Finkelstein says Goldstone restored Israel’s only faculty (aggression) based on a claimed drone image it has never produced

Israel/Palestine
on 138 Comments

normanLeft, Norman Finkelstein in Gaza, June 2009.

Earlier this week, Norman Finkelstein summoned me to his apartment in Brooklyn to talk about the Goldstone reconsideration in the Washington Post.

Finkelstein is a stunning textual analyst, and I urge you to read what he says, but a few of the high points: The Goldstone Report had been a godsend to the movement–for the first time Israel was going to have to pay a price for brutality; the report removed Israel’s ability to start wars, and now Goldstone has bent with the remover to remove, thereby damaging his reputation and delegitimizing international law; Goldstone was under pressure, a proverbial gun to the head, to recant; there is no new evidence, as the jurist claimed, to support his reconsideration; Israel has produced hundreds of drone images and if it really had one of the single most shocking incident of the conflict, the al-Samouni attack of Jan. 5, 2009, as Goldstone and Israel state, why has this image not been produced? And finally, Finkelstein’s one meeting with Goldstone and his analysis of the judge’s significance as a Jew.

When did you see the Goldstone reconsideration?

I was lecturing in Georgia and I had all these great plans, I’m working on a new book, actually completely overhauling an old book manuscript… I was coming home, refreshed and exhilarated from the Georgia lectures. And I opened up my computer [on Saturday April 2] and it was just a mixture of being shocked and shattered. I was shocked and shattered.

Elaborate.

I immediately understood it was going to do terrible damage, and it’s damage on many fronts. It’s the damage to truth and justice, it’s the damage to Jewish-Palestinian relations, it’s the damage to Israeli dissidents. It was huge damage.

You write in your paper that it might pave the way to further attacks. You know that during recent attacks in Gaza, some tweeters have held Goldstone responsible. Do you?

It depends. Frst of all, there’s been the tit for tat going on for a long time, so he is not personally culpable for the current tit for tat. If however this climaxes in a second massacre on the scale of Operation Cast Lead 1, then of course he’s responsible, he would have given Israel the impunity it needed, otherwise it could not have launched a second attack on Gaza.

I often quote the title of your book, This Time We Went Too Far, and I infer from that, not so much they learned their lesson, but there’s less impunity. They understand that this operation, whatever it did or didn’t do, it really hurt their image around the world…. That’s a political reality. My conclusion is, No more Cast Leads.

I can’t predict that. The problem I have with your argument is, that it’s premised on the notion that Israelis think that they have another option except the resort to massive force. But that’s just not how Israelis think. The Israeli mentality is, the Arabs only understand the language of force, and if they get out of hand, you have to go in with the big stick or big club and break some skulls. For Israel the big problem with Goldstone is that it was preventing them from launching future wars. That’s what they were worried about. What the Goldstone recantation did now is that it now gave them the carte blanche to attack again, to use force.

Your argument would be correct if they thought there was another option which they haven’t exercised and which they now will try to exercise. But they don’t think in terms of other options. There’s only one option, the big club.

Larry Derfner and Bernard Avishai have suggested that Israelis have misgivings about all that destruction they perpetrated, to no end.

I don’t think that’s entirely true. They did achieve something. Just as they achieved something in Lebanon in 2006. It was quite clear that henceforth Hezbollah was very careful not to provoke an Israeli attack, after July/August 2006, because Hezbollah knew that an Israeli attack would alienate the whole population against Hezbollah. So during the Gaza assault, Hezbollah was very quiet. I mean, rhetorically it was loud but it didn’t do anything in support of Gaza, and the reason was obvious, because they knew the Lebanese would turn their wrath on Hezbollah if it seemed as if they had provoked a war in defense of not Lebanese but Gazans. The Lebanese would have totally turned on Hezbollah. In the case of Gaza, it had its successes, it turned a lot of the population against Hamas, which is why Hamas had to suddenly inflate the figures for the number of its people killed, because the people were saying, it was Hamas’s reckless decisions that caused the attack. I don’t agree but that’s not the point… Hamas wants to claim a victory where there was no battlefield defeat of Israel and where there was just death and destruction. That’s why they were using the figure of only a few tens of its fighters were killed.

You’re saying that these operations were effective.

There is nothing that doesn’t have an underside. Everything is on balance. On balance Israel got some things out of it. It also suffered some deficits. And different people in Israeli society reckoned the losses and gains differently.

But it’s equivocal.

