Israel, Politics

Coming to our senses

We have already posted on the UN Human Rights Council’s endorsing of the Goldstone report, and of the mainstream arms of the Jewish community’s attempts to paint Goldstone as the anti-Semite par excellence (I’ve even seen several places where people use Goldstone as the measure of all things anti-Semitic -“Even Goldstone says….” and the like), as well as the conference call between Judge Goldstone and a group of American Rabbis to discuss the report, so I won’t again go into how appalling it is that a certain group of American Jews are continuing the business-as-usual attempt to try to turn the report – and its author –¬† into a “poor us, everyone hates us” PR move.
J Street is new, of course, but it’s doing work that people in the Jewish community having been doing for a while. The “new” part is that “mainstream” Jewish organizations are just now taking notice that they might not actually represent as many people as they pretended to, and they’re starting to screech about it much more loudly. There is a new wave of attention being paid to Jews who aren’t so enthralled with the “mainstream” presentation of “facts” about Israel’s regional conflicts.
As MJ Rosenberg notes over at HuffPo:

The hits on J Street won’t stop after the conference. The goal is to shut it down in order to perpetuate the myth that the American Jewish community supports not only Israel but any and all policies of the Israeli government. This is a a strange idea considering that Jews are overwhelmingly liberal and tend to be well to the left of their own governments, including the Obama administration. (78% of Jews voted for Obama but 62% even voted for George McGovern and 80% for Walter Mondale).


One of the organizations that has been engaged in this “new!” work for decades is Rabbis for Human Rights and its sister organization in the United States, Rabbis for Human Rights- North America, both populated by mainstream rabbis from every denomination.
Today, Rabbis for Human Rights- North America (RHR-NA) posted a letter on their site, joining RHR and other human rights organizations in Israel that have been advocating that Israel set up an independent inquiry into the Gaza Incursion for some time. In solidarity with this plea and in response to the Goldstone Report, RHR-NA has written a letter of petition to the Israeli President and Prime Minister urging them to set up an independent investigation to study the report of the UN Fact Finding Mission and its findings and to refrain from automatically rejecting its findings or questioning the impartiality of its author. The letter appears here, and you can add your name to endorse the letter.
The letter notes,

We are not unaware that the government of the state of Israel has, as its first priority, guaranteeing the safety and security of all the citizens of the state. Yet in the exercise of that responsibility, a Jewish state also needs to be mindful of the values that are at the core of Judaism.
As such, Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, calls upon the state of Israel to appoint an independent commission to investigate allegations made about abuses that might have occurred in the conduct of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. …We are well aware of the controversy surrounding that report, its original charter and the track record of the U.N. Human Rights Council that appointed the Goldstone Commission. Nevertheless a country committed to democracy and human rights has an obligation to uncover the truth, especially when such serious allegations of human rights abuses have been raised. We also believe that Hamas and the PA have an obligation to conduct an investigation into war crimes alleged to have been committed before, during and after the Gaza conflict but we are part of the Jewish community and our main concern is how Israel behaves.
Israel has long been a beacon of liberty and democracy in a region of the world where such a posture is extremely difficult to maintain. As rabbis and leaders of Jewish communities across North America we have taken pride in the many times Israel has taken the moral high ground even when it put the country, its soldiers and its citizens at great risk. We ask that you take the moral high ground now.

The letter will be officially introduced at the Jstreet Conference and on Monday, October 26, it will be taken to the Israeli Embassy and presented in person to Ambassador Oren.
Well, the work may not be new, Jews who don’t buy the party line may not be a recent invention, but, hey, let’s take advantage of the press: sign on to the petition, and come to the J-Street conference!

8 thoughts on “Coming to our senses

  1. As rabbis and leaders of Jewish communities across North America we have taken pride in the many times Israel has taken the moral high ground even when it put the country, its soldiers and its citizens at great risk. We ask that you take the moral high ground now.
    A: Pride
    B: Moral High Ground
    C: Great risk to country, soldiers and citizens
    A=B
    B=C, then…
    A=C
    In other words, “we ask that you now… put the country, its soldiers and its citizens at great risk”. And why? Our pride.
    This. Is. Immoral.
    There are many, many good reasons for Israel to do a civilian investigation of Cast Lead – and here are some of mine – but this open letter, in my opinion, contributes nothing positive to that discussion.

  2. “Israel has long been a beacon of liberty and democracy”? Really, when was this? During the ethnic cleansing of ’48? After the occupation of ’67? If you only offer full liberty and democracy for one ethnic group, you are a beacon of neither liberty nor democracy.

  3. If you only offer full liberty and democracy for one ethnic group
    You are correct. Ultimately, Israel is meant to be a nation-state for one ethnic group, Jews (we should, of course, do our best to protect the rights of the non-Jewish minority.)
    God willing, there soon will be a state for the Palestinians: Palestine. Then, the Palestinians in the territories will be able to worry about their own issues with liberty and democracy and, if the Palestinians inside the Green Line feel that they are discriminated against in favor of Israel’s Jewish majority, they would be welcome to move to Palestine too.

  4. A Avigdor: your equation is not correct A does not =B, nor does B = C.
    Rather if B than A, C is a sub category of B (moral high ground is not all and only under the condition of great risk, although it may sometimes be. On the other hand, in this case, it may be exactly not – that the moral high ground happens to offer less risk than not – although many wold have us believe that continuing to do the same thing over and over again will next time get us a better and less risky result. It’s too bad that induction has not yet won).

  5. KRG, what I described is the intellectual formula the organization which issued this open letter clearly put forth. You may disagree with their logic, but then your beef is with them, not with me.

  6. The HRC did not endorse the Goldstone report in its entirety. Most news organizations continue to overlook this. Upon reading the report it is clear that a significant dimension is left out. Namely the explicit admonitions directed at Hamas and other palestinian militant groups for targeting civilians, both palestinians and israelis and the strong recomendation that they investigate these allegations internally. While there is language that might include this dimension (e.g. “Condemning all targeting of civilians” and the commision “calls upon all concerned parties including United Nations bodies to ensure their implementation”), there are no specific references to Hamas. Goldstone was alarmed by this omission, why dismiss this fact so glibly? Stop conflating the Goldstone report and the HRC’s so-called endorsement. We should stand for justice and be precise in our stance. The Goldstone report was by and large fair and just, the HRC’s resolution was at best deliberately laconic. In my eyes the HRC resolution was an injustice not to mention a betrayal of Goldstone and his colleagues.

  7. CoA, the language may be too saccharine for the both of us, but if that’s what it takes to get the message across…

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