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.