Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Finally, Some Hope for Palestinians…and Israeli Jews

After a long winter – actually, after several years of winters – the Palestinians today have taken an important step towards national liberation, self-determination, and the overthrow of the yoke of Israeli sovereignty. The twin announcements of a Hamas-Fateh reconciliation (albeit fragile) and an interim national unity government in anticipation of elections (albeit under occupation and siege) breathe fresh air into the lungs of Palestinians and of those Israeli Jews who desire to be free of their bondage as overlords. Indeed, all for whom the Palestinian cause is dear – that is, all decent, freedom-loving people – can only rejoice at these signs of Palestinian unity and purpose.

That does not mean that there are no potential problems with the reconciliation. Neither Hamas nor Fateh has shown itself to be responsive to the rights of Palestinian and the independence of Palestinian civil society. I, for one, would like to see a third force emerge that would be composed of both factions but would also pledge allegiance – and not just lip service -- to the democracy movement sweeping the Middle East. Civil society folks on the ground will have to see whether the new government cares about itself and its ideological agenda, or about empowering the Palestinian people.

But with this caveat, I am cautiously optimistic that the unification of the Palestinian people – not only within Occupied Palestine but throughout the Palestinian diaspora -- will pay dividends in the short and long term.

In the short term, I hope it will end the dependency of the Palestinian Authority on the Americans, especially in terms of the security cooperation that pits Palestinian against Palestinian in the service of Israel. Already we are hearing that the United States may cut its funding to the PA because of the presence of Hamas. If that eventuality occurs (and it is difficult to think that the US can be so stupid, but one can only hope), the US will lose a lot of its influence with the Palestinians, and will become pretty much irrelevant within Israel/Palestine – to which one can only add, in shallah. This may split the Americans from the Quarter, who will feel emboldened to try its own diplomacy. And, of course, with Prime Minister Netanyahu saying that he will not negotiate with the new government (as if it was willing to negotiate seriously with any Palestinian government!) it is back to the 80s before the Oslo trap was sprung.

In the long term, only a united Palestinian people can hope to stand up for its rights against a superpower like Israel and the support it gets from the United States.

With the Palestinians now (gingerly) united, steps like declaring independence will be even more representative of the will of the people. US influence in Israel-Palestine will wane, the Israelis will be further isolated, and the Oslo process will be jettisoned, once and for all.

And there is hope that some Israelis will embrace this double liberation – the first, of the Palestinians from the Israelis, and the second, of the Israelis from themselves, and from their neurotic addiction to land, tribe, and power.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Why Justice Won’t Be Done in the Itamar Murder Case

I remember watching movies like the Ox-Bow Incident as a young boy. In those movies, innocent men were always being lynched, despite the intervention of good guys like Henry Fonda. Of course, when the real suspects were found, there were often bad consequences for members of the lynch mob. Some sort of retributive justice applied to them. But I was never sure of the moral of the movie. Was it that lynching was bad because mistakes could be made? But what if we knew that the guys about to be hung were the bad guys? What if they really had raped and murdered that little girl? Would we say, well, it wasn't pretty, but on the frontier that's how justice was done? Or would we hold out for decency and due process?

Lynching guilty people is unjust, but so is arresting and convicting guilty people without due process. Due process is not a luxury; due process is a right. A society that tolerates making widespread arrests on the basis of ethnicity, forcing men and women who are not suspects to give DNA samples, sowing fear in a civilian population through nighttime entries, and smashing and looting property in order to "teach them a lesson" and to snuff out suspects – all of which have been alleged by the residents of Awarta, the Palestinian village neighboring Itamar, among whom the murder suspects have been found, and none of which has been denied by the IDF – such a society is not a decent, law-abiding society. It is a Wild West society, at best.

And so I am puzzled by the silence of the decent folk here. Even if one is convinced that the Itamar murder suspects actually committed the murder – and given the justice system on the West Bank, that is hardly to be taken for granted – the manner of apprehending the suspects clearly involved massive violations of their due process, not to mention collective punishment of innocents.

