something. There was a time, really not very long ago, when they stood side by side with Sharansky’s wife to keep the issue of her husband alive and make sure he wasn’t murdered in gulag. That’s who they were, a lone civic voice, standing up to brutal Soviet power. And this is very much not who they are today.

    The question is, can Bernstein reach the leadership of an organization he created and led for twenty years? Can anyone reach them? Imagine how painful this must have been for him, to discredit the very organization he devoted much of his life to. This article is an act of final desperation, his last leverage – public disclosure. As we now know, if HRW doesn’t get its money from Jewish American donors because of what Bernstein has written, it can follow Amnesty and get it from Saudi ones. It’s time to turn the page on HRW; it’s founder has.


    Avigdor · October 21st, 2009 at 3:22 am
  30. Bernstein failed to reach them.
    HRW failed to even contemplate introspection.

    It did, however, publish the following, on the very same day as its rebuttal to Bernstein:

    Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip should promptly implement the recommendations of the Goldstone report on Gaza by conducting credible investigations into serious laws-of-war violations by Palestinian forces, Human Rights Watch said in a letter sent October 20, 2009, to Prime Minister Ismail Haniya.

    Brilliant. We’re not racists! Look, we have a black friend!


    Avigdor · October 21st, 2009 at 9:23 am
  31. The only thing interesting about the NYT’s coverage of Israel is how flagrantly biased it is. Here is a good article on that, focusing on the NYT’s coverage of the Goldstone report

    Of course Kyleb will completely ignore the thoughts of the man who led Human Rights Watch for two decades, and instead just say that the NYT is flagrantly biased in Israel’s favor.


    Jonathan1 · October 21st, 2009 at 2:14 pm
  32. I’d read the article hours before you linked it, but had seen the vacant arguments contained in long before, just the same tiered hasbara which is always paraded out to blow smoke over Israel’s human rights abuses. But it’s far from just the NYT which is absurdly biased on when it comes to Israel, and rather the MSM in general. Like Jon Stewart so aptly described their coverage other Gaza massacre, “it’s the Mobius strip of issues, there’s only one side.”


    kyleb · October 22nd, 2009 at 2:52 am
  33. Ok. The man who directed Human Rights Watch for twenty years is actually an Israeli hasbara agent.


    Jonathan1 · October 22nd, 2009 at 10:12 am
  34. Bernstein’s op-ed says exceptionally astute things about closed vs. open societies. But then in the last 100 words falls back upon the tired trope of IDF as most moral army in the world. Why DOES Israel have over 80 human rights groups — and what are THEY saying about the Gaza war? They are’t saying what he’s saying.

    His beginning half doesn’t match the latter. I counted on the man for an intelligent rebuke of HRW’s mission creep, which is something I could agree to and countenance that Israel is best left to Israeli human rights groups. HRW should go fry other fish consistent with it’s founding mission (if it hasn’t changed/broadened from what Bernstein says it was).

    Another giant Jewish leader. Another giant blind spot.


    Kung Fu Jew · October 22nd, 2009 at 1:49 pm
  35. That said, thanks for the compliments, Avigdor. I’ll get back to this as soon as I’m able. Work is intense this week and this weekend begins the J Street conference.


    Kung Fu Jew · October 22nd, 2009 at 1:52 pm
  36. Why DOES Israel have over 80 human rights groups — and what are THEY saying about the Gaza war? They are’t saying what he’s saying.

    And if some of them say what he’s saying, won’t you just respond that they are being Giant Jewish leaders with giant blind spots.?

    It’s a no-lose deal. Either a Jewish leader/human rights group condemns Israel, or they can’t see clearly beyond their Israel blind spot.


    Jonathan1 · October 22nd, 2009 at 3:13 pm
  37. KFJ, I agree the article could have been better, but I don’t know NYTimes writing guidelines. He may have been limited in wording and had some content compressed at editor discression, which has happened to things I’ve had published (not to the NYTimes) without even being told in advance. Also, there’s the audience to consider, and whether he really needed detailed specifics to get his basic point across. This should not be the end of the story, but a very public first shot across HRW’s bow.

    I wonder if we can get a hold of Bernstein. Is he young enough for a serious follow through? Who would know, better than he, what malaise plagues that organization? And who, better than he, is qualified, not merely to document it, but to provide a prescription for change?

