Goldstone: ‘If Gaza isn’t collective punishment, what is?’

on 75 Comments

Brandeis site has report on the debate between Judge Goldstone and the mustachio’d Dore Gold last night.

[Dore] Gold called the report "the most serious and vicious assault on the State of Israel since" U.N. General Assembly passage in 1975 of a resolution declaring Zionism a racist, imperialist ideology that threatened world peace….

"Let me be absolutely clear," [Judge Richard] Goldstone said. "International law allows, and indeed requires, Israel to defend its citizens. Hamas and others committed serious war crimes against the citizens of southern Israel…. " However, he said, there is evidence that Israel’s policy in the latest fighting was to direct its military might against civilians and civilian infrastructure as a way of deterring future rocket attacks, a policy he said "completely undermines the foundations of international law."

So does Boston Globe.

Goldstone said his central criticism of Israel is that its strategy intentionally applied disproportionate force in Gaza to inflict widespread damage on the civilian population. His report found that the Israeli air and ground attacks destroyed 5,000 homes; put 200 factories out of operation, including the only flour factory in the country; systematically destroyed egg-producing chicken farms; and bombed sewage and water systems.

“If that isn’t collective punishment, what is?’’ Goldstone asked.

75 Responses

  1. David Samel
    November 6, 2009, 2:27 pm

    As good as Goldstone is, he continues to give Israel a free pass on starting the war in the first place. As Goldstone said. “International law allows, and indeed requires, Israel to defend its citizens.” In other words, Israel’s fault lies not in starting the war, but in targeting civilians and their infrastructure. Goldstone meticulously documents the latter, but states that Israel had a right to military action against Hamas to stop rocket fire. He does not merely say that this question was beyond his mandate. He clearly indicates it should be answered in Israel’s favor.

    I disagree, and wish he had been called to examine that initial question as well, instead of just assuming its answer. Israel did stop the rockets through peaceful means, agreeing to a cease fire in June 08. Israel agreed to ease the blockade (whose cruelty is mind-boggling) and not conduct any military action, and Hamas agreed to stop the rockets. Israel failed to significantly ease the blockade, and in early November, breached its agreement on military action, causing Hamas to react with rocket fire which, I agree, is indefensible, even if provoked. Still, after all that, Hamas agreed in mid December to continue the cease-fire if Israel would allow in food, medicine, fuel, etc. And Israel turned it down, refusing to negotiate away its “right” to make Gazans miserable. Given this history, Israel had no right to military action to stop what it could have stopped simply by refraining from its own vicious blockade.

    For this reason, I have never been fond of the disproportionate force argument against Israel. Such argument implies that “proportionate” force would have been OK. Goldstone apparently feels that way, and as disappointing as I find that, I have to say that his account of disproportionality more than makes up for it.

    • Chaos4700
      November 6, 2009, 3:03 pm

      Well, he’s a Zionist to the core, Mr. Samel. His problem, of course, is that he’s an honest Zionist. Which means, he wasn’t willing to actually lie in the report. Honestly, I’m just impressed his career (or he himself…) hasn’t turned up dead by now. I guess that’s in the works if he doesn’t sell out and pull a Bernstein.

      • Dan Kelly
        November 6, 2009, 3:14 pm

        The Goldstone report was cleansed by Goldstone to protect Israel and to include an occupied people, Palestinians, as being guilty of crimes when Goldstone, as a judge, knows that an occupied people have every right to resist the occupiers by any means.

      • Chaos4700
        November 6, 2009, 3:15 pm

        Well, true. Actually you have a point — I mean even with that, the report is pretty damning.

      • Dan Kelly
        November 6, 2009, 3:22 pm

        Yes, it is quite damning.

      • David Samel
        November 6, 2009, 3:34 pm

        Dan, I really reject the notion that the Hamas rockets against civilians in S’Derot is simply resistance to Occupation. It reminds me of Israel’s simplistic general assertion of self-defense. Israel has the right to self-defense, and Palestinians the right to resist occupation, but the use of violence for those purposes is not unlimited. Israel may not use self-defense as an excuse for violence against a civilian population, or even violence against Hamas that it has intentionally provoked and can stop through peaceful means. But Palestinians do not have a right to inflict violence against Israeli civilians under the cover of all available means to resist occupation. That is simply not a legitimate form of resistance.

        Chaos, Yes Goldstone is a Zionist, but if he refused to waffle from the truth in examining Israel’s actions, he might very well have done the same if he examined Israel’s right to take action in the first place. In fact, he did review the sorry state of the Palestinians resulting from the blockade of essential goods for such a long period of time. But he did so in the context of noting how especially vulnerable they were to cope with the military attack.

      • Chaos4700
        November 6, 2009, 3:39 pm

        I’ll agree with you, David, that the Hamas rocket attacks were immoral, not legal by international law and irresponsible. But then again, they don’t hold a candle to the atrocities committed by Israel.

        The problem is that Israel’s PR fifth column has framed Palestinian resistance as only consisting of these rocket attacks. Does anyone remember if there was even a single word about Tristan Anderson and the resistance — international resistance, even — he represents, when he was brutally attacked, in the media?

      • former coMMenter
        November 6, 2009, 3:46 pm

        David, when an Israeli citizen kills a Palestinian, is the Israeli state culpable?

        Is the evidence that the rocket attacks are really coordinated and carried out by Hamas very strong, in your opinion? My impression is that it is smaller, private groups of radicalized, student-age Gazans who are firing the rockets. Why should the Gazan authorities, especially with their limited infrastructure, be considered responsible for this?

      • David Samel
        November 6, 2009, 3:56 pm

        And I agree with you too, Chaos, about holding the candle. However, the rockets were not only morally reprehensible, they were just plain stupid, giving Israel a causus belli (if that’s the right phrase) that has been found persuasive by numerous people who count, even Goldstone. Exactly what did they have to gain by terrorizing a town and killing a few innocent inhabitants.

        On the other hand, Israel’s attack on Gaza was quite similar in scale and scope to its attack on Lebanon in 2006, and that was not provoked by rockets. In other words, if Israel wants to attack, they’ll find an excuse. Then, it was the cross-border raid. Hezbollah rockets did not begin to fall until after the Israeli invasion.

