‘NYT’ bashes Goldstone by upholding Arab League report– which notioned genocide!

Israel/Palestine
on 18 Comments

Let’s go back to the blueprint for the official nullification of the Goldstone Report: Ethan Bronner’s story in the New York Times on Saturday that said that Goldstone is an unreliable narrator and no one in Israel believes that the country targeted civilians in the Gaza onslaught. Bronner’s money quote came from an Israeli general:

Maj. Gen. Avichai Mandelblit, the Israeli military advocate general, said in an interview that those assertions [Israel waged “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population," per Goldstone] went beyond anything of which others had accused Israel.

“I have read every report, from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Arab League,” he said at his desk in the military’s Tel Aviv headquarters. “We ourselves set up investigations into 140 complaints. It is when you read these other reports and complaints that you realize how truly vicious the Goldstone report is. He made it look like we set out to go after the economic infrastructure and civilians, that it was intentional. It’s a vicious lie.”

Mandelbit’s statement is simply false. Whether Bronner knew it to be false is a different question; but it is false. Here is John Dugard, the South African professor of international law who prepared the Arab League report, writing to me [emphasis mine]:

It is unfair to say that the Goldstone report went further than that of the Arab league. We were in substantial agreement on all the incidents considered. However, as Goldstone considered more cases/incidents it is certrainly a more comprehensive report and in that sense more damning. The Arab League went further than the Goldstone report in important respects. For instance we considered, but largely rejected, the suggestion that Israel had committed genocide.

Genocide? Yes. The Arab League actually found that Israeli soldiers might be prosecuted for genocide. I know this from Norman Finkelstein, who’s read all the reports. (I haven’t.) Below is an excerpt from Finkelstein’s forthcoming book: "This Time We Went Too Far: Truth & Consequences of the Gaza Invasion," which comes out in a month or so from OR Books. Here is Finkelstein’s comparison of Goldstone and the Arab League reports [again, emphasis mine]:

The Goldstone Report found that in seeking to “punish, humiliate and terrorize” the Gazan civilian population Israel committed numerous violations of customary and conventional international law. It also ticked off a lengthy list of war crimes that Israel committed such as “willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment,” “willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health,” “extensive destruction of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly,” and “use of human shields.” It further found that Israeli actions that “deprive Palestinians in the Gaza Strip of their means of sustenance, employment, housing and water, that deny their freedom of movement and their right to leave and enter their own country, that limit their access to courts of law and effective remedies…might justify a competent court finding that crimes against humanity have been committed.

The fact finding committee chaired by Goldstone’s distinguished South African colleague John Dugard went somewhat further. It concluded that during Israel’s “heinous and inhuman” attack it was culpable for war crimes such as “indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilians,” “killing, wounding and terrorizing civilians,” “wanton destruction of property,” and the bombing and shelling of hospitals and ambulances and obstructing the evacuation of the wounded. It further found that Israel was guilty of crimes against humanity including the intentional and “reckless” killing of civilians, “mass killings—‘extermination’—in certain cases,” and “persecution.”

It did not however hold Israel culpable for the crime of genocide: “the main reason for the operation was not to destroy a group, as required for the crime of genocide, but to engage in a vicious exercise of collective punishment designed either to compel the population to reject Hamas as the governing authority of Gaza or to subdue the population into a state of submission.” Still, it found that “individual soldiers may well have had such an intent and might therefore be prosecuted for this crime.”

Report of the Independent Fact Finding Committee on Gaza: No safe place. Presented to the League of Arab States (30 April 2009).

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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18 Responses

  1. AlexK
    January 26, 2010, 11:27 am

    I’m curious about the other organizations that Mandelbit mentions and how their language stacks up against Goldstone’s language. I’ve read some of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch’s reports, but I don’t know if they were radically different than what Goldstone said. Goldstone did rely on those reports as well.

    And one other thing people are missing when it comes to debunking Bronner’s report is this graf:

    “Another senior military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity following regular military practice, said that neither the military command structure nor the government wanted to invade Gaza in December 2008, but felt that the continual rocket attacks by Hamas on Israeli civilians forced their hand.”

    Well, it seems like Bronner didn’t exactly do his homework.

    From the Guardian:

    “Unlike the confused and improvised Israeli response as the war against Hizbullah in Lebanon unfolded in 2006, Operation Cast Lead appears to have been carefully prepared over a long period.

    Israeli media reports, by usually well-informed correspondents and analysts, alluded yesterday to six months of intelligence-gathering to pinpoint Hamas targets including bases, weapon silos, training camps and the homes of senior officials.”

    • potsherd
      January 26, 2010, 11:34 am

      As usual, leaving out the November 4 incursion by Israel that broke the ceasefire.

  2. Avi
    January 26, 2010, 12:27 pm

    Toward the end of December 2008, Hamas offered Israel – through Egyptian intermediaries – to extend the ceasefire provided Israel actually abided by the original terms of the ceasefire.

    The original ceasefire agreement, as readers may recall, called on Hamas to cease rocket attacks, AND on Israel to end the siege, kidnappings and assassinations.

    And while Hamas abided by that summer 2008 agreement, until Israel raided Gaza on November 4th, Israel never actually fulfilled its side of the agreement.

    I’ll say it again, ISRAEL DID NOT ABIDE by the original terms of the agreement, while Hamas actually honored the ceasefire. This goes beyond ironic. Those evil terrrrists actually have an honor code, whereas the only idiocracy in the Middle East is run by deceitful thugs. Imagine that.

    EITHER way you slice it, spin it, mix it, turn it upside down, there is no doubt that Israel entered the summer of 2008 agreement with ill intentions.

    Every schmuck in the Israeli establishment can repeat the lie that their goal was to stop the rocket attacks (those poor victims), but it simply does not conform with the reality. No ifs ands or buts.