    Enjoy the conference, KFJ; it sounds like a fun time and, hey, you’ve earned it!


    Avigdor · October 22nd, 2009 at 3:16 pm
  38. Jonathan1, what my opinion frequently comes down to is that I trust Israeli human rights groups in ways I don’t trust distant American Jewish hacks and self-appointed communal spokespersons for a number of reasons.

    A) Many of the Israeli human rights groups were involved or on the ground during Cast Lead, not relying on hearsay from afar as we do. Breaking the Silence is cheif among these examples.

    B) Their staff and volunteers are motivated by the Israeli declaration’s enshrinement of civil and human rights, by some expectation of what Israel should be, and not the principleless kneejerks of defending Israel even if she’s done wrong.

    C) Fighting to be heard against a disbelieving Israeli public, they must be impeccably accurate to withstand the thorough veting of their work. Their scrutinizing judges: domestic political opponents, plus the Diaspora doubt machine that Israel could ever, in a million years, do any wrong. Their reputation among international human rights groups is excellent, for those very reasons.

    D) Having met the staffs of B’Tselem, Ir Amim, Breaking the Silence, Gisha, HaMoked, ACRI and many others, I am continually inspired by their drive to do good for Israeli society. Their patriotism is unflaggable, despite all those who claim they are not. They have more drive for democracy than any other human beings I have ever, ever met.

    American Jewish pols, bloggers and earnest defenders have none of these things except a toolbox of guilt by association, self-created soap boxes (CAMERA, anyone?), and damning yet meaningless adjectives: self-hating, anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian, not really Jewish, and so on.

    The human rights groups that Bernstein highlighted say something very different than cliches: an ad hoc coalition of Israel’s largest human and civil rights groups issued joint statements decrying the excessive destruction and killing of the Gaza war. They went before Goldstone to press truth as they witnessed it.

    For these reasons, I trust the human rights groups and their research first, not a retired board member. I feel disappointed that Bernstein’s trite falling back upon PR cliches demonstrates that he has little to add to the conversation. He may be a pillar of human rights sometimes. But in this matter, he lowered himself to a cliche-vouching hack.


    Kung Fu Jew · October 22nd, 2009 at 4:37 pm
  39. Jonathan,

    Hollow appeals to authority don’t make a logical argument. If you disagree with what I said about Bernstein’s article, please quote here whatever point made in the article you might feel best substantiates your dispute.

    KFJ,

    I’m at a loss as to what one could consider astute about Bernstein’s open society argument. He speaks highly of Israeli press, and the Israeli judiciary, but then goes on to note the lack of access to the “battlefield” reporters suffered. While I do respect the Israeli Supreme Court’s ruling that such access should be granted, I can’t say the same for Bernstein’s convenient omission of the fact that it was the Israeli military which closed the area off from reporters, Israeli or otherwise. Besides, Israel ultimately controls very closed societies in the Palestinian territories, which wouldn’t be excused by what Israel does behind the Green Line even, if it actual were the beacon of free society Bernstein apparently imagines.

    Also, in case anyone here hadn’t noticed, the NYT was at least decent enough to publish a response to Bernstein’s article from HRW:

    www.nytimes.com/2009/10/22/opinion/22iht-edlet.html


    kyleb · October 22nd, 2009 at 5:49 pm
  40. KFJ,

    Fine. I have no problem with Israeli human rights groups, or Judge Goldstone, etc. I do, though, have an issue with reducing the opinion of Human Right Watch’s 20-year-president to:

    I feel disappointed that Bernstein’s trite falling back upon PR cliches demonstrates that he has little to add to the conversation.

    In approach, is there any difference in going after Bernstein like this and calling somebody like Goldstone self-hating, anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian, not really Jewish, and so on. ?


    Jonathan1 · October 22nd, 2009 at 8:19 pm
  41. Kyleb,

    As usual, I’m having trouble understanding you.