Would we tolerate this sort of "investigation" if it were conducted against Palestinians with Israeli citizenship within the Green Line? And if a serial killer was discovered in Tel Aviv, would we tolerate the police going to a neighborhood where the murdered was known to have lived, rounding up people with no criminal record, or with no reasonable tie to the murders, arresting them in the middle of the night, at times, and questioning them, taking from men and women DNA samples forcibly, and damaging their property – so as to apprehend murder suspects? Would we tolerate this in murder cases where settlers are suspects?

Even if the murder suspects get a fair trial – and knowing West Bank justice, the likelihood is low -- we already know that justice will not be done in the Itamar murder case.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tap-dancing to AIPAC’s Tune

When I picked up the student newspaper on campus today, I saw a full page ad from the Vanguard Leadership Group, an African-American leadership organization. The ad was signed by several young African Americans who have (or had) leadership positions in leading Black colleges. The message of the ad was that that Students for Justice in Palestine are wrong to use the term "apartheid" in conjunction with Israel, that Israel grants full equality to its Arab citizens, that there is no comparison between Israel and South Africa, blah, blah, blah.

The whole think smelled of AIPAC, and I was not surprised to learn that AIPAC has been working with the group for several years, sending some of them on hasbara trips to Israel, employing others as AIPAC interns, etc. This is no secret; the AIPAC connection was trumpeted on the group's website, and in the JTA article. Even before the ad appeared in the university paper, the Jerusalem Post ran an article about it. Given the play that the ad received (only) in the hasbara blogosphere, it may be that its purpose was to boost morale of the hasbaraniks rather than to influence opinion on campus.

What alerted me to the AIPAC connection was simply the crudeness of the argument, and the half-truths of its author. Although some compare the situation of Arab citizens of Israel with blacks in apartheid South Africa --both suffer(ed) legal discrimination --the comparison pertains to the West Bank and Gazan Palestinians, who weren't even mentioned in the ad. The authors of the ad knew this, but they figured that the students reading it wouldn't, so they threw hasbara dust in their eyes. (The same dust has ended up in the wiki article on Israel and the apartheid analogy) The fact that the term 'apartheid' has been used to describe the West Bank and Gaza by former Israeli prime ministers Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak, anti-apartheid giant, Desmond Tutu, and many others, was not mentioned in the ad.

For a good response to the ad, see Yaman's post at kabobfest

Of course, AIPAC has the right to cultivate relationships with anybody it wants, including the Vanguard Leadership Group. And if the Black group wants to play the hasbara game against Palestinians under a brutal occupation, that's also their right . And certainly college newspapers have the right to take money from advocacy groups like AIPAC and FLAME to publish full page ads parroting Israeli propaganda that even right wing Israelis don't believe any more.

But when Israel supporters whine about the "anti-Israel climate on campus", let's not forget that the only groups with money to take out full-page ads are Israel advocates. Israel advocates on campus have institutional support in Hillel, AIPAC, Chabad, the Israel Campus Coalition, etc., with budgets in the stratosphere. By contrast, Palestinian student groups have virtually no funding and support. The power balance on American campuses mirrors the power balance in Israel/Palestine – one side has everything, the other side has virtually nothing. College newspapers will always tap-dance to the piper with money.

On my campus, SJP has been sponsoring a Palestine Awareness Week, a modest affair with a few outside speakers. It is perhaps fitting that the Vanguard Leadership Group chose my campus to lecture about the inappropriateness of the word "apartheid," despite the fact that there is no Apartheid Awareness Week here. It treats the local SJP as non-existent, just as it treats several million Palestinians living under a permanent occupation as non-existent.

The situation in the Occupied Territories is not apartheid. The Blacks in South Africa were considered South African. Inferior, but South African. They were not completely segregated from Whites; they did not have their own roads. In Israel, nobody views the Palestinians as part of their country, only their lands and resources.

