Saturday, September 26, 2009
The Ignominy of Ben Gurion University - in Major Jerusalem Post Expose
THE BATTLE OF THE BOYCOTTS
Sep. 26, 2009
Yocheved Miriam Russo , THE JERUSALEM POST
On August 20, an opinion column
published on page A-31 of the _Los Angeles Times _unleashed a firestorm
that continues to blaze in California, and in the normally placid city of
Beersheba, home of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU).
entitled "Boycott Israel," was written by Neve Gordon, head of BGU's
Department of Politics and Government. Gordon's published plea was for "all
foreign governments, regional authorities, international social movements,
faith-based organizations, unions and citizens to suspend cooperation with
"Nothing else has worked," Gordon lamented. "The most accurate
way to describe Israel today is as an apartheid state."
allegations, when made by Israel's foreign enemies, are hardly unique. But
when the denouncement comes from a Jewish Israeli who, just last January,
was promoted to head BGU's Politics and Government Department, battle lines
It's hardly the first time "post-Zionist" academics have
clashed with the traditional Zionist crowd, but Gordon's op-ed pushed the
debate into new territory. Gordon's words even closer to home in that his
proposed boycott would do irrevocable harm to a popular university,
specifically one which pays his salary.
When the horrified "traditional
Zionists" turned out to be wealthy Jewish Americans who donate tens of
millions of dollars to keep BGU alive and growing, the dispute was raised
to a new level. Many of the donors find themselves saying, "If BGU
professors feel free to invite the world to boycott Israel, then perhaps
the time has come to boycott BGU. Next time around, maybe we should sit on
Ari Bussel, for years a pro-Israel, pro-BGU activist
and a leader in the local chapter of American Friends of BGU, was among the
first to spot Gordon's _LA Times _op-ed.
"It was Thursday morning," the
Beverly Hills-born Bussel recalls. "The _LA Times _was delivered to our
doorstep as usual. I saw Gordon's piece, read it, and at first I wasn't all
that surprised. It's not unusual for the _LA Times _to print this sort of
anti-Israeli rhetoric. I've come to expect it. But a few minutes later, I
began to see that there was something qualitatively different about this
"The local reaction was unbelievable," he continued. "An
absolute avalanche of opposition erupted, and our phones were ringing off
the hook. People who, on August 19, wouldn't have given each other the time
of day, were calling each other and everybody else they knew. They all
asked the same question: 'Who's giving money to BGU?' There are some big
donors in this area. Very big. I've never seen anything like it.
this hit, I'd never heard of Neve Gordon," says Bussel, who lived in Israel
for years and served in the IDF during the First Gulf War. "For an
American, even for someone involved in Israeli affairs, Gordon hadn't
seeped into the American national consciousness. But this anti-Israel
commentary hit home.
"For some of us, it may be the first blossoming of
the idea that President Obama has become our downfall," he speculates.
"Clearly, things are changing. Something is happening to alter people's
perception and approach to this kind of Israel bashing. And it's not over -
people are still calling, talking and writing. Three weeks afterwards, the
_LA Times_ was still printing readers' reactions. Something important
happened when this piece was published."
Unless one is a news junkie, an
academic, or closely involved with BGU, the name Neve Gordon may not ring
many bells among mainstream Israelis, either. Even so, within 48 hours,
4,000 emails protesting Gordon's remarks had landed in the inbox of BGU
President Rivka Carmi. Several days later, Carmi responded to her
department head's call for a boycott through her own LA Times op-ed,
admitting that she was "shocked" at what Gordon had written, suggesting
that even she hadn't been fully aware of what she called Gordon's
"We are shocked by Dr. Neve Gordon's irresponsible
statements, which are morally deserving of full condemnation," she wrote.