There was equivocation because in this case, they were going to have to pay a price, because of the Goldstone Report, which they’d never had to pay. This is the first time they were going to have to pay. They have already paid several prices– the loss of immunity to Israeli diplomats and soldiers who traveled abroad, the threats of universal jurisdiction being used against them, and some alienation, not qualitiative yet but quantitative, in the diaspora Jewish communities, they paid a price. But on balance, most Israelis, you have to remember the opinion polls, more than 90 percent of Israelis afterwards continued to support the Israeli assault. So Israeli society was not exactly appalled or even against what the Israeli government did because they don’t pay any price.

I think the main consequence of the Goldstone Report is that for the first time Israel was being threatened not only with a decline in public opinion, support for it, but for the first time it was going to have to face significant consequences, the most dramatic of which was the possibility of being hauled before the International Criminal court but even short of that, the difficulty of its officers and diplomats to travel abroad. And also because of these threats of legal culpability the very real difficulty for Israel to launch future wars, and that for Israel is a disaster. Israel without the war option is their nightmare scenario. That’s exactly why they’re fearful of the revolts in the Arab world. They don’t think that Egypt is going to attack, whether the Muslim Brotherhood or anyone else comes to power. What they’re afraid of is that an Egypt led by a figure like ElBaradei, a comparable figure to Erdogan in Turkey, just won’t let Israel carry on in their reckless and ruthless fashion. Just like Erdogan said when Israel was saber-rattling against Lebanon on, a half year ago, Erdogan visited Beirut and said “Israel cut it out.” Now you know ElBaradei gave an interview a week and a half ago, in which he said the same thing. If Israel attacks Gaza we’re not going to stand idly by, and that’s what Israel’s afraid of. It’s afraid that between Iran, Turkey and Egypt, the three main regional powers, each of them saying that they’re not going to stand idly by, that Israel’s going to lose its war option, and that’s what it feared with the repercussions of the Goldstone report.

The broader fear, or bigger, or comprehensive fear, is that it would no longer be able to carry on in its typically ruthless and reckless fashion, that there was a real possibility of being held legally culpable.

The great thing that’s happened in the Goldstone reconsideration, and Richard Falk echoes this, is that what was a one-day story when the report was published is now a running story. The Financial Times. Roger Cohen. The LA Times. Desmond Travers. People affirmed the report, they said, the world won’t forget. So this is not a disaster.

This is very Polyannaish. I don’t want to be a doomsday prognosticator. But a number of people climbed on the Goldstone report because Goldstone seemed safe. ‘If a Jewish Zionist, the whole thing, if he says it, well now we can say it.’ And people who normally would not have climbed on board did because of Goldstone. Now remember they could have climbed on board with Amnesty’s reports, with Human Rights Watch’s reports, they didn’t say anything, they climbed on board because of Goldstone. After Goldstone recanted, their reputations were dirtied as well because they had publicly aligned themselves with him. So they came out swinging to defend their own reputations. Because they looked foolish. And they didn’t want to suffer the same sort of ridicule as Goldstone did. So they came out swinging not so much because of the content of the report that they wanted now to defend, but because their reputations were at stake. So what’s going to be the consequence of the Goldstone Report– they’re not going to go on board any more, because they’re going to be afraid of another kind of recantation. If some one else in the future of Goldstone’s stature attacks Israel, they’re not going to sign on.

But the retraction just shows that you need to count on the movement people, not the mainstreamers.

Goldstone freed up a lot of Jews to criticize Israel, that’s clear, and now that he’s recanted, no one’s really going to trust future Goldstones.

Look, there were three strategies broadly speaking for so far that have been tested to deal with Israel’s occupation. One is nonviolent civil disobedience whether in Bil’in or flotillas. A second strand has been the BDS. And a third strand has been holding Israel legally culpable. And the third strand was the Goldstone strategy, so to speak, holding Israel legally culpable. What was so disastrous about what Goldstone did is now it’s going to be very tough to go in front of Palestinian or even activist audiences and talk about the legal weapon. Because they’re all going to say “oh really– Goldstone!” He’s delegitimized– you talk about delegitimizing Israel, he has delegitimized before the activist community the legal weapon for holding Israel accountable. International law is going to be a very tough sell now, because everyone is going to say, “oh yeah, international law, you mean the Goldstone Report.”

What was the fate of the report before the reconsideration?