      • David Samel
        November 6, 2009, 4:03 pm

        Former C, I think that Hamas is in control of the rockets. I don’t think they deny it. When they agreed to a cease fire, they were able to reduce the rockets to near zero. There are other groups, like Islamic Jihad, that fire rockets, and independent youth perhaps, but I don’t think Hamas denies culpability for the bulk of rocket fire. When Israel violated the cease fire on Nov 4, I think Hamas responded with rockets and did so openly. I repeatedly use the word “think” because I’m not 100% certain, but I’m pretty close.

      • Richard Witty
        November 6, 2009, 4:51 pm

        David Samel,
        I missed your point about “no Hezbollah rockets until after the “Israeli cross border raid””.

        That is false. The UNIFIL report as well as consistent press confirmed that the Lebanon sequence started with orchestrated simultaneous shelling of an Israeli military base as a distraction from the planned abduction raid by Hezbollah IN ISRAEL. Juan Cole repeated that it occurred in Lebanon for a week, but that was false.

        In Lebanon, the soldiers were reported to have been killed on around the third day, but Hezbollah continued its shelling nevertheless. It certainly had the opportunity to declare the abducted individuals dead, return their remains, and avoid a horrid war.

        They intended a prisoner exchange (something like 4 Hezbollah prisoners in Israeli jails + 1000 or so Palestinians, for the remains of two bodies). And, how many Lebanese dead.

        I was flabbergasted when Norman Finkelstein and others declared that sequence, that leadership, as credible and heroic.

        And, here you are repeating a falsehood of the sequence of events. Maybe you didn’t know.

        link to

        Clashes spread to Lebanon as Hezbollah raids Israel – Africa & Middle East – International Herald Tribune

        JERUSALEM — The Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah surprised Israel with a bold daylight assault across the border on Wednesday, leading to fighting in which two Israeli soldiers were captured and at least eight killed, and elevating recent tensions into a serious two-front battle.

      • Chaos4700
        November 6, 2009, 5:03 pm

        So, Witty, do you blame Hezbollah too for all of those civilians in Beirut that died, were crippled or left homeless by Israeli F-16s?

      • David Samel
        November 6, 2009, 5:30 pm

        Richard, we agree on one thing. You missed my point. In fact, you misread me. I did not talk about an “Israeli cross-border raid” in Lebanon. I said, “if Israel wants to attack, they’ll find an excuse. Then, it was the cross-border raid. Hezbollah rockets did not begin to fall until after the Israeli invasion.” Israel’s excuse for invasion then was Hezbollah’s cross-border raid into Israel. My point is that Hezbollah did not rain rockets on Israeli civilians until after the Israeli invasion. My larger point was that when Israel wants to justify military attack, it does not need much. In Lebanon, it was a cross-border raid, which was foolish and destructive, but hardly a reasonable excuse to bomb and invade and kill well over 1000. In 1982, Israel’s excuse for invading Lebanon, when it killed 15 or 20 thousand (!!!), was the attempted assassination of its ambassador in London. Again, not a nice thing in London, but a ridiculous excuse for an all-out invasion.

      • Shingo
        November 6, 2009, 7:37 pm


        There is not evidence that the Hezbollah capture of Israeli soldiers took place in Israel. In fact, it was mentioned that the Israeli tank that was destroyed was never recovered, which would not have been the case hade it taken place in the ISraeli side of the border.

        The day the capture took place, Israel responded immediately, not by attacking Hebollah, but by bombing Southern Labeanon. Israel rejected proposals for a prisoner echange, which had been the usual procedure, because as Olmert told teh Wonigrad Commision, Israle had planned this attack for over a year.

        Hezbollah sent a far more powerful and better armed military unit packing back home, which is indeed an incredible accomplishment. Israeli soliders returning were commenting on how fearless and fierce teh Hebollah fighters were. In contrast, IDF soliders were not willing to die for their country.

        There are countless reports that contradict your sources.
        Israeli PM says Lebanon war was pre-planned: report
        link to

        “It all started on July 12 when Israel troops were ambushed on Lebanon’s side of the border with Israel. Hezbollah, which commands the Lebanese south, immediately seized on their crossing. They arrested two Israeli soldiers, killed eight Israelis and wounded over 20 in attacks inside Israeli territory. “[Asia Times 7/15/06]

        “The militant group Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers during clashes Wednesday across the border in southern Lebanon, prompting a swift reaction from Israel, which sent ground forces into its neighbor to look for them. The forces were trying to keep the soldiers’ captors from moving them deeper into Lebanon, Israeli government officials said on condition of anonymity. “[Forbes 7/12/06]

    • Richard Witty
      November 6, 2009, 4:58 pm

      On Gaza in 2008.

      Again, the November 4 skirmish was not clear whether it was a violation of the cease-fire or not. Hamas claimed it was and fired rockets for two weeks, until “informal” diplomacy reinstituted the cease-fire in practice at least between Hamas and Israel. Hamas did not exert as much pressure on other factions to not shell as previously, so it wasn’t a perfect restoration of cease-fire, but enough to be definitive.

      At the end of the formal cease-fire, Hamas first encouraged other factions to fire, when Hamas resumed shelling two days in, first to the desert, the point of no return hadn’t really occurred. Israel didn’t respond militarily, and Hamas then actively shelled Sderot, then Ashkelon, then Beersheba.

      I agree with you that it was idiotic, as Gideon Levy wrote in Haaretz, even as he agreed that the blockade had not been lifted or materially relaxed and gave credit to Hamas for their discipline in honoring the cease-fire for most of the period that it was in effect.

      • Chaos4700
        November 6, 2009, 5:01 pm

        Witty? We have something else for you to deny and/or ignore!
        link to

        Keep blaming Hamas for everything, Witty. Putting the blame solely on Palestinians, especially when Israelis are clearly the actors, goes a long way to helping you prove that Zionism ain’t really racism!