"We vehemently shake ourselves free of the destructive views [advocated by
Gordon], who makes cynical use of freedom of expression in Israel and
NOT EVERYONE was shocked. For years, watchdog
organizations like Campus Watch and IsraCampus had monitored Neve Gordon's
words and activities, even before Gordon made international news during the
"Siege of Ramallah," when, in 2003, he joined Palestinian Authority
Chairman Yasser Arafat, holed up in his Ramallah compound. Defying IDF
orders which forbade his entry to Ramallah, he moved in to protect Arafat,
taking up a position as a "human shield." During the height of the
intifada, when suicide bombers belonging to the military wing of Arafat's
movement were blowing up Israeli cafes and buses, a photo of Gordon and
Arafat, hands joined and held high in solidarity, splashed across the front
pages of Israeli newspapers.
According to documents compiled by watchdog
IsraCampus (www.IsraCampus.org,il), Gordon's dissident career was
politically consistent. Calling Israel an "apartheid" state had long been
part of his anti-Israel rant. Last December, at the height of Operation
Cast Lead, as Hamas rockets and missiles slammed into Israel - including
striking the BGU campus - Gordon again spoke out, denouncing not Hamas but
Over the years, Gordon's commentary attracted an unusually
diverse crowd of supporters. Despite being Israeli and Jewish, he regularly
published his highly controversial views on websites and magazines accused
of Holocaust-denial, and ultimately became a regular columnist for _Al
Jazeera_, a Qatar-based Arabic media outlet. From there, he preached that
Israel was opposed to peace and was plotting to steal Arab lands.
of Gordon's antics went beyond theory. In one incident, Gordon defended
Azmi Bishara, the disgraced former Israeli-Arab MK, a man still wanted by
the Israeli authorities for alleged spying and assistance to the terrorist
group, Hizbullah. In his impassioned defense of Bishara, Gordon falsely
accused his former Army commander, Aviv Kochavi, a decorated officer, of
being a war criminal. As a result, Kochavi's career was sidelined when he
was barred from entering Great Britain where he'd previously been accepted
In left-wing circles and academia, all of this was well
known, but none of it seemed to matter to BGU. Shortly after the public
hand-holding with Arafat, Gordon was promoted at BGU and granted tenure.
Just last January Gordon was again promoted, this time to department head,
immediately after completing a highly controversial sabbatical year at the
University of Michigan. In Michigan, according to local students, Gordon
exacerbated anti-Israel tensions by always referring to Israel as an
"apartheid regime," suggesting Israel may be even worse than South Africa.
During "Palestinian Awareness Week" Gordon gave a talk "From Colonization
to Occupation," in which he expressed support for a "one state solution."
THROUGH ALL this, Gordon remained popular at BGU, both with the
administration and among his fellow professors. When he occasionally
attracted unfavorable publicity, Carmi defended him as a "serious and
distinguished researcher into human rights," lashing out at his detractors
by calling them "Kahanists."
Nor was Gordon alone in his views at BGU.
Shortly after the BGU president pleaded in her op-ed response for the
continued support of the university despite the "egregious remarks of one
person," evidence emerged to the effect that Gordon wasn't just "one
person." Prof. Fred Lazin, who teaches political science within that
department, acknowledged that before Gordon submitted his op-ed to the _LA
Times_, Gordon submitted his remarks to the department as a whole, offering
to step down as chair if they thought his words would prove too
embarrassing. "There was a unanimous decision not to let him do that,"
David Newman, Gordon's BGU colleague, championed Gordon's
remarks. "This is something which Israel's universities can be proud of,"
Newman wrote in a _Jerusalem Post _op-ed. "It is this level of democracy,
pluralism and freedom of speech which few in the world, not least many of
those proposing boycotts from abroad, can share."
Indeed, other BGU
departments - geography, history and sociology - also harbor professors who
share Gordon's anti-Zionist, anti-Israel views. Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, who
teaches in BGU's Department of Jewish History, had also denounced Israel as
an "apartheid regime" in _Tikkun _magazine.
Students were supportive,
too. A contingent sent their own letter to Carmi, expressing support for
Gordon's "welcome efforts to bring important issues to the public regarding
the future of Israeli society - issues that are absent from the legitimate
"We are taught history but it seems we are not allowed
to learn from it," the student letter read. "We're allowed to learn, but
not to think, not to reach practical conclusionsâ¦"
Nor is Gordon's
support limited to just BGU. Petitions supporting Gordon began circulating
not only at Beersheba University, but at other academic institutions as
well. At one point, over 185 Israeli professors, from several institutions,
signed petitions defending Gordon.
