Goldstone recants…. sort of.

Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes

By Richard Goldstone, WaPo

By Ted Belman

I am happy he set the record straight even if it took him a few years to do so. But his report cannot be excused. The fact that his report found evidence of potential war crimes and “possibly crimes against humanity” by Israel is not a basis for condemning Israel or demanding she investigate 400 cases of alleged “operational misconduct”. Such things are an internal matter. And to make allegations of “intentionality” in situations where our fact-finding mission had “no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion”, is inexcusable. No conclusions should ever be drawn where a defense has not been heard.

Goldstone writes “the purpose of these investigations, as I have always said, is to ensure accountability for improper actions”. Since when has the UN ever held hearings to ensure accountability. What about Syria, Iran, Bharain, Egypt, Russia, China and Libya. Will the UN be investigating both sides to ensure accountability.

He faults Israel for its “lack of cooperation” and ignores the fact that Israel has no obligation to cooperate. While he supports Israel’s right and duty to defend its citizens, he has never put flesh on these bones and suggested just how that self-defense may be exercized.

He says “We made our recommendations based on the record before us,” There is no justification for such recommendations. Rather he should have declined to make recommendations due to the absense of a full record. He attempts to show his good intentions by writing of his high hopes fo Hamas. Stupid him. He does not escape criticism because he meant well.

According to him, “ensuring that non-state actors respect laws of armed conflict,… is one of the most significant challenges facing the law of armed conflict. It will never happen. How about ensuring that state actors, other than Israel, respect such laws. This too will never happen.

So why did he participate in this investigation? He says its because he believes in the cause of establishing and applying international law to protracted and deadly conflicts. He was on a fool’s errand. He has no right to believe that that can be done especially considering the bias of the UN which he acknowledges.

In having done so he has facillitated a lynching.

We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.

The final report by the U.N. committee of independent experts — chaired by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis — that followed up on the recommendations of the Goldstone Report has found that “Israel has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza” while “the de facto authorities (i.e., Hamas) have not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.”

Our report found evidence of potential war crimes and “possibly crimes against humanity” by both Israel and Hamas. That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying — its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets.

The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion. While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.

For example, the most serious attack the Goldstone Report focused on was the killing of some 29 members of the al-Simouni family in their home. The shelling of the home was apparently the consequence of an Israeli commander’s erroneous interpretation of a drone image, and an Israeli officer is under investigation for having ordered the attack. While the length of this investigation is frustrating, it appears that an appropriate process is underway, and I am confident that if the officer is found to have been negligent, Israel will respond accordingly. The purpose of these investigations, as I have always said, is to ensure accountability for improper actions, not to second-guess, with the benefit of hindsight, commanders making difficult battlefield decisions.

While I welcome Israel’s investigations into allegations, I share the concerns reflected in the McGowan Davis report that few of Israel’s inquiries have been concluded and believe that the proceedings should have been held in a public forum. Although the Israeli evidence that has emerged since publication of our report doesn’t negate the tragic loss of civilian life, I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes.

Israel’s lack of cooperation with our investigation meant that we were not able to corroborate how many Gazans killed were civilians and how many were combatants. The Israeli military’s numbers have turned out to be similar to those recently furnished by Hamas (although Hamas may have reason to inflate the number of its combatants).

As I indicated from the very beginning, I would have welcomed Israel’s cooperation. The purpose of the Goldstone Report was never to prove a foregone conclusion against Israel. I insisted on changing the original mandate adopted by the Human Rights Council, which was skewed against Israel. I have always been clear that Israel, like any other sovereign nation, has the right and obligation to defend itself and its citizens against attacks from abroad and within. Something that has not been recognized often enough is the fact that our report marked the first time illegal acts of terrorism from Hamas were being investigated and condemned by the United Nations. I had hoped that our inquiry into all aspects of the Gaza conflict would begin a new era of evenhandedness at the U.N. Human Rights Council, whose history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted.

Some have charged that the process we followed did not live up to judicial standards. To be clear: Our mission was in no way a judicial or even quasi-judicial proceeding. We did not investigate criminal conduct on the part of any individual in Israel, Gaza or the West Bank. We made our recommendations based on the record before us, which unfortunately did not include any evidence provided by the Israeli government. Indeed, our main recommendation was for each party to investigate, transparently and in good faith, the incidents referred to in our report. McGowan Davis has found that Israel has done this to a significant degree; Hamas has done nothing.