      • Richard Witty
        November 6, 2009, 5:15 pm

        Hezbollah was largely responsible for the escalation from an opportunistic raid (while Israel was engaged with trying to recover Shalit, and an abduction attempt a couple days earlier in the West Bank).

        Yes, I am saying that they are responsible for very bad and very aggressive judgement. And, I’m also saying that the left was complicit in its willing gullibility. You wouldn’t believe how many people quoted to me on another blog Juan Cole for a week repeating what he had heard Nasrallah state that the abduction was in Lebanon, when in fact later Nasrallah proudly stated that the abduction had been planned for six months for a raid into Israel.

        And, yes, I do blame Hamas for similarly carelessly escalating from a state of discomfort to a state of war. I guess you knew that.

        Israel’s more classic military response is expected. Hezbollah or Hamas undertake guerilla or mosquito (shelling) actions, and Israel responds with skillfully strategic war response to take out communications (phone and electricity), supply lines (railroads and roads).

        Its predictable. Most in the military of a rank about corporal sees that and confirms the appropriateness of the strategy, once the status has shifted to confirmation of war.

      • Chaos4700
        November 6, 2009, 5:28 pm

        And there you have it, folks! It’s not the Israeli fighter pilots who dropped the bombs, nor the Israeli war hawks that sent them to the skies of Beirut, that are to blame. It’s Hezbollah! Jews have been and continue to be utterly blameless! Also sprach Richard Witty.

        “Israel responds with skillfully strategic war response to take out communications (phone and electricity), supply lines (railroads and roads).”

        And factories. And hospitals. And apartment buildings. And schools. And water treatment plants. And farms. And ambulances. And stockpiles of international aid. Oh yes, Witty, that’s classic military response — if you want to consider blitzkrieg a classic worth emulating.

      • MRW
        November 6, 2009, 6:27 pm

        Richard: What. The. Fuck. Are. You. Talking. About? Can’t you investigate anything? Again, the November 4 skirmish was not clear whether it was a violation of the cease-fire or not. It was a violation of the cease-fire. Period. Mark Regev admits Hamas didn’t fire any rockets before Israel broke the cease fire in November. Watch Channel 4 link to

      • VR
        November 6, 2009, 6:45 pm

        “…when in fact later Nasrallah proudly stated that the abduction had been planned for six months for a raid into Israel.”

        You know Witty, you’re chief problem is that you think everyone is as mentally inept as you, that they cannot remember anything like HOW ISRAEL HAD PLANED THE ATTACK ON LEBANON A YEAR BEFORE LAUNCHING IT. The only thing that Nasrallah did was give them the pretext for launching their destructive plans.

        “More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to U.S. and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail.”

        Israel set war plan more than a year ago

        PM ‘says Israel pre-planned war’

        So lets dispense with the nonsense Witty.

        Second, this is always what Israel does – it claims it is going after the “terrorists” and wantonly kills the civilians. It is because this is what Israel is good at, killing innocent old people, women and children. When they could not get Hezbollah in Lebanon they commenced with what was familiar to them, bombing civilians and the civilian infrastructure. Operation Cast Lead is nothing but the same.

        I will close this post with what I think are perhaps the most moving words that Fisk has ever written (besides the Qana massacres) of the bombing of the civilians of Lebanon –

        “They are digging them up by the hour, the swelling death toll of the Lebanon conflict. The American poet Carl Sandburg spoke of the dead in other wars and imagined that he was the grass under which they would be buried. “Shovel them under and let me work,” he said of the dead he said of Ypres and Verdun. But across Lebanon, they are systematically lifting tons of rubble of old roofs and apartment blocks and finding families below, their arms wrapped around each other in the moment of death as their homes were beaten down upon them by the Israeli air force.”

        THAT is what you support Witty.

      • Richard Witty
        November 6, 2009, 6:52 pm

        I don’t agree that either are blameless. But, I do hold Hamas to be the party that initiated the change from a state of discomfort to a state of war.

        If you read the UNIFIL report, Hezbollah did begin shelling before their cross-border raid. It was incidental compared to their later shelling, but represented an escalation from the prior 4 years of quiet.

        When they were aware that their hostages were dead, they still continued shelling large cities, even cosmopolitan Haifa. Once war starts, each side attempts to keep the war going until they have a “victory” to stand on.

        Hezbollah certainly did that. They certainly had the option of ceasing the operation, but chose to continue, to escalate.

      • Richard Witty
        November 6, 2009, 6:59 pm

        I disagree with your assessment, not in an attempt to describe Israel as innocent, though your description doesn’t match my understanding exactly.

        My disagreement is in your shifting of blame on the basis of Israel’s planning. It has a complex military. Every scenario is planned. That is saying nothing about the sequence of events.

        Hezbollah’s raid was also planned.

        The important questions in Lebanon include what were rational and legitimate military targets, once war is the status.

        I don’t believe that your implication that Israel was “hoping” for an opportunity to attack Lebanon is accurate. The Lebanon military effort was actually criticized within Israel as not being sufficiently planned, ironically compared to your assessment.

        There is no question that the Israeli military did a great deal of damage, and it seems, similar to Gaza that a more than insignificant portion was unnecessary, excessive.

        That is a different beast than your characterization, V, actually more consistent with Goldstone’s.

      • Chaos4700
        November 6, 2009, 7:11 pm

        “Hezbollah’s raid was also planned.”

        Over one thousand civilians died each time Israel struck — according to its plans — in Lebanon, and then in Gaza.

        How many Israeli civilians died at the hands of Hezbollah’s raid? How many to Hamas rockets?

        What disgusts everyone so thoroughly about you, Witty, is that you so easily write off the death of anyone who’s skin is darker than yours. And then you claim to not be a racist. Israeli reports you accept without question; Hamas and Hezbollah you condemn unequivocally as liars; Israel has the military hardware, the US-backed funding, and has been writing up attack plans on civilians since all the way back with Plan Dalet, and you still blame every single death on “those Arabs.”

        Face it, Witty. You’re a Zionazi.