Calling hafrada "apartheid" is an insult to apartheid.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ten Eyes for an Eye: The IDF Allegedly Smashes and Plunders the Arab Village of Awarta

Since the murders of the members of the Fogel family in Itamar, the lives of the people of the neighboring village of Awarta have become hell.

I am reproducing Noam Sheizaf's report in order to give it wider circulation. According to reports, hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested, some beaten; all young men were forced to give DNA samples; settlers have built and outpost on the village's land, which is now guarded by the Israeli army.

If even half of these reports are true, they constitute collective punishment, which is a war crime, in addition to the war crimes of which the IDF soldiers stand accused in the report below, including looting and wanton destruction of property. As for the criminals who call themselves settlers – I never understood why the proper response to acts of terror was settler terrorism, including grabbing property that doesn't belong to you and making life miserable for innocents.

Some of my readers still believe in what is known as a two-state solution. Should a Palestinian state arise, one of its first acts will be to demand reparations from Israel for actions like these.

And don't tell me that the IDF is not intentionally targeting civilians – under an "investigation" which would never be legal on the West side of the Green Line.

Here is how Noam ends his report:

There have been at least four murder cases of Palestinians from the region by settlers from Itamar in recent years. In the last case, the perpetrator was released on bail and didn't show up for trial. In the one before, the settler who shot a 24 year-old Palestinian farmer in front of witnesses was never tracked down. Itamar wasn't placed under curfew, nor were dozen of men rounded up by the police (in criminal cases the settlers are under jurisdiction of civilian authorities, not the army).

This is the occupation's rule of law. One law for Jews, another for Palestinians.

The army has taken control over the village of Awarta, which lies near the settlement of Itamar, where 5 members of the Fogel family were murdered. According to reports, hundreds of Palestinians have been arrested, some beaten; all young men were forced to give DNA samples; settlers have built an outpost on the village's land, which is now guarded by the Israeli army

Ever since the terrible murder of five members of the Fogel family in the settlement of Itamar, the nearby village of Awarta is going through what is officially a murder investigation, but looks more like a form of collective punishment—some would say organized revenge — led by the IDF and Israel's Internal Security Service (Shin Beit).

The events have been going on since March 12, when thousands of soldiers entered the village and began house-to-house searches, accompanied by dogs and Shin Bet interrogators.

Hundreds of Awarta's 6,000 residents were arrested and questioned. According to locals, the soldiers have taken over four houses in the village and turned them into an improvised interrogation facility. Several of the Palestinians said they were beaten by the soldiers and by their interrogators.

According to reports, all the village's men between the ages of 15 and 40 were forced to give fingerprints and DNA samples.

15 families have reported of damage to their homes. In several cases, Palestinians claimed that large sums of money – between 500 and 5,000 shekels – disappeared from their houses after the soldiers left. In other cases, doors were broken and furniture damaged during the searches.

Settlers have passed through the village, thrown stones on homes and broken car windows and mirrors. Settlers from nearby Itamar have also taken over private agricultural land owned by the village's farmers and established on it a new outpost, consisting of four mobile homes and guarded by the army. Instead of evacuating the outpost, the army is guarding it.

On Thursday, Palestinian news agency Maan reported that another 100 of the village's women had been arrested and interrogated.

Awarta has been under curfew from the previous Saturday until Wednesday, and human right activists have not been allowed entrance into the village. Once the curfew was lifted, activists from the Israeli NGO "Checkpoint-Watch" managed to get to Awarta and report some of the events in the village.

The Israeli media hardly reported the events in Awarta, and the only articles that discussed the curfew and the mass arrests were a translated report of a New York Times story by Isabel Kershner, and a few comments by Akiva Eldar, both published by Haaretz a while ago.

At the time of writing, dozens of the village's people are still under arrest. Their exact number is unknown.

I have contacted the IDF spokesperson unit this morning (Sunday) with a series of questions regarding the mass arrests, forced DNA sampling, searches and other activities against the people of Awarta. Late afternoon, I received the following reply:

Since the Itamar murder investigation is still under way, theses issues are still being checked [which "issues"?]. IDF soldiers are present at the outpost due to the high tension in the region.