ON THE other side of the ideological
divide, among both Israelis and Americans, the reaction to Gordon's
comments ranged from pure fury to thoughtful consideration of what could be
Haifa-born Nurit Greenger, now living in Beverly Hills, for many
years a BGU supporter, was among those who were furious. In a letter to
fellow Israel supporters, Greenger wrote, "For years this Israeli citizen,
Gordon, walked a marginally seditious line, but with his call to boycott
Israel he crossed that line monumentally."
"His call," the letter went
on, "to boycott Israel raises the question: How many more 'Gordons' live in
Israel and are teaching the next generation to undermine their own
In a phone interview, Greenger spoke bluntly.
"I'm very angry about Gordon's call to the whole world to boycott Israel.
It's a very serious problem."
Greenger is among those calling for a
boycott of BGU. "It's an oxymoron," she says. "BGU comes to us all the
time, asking for money - 'Support the University! Support BGU! We make the
Negev bloom! We have all these wonderful projects to help our beautiful
Israel' - but then they allow professors to publish articles in the _LA
Times_, begging the world to boycott Israel? That's crazy! Then they get
upset when we question them? They want our money, but at the same time
they're telling us we shouldn't look at what their professors are doing and
saying? The time for that is long over."
Encouraging "key donors" to
support other Israeli institutions instead of BGU is one of Greenger's
missions. "It's time for us to exercise some 'academic freedom' of our
own," she says. "We need to decide which of Israel's academic institutions
we wish to support. The way to cure anti-Israelism is to redirect
benefactors' funds from the kind of places that hire people like Neve
Gordon, and channeling it instead to educational institutions that hold
strong Zionist sentiments, Ariel University, the Jerusalem College of
Technology, the Sami Shamoon College of Engineering."
students among the traditional Zionists, too. "Im Tirtzu" ("If You Will
It"), a pro-Israel student organization at BGU, began circulating a
petition against Gordon. Within two days, 54 instructors at BGU had signed.
The petition criticized Gordon for exploiting academic freedom and
freedom of speech, noting the BGU's funding comes from the very country
he's is asking the world to boycott. They characterized Gordon's view as
that of a "fringe group of daydreamers among Israeli academia in general,
and BGU in particular," adding that Gordon's leftist activities made them
ashamed to have him on the staff.
THE IMMEDIATE impact of the Gordon
piece resulted in community meetings where BGU supporters - and former BGU
supporters - gathered to discuss strategy. They also contacted Israel's
Consul-General in Los Angeles, Yaakov (Yaki) Dayan, who ultimately sent a
letter Carmi, advising her that Gordon's statements were proving
"detrimental" to the university.
"Since the article was published I've
been contacted by people who care for Israel," Dayan wrote. "Some of them
are benefactors of BGU. They were unanimous in threatening to withhold
their donations to your institution. My attempt to explain that one bad
apple would affect hundreds of researchers turned out to be futile."
PART OF what irks traditional Zionists about Gordon's tactics is his
demand for complete freedom of speech for himself, but not for anyone who
disagrees with him. Gordon went so far as to file a SLAPP suit (Strategic
Lawsuit Against Public Participation), designed to discourage critics,
against University of Haifa professor Steven Plaut.
For anyone lucky
enough to be watching from the sidelines, the Gordon vs. Plaut litigation
ranks as one of the more entertaining chapters in the annals of Israeli
legal history. Not so for Plaut, presumably, since he was paying his own
It began when Plaut, himself a tenured professor and a
long-time critic of Gordon's politics, took Gordon to task by publishing an
op-ed on the website of a now-defunct California organization. Plaut
criticized Gordon's long history of publishing in Holocaust-denial websites
"It was right after the Ramallah incident," Plaut says.
"I called him a 'Judenrat wannabie.' I didn't attack him personally - I
attacked his politics. Look, Gordon writes his own columns, he's a public
figure. Criticizing his politics is what freedom of speech is for. I also
called him 'a groupie of the world's leading Jewish Holocaust denier,
Gordon could hardly dispute that, Plaut notes.