      • former coMMenter
        November 6, 2009, 7:16 pm

        Richard acts like the Litani River and its water don’t even appear on the Israeli leadership’s radar. He just assumes it really is self-defense motivating Israel to do what it does. If Alan Dershowitz & co. say it, it must be true.

      • Shingo
        November 6, 2009, 7:42 pm

        Yes it was clear and unequivocal Richard. The only person that believes there is any ambiguity is you. Isrtael invaded Gaza and killed 6 Palestinians. Had Hamas done it, Israel woudl have declared it an end to the ceasfire.

        Please stop lying.

        From that moment, the ceasfire was over and there was no restoration of the ceasfire, partial or otherwise. Subsequent actions by Israel were nto a response, but a planned atatck.

        Once you violate a ceasefire, subsequent military action ceases to be a response.

      • Shingo
        November 6, 2009, 7:51 pm

        “Hezbollah was largely responsible for the escalation from an opportunistic raid”

        Another lie. Olmert told the Wonigrad Comission that the attack on Lebanon had already been planned and Bush and Blair had been infomed, prior to the raid, that Israel were going to carry out this action.

        Game over.

        Israel was never engaged with trying to recover Shalit. It’s a common lie that Shalit’s capture set offf the vilence, when in fact, the day before Shalit’s capture, Israel kidnapped 2 Palestinina brothers in Gaza City. They have never beed heard of since. The capture of Shalit was a response to that kidnapping.

        Shalit was in Gaza and without knowing his whereabout, the attacks by Israel could have endangered him. Shalit’s parents have staetd that the Olmert government was never concerned with recovering Shalit.

        The willing gullibility is clearly on your part.

        The abduction WAS in Lebanon.

        Hamas cannot be accused of escalating acnything. Israel were perpetrating an ogoign act of war, and escalted that action by their November 4th violation of the ceasfire. Hamas responded. Suibsequent actions from Israel from that moment cannot therefore be described as a response.

        Israel’ classic military response was consistent with it’s attack on civlians and civlian infrastructure as seen in Gaza and LEbanon. There was nothing skillful about Israel’s strategy. IN fact, in both Gaza and Lebanon, Israel filed to achieve their strategic objectives.

      • Shingo
        November 6, 2009, 7:56 pm


        There is a difference between plannign for scenarios and informing the political leaders of Britoan and the US that you intend to start a war. The Lebanon and Gaza attacks were pre-planned andintentional. Olmert admitted that to the Wonigrad Commission.

        There can therefor be not doubt that Israel were indeed waiting for an opportunity to attack Lebanon. Deny it all you like, but Olmert has already admitted as much.

        The fact that Israel failed intheri objective when they attacked Lebanon does not mean it was not planned in advamce. Israel’s failure was that tehy severly underestimated the strength and determination of Hezbollah. Israel believed that they coudl win the conflict from the air alone and were not willing to follow it up with a ground offensive.

      • potsherd
        November 6, 2009, 8:37 pm

        So Witty considers six Palestinian deaths merely “discomfort,” but bottle rockets hitting the general vicinity of a chicken coop in Sderot is a heinous crime for which a thousand must die.

      • Shingo
        November 6, 2009, 9:00 pm

        You summed that up beaitfuly potsherd,

        I have taken Witty to task on this very concept, but predictably, he went AWOL when I asked him to justify his disregard to the lives of Palestinians.

      • VR
        November 6, 2009, 9:19 pm

        “My disagreement is in your shifting of blame on the basis of Israel’s planning. It has a complex military. Every scenario is planned. That is saying nothing about the sequence of events.”

        Witty, I knew this is what you were going to come up with, because it is the only place you could have gone by the irrefutable evidence I presented – and predictably, as I said earlier, you’re aim is to defend what Israel does and plans to do no matter how atrocious the plans are, or how many innocent people – women and children die. This is a pathological ideological disease that all fanatical Zionists carry, no matter how they comport themselves (calm, cool and collected) they end up in the same sinking ship.

        No, Israel did not plan do it because they are expecting something to happen as a contingency, they presented it as something THEY WERE GOING TO DO. These were not exercises of the “what if,” these were the plans of what “we intend to do.” That is why they were presenting it in the USA and elsewhere, to sell it.

        There never has been, and there is not today any reason for a full fledged attack on Lebanon, except that Israel plans for such with no basis in reality. What does that mean? That they are psychotically paranoid? No, there is a number of reasons they do it – for military experiment, as a bulldog of the USA, in order to keep the “aid” coming and make a name for their burgeoning military industry, to cause the world to believe that they are in a toxic atmosphere so they can continue their aggression against the Palestinians (because they are all against them, poor Israel is the victim), and as a support to show the “danger” of the reason as a contributor to the bogus war on terror (among other ancillary reasons).

        So essentially Witty, you argument is not, what did you call it? Slop, stop schlepping the slop out in public.

      • Shingo
        November 6, 2009, 9:32 pm

        Nicely done v…,

        When I read such eloquent and well argued posts as yours, it seems a shame that such quality should be wasted on someone who will simply ignore it and return at a later date to repeat his lies, or conflate and spin the facts to defend Israel.

      • Richard Witty
        November 7, 2009, 7:08 am

        I think it is a simplistic and opportunistic description to describe the November 4 events as solely a provocation by Israel, a “violation” of the cease-fire, then meaning that the Pandora’s box is wide open, and there is no mutual obligation from that point on.

        Hamas itself rejected that logic by returning to the cease-fire status similarly (not identically) to its approach prior.

        That there was a distinct qualitative change between the end of the cease-fire and the succeeding escalation is a description of a change in status from cease-fire to none.

      • Shingo
        November 7, 2009, 4:03 pm

        Wow Ricahrd,

        Even by your standards, you have reached a new level of incoherence. I was half expecting you to argue, that it depends on what the definittin of “is” is..

        No it’s not simplistic Ricahrd, it’s just pain obvious, though I am inclined to agree that it wasn’t merely a provocstion, but the opening salvo of an act of war on the part of the Israelis.

        How does a willingness to accept Israel’s attack comport with nutual responsibility? Once a ceasefire is over, it’s overt and there Hamas were prefectly entitled to respond to an attack.