    Jonathan1 · October 22nd, 2009 at 8:23 pm
  42. Jonathan,

    I suggested Bernstein’s article was archaic hasbara drivel, you contested my claim with a hollow appeal to Bernstein’s credentials, so I asked if you could provide anything of actual substance to support your argument. I didn’t really expect you to, having read the article myself, but I was just being polite by asking rather than jumping to conclusions.


    kyleb · October 23rd, 2009 at 1:30 am
  43. Ok. I guess my argument was that, as director of HRW for two decades, Bernstein should have a voice in this discussion, and I didn’t think that calling his article “archaic hasbara drivel” actually disproves anything he wrote.

    I just don’t understand this line of thinking.

    There is the Goldstone Report, all types of other reports from human rights organizations, al types of press organizations—all of them slamming Israel.

    Fine. But that’s not enough, huh? It’s just too much that people like Bernstein–or that British general–happen to have different ideas, based on their own views? Of course they are only hacks, blinded zombies who have been brainwashed by the UJC masterminds, Manchurian NGO directors.


    Jonathan1 · October 23rd, 2009 at 1:43 am
  44. He didn’t rightly provide any different ideas, but rather just rehashed lame arguments one can find in the WUJS Hasbara Handbook, or any other Zionist propaganda manual. The fact that he was director of HRW for two decades does nothing to change that. The article might as well have been written by one of Nethenyahu’s interns for all it was worth.


    kyleb · October 23rd, 2009 at 6:38 am
  45. Ok. From now on, we should use such tactics: Goldstone just twisted the facts to put the blame on Israel, and he rehashed the same lame anti-Israel canards that we always see in the self-hating Jew crowd. The fact that he is an experienced judge and avowed Zionist has nothing to change that. The report might as well have been written by one of Khaled Meshaal’s interns.

    Wow, it’s so much easier to argue this way. I can see where you’re coming from now.


    Jonathan1 · October 23rd, 2009 at 10:34 am
  46. jonathan-
    can you explain and give some details where Goldstone twisted the facts and “rehashed the same lame anti-Israel canards” that may, in your book, make him a “self-hating Jew”. And can you also tell me what that term means, and who else is in that “crowd”? And on what grounds are you saying that Goldstone may qualify as a Hamasnik? pretty strong stuff…


    Justin · October 23rd, 2009 at 12:55 pm
  47. I don’t think those things at all. I thought that was obvious. I’m just using kyleb’s methods on Goldstone the way he does to Bernstein.


    Jonathan1 · October 23rd, 2009 at 1:33 pm
  48. sorry, missed that comment from kyleb. thanks


    Justin · October 23rd, 2009 at 1:45 pm
  49. Jonathan, I thought I said it pretty clearly: Bernstein gives no new data, he just asserts something that an American general with no direct involvement in Israel-American affairs said. That’s not data. It’s nothing new. He’s just flakking.

    Also, you’ve complained that all the reports “slam” Israel. No, I believe they don’t decry Israel in general as much as they point to verifiable instances where Israel went overboard. Why is this slamming? If the Goldstone report invented facts, then point them out!


    Kung Fu Jew · October 23rd, 2009 at 4:23 pm
  50. Justin,

    Can you quote anything from Bernstein’s article other the same old hasbara which is always paraded out to defend Israel’s human rights abuses? I’d be happy to reconsider my position on the article if someone can present something more than a vacant appeal to authority, and false claims of equivalency which even the individual who presented them admits he doesn’t believe. Absent any argument of substance to dispute my position, I’m left to believe it is valid, and that Jonathan is just engaging in obfuscation to ignore it regardless.


    kyleb · October 23rd, 2009 at 4:25 pm
  51. HELLO. I’m not disputing the Goldstone Report. I haven’t read it. I don’t have any problem with reports “slamming” Israel. Israel deserves to be “slammed” sometimes.

    I’m just suggesting (apparently not very effectively) that it is unhealthy to this discussion to simply dismiss opposing viewpoints, like Bernstein’s.

    Shabbat Shalom.


    Jonathan1 · October 23rd, 2009 at 5:08 pm
  52. Hello, I didn’t mention the Goldstone report, just your attempt to draw false equivalency with it. I did point out the fact that Bernstein didn’t present any viewpoint to consider, just parroted ones which had been making their rounds long before the Gaza massacre took place. Again, if you think there was anything more to Bernstein’s article than that, please quote it here and I’d be happy to address it. Until then, you are just handwaving.


    kyleb · October 24th, 2009 at 1:19 am

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"I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God." —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik