Jeffrey Goldberg vs Nelson Mandela

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Sasha Polakow-Suransky, Senior Editor at Foreign Affairs and author of The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa, continues to push back against the Goldstone smear campaign. I like how this is shaping up – Jeffrey Goldberg versus Nelson Mandela. I wonder who people will side with?

Polakow-Suransky writing in the Huffington Post:

Goldberg’s and Chait’s ongoing blog posts on the latest Goldstone uproar betray what is at best a naively ahistorical approach to current events and at worst a willful blindness to Israel’s own sordid history of supporting a white supremacist regime.

After all, Israel was the most significant arms supplier to that regime throughout the 1980s and served as a lifeline for the apartheid government during a period when Pretoria faced growing international condemnation and heightened domestic unrest (i.e. protests by 80 percent of the population demanding their democratic rights).

Anyone who served in the Israeli army during the late 1980s, as Goldberg did, should be well aware of this history.

During these years, military intelligence officials from the two countries held annual intelligence-sharing conferences and South African military representatives came to the West Bank to view the anti-riot equipment the Israeli army was using against Palestinians. When foreign journalists in the West Bank encountered visiting South African military officials, the Israeli military censor was quickly ordered to hush it up. Back in South Africa, a large contingent of Israeli rocketry experts was holed up in the seaside town of Arniston helping the South African government put the finishing touches on ballistic missiles intended to carry its next generation of nuclear weapons. . .

There are many legitimate grounds on which to criticize the Goldstone Report, but Goldstone’s past is not one of them. Rather than examining the historical record, Goldberg and Chait relied exclusively on the Yediot article in passing judgment on Goldstone’s early career. Their posts, and a more recent one by Ron Radosh, fail to acknowledge Goldstone’s crucial role in facilitating South Africa’s transition to democracy by chairing the investigative Commission on Public Violence and Intimidation from 1991-1994. Among other things, this commission exposed the apartheid government’s links to a so-called Third Force–made up of government security and ex-security operatives seeking to derail peaceful democratic elections.

The Goldstone Commission’s revelations outraged Nelson Mandela, leading him to conclude that F.W. de Klerk’s government had organized covert death squads. (For more on this topic, read the dispatches of British journalist John Carlin, the author of the book that became the movie Invictus.) Goldstone’s work earned him Mandela’s respect and, in 1994, South Africa’s first black president appointed Goldstone to the Constitutional Court–hardly the sort of honor the great moral icon of the 20th century would have bestowed on "a man without a moral compass," as Goldberg calls him.

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