        The opposite of a ceasefire is war. There is no difference between the end of a ceasfire and resuming hostilities. As for the succeeding escalation, we’ve already been thbrough this Richard. The Israelis were imposing an act fo war on Gaza, even suring the ceasefire, so Hamas were demonstrating self restraint as it was, by stickign to it.

        The esclation was entirely drivn by the Israelis.

      • Richard Witty
        November 7, 2009, 4:32 pm

        How is there any valid interpretation that incrementally escalating the shelling of civilians, is a “response”?

      • Shingo
        November 7, 2009, 4:36 pm

        A response is defined by the options one has available. Israel has all option available. Gaza has 2 options. To die quietly or to die trying.

        The fact is that Hamas shell civilians because only civilians are within range of their rockets.

    • Tuyzentfloot
      November 6, 2009, 7:43 pm

      I agree with a lot of what you say here. The emphasis on the blockade. I don’t like the standalong argument about the IDF attacks of 4 november because as an isolated attack the effect could have been contained. The attacks had meaning in declaring the intent of the IDF to escalate and maintain the blockade, which reduced hamas to keeping everyone from shooting qassams while the IDF was shooting at them.

      I also think that the quote of Goldstone is remarkable outspoken. I read his op-ed in the Times and there he compromised in order to make one point about rule of law. This goes further.

      It’s annoying that Goldstone refers to the right of self Defense, I agree. But he also sort of adds “Is this self defense?”. So it’s borderline. Does he mention Hamas’ right to violent resistance?

      • Tuyzentfloot
        November 6, 2009, 7:45 pm

        And I mean David Samel’s post :) Confusing tree. Tree display I mean!

    • Shmuel
      November 7, 2009, 4:25 am

      David, Goldstone has not charcterised Israel’s actions in Gaza as “self-defence”. On the contrary, he has repeatedly maintained that he did not investigate Israel’s actions in light of ius ad bellum – the legality of going to war. He has merely been trying to deflect criticism of his report on the grounds that it denies Israel the right to self-defence. It does no such thing, and Goldstone has pointed out that that right is in fact enshrined in international law. Personally, I think it was wise of the UN and Goldstone to limit the mandate of the commission to ius in bello – legal conduct in war. This way, it is far less political and much harder to dismiss. Had it gotten into questions of “who started it”, there would have been no nay-sayers at all in Congress, and the yea-sayers would not have appeared in all their shame. The EU would have solidly condemned the report, and it would have had no impact whatsoever on US or world public opinion. I am hoping that we will look back on Gaza as a watershed, and the kind of report produced by Goldstone and the UNHRC will have played a crucial role in that. The worst the Zionists can say about it is that its sponsor has an anti-Israel bias and the IDF is “the most moral army in the world”.

      Chaos, I don’t know how Goldstone defines his Zionism, or whether he has changed his views in recent years, but I think it is clear that he is a decent, honest and brilliant man. I think he deserves the benefit of the doubt. He is certainly no Benny Morris (a true “honest Zionist”), who has documented the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, but complained that it did not go far enough.

      • Chaos4700
        November 7, 2009, 4:30 am

        For me, that depends on whether Goldstone remains true to his Zionism while Israel’s supporters continue to burn him at the stake for his “heresy.”

      • Shingo
        November 7, 2009, 4:35 am

        I have to agree with Shmuel 100%. While the Gaza attack cannot be understood without the context of the occupation and blockade, the terms of reference that the UN chose were specific and necessarily so.

        If Goldstone had ventured into that territory, his report might have had less effect, as it would have been dismissed out of hand by the pro Israeli faction. Goldstone does indeed deserve the benefit of the doubt.

  2. Dan Kelly
    November 6, 2009, 3:20 pm

    Truth, Human Dignity and the Goldstone Report

    Today we journey from Operation Cast Lead to Operation Cast Doubt. Almost as serious as committing war crimes is covering up war crimes, pretending that war crimes were never committed and did not exist.

    Because behind every such deception is the nullification of humanity, the destruction of human dignity, the annihilation of the human spirit, the triumph of Orwellian thinking, the eternal prison of the dark heart of the totalitarian.

    “The resolution before us today, which would reject all attempts of the Goldstone Report to fix responsibility of all parties to war crimes, including both Hamas and Israel, may as well be called the “Down is Up, Night is Day, Wrong is Right” resolution.

    link to

  3. Dan Kelly
    November 6, 2009, 3:24 pm

    Jeff Halper on the report:

    Despite the mission’s charges over Israeli war crimes, South African jurist Richard Goldstone actually bent over backwards to protect Israel as much as possible. Thus the report does not mention Israel’s 42-year occupation of Gaza or its three year siege which has left a million and a half Gazans without adequate food, medical care or the basic necessities of life. Nor does it mention the fact that, rather than defending itself, it was Israel which violated the cease-fire with Hamas and refused repeated appeals by Hamas to renew it. Indeed, the Report also speaks of Hamas’s violation of international law and demands that it, too, be investigated.
    Human rights language has yet to reach the US. When, recently, I did the rounds of Congress and the State Department promoting a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I was told that “justice” is not an active element in American foreign policy. I was advised by seasoned lobbyists not to even mention the term “human rights” in my meetings with senators and congress people, because it sounds anti-American, as if something trumps American law and policy (which human rights indeed does).

    link to

    • Chaos4700
      November 6, 2009, 3:28 pm

      So apparently, we really are the new Roman Empire.

    • Tuyzentfloot
      November 6, 2009, 7:56 pm

      I don’t recall exactly but Goldstone also had to respect some boundaries beyond which he was not allowed to look. I don’t think he was allowed to talk about the long occupation of Gaza as part of his mission. Not sure about the siege (which usually is said to start in 2007 , but maybe 2006 is more reasonable.)

      • Dan Kelly
        November 7, 2009, 3:50 pm

        I don’t think he was allowed to talk about the long occupation of Gaza as part of his mission.

        That is true. I mean, he can talk about it (he should talk about it), but it evidently was not part of what he was authorized to investigate and put into a report. The report had to focus solely on war crimes. What rule doesn’t allow for the context of the occupation to be presented in a war crimes report, I don’t know, but it obviously needs to be changed, for the sake of humanity.