Advocacy groups for Israel and government spokesmen often claim that even under the military occupation, the West Bank is governed by the rule of law. Some people say that Palestinians are not confronted by Israeli soldiers and that they are free to "run their own business" under the governing of the Palestinian Authority.

As events in Awarta prove, this is no more than propaganda. When it matters to Israel, IDF soldiers do whatever they want, wherever they want. Palestinians have no basic legal rights. No Miranda, no Habeas Corpus. When the army decides, it can detain thousands of people and invade hundreds of homes, like it is doing in Awarta right now. No warrant is needed, no specific suspicion against someone is necessary (so far, there hasn't been one public charge against a resident of Awarta). If Palestinians are beaten, or if their property is destroyed or looted, there is nobody they can turn to.

There have been at least four murder cases of Palestinians from the region by settlers from Itamar in recent years. In the last case, the perpetrator was released on bail and didn't show up for trial. In the one before, the settler who shot a 24 year-old Palestinian farmer in front of witnesses was never tracked down. Itamar wasn't placed under curfew, nor were dozen of men rounded up by the police (in criminal cases the settlers are under jurisdiction of civilian authorities, not the army).

This is the occupation's rule of law. One law for Jews, another for Palestinians.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Roger Cohen’s Distortions of the Goldstone Op-Ed

The amount of rubbish circulating on the internet from the left and the right about the Goldstone Washington Post op-ed is staggering. The right's distortions, though more egregious, is understandable; after all, the rightwingers never read the Goldstone Report so why should they read the op-ed?

But even those who should know better, like Roger Cohen, seem to have flunked reading comprehension. In an op-ed in the Times, he twists Goldstone to fit his preconceived notions.

Nuance, apparently, is not Cohen's forte. Here are a few examples

For example, Goldstone writes:

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

Cohen paraphrases

The judge is now convinced that Gaza "civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy."

But Goldstone says nothing more than "Had this evidence been presented to the committee, it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes." In fact, it certainly would have, and, indeed, even the McGowan Davis report, which is not satisfied with the IDF investigation (neither is Judge Goldstone) has not dismissed the alternate explanation provided by the Israeli investigation. And why should it?

To understand how badly Cohen (and others) misreads the op-ed, consider the following story:

You walk next to a swimming pool and see a puddle. You believe that the puddle indicates that there was a rainstorm, and that's what you tell people. But then you are told by your son that he saw a neighbor swimming in the pool. Does that mean you are now convinced that the puddle is from the neighbor and not from rain? No, it means simply that the evidentiary picture is a bit more complex than had been thought, and your initial conclusion, warranted then, must be revised in light of new information. Had your son's testimony been available then, you would have altered your report.

Now, here's the point: It seems reasonable to revise your opinoin, even if your son has not always been the most accurate source of information, and even if it is in his interest to claim that he had not been swimming with his girlfriend. (Sorry, just saw Ferris Bueller again)

Had Judge Goldstone changed his mind on what happened, he could simply say, "I have now come to believe that there was no intentional policy of killing civilians." That's what Cohen understands him to be saying. But he does not say that; he only says that "IDF investigation indicates that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy" and that were the results of that investigation known then (quite impossible, of course), that the report would have looked different.

The report would have said something like, "Although there is incontrovertible evidence that the killing of the al-Samouni family was deliberate, the motivation behind the killing has yet to be clarified since investigations have yielded differing explanations."

For Israel advocates, no investigation is necessary because the IDF can do nothing wrong. For opponents of Israel, no Goldstone investigation is necessary because the IDF can do nothing right. But it would be outrageous for the Goldstone mission to have neglected examining alternative explanations. And, in fact, it did not – such alternatives are mentioned frequently. The mission did not reject Israel's explanations because they were Israel's explanation. They rejected them when they seemed implausible or unsubstantiated.

Here's another Cohen distortion. Goldstone writes:

I am confident that if the officer is found to have been negligent, Israel will respond accordingly.

