Goldberg’s Goldstone smear

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Jeffrey Goldberg’s recent attack on J Street included a swipe at Justice Richard Goldstone. Emphasis mine:

J Street helped arrange visits by Judge Richard Goldstone, the South African jurist appointed by the U.N. to investigate the most recent conflict in Gaza, to Capitol Hill. Goldstone’s work, heavily reliant on Hamas for uncorroborated information, has been condemned on both the left and the right…. 

This is a serious charge, and a chestnut of the Israel lobby. Last year AIPAC said that the Goldstone investigation was “rigged.” Alan Dershowitz elaborated: the report “could have been drafted by Hamas extremists” and members of the fact-finding mission “were accompanied on their investigations in Gaza by actual Hamas activists who showed them only what they wanted them to see.”

Goldstone specifically refuted the charge in an interview with Bill Moyers in October 2009:

BILL MOYERS: What were your standards of evidence, as you conducted these discussions, investigations and hearings in Gaza?

RICHARD GOLDSTONE: Well, we spoke to well over 100 witnesses. We didn’t, obviously, take at face value everything we were told.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, one criticism was that those witnesses were supplied by Hamas militants.

RICHARD GOLDSTONE: Well, in fact, that’s not correct. We made our own inquiries, and we decided who we would see. We weren’t given a list by Hamas or anybody else. We chose incidents, 36 out of as I say, could have been hundreds. But we chose the people we wanted to see, and certainly, there was no Hamas presence anywhere near the vicinity of where we saw people. There were malicious statements to the effect that they were, but I can give you every assurance that it didn’t happen. And I can assure you that if it did happen, I wouldn’t have been prepared to continue to operate under those situations. I would have insisted that they leave. And if I couldn’t achieve that, I would have abandoned the investigation.

So Goldberg is calling Goldstone a liar.

Goldstone’s description of his methods is borne out by a reading of his report. You will find that while the UN Human Rights Council mission interviewed Hamas officials on such issues as the character of the police force that was devastated by Israeli attacks, the mission relied overwhelmingly in its investigation on interviews of scores of Palestinian individuals (including for instance, the Fatah father whose 13 and 18-year-old sons were killed by an Israeli mortar). It also refers to many reports of non-governmental organizations, from the Palestinian Red Crescent Society to B’Tselem to Human Rights Watch to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. There are extensive quotes from, say, Eyad el Sarraj of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, and Sara Roy of Harvard, and Breaking the Silence’s Israeli soldier testimonies about their actions in Gaza.

Even the report’s finding that it could not credit or discredit Israel’s allegation that Palestinian militants fired from alongside Al Quds Hospital before Israelis destroyed that hospital– Goldstone didn’t base that conclusion on interviews with Hamas, but on interviews with doctors and other witnesses.

I don’t see any “uncorroborated information” that comes from Hamas.

Furthermore, the Goldstone report goes after Hamas. It accuses the military wing of Hamas of likely war crimes in its attacks on southern Israeli towns. And it accused Hamas of human rights violations:

[S]ecurity services under the control of the Gaza authorities [Hamas in Goldstone’s definition] carried out extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests, detentions and ill-treatment of people, in particular political opponents, which constitute serious violations of the human rights to life, to liberty and security of the person, to freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, to be protected against arbitrary arrest and detention, to a fair and impartial legal proceeding; and to freedom of opinion and expression, including freedom to hold opinions without interference.

So I wonder. What facts support Goldberg’s damaging assertion?

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