  4. Julian
    November 6, 2009, 5:17 pm

    It’s pretty obvious none of you watched the debate. Gold absolutely destroyed Goldstone. Gold just kept on showing the facts. Relentless in his presentation. For a brief moment I actually felt sorry for Goldstone.
    Jacoby in the Boston Globe :
    “…But Goldstone spent much of the time talking about himself – he recounted his dealings with the chairman of the UN Human Rights Council, his nightmares about being kidnapped by Hamas, his pleased discovery that ordinary Palestinians were “just like’’ ordinary Israelis – while his interlocutor focused relentlessly on facts and evidence. Gold played video of Israelis under Hamas rocket attack, and noted that such attacks had increased 500 percent after Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. He displayed aerial photographs of Hamas military installations located amid schools and mosques. He described Israel’s extraordinary efforts to avoid civilian casualties, and showed Palestinian TV broadcasts confirming those efforts. He presented images of weapons caches inside Palestinian mosques and homes.
    It was a powerful presentation – so powerful, in fact, that Goldstone regretted not having seen it earlier. “The sort of information shown to us by Ambassador Gold,’’ he said, “should have been shown to us during the [UN] investigation.’’
    Yet to my mind, what was most striking of all was Goldstone’s inability to give a clear answer to an essential question: What should a law-abiding country do to defend itself against relentless terrorist attacks?”
    link to

    • Chaos4700
      November 6, 2009, 5:30 pm

      How come whenever somebody shoots down a Zionist lie, that’s always considered “being evasive?” It’s as if reality itself is anti-Zionist. Oh wait…

    • potsherd
      November 6, 2009, 5:51 pm

      Another objective pundit and the usual dupe.

    • David Samel
      November 6, 2009, 5:54 pm

      What Gold did not do is refute the evidence of targeting civilians and their infrastructure. It was overwhelming. Israel announced it was implementing the Dahiya doctrine and it did. Instead, Gold claimed to show evidence, which was far from clear, of Hamas mingling with the civilian population. Unconvincing, and even if true, it cannot justify the intentional targeting of civilians with no military purpose, documented over and over again in the report. Mostly, Gold insisted that Israel could not be guilty of this, because the IDF has such high moral standards, because he says so. Neither Gold, nor anyone else, has shown one of the dozens of specific allegations made by Goldstone to be false. If Gold showed genuine efforts to spare civilians, which frankly I did not see, these would not disprove that Israel also deliberately killed them in other instances, MANY other instances. Could Israel have not faked evidence of avoiding civilian casualties, or even have filmed genuine evidence of same, in order to convince people like Julian that this was the rule, not the exception? Did you believe Gold’s fairy tale about the IDF being instilled with the nobility of the 35 Israeli soldiers who were killed because they allowed an Arab peasant to live and report their position? When someone tells a story like that, how can you believe anything he says?

      • Chaos4700
        November 6, 2009, 6:01 pm

        I still don’t get how Hamas living with their families in their own land (what of it that hasn’t been colonized by Zionist immigrants, anyway) somehow constitutes “using human shields.” Doesn’t that effective make Sderot a whole village of “human shields?” How about the illegal settlers in the West Bank, for that matter? They don’t even own the land and they’re camping there, with the occupation army.

      • America First
        November 6, 2009, 6:26 pm

        Sounds like special pleading, the specialty of Jewish exceptionalists.

      • America First
        November 6, 2009, 6:26 pm

        Sounds like special pleading, the specialty of Jewish exceptionalists.

      • America First
        November 6, 2009, 6:29 pm

        Sorry, at least Citizen has an excuse in his trip to the package store. I have yet to pour the first dram of the evening.

      • Chaos4700
        November 6, 2009, 6:50 pm

        I’m actually wonder if the duplicate posts are a server glitch. There’s been once or twice where I post a comment, get an error message, resend it and get the notice that the comment is already up, so the software is supposed to prevent duplication on the user end of things.

      • Mooser
        November 7, 2009, 8:19 pm

        Gotta be patient here at Mondoweiss. Sometimes it can take a long time to load a comment. Once I realised this I have had no further problems (I know, I know, mores the pity) getting my comments on and avoiding doubles. I push once, and wait. Anyway, that’s been my experience. Before I started doing that I’ve been convinced a comment didn’t load, and ended up doubling.

    • VR
      November 6, 2009, 7:08 pm

      “What should a law-abiding country do to defend itself against relentless terrorist attacks?”

      Than apparently Julian they were on another subject, they certainly could have not been talking about Israel.

    • Oscar
      November 6, 2009, 7:35 pm

      I watched the so-called debate, and I saw Dore Gold spew his special brew of hasbara, and I was struck by how he did everything possible to avoid a “debate.”

      Your question is: “What should a law-abiding country do to defend itself against relentless terrorist attacks?” Well, Israel is not a law-abiding country, so it chose to incinerate 1400 women and children with white phosphorous weapons and limb-amputating DIME-cube bombs.

      • potsherd
        November 6, 2009, 8:38 pm

        Try this question: what is an occupied people to do to defend itself against a relentlessly oppressive blockade?

    • Shingo
      November 6, 2009, 7:59 pm


      Maybe you watched the debate from a parallel dimension, but as has been pointed out, Gold had no facts.

      He relied false claims that Israel is all alone, when it received the most funding in the world from the US, free arms and uncoditional vetos at the UNSC.
      He claimed that mosques in Gaza were destroyed by Hamas munitions, when in fact, Goldstone revealed that the shrapnel reveals it was IDF munitions.

      • former coMMenter
        November 6, 2009, 10:56 pm

        Dore Gold’s right, they really are all alone. So what if they’ve still got the rotting, hollowed-out U.S. empire behind them (for now)? They’ve become a complete pariah state in worldwide public opinion. Most of Israel’s friends are either its paymaster or purchased, and they all seem to care more about Israel’s appearance than its actual behavior. (Those aren’t good friends.)