It was dead. But that wasn’t—you have to be clear about why. It was not dead because the weapon itself was defective. It was killed because of the Palestinian leadership in Geneva killed the report. As a matter of fact Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, they both condemned the the Human Rights Council after the first postponement, when the first followup was issued. They condemned the HRC for then saying let’s have another postponement, which became the second followup committee, for inaction. But the reason the HRC didn’t do anything and didn’t refer the Report to the General Assembly and the Security Council was because of the Palestinian delegation. So it wasn’t Goldstone, it was the Palestinian leadership …. What happened was they kept Saying in the HRC let’s have another followup– three months followup, three months followup– and these eternal follow-ups resulted in the report dying.

But if the Goldstone Report was dying and I acknowledge it was moribund it was not because the weapon itself was defective, it’s because the Palestinian leadership was sold out. The distinction– I still think it’s a powerful weapon, but it’s going to be a very tough sell now, I know that.

Now something strange did happen. They did pass a resolution in the last session of the Human Rights Council calling for the Goldstone Report to be referred to the GA, and for some reason it’s nowhere on the web, and it was a day or two days after the HRC passed the resolution that Goldstone dropped the bombshell, and maybe that’s why they didn’t post the resolution.

I don’t see that the process has been changed by the Goldstone Report. It depends on whether you want to look at it bureaucratically and diplomatically, or do you want to look at as, ultimately we want to build a movement. That’s about public opinion. We have no control over the bureaucracies and we have no control over our public officials at this point. So it’s all about trying to create a movement. It’s about credibility and in that respect the damage was fatal. Our credibility in the court of public opinion has been seriously damaged, because we had a very powerful weapon, the Goldstone Report.

And now there’s this giant asterisk next to Goldstone Report.

It’s just the reverse. That’s the biggest tragedy. Because after the assault on Gaza, the big banners were Goldstone. At the University of Chicago, when the former Prime Minister spoke, they unfurled the banner on the balcony– Goldstone in Arabic and English. When Olmert spoke, two banners.

Well now you know what’s going to happen? When Israel launches its next murderous war and you accuse it of having committed war crimes, what do you think they’re going to say. Goldstone. It’s just the reverse now, it’s become their weapon. That’s the most painful blow of all, Goldstone has now become their weapon.

Have you seen victories ala Goldstone in the past? 

Let’s put it this way, my good friend Mouin Rabbani whose judgment I defer to, he’s still of the opinion that if you had a choice between no Goldstone and Goldstone plus recantation, he says we’re still better off with Goldstone plus recantation. It’s an on balance argument. That to the extent that Goldstone did force any public debate on what happened in Gaza, and even though his retraction did cause a lot of harm, Mouin says it’s still better on balance. Now my lawyer Lynne Bernabei said Norman, I always thought that the Goldstone Report was too good to be true from a historical sense. And there’s a lot of truth to that. The victory we got with Goldstone came too soon, and she says if you look at where our movement is at, the Goldstone Report was like a godsend, it came almost too soon. How could we have had such a fantastic victory when our movement is so pitiful? She said when you look at it in terms of where we are, there’s truth to that, it was too good to be true, and it was bound to happen, the second shoe dropping. Noura Erekat, what she wrote in the Al Jazeera, if you remember her first statement which I was struck by because it was exactly right, she said, “in the wake of a monumental victory in the human rights community,” yes it was a monumental victory and maybe we didn’t yet deserve a monumental victory. An absolutely mainstream Zionist Jewish judge saying Israel should be hauled before the International Criminal Court? [Laughing.] That was really dramatic. That’s why the Israelis went berserk.

So the Goldstone Report or I should say the Goldstone recantation was actually a sobering moment about where we really are. The Goldstone Report– to some extent it gave us unrealistic hopes, it wasn’t yet grounded in the reality of our movement.

And now look what it’s done to Israeli dissidents. He pissed on them, they were the ones who came forth and said there were war crimes committed, Breaking the Silence. Now he said, they didn’t commit war crimes.

He didn’t say that.

[Angry] You know– I don’t go for that argument. I’m not going to parse words. He knew exactly what he was doing, he knew exactly how it was going to be spun. The moment I read it I said, they’re going to take two phrases from here, the war crimes thing and the intentionality thing, it was so perfectly obvious, and of course they ran with it within 24 hours. They did. [Goldstone: “I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes.”] He knew what he was doing. If he did it. I’m still not convinced.

Huh?

This is purely speculative, I’m the first one to acknowledge it, but I don’t think that what he wrote was the product of his volition or reconsideration. I think there are grounds for the belief that he was pressured, as Dugard put it in very diplomatic language, he said, what made him change his mind remains a closely guarded secret.

When someone says to you or me, we are threatening the destruction of the Jewish people, we are being pressured, too.

I’m not talking about emotional pressure. I meant pressure in a more narrow sense.

Why’d he fold?

None of the explanations to date are at all convincing, that’s for sure One that he gives we can rule out straight away, there was no new information. That one we can rule out. Zero new information. The only new information since the issuance of the Goldstone Report confirmed its basic findings. Exactly zero– we can quantify it– has undermined in any way any of his findings. That’s a fact. So we can rule out Goldstone’s own pretext for issuing the recantation.

So we then look at the evidence. What’s the evidence show? Goldstone is known to be an ambitious and opportunist person. I don’t entirely fault him because you cant get to the top of the UN system without being ambitious and opportunist, that’s just the name of the game. That’s fact number one. Fact number two is the tide has been turning in Goldstone’s favor this past year. Haaretz runs an editorial saying that Goldstone was right, says that Israeli investigations are validating what Goldstone found. In the United States, Tikkun gives him an award for his outstanding achievement. In South Africa his home community– when Alan Dershowitz goes to visit South Africa two or three weeks ago, a large ad is taken out by legal luminaries like Dennis Davis on the constitutional court attacking Dershowitz for disaparaging Tutu and also disparaging Goldstone. When they tried to block Goldstone from attending his grandson’s bar mitzvah, it was they who were left with egg on their face, not Goldstone.

So here is the question: Why would an ambitious opportunist judge commit professional suicide right at the moment when the tide was turning in his favor? That doesn’t make sense at all. Everyone says it was because of the pressure. Yes there was huge pressure the first year, but the tide has been turning this past year.

Point two, Goldstone submits an op-ed to The New York Times March 22, they turn it down apparently because there’s no news in it. Then Goldstone puts in the bombshell, submits it to the Washngton Post. So what’s the reasonable scenario? Goldstone has a proverbial gun put to his head, he’s told he has to issue a recantation, he doesn’t want to issue a fullblooded recantation because it’s going to destroy his reputation. So he writes up a wishy-washy recantation. He submits the wishy-washy recantation to the Times. The Times says there’s nothing here, there’s no news. The clock is now ticking, Goldstone is panicking.

Why is the clock ticking?

Because there’s a proverbial gun to his head. Goldstone is now panicking and he rewrites his oped and includes the bombshell. He cant resubmit it to the New York Times, because they’re going to say, “What– you changed your opinion from yesterday?” So he submits it to the Washington Post. That’s the only thing that makes sense to me. What is the actual threat? I don’t know. I’ve told you this is completely speculative.

You say proverbial on the one hand and on the other the clock is ticking. What level of actual physical threat are you suggesting?

I don’t know. Listen Mossad, they bungle operations, but they’re also pretty effective. I don’t know. I have no idea. Little Norman lives in Ocean Park by Coney Island, he has no connections to anybody. It just doesn’t make sense to me. I admit it’s purely speculative.

I should say, a third point, Goldstone is a career bureaucrat. He’s 72 years old. He knows the ins and outs of the bureaucratic community, it’s his alpha and omega. Why doesn’t Goldstone consult his colleagues or the U.N. before he drops the bombshell? It’s very obvious why, Because he would have had to justify it to them, and they would have said, ok Richard let’s see the new evidence, let’s see what you’re going to write. But Richard this statement here is very murky, and Richard, this statemen can be spun out of control, and Richard this and Richard that and he knew he couldn’t defend it. My friends at the Hague who I talked about it with, they were most shocked by the violation of U.N. protocol, that he didn’t go to the U.N. first.

And you have to ask yourself why, and the reason is on the one hand he knows he has to get something in print but on the other hand he knows he can’t defend it. It’s interesting, he was willing to talk to AP and give his so-called recantation of the recantation, but he wouldn’t talk to Roger Cohen. He wouldn’t talk to anyone who is knowledgeable and who he would have to defend it against– because he knows it’s indefensible.

Weiss offers his theory, that Goldstone issued the reconsideration because he loves Israel and wants to save it.

Goldstone built his entire reputation and devoted the last 50 years of his life to building his reputation in the international legal and human rights community. He was not a Zionist in the sense of having invested a large or significant part of his life into Zionism. He worked for ORT [Jewish charity], he was on the Hebrew University board of directors…

They’re all like that, Norman.