"Gordon had compared Finkelstein to the prophets of the Bible. But somehow
Gordon came across my internet column, hired an Arab lawyer to represent
him, and filed suit for libel. He didn't like being in the same sentence
with the words 'Holocaust denier,' even though I'd said that about
Finkelstein, not about him."
Plaut, like Gordon, believed himself to be
exercising his basic right to freedom of speech. "In Israel, there's
supposed to be absolute freedom of speech in terms of criticizing another
person's politics. No one has ever been punished for that. I was just
making fun of his politics."
Although lawsuits are normally filed in the
hometown of either the plaintiff or defendant, Gordon filed his suit in
Nazareth. "Gordon lived in Jerusalem, teaches in Beersheba, and I live in
Haifa," Plaut says. "I can only suppose that by filing in Nazareth, Gordon
hoped to get a favorable Arab judge - which he did. When the decision came
down, I think everyone was astonished to see how Judge Reem Naddaf used her
decision to attack Israel.
"She wrote into her opinion that all of
Israel - all, not part - was built on land stolen from other people," he
continues. "Then she went on to justify Holocaust revisionism. In her
decision, the judge wrote things not even Neve Gordon had said."
also imposed a whopping fine. "Gordon hadn't alleged any financial losses,"
Plaut says. "But in a libel suit, Israeli law permits the award of NIS
50,000. She fined me NIS 100,000."
That's when Harvard professor Alan
Dershowitz, a major player in the US legal community, jumped in with his
incisive commentary. In a column published in the _Jerusalem Post _on
November 8, 2006, Dershowitz addressed the issues and then wrote, "It is my
opinion that Neve Gordon has gotten into bed with neo-Nazis, Holocaust
justice deniers, and anti-Semitesâ¦. he is a despicable example of a
self-hating Jew and a self-hating Israeli, whose writing consists of
anti-Israeli propaganda designed to 'prove' that the Jewish State is
Then Dershowitz issued his own make-my-day challenge to
Gordon: "Sue me, too."
Gordon didn't sue Dershowitz, brushing off his
challenge as "a cheap dare," while Plaut appealed the Nazareth decision. In
a stunning reversal, a three-judge panel rejected every demand made by
Gordon and agreed to almost all of Plaut's. Legal decisions are rarely
characterized by speculation, but one of the appellate judges, Judge
Abraham Abraham, offered unique commentary in his written opinion. "Even if
Plaut had described Gordon as a "Jew for Hitler," (which Plaut had not) he
would have been within his rights," the judge wrote.
While the most
recent court decision was a victory for Plaut, the litigation continues,
with the case set to be heard by the Supreme Court on October 13.
COMMENTATORS claim that the real danger of this internal Israeli call for a
boycott against Israel is that it encourages and provides cover for
anti-Israel sentiments in the international community.
a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University who heads the
Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, sees Gordon's call for a boycott as part of a
series of events designed to "demonize" Israel.
"Neve Gordon and his
pro-boycott article â¦ is another example of the Durban [an anti-Racism
conference which was largely seen as anti-Israel] demonization strategy
based on total international isolation of Israel through boycotts and
sanctions in order to follow the South African anti-apartheid model,"
Steinberg said, referring to Israel's recent clashes with Sweden over their
"stolen organ" blood libel and Great Britain, whose funding of "Breaking
the Silence" encouraged Israeli soldiers to admit to IDF war crimes.
There were those who, while angered by Gordon's call for boycott, took a
more philosophical approach, seeking a way to balance "academic freedom"
with the best interests of the community.
In any communal organization,
no one enjoys unrestricted rights, they note. Just as the right to swing
your arms stops where the other fellow's nose begins, why can't there be
some limit on the things anyone - professor or not - is entitled to say, if
his words will prove detrimental to the community as a whole?
