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Finkelstein on Goldstone

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After Richard Goldstone published his staggering op-ed in the Washington Post last April, taking back assertions he made in the U.N. Human Rights Council report on the Gaza conflict, Norman Finkelstein came out with a pamphlet titled “Goldstone Recants,” anatomizing the judge’s decision.

So earlier this week when Goldstone published an op-ed in the New York Times saying it is a “slander” to characterize Israeli rule in the West Bank as “apartheid,” I asked Norman Finkelstein what he thought of Goldstone’s piece. 

Finkelstein first sent me an email he had sent to Goldstone at 1 in the morning after reading the op-ed. Then I phoned him and Finkelstein elaborated on his view. First the email, then the phone conversation. The email:

You might recall Irving Kaufman as the judge who pronounced the death penalty on the Rosenbergs. Throughout his subsequent professional career Kaufman did everything he could to rehabilitate his reputation, and to be remembered as a decent liberal. But still he predicted that when he died, the first sentence of his obituary would read, “Irving Kaufman, who sentenced Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to death, died yesterday of….” And sure enough, that’s exactly how every obit began, and ended.

You can never rehabilitate your name. You will forever be remembered as the judge who retracted the report bearing your name. Like Kaufman’s sentence on the Rosenbergs, your recantation was not exactly a glorious moment. The dignified thing now would be for you to quietly retire. Your persistence in trying to reestablish your name will only turn you into an object of contempt and ridicule. A friend of mine who attended your lecture in Cleveland expressed her revulsion at how you sought to curry favor with the American establishment.

Now you are writing embarrassingly silly things about Israel. Do you really believe that Israel needed to steal 10 percent of Palestinian land in order to prevent terror attacks on it? Hasn’t the good judge ever heard of constructing a wall on your own border?

You should really stop. You are inviting disgust, even from those, like myself, who struggle to see something redeeming or extenuating in your person.

I followed up with Finkelstein by phone. Our conversation:

“I was enraged at the first op-ed,” Finkelstein said. “This one was just embarrassingly silly. What other kind of authority does a judge have than moral authority? If you profess to be a judge, and you bow to any opportunistic occasion, then you’ve lost your authority as a judge.

“To use the political expression, he flipflopped [with Washington Post piece]. Now he has to do everything he can to demonstrate that he is not a flipflopper, and that his current position is really his consistent position.

“Many people in the McCarthy era did the same thing. ‘I didn’t really recant because of the pressure. I really believe the Soviet Union is terrible.’”

Finkelstein said that Goldstone has now completely alienated the human rights community, and “the Washington Israel axis of power” is what he has left.

What are Goldstone’s objectives?

“His personal objectives are to reestablish his moral authority. Because he’s now treated with contempt. “[So the purpose of this oped is to say,] What he did was heartfelt, it wasn’t just caving in to pressure. It was not just an ephemeral act, but part of a real deep commitment. There was conviction behind it. He has to show a pattern.”

How much contempt is there for Goldstone?

There is, Finkelstein said, “a vast network of human rights organizations and NGOs. He was at the peak of it. And now he is completely persona non grata. Because by repudiating the Goldstone Report he repudiated what all those organizations have reported. Desmond Travers said there were 300 human rights reports on Gaza. So he broke with a vast community, and they are not going to forgive him.”

As for the other side, Goldstone’s reconsideration of the Goldstone Report was an important victory, Finkelstein said. And to that victory add the repudiation of the UN Human Rights Council report on the Gaza flotilla by the subsequent Palmer commission report to the UN Secretary General. The Secretary General’s report on the flotilla “nullified” the HRC report that said the siege was illegal, he said. And now newspaper accounts typically state that the UN declared the Gaza blockade to be legal.

“They are fighting back hard now. And with an element of unprecedented ruthlessness. There is no precedent for a recantation of a report by the head of a UN appointed committee.

“The overall trajectory is that they [the pro-Israel side] are losing. But these sorts of things demonstrate a real ruthlessness, and a certain amount of success. It is troubling that they have managed now to negate within the space of a short period of time, to negate two major reports.”

What about your email to the judge? 

“I’m approaching 60. He’s 73. The difference between us is not so great. I was saying, you should really stop. You’re making a fool of yourself. You’re not fooling anyone.

“Elia Kazan after he sang for McCarthy won many award and made many famous movies, but till the end of his life he was haunted by what he did in the McCarthy era, to the point that many years later when he was given a lifetime achievement award by the Academy, a huge controversy erupted, and many walked out.

“Goldstone is just like Judge [Irving] Kaufman and Elia Kazan. He will never escape what he did. He can run but he can’t hide.”

Finkelstein said that after he testified, Elia Kazan made “On the Waterfront” –as Victor Navasky demonstrated, in an attempt to justify his own actions visavis the corrupt Communist party. The hero of the movie was the one who attacked the corrupt union.

“Goldstone’s op ed is his ‘On the Waterfront’… his way of saying, I sincerely believe this. But everybody knows you caved in.”

You’re not angry at him?

“Human beings are frail vessels, fragile vessels. I strain to see something redeeming and extenuating in you, I wrote to him.”

And Finkelstein said that this op ed did no harm to the cause. Because he is useless to both sides at this point. The pro-Israel side can’t use him either, because he has no authority left. Can Dershowitz cite Goldstone as an authority? No.

What about the idea that Goldstone always respected the powers that be?

“From apartheid south Africa to post apartheid south Africa, he preserved his respectability and moral authority. He thought he could do it again and land on his feet. No. Richard, you won’t land on your feet this time.”

So he never had a spine?

“I say with a certain amount of reluctance, that what Dershowitz had to say was correct, Goldstone knew which way the winds were blowing, he wanted to come off as a savior of Israel, and win the Nobel prize. He saw that the conflict is in the endgame.”

When Finkelstein read the Goldstone Report,  he went on, “I was hoping for a real conversion. He spoke with great warmth of the people of Gaza. I wanted to believe it. But you know what– it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.”

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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81 Responses

  1. Potsherd2 on November 3, 2011, 11:01 am

    And his recantation has done him no good at all with the pro-Israel side. Their spite hasn’t abated a bit, and all he does by bringing all this up again is to refuel it.

    He made his choice to turn his back on the pro-justice community and seek forgiveness from the tribe of Zionist Jews, but he will never receive it.

  2. on November 3, 2011, 11:04 am

    Mr Goldstone’s attitude reminds me of a man, who says: “Oh yes, I do have my personal ideas and opinions on things, but now we have such uncertain times that, just in case ,I will not agree with my ideas and opinions”.
    I adore Mr Finkelstein ,(although it doesn’t mean that I agree with him on everything.) I do admire his moral integrity, honesty, intelligence, hard work and, most of all ,courageousness. Truly wonderful man.

    • dahoit on November 4, 2011, 12:26 pm

      Yeah,one has to admire Mr.Finklesteins pursuit of truth,a rarity today among the followers of Zion.Imagine all the spam and viruses unleashed on his computer.He must have an asbestos firewall.

  3. Chu on November 3, 2011, 11:38 am

    Watching Goldstone at Brandeis, it was apparent he was the soft-spoken gentleman and didn’t have a lot of fight in him when he was debating Dore Gold some years ago. Now that he’s going soft on Israel after his extensive Gaza report makes us all wonder. Finkelstein would never take it on the chin like that, especially debating the biggest phony of them all, Dersh.

    It’s not really a surprise to see another truth teller from the tribe come grovelling back for redemption. At this point he seems more afraid of the tribe’s vengeance, but so are all the politicians and the US President.

  4. MRW on November 3, 2011, 11:59 am

    His phone conversation with you was wonderful, Phil.

    [P.S. What happened to Paul Mutter’s wonderful Stuxnet piece? It is an excellent counterpoint to to NPR’s limpid dishonest dreck on the topic this AM.]

    • annie on November 3, 2011, 12:01 pm

      what a pillar in our community, there is no one else like norm.

    • marc b. on November 3, 2011, 12:35 pm

      yes. where? it was particularly interesting given the whole german submarine controversy and the stuxnet design to attack a siemen’s system. siemen’s and nokia were reported to have provided technology to Iran that would permit the

      Iranian government [] to [] enga[e] in a practice often called deep packet inspection, which enables authorities to not only block [online] communication but to monitor it to gather information about individuals, as well as alter it for disinformation purposes, according to these experts.

      The monitoring capability was provided, at least in part, by a joint venture of Siemens AG, the German conglomerate, and Nokia Corp., the Finnish cellphone company, in the second half of 2008, Ben Roome, a spokesman for the joint venture, confirmed.

      see also for a (dated) history of german-israeli cooperation

  5. annie on November 3, 2011, 12:00 pm

    norm is so concise and cuts right to the heart of the matter doesn’t he. i would not want to be on the receiving end of an email like that. goldstone should take norm’s advice and silently retire. he’s worthless to anyone now and can only dig himself a deeper grave.

    • Kathleen on November 3, 2011, 2:18 pm

      His intellect combined with his moral commitment to justice cuts through all of the hogwash and lies through inspired thinking and words that get rightt to the core of this issue.

      • annie on November 3, 2011, 2:43 pm

        an american hero

      • Real Jew on November 3, 2011, 3:29 pm

        I must agree. When I began to really research this topic and get involved Norman’s name kept popping up everywhere. And after a few articles, books, and videos I was sold. He is an incredible friend to Palestine (and Israel) and an exceptional human being. I’m yet to watch the biographical movie of his. Does anybody know where I can find it online?

      • annie on November 3, 2011, 3:40 pm

        i’ve searched online and couldn’t find it but i’ve watched it at least 5 times. a great movie.

      • on November 3, 2011, 3:44 pm

        “He is an incredible friend to Palestine (and Israel) “.
        And Israel?? Really ??
        I remember him calling Israel a “lunatic state” ,”straight from the darkest pits of hell”.
        If you call your friends “lunatics”, “straight from the darkest pits of hell” ,then I can understand how you can relate to it.

      • Pixel on November 3, 2011, 4:23 pm

        American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein

        Scroll down for the links.

      • annie on November 3, 2011, 4:40 pm

        straight from the darkest pits of hell?

        i’d like to see that quote if it exists.

      • on November 3, 2011, 4:54 pm

        “When asked how he, as the son of Holocaust survivors, felt about Israel’s operation in Gaza, Finkelstein replied:

        It has been a long time since I felt any emotional connection with the state of Israel, which relentlessly and brutally and inhumanly keeps these vicious, murderous wars. It is a vandal state. There is a Russian writer who once described vandal states as Genghis Khan with a telegraph. Israel is Genghis Khan with a computer. I feel no emotion of affinity with that state. I have some good friends and their families there, and of course I would not want any of them to be hurt.
        That said, sometimes I feel that Israel has come out of the boils of the hell, a satanic state[66]”

        Ok . It was “the boils of the hell”, not “the darkest pits of hell”.
        I knew that it was something with hell and Israel.
        English is my second language after all, and sometimes it shows:)

      • lysias on November 3, 2011, 5:01 pm

        Has anybody ever called it “Israhell”?

      • on November 3, 2011, 5:01 pm

        BTW this is one of the reasons that I love the man.
        He just says it, as it is.
        No need to embellish ,or be overly diplomatic or proper about certain things.

      • lysias on November 3, 2011, 5:01 pm

        I rented American Radical from Netflix. They have it.

      • annie on November 3, 2011, 5:02 pm

        ah, 19 January 2009. yes, there were many times during that massacre i had similar feelings.

      • Antidote on November 3, 2011, 6:52 pm

        “It is a vandal state”

        What’s wrong with the Vandals? On a historic note, the Vandals, a Germanic (or Germanic/Slavic/Gothic?) tribe, only acquired a bad rep during the Renaissance, i.e. when the Romans, after several centuries of supposedly superior and more humane Christian ‘civilization’, recovered their reputation as a great and possibly superior civilization.

        Sure, the Vandals sacked Rome, also besieged Carthage (which had already been sacked by Rome – and Greece, also the Byzantine Empire and, later, the Arabs/Mulims). The denigration of Carthage was much less due to ideological and cultural differences between ‘democratic’ Greece and the Roman Republic than to trade wars – the usual. The Vandals adopted Latin as the official language, so it’s doubtful to what extent they ‘destroyed’ Roman culture, as was the common accusation in Renaissance Europe. There is also considerable debate whether the people of Carthage fared better or worse under the Romans or the Vandals. The worst peace of all, the ‘Carthagian Peace’ (often cited in connection with the peace inflicted on post-WW II Germany), was inflicted by the Romans, not the Vandals. The ancient city of Carthage, destroyed by the Romans, is located in present day Tunesia, which more recently kick-started the ‘Arab Spring’.

        It’s complicated. Intro:

      • ToivoS on November 3, 2011, 7:26 pm

        I agree the Vandals, Visgoths and Huns (especially the Huns) get an unfair rap. They were attacked, their cities and encampments burned and their people taken into slavery for centuries by the Romans. After a while they just got tired of that crap and cashed in for some well deserve revenge.

        Artemius (a German slave that served in the Roman army) began the push back as early the reign of Augustus. He engineered the destruction of three Roman legions which was the equivalent of about 15% of the Roman forces world wide. Empires have been suspicious of mercenaries in their armies ever since. Well a little OT, but be suspicious of any propaganda supporting the superiority of Western civilization.

      • dahoit on November 4, 2011, 12:32 pm

        True friends point out their friends mistakes,and don’t give them approval for errors that destroy their credibility.
        User friends won’t but will gladly pat those alleged friends on the back,as they smirk at their lack of conviction.

      • Antidote on November 4, 2011, 5:41 pm

        ToivoS, as a ‘true friend’ I feel compelled now to correct the name of the Roman slave: Armenius

      • Real Jew on November 4, 2011, 10:58 pm

        Dumvit, Norman is a great friend to Israel just not in a conventional way. A true friend let’s you know when your heading down the wrong path. A true friend doesnt just sit on the sidelines while you destroy yourself and harm the people who care for you. This is the relationship Norman has with israel. That’d why he’s a good friend to Israel.

      • Real Jew on November 4, 2011, 11:02 pm

        Thanks Pixel . Awesome

      • ToivoS on November 5, 2011, 12:14 am

        Thank you for the correction.

      • on November 6, 2011, 7:59 am

        So, in a way, the Nazi Germany had a lot of good friends.
        They not only let the Nazi Germany know ,that they were heading down the wrong path, they actually removed them phycically from the wrong path.
        That’s why “allies forces” were a “good friend” of Nazi Germany.
        Much better than Italy and Japan.
        And I’m sure The Nazi Germans were thankful to have such a “good friends” , the same way Israel is thankful to Mr Finkelstein for being such a “good friend” to them.

  6. mikeo on November 3, 2011, 12:13 pm

    I’m going to a talk by Finkelstein next week

    Never seen him speak in the flesh so really looking forward to it.

    I like the way he is undiplomatic, unapologetic, and doesn’t suffer fools gladly

    It’s refreshing

  7. seafoid on November 3, 2011, 12:16 pm

    “The overall trajectory is that they [the pro-Israel side] are losing. But these sorts of things demonstrate a real ruthlessness, and a certain amount of success.”

    all the way to Masada redux

    • Kathleen on November 3, 2011, 2:15 pm

      Losing as they build and expand illegal settlements? Don’t get that. They clearly do not care about international law, agreements or about what the international community thinks. So how are they losing?

      • seafoid on November 3, 2011, 3:58 pm

        Losing the argument. Losing sympathy. Losing diplomatic support.
        And what do they think will be the end point? That the world will recognise that there is no such thing as Palestine ?

        Israel is like the Lehman Balance sheet . You can deny reality but it catches you in end .

      • Chaos4700 on November 3, 2011, 4:20 pm

        Also, losing the war they are about to declare.

      • Sumud on November 4, 2011, 9:14 am

        Losing as they build and expand illegal settlements? Don’t get that.

        The settlement project has been a fantastic success, so successful in fact that it will be then end of Israel. Even if Israel wanted to it can’t halt or abandon the settlements, they are a runaway train. It’s the chickens of 1967 – the great gamble – come home to roost. At the time Israelis thought they were only gambling with gaining the final 22% of Palestine. Less than two decades after the Nakba, which had been another fabulously successful zionist undertaking, Israeli hubris held that they could do it again. Little did they know…

        Both Ehuds have said that when Palestinians embark on a campaign for one-person/one-vote in mandate Palestine that Israel is done for. We don’t know just when that will be, but it isn’t far away.

  8. seafoid on November 3, 2011, 12:31 pm

    “You might recall Irving Kaufman as the judge who pronounced the death penalty on the Rosenbergs. Throughout his subsequent professional career Kaufman did everything he could to rehabilitate his reputation, and to be remembered as a decent liberal. But still he predicted that when he died, the first sentence of his obituary would read, “Irving Kaufman, who sentenced Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to death, died yesterday of….” And sure enough, that’s exactly how every obit began, and ended.”

    Finkelstein knows Zionism is doomed . Question is how many people have to die first.

  9. Dex on November 3, 2011, 1:05 pm

    It’s too late, Goldstone, you already wrote it, and said it…

    NO take-backs!

    • on November 3, 2011, 8:40 pm

      Very interesting video. Thank you.

  10. Kathleen on November 3, 2011, 2:14 pm

    So so respect Finkelstein. Has been out on the front lines of this issue for a long time. What a committed and brave man.

    Finkelstein: “They are fighting back hard now. And with an element of unprecedented ruthlessness. There is no precedent for a recantation of a report by the head of a UN appointed committee.”

    Sure would like to know how many times and how Goldstone was pressured, threatened etc. Would think that the UN committee could legitimately investigate. But would Goldstone request such an investigation? Wonder if his committee members could demand and investigation into any threats etc?

  11. Kathleen on November 3, 2011, 2:20 pm

    Sponsor bring Norm Finkelstein to your community

    I have given his books as gifts. Help folks turn on the lights about this critical issue. Give them one of Norm’s books

  12. Avi_G. on November 3, 2011, 3:55 pm

    Can Dershowitz cite Goldstone as an authority? No.

    Even Goldstone can’t cite Goldstone as an authority anymore. And forget about Goldstone citing Dersh as an authority. Oy vay…

    Goldstone’s bowing to pressure from Israel is like a classic mafia movie:

    Listen, Johnny, I like you; you got a nice family. So let me cut to the Cannoli here. Either you do it, or we ‘take care’ of yous, capiche?

    {Johnny nods}

    That’s a good boy {The Don pinches Johnny’s cheek}. You made the right decision. You won’t regret it … {evil laugh}. Listen, say hi to Sally and the kids for me, alright?

    • James on November 3, 2011, 6:00 pm

      that is about it, isn’t it?

      i like how finkelstein lays it out very clear and to the point….

  13. Chaos4700 on November 3, 2011, 4:19 pm

    But you know what– it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

    I think this observation deserves a hell of a lot of attention. Where was Richard Goldstone during the apartheid government of South Africa?

    • MRW on November 4, 2011, 6:27 am

      Where was Richard Goldstone during the apartheid government of South Africa?

      Waiting for the opportunity to create a reputation. Tony Karon did more.

  14. Whizdom on November 3, 2011, 4:21 pm

    Sad really. I have read Judge Goldstone on other issues and always found his writing, concise, well reasoned, lucid and pointed. Rarely employs rhetorical devices. This discursive piece doesn’t even sound like his prior writings.

    • Rusty Pipes on November 4, 2011, 3:20 pm

      Considering the use of Hasbara memes in the piece, I have wondered whether 100% of it was penned by Mr. Goldstone:

      THE Palestinian Authority’s request for full United Nations membership has put hope for any two-state solution under increasing pressure. The need for reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians has never been greater. So it is important to separate legitimate criticism of Israel from assaults that aim to isolate, demonize and delegitimize it.

      One particularly pernicious and enduring canard that is surfacing again is that Israel pursues “apartheid” policies. In Cape Town starting on Saturday, a London-based nongovernmental organization called the Russell Tribunal on Palestine will hold a “hearing” on whether Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid. It is not a “tribunal.” The “evidence” is going to be one-sided and the members of the “jury” are critics whose harsh views of Israel are well known.

      While “apartheid” can have broader meaning, its use is meant to evoke the situation in pre-1994 South Africa. It is an unfair and inaccurate slander against Israel, calculated to retard rather than advance peace negotiations.

      Considering the heavy use of air-quotes, I can’t decide whether it looks more like the editorial hand of Reut Institute or a Zionist teenager.

  15. Proton Soup on November 3, 2011, 4:26 pm

    the comparison to mccarthyism is interesting. because, as Slezkine has detailed, there were three great jewish migrations last century (america, ussr, israel), all with great ambitions. and so you had all these russian spies and sympathizers in the US, many of them jewish. and they were traitors, and they were a threat, and they could be hard to root out because of this stigma that trumps all: being labeled as a moser.

    it is amazing just how powerful this need for acceptance in the jewish community is. it happened to Goldstone (“A year ago, protesters from Jewish groups threatened to demonstrate outside his grandson’s bar mitzvah in Johannesburg and the judge said he would not attend as a result…” — NYTimes). and we recently watched Derfner backpedal.

    and now, the threat of “mccarthyism” is more or less dead in america. agents of that other migration, israel, operate more or less with impunity, and even the rare egregious traitors like Pollard need not fear death. heck, we’ll even let the wife go. would a little McCarthy revival really be such a bad thing now?

    • MRW on November 4, 2011, 6:52 am

      it is amazing just how powerful this need for acceptance in the jewish community is.

      Or its corollary: to think they are besieged or hated, as if that’s all the rest of the world has to worry about. No wonder they invented psychotherapy. ;-)

      • Proton Soup on November 6, 2011, 3:57 pm

        Or its corollary: to think they are besieged or hated, as if that’s all the rest of the world has to worry about. No wonder they invented psychotherapy. ;-)

        actually, i’ve got a little theory about that. i think it was also in Slezkine’s book where he mentions Freud, and his detest of Americans. says something along the lines of “American’s have no subconscious.” :D what a revealing statement that was. and then it hit me that Freud invented psychotherapy as a way for the newly secular jew to talk about the soul. and they were coming from these often fundamentalist religious upbringings where there is really no room for sins, one must be perfect and obey all the 613 or so jewish laws. so it’s no wonder there would be so much denial and suppression of illicit desires to the subconscious. this is in direct opposition to even the fundamentalist christian way of approaching things in America, where, despite often strict standards, there is this approach of examining ones heart, admitting shortcomings (at least to oneself) and asking forgiveness before moving on. what does it profit Freud to look into the American’s soul when he is already doing so?

  16. Richard Witty on November 3, 2011, 4:40 pm

    I think Norman Finkelstein’s summary of Goldstone was accurate in the condemnation of the human rights organizations and community.

    But, I think that speaks more poorly for them, than for Goldstone.

    I’m of the opinion that he remained professional in his adjudication, his investigation. And, that he accurately conveyed his sincere reticence at how the Goldstone report was being spun and how his name was being used for partisan and opportunistic purposes.

    I believe that he honestly believes that Israeli treatment of Palestinians is unjust, but qualitatively different than apartheid, and that the term is used as a name-call, more than to inform.

    I get that those that thought that “he is on our side” adopt the loyalty perspective of a partisan, of a community at war. If someone expresses disloyalty, diverts from their agenda, they are persona non-grata, hated, not only arguments opposed.

    I do not have a high opinion of life during wartime, whether the side of the oppressor or the side of partisan solidarity. Lots of lies get told. Lots of demonization occurs.

    The reason that I object to that so strongly, is that I believe that the only revolution worth its name is one that makes a sincere transformation from demonizing the other to humanizing the other, as a means to justice.

    And, as I’ve said, I personally use the term apartheid-like to describe the relationship of Israel and Israelis to West Bank Palestinians.

    I do so to understand clearly, but in communication for the purpose of informing, NOT for the purpose of insulting or demonizing.

    “Which side are you on?” A noble and primary question to a partisan, even a justified one.

    An ignoble, distracting, and war-mongering question to a peace-seeker.

    Where necessary, you fight war for your own survival. You demonize those that hinder your viability if thats what it takes to survive. I don’t know where solidarity fits in morally though.

    A moral goal, justifying immoral means? That never worked for me.

    • Donald on November 3, 2011, 5:30 pm

      “But, I think that speaks more poorly for them, than for Goldstone.

      I’m of the opinion that he remained professional in his adjudication, his investigation.”

      Goldstone wrote a piece defending Israel from the charge of apartheid that never mentions the settlement policy. He doesn’t mention that Israel encouraged its citizens to violate international law by living on the West Bank, while preventing Palestinians from moving inside Israel.

      Goldstone is a very intelligent man, so he can’t have written that op ed in good faith. You don’t understand this. You are, as best I can tell, literally incapable of understanding this. But “honesty” means telling the truth–it’s not a word that you simply use to praise someone who shares your ideology.

      There’s no point in getting mad at you or trying to explain it to you (I did it just now for the record, but you won’t get it) or ridiculing you. It’s not within your power to change.

      • eljay on November 3, 2011, 6:08 pm

        >> RW: A moral goal, justifying immoral means? That never worked for me.

        It never worked for RW…except for when the “moral” goal of a supremacist “Jewish state” justified the immoral terrorism and ethnic cleansing used to achieve it.

        >> RW: I cannot consistently say that “ethnic cleansing is never necessary”.
        >> RW: If I was an adult in 1948, I probably would have supported whatever it took to create the state of Israel, and held my nose at actions that I could not possibly do myself.

        Funny stuff.

      • Richard Witty on November 3, 2011, 9:42 pm

        I just respect the man, and I see those that previously respected, then used the man, raging at his disloyalty.

        I don’t consider that a noble value. “You are not loyal to the cause.”

        You’d have to ask Goldstone respectfully, why he published what he published and when. (It was actually the New York Times that published his article, responsible for the timing at least.)

        There was a writer on 972 that commented on the parallel between Goldstone and Morris, as again an insult.

        I disagree. I find Morris to be insightful, informative, and presenting a primarily accurate thesis. Yesterday, Carlo Strenger wrote very positively of his book “Righteous Victims” (published in the 90’s), which also greatly informed my political perspective on Israel/Palestine.

        The thesis of his book was of two apparently contradictory but equally true narratives. An elaboration of the very common novelic mode of telling a story from two perspectives. (I remember progressive South African novelist Andre Brink using that mode often to great effect.)

        Its a thesis that results in reconciliation, not in struggle, or if in struggle in sensitive struggle (like Nelson Mandela retained and showed sensitivity during and after struggle).

        So, I think that Goldstone was honest and at least more than partially accurate at how offensive he found the accusation of apartheid to Israel, a “slander”.

      • Donald on November 4, 2011, 12:17 am

        “So, I think that Goldstone was honest and at least more than partially accurate at how offensive he found the accusation of apartheid to Israel, a “slander”.”

        So he was honest about his feelings, in your opinion. So what? He was dishonest about the issue, which was whether Israel’s behavior is similar to that of apartheid South Africa. That charge is based on the fact that Israel has encouraged hundreds of thousands of its citizens to move into the West Bank while preventing Palestinians from moving back to Israel.

        Feelings aren’t the main issue here. The issue is whether Goldstone did an honest job in this op ed and he didn’t. He ignored the central point. So do you. But if you care about feelings, Goldstone insulted every human rights organization and every human rights worker who has put effort into documenting what Israel has done, and he has insulted every Palestinian victim of unjust Israeli oppression. But it doesn’t matter to you that Goldstone’s piece was an insult to all those people–you only care about the angry reaction to his dishonest piece and you trivialize the issues by treating it solely as some sort of celebrity catfight with no deeper significance than that people are being mean to that nice man Judge Goldstone.

        As I stated, it’s a waste of time expecting you to understand this or acknowledge it or confront it or deal with it. So, yeah, whatever you say. Goldstone is an “honest” man, because he ignores facts and “sincerely” believes in his brand of Zionism. There’s nothing to argue about here, because you’re just living in your own private reality and you’re the expert on what that is.

      • Richard Witty on November 4, 2011, 7:03 am

        You again are confused between what are my views, and what I think are respectable other views, that I differ with slightly.

        I object to the man being abused for ‘disloyalty to the cause’. I objected to it when he was insulted by the right. I object to it when he is insulted by the left.

        Its much different than partisan.

        I definitely get that Phil’s, Adam’s, Norman’s, others’ reputation is tarnished by “trusting”/using Goldstone, and that there are varying possible responses to that damage control.

        The attempts by Adam and Phil to keep their comments limited to the content of the report and his opinion is an ethical effort.

        Their editorial powers, also their action/voice, though was to include insults of Goldstone.

        Their reputation is harmed by the reams of very personally insulting condemnations of journalists and other writers, almost as a norm of the site, that weren’t limited to criticisms of the content.

      • Chaos4700 on November 4, 2011, 8:47 am

        Show me, Witty, when you were objecting to Goldstone being insulted by the right. Because that was happening for months here before Goldstone tried to paint his editorialization over the facts in his report.

      • Donald on November 4, 2011, 3:17 pm

        Richard, every time you respond to me it’s like you’re responding to some other post written by some imaginary opponent in your head. I think your obsession with the defense of Goldstone’s alleged integrity is just an excuse of evading the issue that everyone else is talking about–Goldstone wrote an op ed (or rather, two of them now) which were transparently dishonest defenses of Israeli behavior. This latest one discussed the charge of apartheid while studiously avoiding any mention of the settlement policy and the supporting repression needed to enable that policy to exist. You don’t want to admit the dishonesty of his article because you have some idealized notion of Goldstone, the noble liberal Zionist martyr that you defend from the vicious attacks of left and right. Unfortunately for your fantasy the real Goldstone doesn’t resemble the one in your head. He is the one who has insulted not only all the honest human rights investigators, but also the very real victims of Israel’s apartheid-like policies.