    Read the April 2008 Vanity Fair article. It’s all in there.

    • Avi
      January 26, 2010, 12:36 pm

      Crap. That’s what I get for posting while I’m sick in bed with a flu.

      You may have noticed that the Vanity Fair article came out in April 2008. So…

      OK, This is where the information I posted can be found:

      It’s an interview between Israeli scholar, Professor Shlaim and Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!

      link to democracynow.org

    • Tuyzentfloot
      January 26, 2010, 12:37 pm

      Er, Vanity Fair of april 2008? Ahead of their time, right?

      I also prefer to put the emphasis on Israel not abiding by the terms of the ceasefire rather than on what happened on nov4. Nov4 was an Israeli statement in the context of their disregard of the agreement.

  3. Cliff
    January 26, 2010, 12:30 pm

    Witty, does not even factor the blockade into the truce terms.

    He ignores the truce, the November 4th break, and focuses on the period after the hudna ended to begin his ‘analysis’.

  4. Richard Witty
    January 26, 2010, 1:26 pm

    “Mandelbit’s statement is simply false. ”

    What specifically is false about it?

    Is this Norman regarding “interpretation” as a word with no meaning, even as he does it (as do all intellectuals in the course of their reading and study).

    “He said this”. “No he said that.”

    • Cliff
      January 26, 2010, 1:35 pm

      Witty, how can anyone answer your question if it requires a knowledge of the source materials in question?

      You must first do your homework before joining in the debate.

      Read these reports, then get back to us. Thanks.

    • Donald
      January 26, 2010, 4:54 pm

      Witty, you ask for specificity? How is it that a post can be sitting right in front of you explaining what is wrong with Mandelbit’s statement and you ask this? I understand it’s nothing out of the ordinary for you–there is literally nothing you can’t misunderstand when you put your mind to it. Mandelbit is trying to claim that Goldstone was much more severe in its criticism than the other reports, including the Arab League’s. Specifically, Mandelbit says

      “that those assertions Israel waged “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population,” per Goldstone] went beyond anything of which others had accused Israel.

      “I have read every report, from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Arab League,” he said at his desk in the military’s Tel Aviv headquarters. “We ourselves set up investigations into 140 complaints. It is when you read these other reports and complaints that you realize how truly vicious the Goldstone report is. He made it look like we set out to go after the economic infrastructure and civilians, that it was intentional”

      Dugard of the Arab League report denies this . Finkelstein then quotes from the report “the main reason for the operation was not to destroy a group, as required for the crime of genocide, but to engage in a vicious exercise of collective punishment designed either to compel the population to reject Hamas as the governing authority of Gaza or to subdue the population into a state of submission”.

      That flatly contradicts Mandelbit’s claim about the Arab League report. It’s right there in front of you. Unless Finkelstein made up the quote, it’s not a question of his interpretation. It’s a question of you not seeing something right in front of your face.

      • Donald
        January 26, 2010, 4:59 pm

        Here is a link to a summary of the Arab League report–if you scroll down to the section on genocide you will find the quote that Finkelstein gave. It took me about two minutes to find the document and then the quote. You could do this too, Richard, if you cared to.

        link

  5. Baruch Rosen
    January 26, 2010, 1:48 pm

    Camera shows what a liar John Dugard is.
    link to camera.org

  6. Baruch Rosen
    January 26, 2010, 1:55 pm

    Avi now quoting the known liar Avi Shlaim.
    Lets see how smart Avi Shlaim is.

    Avi Shlaim on Israel killing Sheikh Yassin in 2004.
    Lets put exactly what Shlaim said would happen.

    link to guardian.co.uk
    The decision to execute Yassin has to be seen in this light. Some Ministers and the director of the internal security service opposed the proposal on the grounds that it was illegal and would only increase the violence, but the majority voted in favour.
    It transpired that the cabinet decided to eliminate not just Yassin but the entire Hamas leadership in response to the double suicide bombing in the port of Ashdod. This means that Israel will strike at Hamas leaders whenever opportunities present themselves, not only in retaliation. Israeli strikes will be followed, inevitably and inexorably, by Palestinian retaliation with suicide bombs. This is a recipe for violence and bloodshed without any hope. Sharon has truly opened the gates of hell.

    To let Shlaim the fool know, terrorism is down 90% since this mass murderer Yassin was killed.
    Shlaim is mad cause this Islamo Nazi Yassin, can no longer give orders to blow up Israeli buses, disco’s and pizzerias.
    Avi this is the fool you quote.

    • Cliff
      January 26, 2010, 2:00 pm

      “Islamo Nazi”?

      I hope people take notice of this blatant bigotry (just as the term, ‘Judeo-Nazi’ was once used here).

    • Avi
      January 26, 2010, 2:08 pm

      You know, Baruch Jamili, I’m not even going to bother dignifying your post with a serious response.

      Given your track record, it comes down to believing a respected professor’s (at Oxford University no less) research vs. some random guy on the interwebs.

      • tree
        January 26, 2010, 5:26 pm

        To paraphrase BR: Terrorism is down 90% since Bob Keeshan died.

        Lookie, I just “proved” that the death of Captain Kangaroo was responsible for a decrease in terrorism. Now if we could just assassinate Mr Moose and Bunny Rabbit (even if it meant taking out a few dozen innocent animals at the same time) we could end terrorism in our lifetime!

        Post hoc ergo propter hoc is a logical fallacy, BTW.

  7. Baruch Rosen
    January 26, 2010, 2:06 pm

    Cliff, what should i call someone who sends homicide bombers to blow up buses, shopping malls, disco’s, pizzeria’s, hotels etc? A Peacenik

    • tree
      January 26, 2010, 5:27 pm

      It worked for Ariel “Man of Peace” Sharon.

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