        And as its ethnonationalist ideal views the subjugation of its neighbors as an ideological imperative, Israel’s likely to keep going it alone forever, until its dismantled, abandoned, or integrates a new paradigm that includes equal rights, creating the opportunity for greater solidarity.

  5. potsherd
    November 6, 2009, 6:15 pm

    The difference is that Israel always fights its war in someone else’s house, never their own. If someone ever brought the war to Israel, you’d see the same thing – the IDF fighting from within its population.

    In the meantime, it’s the IDF, not Hamas, that marches hostages in front of their soldiers as … human shields.

  6. hnorr
    November 6, 2009, 6:44 pm

    If anybody wants to see the debate before Brandeis gets around to posting it, it’s already up (in four segments) at link to

    (For those who’d prefer not to patronize, the four clips are apparently at YouTube, too, but I didn’t manage to find them there except by going through the page.)

    • David Samel
      November 6, 2009, 9:13 pm

      Thanks for the link, hnorr. I watched the rest of the debate, which only led me to question the sanity of Jacoby, on whose Boston Globe column Julian relies. His version of the debate is ludicrous – willful misinterpretations of almost everything he heard.

  7. wondering jew
    November 6, 2009, 11:45 pm

    Moshe Halbertal in the New Republic comments on the Goldstone Report in a detailed fashion that may not convince the people in this talkback, but is certainly not just spin.
    link to

    • Chaos4700
      November 6, 2009, 11:59 pm

      Wow. No wonder the boycott of Israeli academics is gaining momentum. Halbertal not only paints himself as a racist — “Ooooh! Those lying Palestinians!” — but he admits that Israel refused to cooperate, and then spins right around and uses the lack of Israeli testimony in the report to condemn it!

      If Halbertal would have been in charge of the Nuremberg trials, the monsters of the Nazi Empire might have ended up walking free. That article certainly wasn’t the worst bit of crappy logic I’ve seen… but it ranks up there.

    • Shingo
      November 7, 2009, 4:27 am

      You’re absolutely right Chaos,

      WJ, I normally hold your opinions in high regard, but this piece is shoddy in the extreme.

      • VR
        November 7, 2009, 9:27 am

        Zionism renders its adherents terminally stupid, the ideological narrowness almost gives opposition carte blanch to reject their so-called arguments out of hand. The only thing which the Zionists have is predominance in media in the USA, which turns out to be nothing less than if you tell lies long enough with either pathos or a seeming “objective and detached” demeanor it will eventually be adopted – Nazi like to the core. Einstein was correct in his judgment –

        “Arguing that a Jewish Majority in Palestine was not important, Einstein dismissed the goal of a Jewish state: “The state idea is not according to my heart. I cannot understand why it is needed. It is connected with many difficulties and narrow-mindedness. I believe it is bad.”” EINSTEIN ON POLITICS

    • wondering jew
      November 7, 2009, 1:54 pm

      I’m not sure it will make any difference to you, but the link that I gave was incorrect insofar as it linked you to the last page of a seven page article. The article contains a variety of perspectives regarding the report and the nature of the conflict vis a vis asymmetrical warfare. It includes comments that would encourage those who oppose the siege and comments that disparage some of the Goldstone reports findings. I personally have not studied the issue sufficiently to comment other than to say that it should add perspective to those who are seeking perspective and it will offend those who have already formed their opinion.
      link to

  8. Richard Witty
    November 7, 2009, 9:45 am

    Einstein changed his views once Israel existed. He visited, he donated to the state, he fundraised for the state, he participated enthusiastically in the formation of educational institutions particularly.

    A similar quote could have been taken from Ben Gurion in the twenties. But, clearly, he came to believe that a state WAS necessary.

    You do get that the phrase “nazi-like to its core” is itself an example of what you claim to be opposing.

    The big change that made the state the primary consented form of Zionism and association among the majority of the world’s Jews was the holocaust. In 1935, the population of the world’s Jews was distibuted mostly in Europe and the US, with small numbers in Israel/Palestine.

    In 1945, 80% of the European Jews were dead.

    From 30’s to 49, large numbers of the surviving European Jews migrated to Israel. The centers of Jewish population was US/Canada/Australia 70%, Europe 10%, Israel 10%, Arab states 10%.

    The sentiment in the US shifted from indifference to Zionism, and opposition among the ultra-orthodox and socialists, to overwhelming support. Same in Europe and obviously in Israel, and when the Arab states began their varying persecutions following the formation of the state, the support for Zionism among Jews at the time of partition neared consent.

    Maybe you didn’t read about that.

    The world is different now, which should affect attitudes in both Israel and about Israel. The “leading edge” is recompsting old acidic arguments with the hope that they will become soil this time around, rather than malevolent rot as the last few times.

    • Chaos4700
      November 7, 2009, 10:37 am

      …And Einstein refused to live there or even accept political appointments in Israel.

      I really hate the way Zionists make up false history. I really do. Einstein is rolling in his grave, one presumes, if he can witness what Jews are doing to other human beings.

      • Dan Kelly
        November 7, 2009, 3:56 pm

        I do think Einstein changed his tune a bit once Israel was created. Chomsky also did, incidentally.

      • Dan Kelly
        November 8, 2009, 8:46 am

        I should clarify: Chomsky, in talking about Israel’s formation in hindsight.

    • VR
      November 7, 2009, 10:41 am

      First Witty, no one denies the horror of the Holocaust, certainly not me. However, I do not like its cheapening by individuals like you, that use it as a smothering blanket to muffle the cries of peoples suffering – that is, the Palestinians. Nor do I like the lines which make the Holocaust sui generis, in the bequeathing of “privileges” that try to make Israel impervious to law both international and common.

      Secondly, Einsteins first impression was correct (as many are) – he never denied the fact that it was not necessary to have a “majority” not that Jewish people should not have a homeland, and you’re inference that he supported anything even close to what this “state” exists as today, is just another smoke blowing exercise for individuals who have no grasp of what he really said and supported – which is common Zionist fodder. It is just another evidence of to what extent ideologists of Zionism will go to. Outside of this, in the face of the horror of the Holocaust who would have not supported this? However Witty, not you’re aberration.