Zionist Organization of America has not yet issued a policy statement
regarding the Neve Gordon/BGU affair, but Jeff Daube, Director of the
Israel ZOA office and a life-long Zionist activist, articulated a common
sentiment. "My desire is not to constrain anyone's freedom of speech,"
Daube said. "But I think there's nothing at all wrong with a university
saying, 'This is a Zionist institution. Statements (like Neve Gordon's) do
actual harm to the collective, to the Jewish people living in Israel. Just
as most societies limit free speech when the speech will prove harmful -
libel or slander - then if some speech brings harm to the society as a
whole, why can't that be limited as well?'"
Other suggestions were put
forward, such as encouraging BGU to hold a public meeting on the topic, to
allow everyone to have a right to exercise their freedom of speech, or
establishing campus "Zionist Centers" to teach Zionist principles. Daniel
Gordis of the Shalem Institute advocated a wholesale revision of the
"A century ago, who could have imagined that the
Jewish state would one day have a world-class army but a failing,
collapsing education system?" he wrote. "(Israel) needs a liberal arts
college, and the young people prepared to speak constructively about Jewish
sovereignty, its challenges, its failures and its future that only that
kind of college can produce."
THE CALL to "boycott BGU" threw university
officials into a panic, resulting in a flurry of commentary, as well as a
quickly-scheduled trip to the US by Carmi and other faculty members hoping
to stem the tide of opposition.
Their position: Boycotting BGU - or any
other Israeli educational institution - isn't the answer.
Strongin, another member of the American Associates of BGU, stressed that
since Gordon "has tenure and cannot be fired," the university finds itself
in an impossible position. The University, she noted, includes some 25,000
students, faculty and staff with many different missions. To inflict
collective punishment by withholding funds from the university as a whole
"allows the fulfillment of Gordon's wishes." Within a week, BGU issued
statements to the effect that Gordon will not be fired, although BGU
officials are still considering their options regarding removing him as
Carmi insists there's little the university can do to a
tenured professor. "Like it or not, Gordon cannot be readily dismissed. The
law in Israel is very clear, and the university is a law-abiding
institution," she wrote in her _LA Times _response, and in a later
statement to YNet, she said that "the demand for (Gordon's) resignation (as
department head) is legitimate and I hope that after this tough week he
will reach the right decision."
University Rector Jimmy Weinblatt,
following a meeting with the professors who had signed petitions supporting
Gordon stressed that Gordon's status as faculty member will not be
compromised, and that the university administration will not violate his
civic and academic freedom of expression. Weinblatt, who said he believes
"it is not appropriate that Gordon continue in his position" and hopes "he
(will) reach the proper conclusions," said of university policy, "we are a
democratic country with freedom of expression for everyone, even if his
opinions are unacceptable to the rest.
"We support freedom of expression
and academic freedom which are at the heart of any university," he added.
Jonathan Rosenblum was among those who upheld the legitimacy of a donor
boycott. In a _Jerusalem Post _op-ed, he wrote that "while an academic has
the right to his opinions, private donors who find his views or research
repugnant are equally entitled not to support that research. Given the
fungibility, of money that might mean withholding support from the
university that employs him."
Professors, Rosenblum suggests, cannot be
held immune from criticism. "Professors, like everyone else, should expect
to have their work evaluated. Just as parents and students have an interest
in knowing which professors have a tendency to get too friendly with female
students, so do they have a right to form judgments about which professors
are using their classrooms for political indoctrination."
Rosenbaum continues, "it would be foolish to refrain from contributing to a
university based on the views of one faculty member one finds repugnant.
Doing so would eliminate virtually every potential recipient. But Neve
Gordon is not a solitary rogue professor on the BGU campus. The BGU
Department of Politics and Government, which he chairs, fits the
description of former Minister of Education Amnon Rubinstein of academic
departments in Israel, in which no traditional Zionist could be appointed."
NEITHER SIDE is happy. BGU officials rue the fact that they're under
pressure from two sides. "We have heard the calls by those who demand that
the university ignore Israeli law and fire Gordon, a tenured faculty
member," Carmi said, "And we are also under attack by others who champion
Gordon on the basis of freedom of speech."
Given the fact that BGU
officials insist Gordon will remain as a member of the faculty, those who
oppose Gordon's continued presence on the teaching staff at BGU were also
Jeff Daube suggests the tension is far from over. "It's obvious
that President Carmi would very much like to sweep this whole affair under
the carpet, move on to something else, make believe it never happened - up
until the next insult. From here on, it's only going to get worse. If those
who hate Israel see they can get away with this kind of speech, I hate to
think what else they'll do next.