This is not a focus of his life. His life was the legal community, the human rights community, that’s where he invested his home being, and you’re telling me that because of love of Israel he’s going to commit professional suicide. He’s an ambitious and opportunistic person, it’s not Israel.

You don’t buy my theory, that’s fine.

What I would like to buy is a copy of that op-ed he sent to the Times March 22.

How much would you pay?

I would pay $2,000. You know Jack Benny, your money or your life? “I’m thinking.” It would be an interesting question to ask Mr. Goldstone, why don’t you release it, what do you have to hide?

I have to go. What am I missing?

I think the most important point to get at is there isn’t a scratch, a jot, a scintilla of new information that could have rationally convinced Goldstone to issue his recantation. And so that particular explanation, which many people are writing me– “Norman, why can’t you believe that Goldstone simply changed his mind?”– I said, I would believe it if saw a basis for it. I’ve gone through every scratch of evidence, there’s no basis for it.

Why would you believe an Israeli claim about a drone image that they’ve never shown any more than you would believe that there were two terrorists at the door of the al-Maqadmah mosque. No evidence! Is that how a prosecutor or a judge– is that the basis on which a judge or a prosecutor would dramatically reverse him or herself– no independently assessed evidence? Where is the drone image? Hold on for one second!

[Finkelstein leaves room and comes back with a stack of papers.] You’re loaded for bear

This is nothing, this is just the epilogue. I must have read at this point about 100,000 pages of human rights reports. Desmond Travers said by now there must be 300 human rights reports on what happened in Gaza. This [a report compiled by the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in 2010, Hamas and the Terrorist Threat from the Gaza Strip: The main findings of the Goldstone Report versus the factual findings] is their main defense that the Israelis have issued. It’s full of the drone photographs. It’s full of them, these are all drone photographs. [Finkelstein flips through document showing scores of aerial photographs] Why didn’t they produce the drone photograph of the Al Samouni home?

[Finkelstein refers to the January 5, 2009 helicopter gunship attack on the outskirts of Gaza City that killed 29 of 120 family members who had been ordered by Israeli troops on the ground to stay in a house].

You can’t say it’s a military secret, the whole book is just full of drone photographs!

Look here! Look here–every single page!

So if this evidence is going to exonerate them of the most shocking single episode of the Gaza massacre, why didn’t they produce it, why did they even wait 22 months before they even began to hint at the explanation?

Where did Israelis make the statement on which Goldstone relied, that based on the drone image, they thought men were carrying rocket launchers to the house, when they were carrying firewood?

It’s never been made. It’s just, “we hear that, we hear that.” Because none of the investigations have been publicly transcripted, there’s no evidence. There’s nothing!

[Goldstone in the Washington Post:

[The shelling of the home was apparently the consequence of an Israeli commander’s erroneous interpretation of a drone image, and an Israeli officer is under investigation for having ordered the attack. While the length of this investigation is frustrating, it appears that an appropriate process is underway, and I am confident that if the officer is found to have been negligent, Israel will respond accordingly.]

The only thing we have transcripts for are the three indictments which are criminal indictments. Even those haven’t been made publicly available. But the investigations, the Al Samouni investigation, there’s been no indictment– there is nothing to read. There is nothing. There is no physical evidence of the drone evidence. It’s never been produced.There is no written record. There is no visible proof of this drone image.

Ask yourself a simple question. The guy gets a drone image he claims of what looks like men carrying RPGs, rocket launchers, ok– the first thing he’s going to do is check which of his troops are in the area. Because he’s not going to send in helicopter gunships if his troops are in the house. If the image is so fuzzy that you can’t even make out the rocket launchers– well the Israeli troops commandeered many homes. He’s going to check first.

Those guys with the RPGs could be Israelis?

It could be anything! So he’s going to check with his troops on the ground. You’re telling me he didn’t ring up his troops on the ground and say, I’m going to send in two helicopter gunships, are there any Israelis in the area, and then we have the six Israeli outposts there– you’re telling me he didn’t ask, Is there any suspicious movement there, and they didn’t respond to him, there’s nothing. Does any of that make any sense?

What are you saying?

I’m saying he probably saw something– yeah there were some people collecting wood. “Did you give them permission to leave the house?” “No.” “I’m going in with the gunship.” That’s how they act. Remember the order was, kill anything that moves, shoot anything that moves. The moment they tell him on the ground, yeah there are some people moving around– shoot anything that moves. But the idea that he’s going to send in helicopter gunships without checking with the Israeli troops who were there, it’s just ridiculous. Otherwise not 4 Israelis would have been killed due to friendly fire, 400 would have been killed.