      What Einstein supported was as plain as his words before the US commission in 1946:

      “I am in favor of Palestine being developed as a Jewish homeland but not as a separate state. It seems to me a matter of simple common sense that we cannot ask to be given the political rule over Palestine where two thirds of the population are [sic] not Jewish.”

      He goes further definitively and says – “a secured bi-national status in Palestine with free immigration.” Only a dark small minority opted for the “transfer” of the Palestinian population, but the goal of the majority in the 20’s through the 40’s opted for peaceful co-existence. In the augus company of the majority were people like Martin Buber, Hannah Arendt, Judah Magnes, and Hashomer Hatzair all part of the socialist-Zionist movement Mapam, the second largest party in the 1950’s.

      In 1955 Einstein bemoaned what Israel had become in his last published interview – “We thought [Israel] would be better than other nations, but it was no better.” There is no “old archaic arguments” Witty, however what you accuse of, the “malevolent rot” resides in you dishonesty and the atrocities which you support as a ideological fanatic of Zionism of the worst sort.

      • Richard Witty
        November 7, 2009, 1:02 pm

        You misrepresentative fighter, V.

        I NEVER “used” the holocaust as an “excuse” to perpetrate suffering on the Palestinians.

        ““state” exists as today”, nice switch (you car salesman). I’m sure that like me, Einstein would be very critical of Israel’s current policies. Even as he stated admiration for Israel’s government and other state institutions during its period of inception and development, he hated likud (then cherut) and the neo-fascist goals and methods that they employed.

        “We thought [Israel] would be better than other nations, but it was no better.”

        You are not very astute. You state that he didn’t advocate for the Jewish state in any moment of his life, but very obviously supported it by that statement at its inception (and was disappointed in many aspects of it).

        A quote from 1946, in the context of being prior to civil and then external war, is out of context to the point of fraud.

        You can bring up his and others earlier ideas as proposals. They might be relevant now or not, but not because Einstein “consistently” opposed the formation of the state. Of the individuals you quoted, only Judah Magnes publicly stated their regret that a Jewish state occurred. All were critical, as was the appropriate realization of a democratic Jewish state.

        Were the individuals you sited actively and personally involved in Mapam? I never read that about any of them.

      • VR
        November 7, 2009, 6:20 pm

        “I NEVER “used” the holocaust as an “excuse” to perpetrate suffering on the Palestinians.”

        “The big change that made the state the primary consented form of Zionism and association among the majority of the world’s Jews was the holocaust.” The argument of the absolute necessity of the state from the point of the Holocaust, whether foundational or current from the standpoint of a “majority” has and always will necessitate the destruction of the Palestinians. So whether overtly or covertly, whether you wear it on you’re sleeve or keep it in you’re pocket, the argument for a “majority” state via the Holocaust is the victimization and perpetual suffering of another people who had no hand in what occurred in the Holocaust.

        The fragile “demographic” lead is maintained by ignoring international law, which is taken for its benefit among the Israelis but not for its responsibility. If at any time the call was made and enacted for the return of the Palestinians the “majority” would disappear. Likewise it is maintained by the murder, destruction, and continuous expulsion and exile of the indigenous population from their land. It is this fact that Einstein would not recognize, and bemoaned to his death, because it was the same use of a “nation state,” the Hegelian bitch which caused the non-recognition, genocide, and expulsion of the Jewish population from Europe.

        No Witty, it is you’re immediate reaction that the statement I used was to do away with any homeland for Jews, just for emphasis:

        “Arguing that a Jewish Majority in Palestine was not important, Einstein dismissed the goal of a Jewish state: “The state idea is not according to my heart. I cannot understand why it is needed. It is connected with many difficulties and narrow-mindedness. I believe it is bad.”

        Einstein NEVER supported the forced MAJORITY of Jews as a state, this was the contextual setting of the statement. Now, you can twist and obfuscate all you like, but it is you’re failure to read and understand what is being written, that is always you’re problem Witty – the only question here is it purposeful on your part or do you have some ailment that causes you to constantly misread posts. A bi-national state which he supported does not carry the proviso of a majority state.

        Yes, we are sure that he would have totally denounced Israeli activity today, because he never argued for what you hold to at its inception or later. Or would you go as far as other reprobate “Zionists” that put words in a dead mans mouth? You do not own Einstein, in fact, those of you’re persuasion do not own shit, you profusely lie and when dutifully whacked you twist and whine.

        The people I cited were the foundation bulwark of progressive Mapam, not those which called for the majority of Jews in Erez Yisrael. Buber in his 80th birthday (1958) gave an address was filled with anguish about reconciliation with the Palestinians, which was also the theme of Magnes. He stated with a tortured voice that “. . . the majority of the Jewish people preferred to learn from Hitler rather than from us. Hitler showed them that history does not go the way of the spirit but the way of power, and if a people is powerful enough, it can kill with impunity as many millions of another people as it wants to kill. This was the situation that we had to fight.” This was the anguish and of Hannah, if you do not mind me quoting myself from a previous post –

        Hannah knew that her problem was not that she was stateless, but the nation state in the 20th century that reduced Jews to a non-recognized minority. This now produces another “stateless” among the Palestinians. The only question that remains is will the state of Israel try to liquidate the “problem” they created.

        So the question of Ahabath Israel remains, of which she answers that I love my friends not a people. She goes on to rightly consider the non-separation of religion and state disastrous (and it has proven to be true). Or the substitution of god for the people, so that even the interpretation is that the people returning is essentially the mashiach – she does not believe in them but belongs to them. She is physei and not nomo. Being this she can take her own stand politically, whether or not they conform to some supposed norm of “Jewish” in being or in the political position. What had changed from her earlier views? That we may indeed by Jewish yet be divergent in our views. The rise of Fascism and totalitarianism did away with a place in the nation state, which arose from personal experience. So to accede to Zionism is to do away with the universal nature of the Never Again, and carries with it the seeds of our own destruction.

        The rest of the prominent names I mentioned above followed suit with the same conclusions.

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