        I fully expect all future posts by you on the subject of Goldstone’s post to continue to ignore the important issue. I expect you will continue to repeat your heartfelt slogans about his honesty, how other people are using him, and other trivialities. I don’t expect you to confront the fact that Goldstone is arguing like a lawyer defending a client he knows is guilty.

      • Richard Witty on November 5, 2011, 11:58 am

        I think you utterly missed Goldstone’s point.

        That is that in apartheid the PURPOSE of the separations is racial, that actual contact between “those people” and “us” is the problem.

        In Israel’s case, the reason for the separation is security. That, the purpose is not to separate “those people” racially, but by virtue of the political definition of occupation.

        There is no question that the two overlap at times and in ways (political and racial), and that there are idiots that shift to only racism (or maybe started there). There is also no ignoring that the brunt of harms fall on Palestinians.

        Goldstone’s distinction about the word is important.

        Its the difference between a name-call and information.

        It is possible to oppose what is occurring to Palestinians without an unnecessarily easily dismissable use of a term.

      • annie on November 5, 2011, 12:49 pm

        That is that in apartheid the PURPOSE of the separations is racial, that actual contact between “those people” and “us” is the problem….the purpose is not to separate “those people” racially, but by virtue of the political definition of occupation.

        shall apply to the following inhumane acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them:

        nope, the crime of apartheid the purpose is too ‘establish and maintain domination by one racial group over any other’. it meets those qualifications. the intent of why it is done is not important to the crime it is the action of ‘establishing and maintain domination by one racial group over any other’. to refute you must establish israel does not and has not established and maintained domination by one racial group over another. and you can’t do that.

      • Chaos4700 on November 5, 2011, 1:05 pm

        Witty, you have CONSTANTLY insisted that Jews have a right to live apart from their host societies because they belong to a “Jewish nation.”

      • Donald on November 5, 2011, 1:32 pm

        “I think you utterly missed Goldstone’s point.”

        That is that in apartheid the PURPOSE of the separations is racial, that actual contact between “those people” and “us” is the problem.

        “In Israel’s case, the reason for the separation is security. That, the purpose is not to separate “those people” racially, but by virtue of the political definition of occupation.”

        Of course that’s his point. What the hell do you think I’ve been criticizing? His point is bull. The Israelis set up a system that gives special privileges to Israeli Jews while treating Palestinians far worse. The security concerns do not explain the settlement policy. He focuses on the security concerns (some real, some not) and then completely ignores the utterly indefensible settlement policy, which is a form of apartheid.

        You know, Richard, if I ran this blog I think I’d ban you. I’ve never seen anyone who would so persistently refuse to see the obvious and it doesn’t matter whether you do it consciously or if it is a mental illness–it’s a form of trolling.

    • on November 3, 2011, 9:21 pm

      “But, I think that speaks more poorly for them, than for Goldstone”

      If theres any one thing I have learned from the short time I’ve posted here:

      Witty is in deep shit when he “thinks”. He should really resist the temptation, and let someone else think for hi……mmmmm……

      Egads, I just had an epiphany!!!

      He’s already taken my advice!!!!

      • James on November 3, 2011, 10:04 pm


  17. dimadok on November 3, 2011, 5:29 pm

    Judge Goldstone record is the record of a great and honest man, who by his work had managed to change the lives of millions of people around the world and in SA particularly. I did not supported his findings on Gaza, as their conclusiveness and not the factual part, regardless his record is an impressive achievement for a human.
    Finkelstein serves no one but himself, relentlessly promoting his views, using every possible occasion to hitch on someone else name. His “work” had never and will never change anything and history will not remember him at all.
    Small men and pity deeds indeed.

    • Avi_G. on November 3, 2011, 5:46 pm

      I did not supported his findings on Gaza, as their conclusiveness and not the factual part, regardless his record is an impressive achievement for a human.

      So his record is that of “a great and honest man,” but somehow, the random guy on the internet thinks his own “conclusiveness”[sic] — not the judge’s — reflects the reality on the ground or Israel’s track record.

      Noted for transparent hackery.

      • dimadok on November 3, 2011, 6:36 pm

        For transparency sake- I did not support Goldstone conclusions as everyone can have their private opinions. Haven’t your hear of that oddity?

      • on November 3, 2011, 6:56 pm

        Of course, everyone can have the right to have an opinion.
        Like the old saying goes: “This is my opinion, and I agree with it”.
        That’s a pity that judge Goldstone seem to change his “opinions”, whenever different wind blows. This way and that way, this way and that way, this way………

      • dimadok on November 3, 2011, 7:47 pm

        Smart man learns from others and his own mistakes, stupid one-keeps repeating.