Cohen paraphrases:

Goldstone expresses confidence that the Israeli officer responsible for the killing of 29 members of the al-Samouni family will be properly punished.

Perhaps Justice Goldstone should not be so confident, as many have pointed out; IDF justice is to justice as IDF music is to music. But the Goldstone report never questioned the ability of the IDF to punish its soldiers – when the IDF found them to be negligent . Nor was its call for a public, independent, judicial inquiry intended to rule out a military investigation.

And here is where many of the op-ed misreaders really stumble. Judge Goldstone today has not ceased to call for such a commission, which would investigate, inter alia, things that a military investigation cannot investigate.

The op-ed was misleading and it may be that it has not helped the cause of the Goldstone Report or Judge Goldstone. But Judge Goldstone should be judged for what he says, and not for what others have misread him to say.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Judge Goldstone to Associated Press: The Goldstone Report Stands as Written

After two days of misrepresentations in the press, and after a conversation between the judge and Minister of Interior Eli Yishai that was grossly misunderstood by the latter, Judge Goldstone had to break the silence that he had decreed on himself since the publication of his Washington Post Op-Ed and speak with an Associated Press reporter

"As appears from the Washington Post article, information subsequent to publication of the report did meet with the view that one correction should be made with regard to intentionality on the part of Israel," the judge said. "Further information as a result of domestic investigations could lead to further reconsideration, but as presently advised I have no reason to believe any part of the report needs to be reconsidered at this time."

To sum up how things stand now:

Judge Goldstone stands behind a report that found Israel guilty of war crimes. After two years he appears not to have changed his mind on that charge.

Judge Goldstone stands behind a report that found Israel guilty of intentionally targeting civilian infrastructure. After two years he appear not to have changed his mind on that charge.

Judge Goldstone stands behind a report that called upon Israel to launch a public judicial inquiry. Two years later he still makes that call.

Judge Goldstone is less inclined to believe, based on IDF investigations, that Israel was guilty of the crime against humanity of intentionally targeting civilians as a matter of policy, based on the evidence presented in the report. He is willing to consider the alternatives that faulty intelligence plus bad judgment was responsible for the al-Samouni family bombing, and that this deliberate attack may indeed be a war crime, should the commanding officer be found to have been negligent.

Judge Goldstone has not expressed regret, apology, nor has he recanted the report. On the contrary he has "no reason to believe that any part of the report need be reconsidered at this time."

He wrote an op-ed with a conciliatory tone. He now has an invitation to visit Israel. Let's hope he comes.

(h/t to Muhammad Idrees Ahmad)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Judge Goldstone’s Washington Post Op-Ed – Why Now and Why?

(What follows is speculation and has not been shown to, or approved by, Judge Goldstone.)

In my post yesterday I wondered out loud why Judge Richard Goldstone published an op-ed expressing his views now. Had I read the op-ed more carefully, I think I would have understood the timing.

Why now? On March 18, the final report of the Independent Experts Committee of the Human Rights Council, chaired by Mary McGowan Davis, was distributed on the internet here. (For background on that process that led to that report see Jared Malsin's report here ). According to Judge Goldstone, that committee found that "Israel has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza". He also writes of the committee, "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. In other words, Judge Goldstone feels, with the Committee, that the IDF investigations were insufficient, and he thus continues his call for an independent, public, judicial inquiry.

So I think that the timing is simply the occasion of the distribution of the report, although I also imagine that Judge Goldstone has been thinking of these things for some time.

Adam Horowitz has shown that the Committee's actual report differs significantly from the tenor of the Goldstone op-ed. In particular, Judge Goldstone appears to consider the process undertaken by the IDF MAG investigating the al-Simouni family to be – so far – satisfactory. He does not say that this is the conclusion of the committee, and in fact, it is not. What we see a glimpse of, in Judge Goldstone's op-ed, is a tendency to cut Israel some slack with respect to some of the MAG's investigations. Of course, there are hedges, as others have pointed out – several "appears to"s and "apparently"s and "I hope"s. But there is a certain amount of charity towards Israel that may have been lacking in the original Report and is lacking in the McGowan Davis report.