Some have suggested that it was absurd to expect Hamas, an organization that has a policy to destroy the state of Israel, to investigate what we said were serious war crimes. It was my hope, even if unrealistic, that Hamas would do so, especially if Israel conducted its own investigations. At minimum I hoped that in the face of a clear finding that its members were committing serious war crimes, Hamas would curtail its attacks. [Wishful thinking has no place in a Report] Sadly, that has not been the case. Hundreds more rockets and mortar rounds have been directed at civilian targets in southern Israel. That comparatively few Israelis have been killed by the unlawful rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza in no way minimizes the criminality. The U.N. Human Rights Council should condemn these heinous acts in the strongest terms.

In the end, asking Hamas to investigate may have been a mistaken enterprise. So, too, the Human Rights Council should condemn the inexcusable and cold-blooded recent slaughter of a young Israeli couple and three of their small children in their beds.

I continue to believe in the cause of establishing and applying international law to protracted and deadly conflicts. Our report has led to numerous “lessons learned” and policy changes, including the adoption of new Israel Defense Forces procedures for protecting civilians in cases of urban warfare and limiting the use of white phosphorus in civilian areas. The Palestinian Authority established an independent inquiry into our allegations of human rights abuses — assassinations, torture and illegal detentions — perpetrated by Fatah in the West Bank, especially against members of Hamas. [Bullshit] Most of those allegations were confirmed by this inquiry. Regrettably, there has been no effort by Hamas in Gaza to investigate the allegations of its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

Simply put, the laws of armed conflict apply no less to non-state actors such as Hamas than they do to national armies. Ensuring that non-state actors respect these principles, and are investigated when they fail to do so, is one of the most significant challenges facing the law of armed conflict. Only if all parties to armed conflicts are held to these standards will we be able to protect civilians who, through no choice of their own, are caught up in war.

The writer, a retired justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and former chief prosecutor of the U.N. International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, chaired the U.N. fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict.

April 2, 2011 | 9 Comments »

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9 Comments / 9 Comments

  1. It is not enough to wish Goldstone dead or, for that matter, to bring about his demise. It is time for us as Jews to take our future into our own hands. I call upon the State of Israel to officially withdraw from all talks with the Palestinians. I call upon the State of Israel to institute CAPITAL PUNISHMENT for all who shed Israeli blood. I call upon the State of Israel to allow all of its citizenry access to sidearms if they wish to defend themselves against their enemies. And I call upon the State of Israel to fully support ALL the settlements – no more evacuations, no more closures, no more military actions.

    It is time for Jews to take pride in our history and our heritage, and to stop throwing ourselves at the feet of a world that has wanted us dead for two thousand years. The institutionalized shame that motivates moral cowards like Goldstone to betray their own people MUST STOP, even if it means excommunicating our “fellow” Jews. Our future is OURS, by the Grace of G-d.

  2. “As I indicated from the very beginning, I would have welcomed Israel’s cooperation.”

    Israel’s cooperation would have implicitly and irrevocably conceded JURISDICTION. Under the circumstances, noncooperation was the correct position.

    “I insisted on changing the original mandate adopted by the Human Rights Council, which was skewed against Israel.”

    It was as skewed after as it was before, and a figleaf by any other name would do no less.

    This objective inquiry presumed Israeli guilt a priori, it permitted proceeding to advance under the UN designation of Israel as the

    “occupying power,”

    which was a practitioner of “aggression” and

    “violations of international human rights law & international humanitarian law,”

    and that the Gaza Pali’s were the “victims” of said Israeli aggression.

    “The purpose of the Goldstone Report was never to prove a foregone conclusion against Israel.”

    Any mandate — gussied up or no — which proceeded from the above-cited assumptions could hardly leave one WITHOUT such a foregone conclusion.

  3. The terrible harm that individual has caused cannot be undone by a newspaper article. And I got the feeling that he knows that time is up. But Goldstone is one of many. That layer must be set aside permanently.
    Yet, the post Jewish israeli justice system is not build to attend to those criminals. If anything, it would cover for them rather than judge them as criminals. The people must find the fortitude to re format the government system so we can all see that MOSRIM and RODFIM pay as he Jewish Law demands.

  4. There is no authority to impose the international law. Therefore it applies only to those who agreed to it. Hamas never agreed to it, therefore Goldstone has no basis for expecting Hamas to abide by it.

  5. The question here is whether Goldstone is actually a Jew or not. There are many reform Jews in the Western World especially the USA who act worse towards their fellow Jews than the “norma” anti-semites do. Goldstone may be a Jew, but how religious or even believing was he in the Jewish religion. Soros was born a Jew. Is he Jewish in the sense that most of you are Jewish? I think not, Soros like Goldstone are worse than Nazis. The reason being, at least with a Nazi you know where he stands all of the time concerning Jewish People, while with a Goldstone, you always wonder.

