Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Passion of Richard Goldstone

It is truly sad, though hardly surprising, how a Goldstone-basher coalition has emerged in the last week, a coalition made up of Israeli war crimes apologists, states opposed to international humanitarian law (except when it serves their own interest), and ultra-nationalists everywhere. Now the Obama Administration and the Congress, for reasons of political expediency , or because of a naïve confidence in the so-called peace process, have jumped on the bandwagon.

On human rights, the message of folks like Robert Bernstein, Natan Scharansky Elie Wiesel and Alan Dershowitz, is clear: My side has human rights; the other side, my enemy, does not. That was the message of Helsinki Watch, the predecessor of Human Rights Watch, which as Helena Cobban has pointed out here, originated not out of a concern for the rights of humans everywhere, but in order to open another front in the Cold War. The Jews in the Soviet Union did not suffer a tenth of what the Gazans have suffered and continue to suffer in terms of the infringement of their basic rights to life, liberty, employment, movement, etc. But for these gentlemen, all men are created equal -- provided they are on our side.

And so it is not surprising that Elie Wiesel, who has repeatedly criticized the world for its silence during the Holocaust, and American Jews for not heeding the suffering of Soviet Jewry , has publicly attacked Human Rights Watch in a letter to the New York Times, which contains the following vicious lie:

In a region dominated by regimes that violate human rights in horrendous ways, Human Rights Watch has instead chosen to single out Israel for condemnation, often using highly unreliable witnesses to do so

It is a vicious lie because anyone with even a superficial knowledge of HRW knows that it focuses precisely on the Middle East regimes that violate human rights in horrendous ways, and devotes much more energy in reporting about them than it does about Israel, which for the most part violates human rights in less horrendous -- though still horrendous -- ways. Wiesel and his co-author Alan Dershowitz lob their kassams indiscriminately at Human Rights Watch, when they really want to hit the UN Human Rights Council.

But while the Israel Lobby is up in arms about Goldstone, and while sane voices from Israeli liberals and conservatives have called for an independent investigation, the best person to listen to is Goldstone himself, in this interview with Bill Moyers. Bill Moyers asks Goldstone sensible question and presses him when he should be pressed. Goldstone responds as one would expect a man of his stature, intelligence, experience, and character to respond.

How sad that one of the great men of our time, and certainly one of the great Jews, is maligned by such tiny men, who chucked their moral compasses long ago so that their tribe could survive.

Part One of the interview is here

Part Two of the interview is here.


Eric said...

You are using passion in it's original sense of sorrow-- as in the "Passion Of Jesus Christ".

Anonymous said...

I'll point out something I've pointed out a few other places (including that thread at Helena's blog)--as far as I can tell, Bernstein seems to be slandering his former self. He was better back then--he was also part of Americas Watch and they did a superb job in the early 80's pointing out the lies of the Reagan Administration concerning what was going on in Central America. I have an Americas Watch book from that period "With Friends Like These" which is about precisely this topic. And the Reaganites and their press allies took the same position regarding Americas Watch and Amnesty International that Bernstein adopts now--they said it was "moral equivalence" to use the same standards to judge US allies and our enemies, and they'd try to cast doubt on the evidence. So there's a really depressing irony about Bernstein today--he's adopted those arguments now that Israel is attacked.

I don't know what his motivation was in founding Helsinki Watch--I can just say that Americas Watch did not follow the line that Bernstein puts forward now.

Here's a link discussing what I'd call Bernstein's good past. I'll just paste the address, because I've had trouble getting this link to work elsewhere--


Michael W. said...

Oh, this is good. I just have to respond.

Goldstone endorsers and advocates for human rights: Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, and Zambia.

Human rights oppressors: Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Slovakia, Ukraine, and United States of America.

No shows: Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, and Uruguay; Angola, France, Kyrgyzstan, Madagascar, and United Kingdom.

And let's not forget, Goldstone himself criticized what the UN did with his report.

Devir said...

I praise both your post and Judge Goldstone's interview to Bill Moyers ( if it wasn't for you I would never had watched the videos! ). You both are morally superior and make me proud of being your pen-friend. I emailed your post to a friend of mine who will certainly be interested in following your blog. He is an american jew who lives here in Lisbon, speaks portuguese almost as well as I do( but very little hebrew though ) and teaches in one of our public universities. He is also engaged in pro-Palestine activities...for decency reasons.

Anonymous said...

You wrote: "The Jews in the Soviet Union did not suffer a tenth of what the Gazans have suffered and continue to suffer in terms of the infringement of their basic rights to life, liberty, employment, movement, etc."

Are you serious? I even don't want to waste my time to explain why such statement is so stupid!

What I will do is to add your name to the list of Jewish Neo-Antisemits that I intend to publish in the near future.

There is a hebrew say: "Idiots don't die, only the people change".