What bothers folks on the Left is not so much why now, but why? Why doesn't Judge Goldstone sound like other members of the Goldstone mission, or, for that matter, like the McGowan Davis Committee, even if we allow for the different venues? Why has he changed so much?

As an occasional "Goldstone watcher", I venture the following observation: the man is, and as always been, an ohev yisrael, and an ohev medinat yisrael , a lover of Jews and a lover of the State of Israel. What we see in the op-ed is what we, on the left and on the right, have been partially blind to for over the last two years. Judge Goldstone wanted justice to be served, but he also wanted the State of Israel to live up to its promise and to do its duty as a civilized, Jewish state. His relationship with one of the parties under investigation was different from the other. Judge Goldstone is a life-long Zionist, and some people opposed his appointment for that reason. He even stated that his motivation for accepting the position was due, in part, to his commitment to Israel (or words to that effect).

One can only speculate how the refusal of Israel to cooperate with the Goldstone Mission shaped the somewhat uncharitable tone of some of the report. Had Richard Falk, rather than Richard Goldstone, chaired the mission, would it have had the same tone? It certainly would not have had the same effect. Israel's refusal to cooperate has now been criticized by mainstream Israelis like Nahum Barnea and Amnon Rubenstein, and I hope that is one lesson that Israel has learned. Even with the refusal, the Goldstone report devoted space and resources to Israel's side of the story.

At appearances following the report, Judge Goldstone showed his discomfort and displeasure with those who wanted to use the Goldstone Report to "delegitimize Israel." He was deeply offended by those who questioned his love of Israel. One incident is particularly telling. At Yale, a banner was unfolded with listed the Dreyfuss Affair, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and the Goldstone Report. Now imagine if that had happened to Norm Finkelstein. Finkelstein would have known how to react and what to say; he would be eminently non-plussed. But the act not only flustered Judge Goldstone; he virtually lost his composure. After that speech, the judge was accosted by the Chabad rabbi, Rabbi Shmuely Hecht, who asked him, "What are you going to do when the facts are unraveled and the evidence is clear that Goldstone report was a sham and not credible based on video and audio coverage of the war?" The judge replied, much to the puzzlement of the rabbi, "Should that occur, I will rejoice." (Read about it here.)

That answer puzzles people on the left and the right. The left needs Israel to be publicly shamed; the right needs Israel to be attacked by "traitors". How many people remain who will stand up and criticize Israel out of a commitment to human rights and a commitment to Zionism? (Go to the J Street Convention and to Sheikh Jarrah and count – they are all "some of my best friends".) Heck, the lefties I hang out with think progressive Zionism is an oxymoron.

As one who is on the right wing of the extreme left , I was puzzled and somewhat pained by Judge Goldstone's op-ed, even after I read it carefully. My immediate thought was, "Oh, no, what will the hasbaraniks do with this?" and "Will this hurt the greater cause?" But that's me, and it is not, nor was it ever, Judge Goldstone. Let's face it; when it comes to Zionism, Judge Goldstone and I are not in the same corner.

So I cannot really be surprised by this latest round. The Richard Goldstone of the op-ed is not precisely identical with the Richard Goldstone of the Goldstone report. Folks don't stay in the same place, especially those who have seen their lives turned upside down.

But for those of us who have been watching the judge, this latest publication, for better or for worse, hardly comes as a surprise.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Judge Goldstone's Washington Post Op-ed

It is the unfortunate fate of Judge Richard Goldstone to be condemned and praised for what he doesn’t write. The responses to his op-ed in Washington Post from the Israel advocates are laughable. Even a superficial reading of the op-ed shows that he has not retracted a single comma in the Goldstone Report, nor does he express any regret for having written the report the way it was written. He simply says that had he known then what he knows now, the report would have been different.