But the most amazing thing is, Goldstone didn’t even pose those questions. Every page of this has drone pictures. And you’re telling me they’re not going to reproduce the drone image that is going to exonerate them of the most shocking single incident of the attack from which their whole reputation is bruised? You’re telling me they only first mentioned it 22 months after the killings? No– please, the Israelis, if you take the case of what happened on Gaza Beach [in 2006], they immediately have their press conference and they say it was a mistake and it was this, it was that. That’s what they always do. Why are they waiting 22 months to even hint at this drone image, what are they hiding? They never said anything about the Al Samouni case.

Gaza beach was sui generis, not during an operation.

I agree. But that’s why I keep quoting here–everyone was calling Al-Samouni the single most shocking incident. So why didn’t they try to clear their name of the single most shocking incident? If you said to me, it was one of among 10,000 incidents, they’re not going to try to explain every one, fair enough, but the single most shocking incident, and 22 months later they come up with this explanation, just as they came up with there were 2 terrorists standing in front of the mosque that killed 13 people with a rocket attack, and I’m supposed to sit here and say, “oh the Israelis said it.” But that’s what Goldstone said. So he should have fucking repudiated everything in the report, because the Israelis had an explanation for every single incident. The El Badr flour mill incident. “No we didn’t fire a missile, no it was a tank battle,” even though they found an Israeli bomb in the flour mill– no it was a tank battle. And the Sawafeary chicken farm, well we had to clear the area. They had an explanation for everything! I’m really shocked– the Israelis have an explanation for everything. I’m really shocked. [sarcastic] I never thought they would have one. This takes it. It’s not believable.

Have you ever met Goldstone?

Yeah, I was in Gaza, he was there at the time. He had a press conference with [commissioner Christine] Chinkin, and we [Code Pink group] requested a meeting. He didn’t know me.

Did you introduce yourself?

I spoke. I said, just be fair. I asked him, as a Jew, as everything, be fair. I told him this is an important moment. Either you’re going to get Palestinians to finally believe that Jews can be decent or not– so be fair. Don’t stretch the truth, there’s no need to embellish it, just be fair. I was a little hopeful because he said, to a room full of people, there have been many reports issued on what happened, and we shouldn’t forget the Dugard report [for the Arab League]. That made me hopeful that the Goldstone report would be of quality because he respected Dugard, and Dugard had come down very hard on Israel.

Do you remember that he told Bill Moyers he would have nightmares the rest of his life after what he saw in Gaza?

What I remember was Goldstone said how fearful he was to go to Gaza because he was afraid he would be kindaped. And then he was really moved by the generosity and warmth of the people. And this was such a terrible betrayal of that. That would give me a nightmare– to betray their generosity and warmth this way.

So you related to him as a Jew?

It’s a consideration. Goldstone is Jewish. Some people have said to me I made an error by conflating the person with the book, and we had made too much of a big deal about who Goldstone was, and therefore made ourselves very vulnerable to his betrayal. The problem was, there were thousands of page of human rights reports before Goldstone and they were all ignored. You couldn’t separate the report from the person. What made the report the report was the person. It’s true the Goldstone Report was the most comprehensive, but legally it was not the most impressive, Dugard’s was a much more impressive legal analysis. And it was very far from the most devastating report. Goldstone didn’t call for an embargo of arms to Israel, Amnesty did. Goldstone did not call the use of white phosphorus war crimes—Human Rights Watch did. Goldstone did not charge any Israeli with genocidal acts, but the Dugard report did. The Dugard report said that individuals might be guilty of genocidal acts. So the Goldstone Report was in crucial respects although the most broadly sweeping the most conservative.

And what made it the report of the moment was the person. My friends– you know I talk to my friends, they said it unleashed all this ugly anti-semitism among Arabs. I’m embarrassed to have to say it, but my best friend called me up and said, his first words were, you can never trust a Jew, in the end they’ll stick by their own. That’s what he did.

Thanks Norman. I feel like you’re a Talmudist, and teaching me how to read.

I work out of my room. You remember the famous scene in Watch on the Rhine, the little boy goes up and asks the guy on the train, he’s a partisan, what do you do for a living?

He says, “I fight against fascism.”

So—I read documents. That’s all I do. Read documents.

About Philip Weiss

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

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