  6. The whole world seems to be blinded. You can not reason with plan truth. President Obama’s national security advisors and the UN do not want the truth. As Isaiah says, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;” Isaiah 5:20 (NKJV)

  7. Yamit, I have agreed and disagreed with you in the past, but this time you score 100 for clarity and forethought. The bastard needs to die.

  8. Goldstone is a stooge for both tbe UN and the US administration (obama pro-muslim ,anti-Israel).

    War is hell and sometimes bad things occur.

    Having said that where was this jerk when Hamas was targeting innocent Jewish civilians including children? Killing Israelis in restaurants, buses and the likes.

    Goldstone you are as guilty as the terrorist hamas committing the crimes against the Jewish people.

    Your report is not even worthy of and for wrapping dead fish.

  9. If it were up to me Goldstone (Dirty Jew) would be no longer writing op-d’s, he would no longer be doing anything.

    According to Jewish law, any one person … who willfully, consciously, intentionally hands over human bodies or human property or the human wealth of the Jewish people to an alien people is guilty of the sin for which the penalty is death. And according to Maimonides … it says very clearly, if a man kills him, he has done a good deed.”

    Informing on Fellow Jews who Commit Crimes:

    Even though Jewish law expects people to observe the laws of the land, and even imposes that obligation as a religious duty, the Talmud recounts – in a number of places – that it is prohibited to inform on Jews to the secular government, even when their conduct is a violation of secular law and even when their conduct is a violation of Jewish law. While there are a number of exceptions to this prohibition (which are explained further in this section), the essential halacha was that Jewish law prohibits such informing absent specific circumstances. Even is secular government were to incorporate substantive Jewish law into secular law and punish violations of what is, in effect, Jewish law, Jews would still be prohibited from cooperating with such a system. Indeed, classical Jewish law treats a person who frequently informs on others as a pursuer (a rodef) who may be killed to prevent him from informing, even without a formal court ruling.

    The reason for the rabbinic decree positing, that an informer (moser) is a life-threatening pursuer (rodef) is simply stated by Rabbenu Asher. Rosh states:

    One who runs to inform so that Jewish money is given to a bandit (anas) is analogized by the rabbis to one who is running after a person to kill him. This is seen from the verse (Isaiah 51:20) ‘your children lie in a swoon at the corner of every street, like an antelope caught in a net.’ Just like when an antelope caught in a net, the hunter has no mercy towards it, so too the money of a Jew, once it falls into the hands of bandits, the bandits have no mercy on the Jew. They take some money today, and tomorrow all of it, and in the end, they capture and kill him, since perhaps he has more money Thus, an informer is like a pursuer to kill someone and the victim may be saved at the cost of the life of the pursued. (Teshuvot haRosh 17:1).

    Eight different sets of rules can be given that outline the general approach halacha takes.

    1. It is prohibited to inform on a fellow Jew to a gentile, whether the act of informing is about monetary matters or physical security. One may not inform on a Jew even if the Jew is a sinful and bad person.

    2. One who informs is liable to pay damages if his act of informing damages another Even though, as a general rule one is not liable for torts done to another by a third party, informing is an exception to this rule.

    3. Even without the order of a Jewish law court, one may kill a person who has certainly set out to inform on another, prior to their act of informing, as informing poses a danger to the one who is informed on. Once a person informs, one may not kill the informer as punishment for the sin and one may not steal from an informer (unless taking his property will stop him from informing). One who regularly informs may be killed without warning.

    4. One who troubles the community through misconduct may be informed on: so too one who engages in conduct that endangers members of the community may be informed on. One who hits other people, or otherwise engages in acts of violence against people, may be informed on.

    5. When a Jew owes money to a gentile, and the Jew is seeking to improperly avoid payment of the money to the gentile, and another Jew informs the gentile of this fact who then collects the money rightfully owed to him, that is not called informing, as the Jew who is informed on only has to pay that which he ought to pay, anyway. Payment of taxes to the government is exactly such a debt. Some say such informing is frowned on when it gratuitously benefits a pagan, and others say such conduct is proper. All agree that when such conduct leads to a desecration of God’s name, it is prohibited to decline to report such a person.

    6. A Jew who is threatened with physical harm unless he informs on another is not called an informer if he delivers information and he is not liable for the damage caused. There is a dispute as to whether such conduct is proper or simply immune from liability.

    7. There is a dispute about whether a Jew who is threatened with economic harm unless he illicitly informs on another is called an informer or not and whether such conduct is permitted or not.

    8. Many authorities rule that no liability is present if one informs on another to save one’s own property without any gratuitous intent to hurt the other person.