In fact, he has been saying for over a year that had Israel cooperated with the Mission instead of boycotting it, the report would have looked different. In the op-ed he gives good marks to some of the IDF investigations, though he does not say that he finds the investigation entirely adequate (more on that below.) Some cases of killing civilians which looked prima facie intentional have now been explained to his satisfaction. Yet he refers approvingly to the UN final report which does not find that investigation adequate. He says that the IDF has investigated better than has Hamas, and gives good marks to the IDF and PA (but failing marks to Hamas) for implementing new policies. Although he doesn’t say it – perhaps he is modest -- the IDF investigations would probably not have occurred without the Goldstone Report.

For a careful reading of the WaPo op-ed, see this piece of Yaniv Reich here. I thank Yaniv for saving me the time, and I thank Hashem for commanding us Jews to observe the Sabbath. Had I read Judge Goldstone’s op-ed when it was posted, I would have spent hours writing on it.

Reich refers to the tone and the timing of the WaPo op-ed. The tone of the original report seemed to me to be an angry one. Israel’s decision not to cooperate with the Goldstone mission cost it in two ways: first, its side of the story was not heard, and, second, its refusal to deal civilly with the mission had an impact on the tone of the final report. It certainly had an impact on the tone of some of the interviews that Judge Goldstone gave. The nasty blowback that Judge Goldstone received also may have affected some of the tone, not of the report, but of some of his statements; he is human.

But in speaking before various audiences the tone has always been a bit different. There was criticism of Israel, but there was always the emphasis that the findings were not judiciary and that the report called for investigations. Judge Goldstone constantly affirmed his fundamental support of Israel, and he seems to have found it difficult to understand why the positive aspects of the report (e.g., the criticism of Hamas) were being neglected

What is puzzling, then, is why Judge Goldstone has decided to write an op-ed for the Washington Post now that may give the impression that Israel has discharged its obligations with its ongoing, private, IDF investigations. As Reich puts it:

Goldstone’s latest op-ed…does not challenge a single concrete finding in the entire report, and he has not conceded absolutely anything to his critics in that way. In fact, his findings under severe constraints have held up remarkably well with time. But the tone and timing of this current piece suggest that somehow the report should be “reconsidered”, that it was somehow wrong. Moreover, his comments seem to intentionally mislead about the content of the UN independent committee’s findings on due process in Israel. This is nothing more than a bone to Israel’s apologists, which is deeply misleading for all the reasons discussed here.

Reich concludes:

I am afraid this is a sad, integrity-damaging turn for a man who had singlehandedly done so much to protect people from war crimes in Israel, Palestine, and elsewhere.

I cannot agree with Reich here. I would agree with him had Judge Goldstone explicitly back-tracked. I would agree with him had he said that the IDF has discharged its duty. I would agree had Reich given convincing proof of “intentionality,” i.e. that Goldstone intentionally mislead his readers.

But I do think that the op-ed raises questions that could easily be laid to rest were Judge Goldstone to make explicit his views on whether Israel has discharged its obligation. In the original op-ed, he wrote.

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.

Is a “significant degree” a “sufficient degree”? According to McGowan Davis, no. According to Judge Goldstone in the Bill Moyers interview, an internal IDF investigation would not be sufficient:

BILL MOYERS: But just this week, the Israeli defense minister said, we don't want any investigations. He says, "There's no need for a committee of inquiry. The Israeli military knows how to examine itself better than anyone else." And he blocked a meeting this week that was going to discuss whether or not Israel should launch an investigation.

RICHARD GOLDSTONE: Well the question is whether he's going to succeed. You know, Ariel Sharon, when he was defense minister, did exactly the same blocking, unsuccessfully, in respect of Sabra and Shatila, and a very appropriate independent investigation was set up under judges and the then attorney general. And of course, they found Sharon guilty, and forced his dismissal as defense minister. So there's precedent both for the minister blocking it, and for his losing, and I hope that will happen here.
Well, it did not happen here. And it is surprising, and puzzling, that Judge Goldstone did not repeat his call for an independent inquiry in his op-ed. But until he explicitly says that there is no further need for one, then the statement above should represent his final word.