      • on November 3, 2011, 8:05 pm

        Yeap. It’s a pity that mr Goldstone keeps repeating the same mistake. First, on April 1st, now on Halloween.
        Good choice of dates.
        First, many people were stunned with disbelief, now people are just laughing ,like when they are seeing a ghost, who pretends to be Real and scary, but underneath a little,confused child is hidden.

      • Chaos4700 on November 3, 2011, 8:40 pm

        stupid one-keeps repeating.

        And we’ve had almost 64 years of one viciously stupid mistake being repeated over and over and over again.

    • annie on November 3, 2011, 10:03 pm

      history will not remember him at all

      ha. ha. in your dreams perhaps, you wish. funny thing about the lobby and norm is they prevented him from getting his deserved tenure and now he’s one of the most popular respected speakers at campuses all over the US and canada. if they had been smart they would have left him alone. but nooooo.

      • on November 3, 2011, 10:14 pm

        I bet if Palestinians could give Palestine its middle name,it would be “Finkelstine”:)

  18. stevelaudig on November 3, 2011, 7:33 pm

    A man heroically spends much of early and middle life fighting one monster –racial apartheid—in one country –South Africa. He knows the monster well and despite the odds and viciousness of apartheid defenders, he is instrumental in successfully navigating that treacherous ground and an end is brought to that particular monster. The navigation and negotiation requires compromises with the monster but the monster could count the numbers and could see the future and was not a nihilistic monster. Non-nihilistic monsters a concerned with life on earth. But a nihilistic monster believes that ‘GOD’ is on its side and is not so concerned about life on earth. The heroic man thinks he has learned certain lessons about dealing with monsters. The man now goes to deal with a new monster that looks a lot like the old monster. He makes an understandable mistake. A mistake of misidentification. He looks at the new monster but sees the old monster. He doesn’t realize this new monster believes itself constituted by ‘GOD’ and ‘GOD’ allows no compromises only fidelity to death. ‘GOD’ doesn’t believe in numbers and is unconcerned except for his chosen monster. The man doesn’t realize this and makes the well-intended mistake of saying nice things about the monster thinking that what worked with the old monster should work with the new monster. But the heroic man has fooled himself. We all make mistakes when we are tired and fail to realize what we are dealing with.

  19. Arnon Shwantzinger Too on November 3, 2011, 8:22 pm

    A White South African writes an op-ed about what is and what isn’t apartheid.

    • Chaos4700 on November 3, 2011, 9:13 pm

      My thoughts exactly. And it’s not like Goldstone was an anti-apartheid activist. He served under the apartheid government just as willfully as he served later post-apartheid organizations. The man has loyalty to himself and his “tribe” and nothing else, he likes to talk up his commitment to justice, but when push comes to shove, was he simply an opportunist keeping his head above water in the mid-90’s?

      • MRW on November 4, 2011, 6:35 am

        Read what he did in the 80s here:

        So his great reputation—burnished over the years by the tribe, no less—lies on the subtle difference between “shall” and “may?”

        I like this addition, “he used the political climate of the times to render the act ineffective.” It wasn’t principle, it was an opportunity, knowing which way the wind was blowing.

        He wrote, “Little could I have imagined that this opinion would bring to an immediate stop all prosecutions under the Group Areas Act….In consequence, substantial areas of the larger cities of South Africa became ‘mixed’ in the years that followed the Govender decision.”3

        Little could I have imagined . . . .

        He didn’t.

        This explains his moral strength all along.

  20. on November 3, 2011, 9:30 pm

    I like when Mr. Finkelstein says: “human beings are frail vessels, fragile vessles.” We all do, and life tests us every day, and tries “to make us or break us”.
    It is ,unfortunately, fairly easy to break human’s spirit.
    “The biggest achievement is to go through hell, and not to become a devil”.

  21. DICKERSON3870 on November 4, 2011, 3:33 am

    Based upon some shots taken inside Finkelstein’s home for American Radical and/or Defamation, I think we might use the same interior decorator.
    However, I do have considerably more clutter. So much so, that it drives people crazy. Especially myself.

    • on November 4, 2011, 7:58 am

      I think that in case of Mr Finkesltein, it is not a “clutter”.
      There are just things that he is emotionally attached to it.
      Things of sentimental value. Things, that his late parents , that he loved very much, used to have/own, small souvenirs from his students, photos.
      He cherishes all of it, because it oftentimes have more value, than all money in the world can buy.

      • DICKERSON3870 on November 6, 2011, 7:51 pm

        I’m the one with the clutter, but neither one of us is into McMansion-type interior decoration.

  22. Baltim on November 4, 2011, 12:42 pm

    Reading Goldstone’s latest piece I have to wonder if he isn’t deliberately making himself look ridiculous.

    Think about it, he writes in a way that he hopes will cause other MOTs to forgive him (never gonna happen) but writes it in a way that shows what he’s writing as patently false.

    Either way, Goldstone us a busted flush and neither side of the divide trust him any mote.

    • dahoit on November 4, 2011, 1:04 pm

      People in his position can’t afford to look ridiculous.

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