"Once you've called for an
international boycott, what's left?" Daube asks. "Maybe a call for the
unilateral dismantling of the State? Followed by that line, 'Would the last
one to leave please turn off the lights'?"
Nor does Ari Bussel believe
any significant donor boycott of BGU will take place. "The major donors
will be persuaded to go on giving money," he says. "It will be life as
usual. The difference this case made is that it set off a fundamental
change in the attitude of American Jewry. Now the red line has been
crossed. So the next time this happens - which it will - it's going to be
much more difficult to persuade donors to keep supporting BGU.
only so much one person can do," Bussel laments. "I know that at the end of
the day, people pay the price for what they do - we all will. But one thing
I know for sure. The next time I go to someone and ask for money for
Israel, I know it's going to be that much harder. How are we - how are any
of us - going to fight the next call for divestment, or for a boycott, if
Israel itself is calling for it?"
[The article came out in the weekend
edition of the Jerusalem Post for Shabbat Shuva, the sabbath between Rosh
Hashana and Yom Kippur, when numerous major donors to Israeli universities
are in Israel]
This article can also be read at http://www.jpost.com
/servlet/Satellite?cid=1253820679728 font-size: small;">(you might find the
"talkbacks" interesting - on the Jerusalem Post page on which the articles
appears, at above web address)
GOLDSTONE IS THE CRIMINAL
Ben-Dror Yemini, Maariv, 25.9.09
Let's start at the end. Richard Goldstone perpetrated a moral crime. Not
against the State of Israel but against human rights. He turned them into
a weapon for dark regimes. Goldstone was not negligent. He did this with
The criticism that was made in the first days following the report was on
the basis of preliminary study. But time passes. And the more that the
details of this report are revealed, the more it becomes clear that it is
a libel. A libel with legal cover. A libel that was prepared in advance
to incriminate the State of Israel, in the service of Libya and Iran.
Goldstone willingly took up the loathsome role. He supplied these
countries with the goods. The claim that "the discourse of rights" has
become the dark forces' most effective tool is a familiar one. The
Goldstone report is the supreme expression of this. Its legal terminology
is exemplary. It gushes about international human rights treaties. But
it cannot hide the result: It is a libelous indictment of the State of
Israel, in the service of the axis of terrorism and evil. Yes, there is
marginal . very marginal . lip service regarding criticism of Hamas.
Goldstone's ilk is a sophisticated lot. They now reiterate from every
stage, and Goldstone does it well, that they were actually objective.
Here, they also leveled criticism at Hamas. How enlightened of them!
Goldstone sold his soul for an endless series of lies. Even Mary
Robinson, who is not known as an admirer of Israel, understood that, "This
is unfortunately a practice by the [UN Human Rights] Council: adopting
resolutions guided not by human rights but by politics. This is very
regrettable." She refused to take the post. Goldstone took it and
carried it out with excessive enthusiasm. If international law worked as
it should, if the representatives of dark regimes did not have an
automatic majority in it, Goldstone would have to stand trial. But this
is impossible. And therefore, not only Israel but every moral person,
every person for whom human rights are important, must declare Goldstone a
criminal. Here is the proof.
Let's start with what is not in the report. In its almost 600 pages there
is not one word . there simply isn't! . about Hamas's ideology. Hamas has
a covenant. This covenant is the basis for the conflict between Israel
and the demonic entity that has arisen in Gaza. This covenant is pure
anti-Semitism. This covenant makes it clear that Hamas is no different
from the Taliban. On the contrary, it is worse. The leaders of Hamas
also declare . in their own voices . their solidarity with the Taliban,
their desire to take over the entire free world, their hatred of Jews and
their abrogation of the ceasefire with Israel. But there is not one word
in the Goldstone report about this. Contrary to the general impression,
Israel is not Hamas's main victim. As in other
cases where radical Islam grows, most of Hamas's victims since Israel's
withdrawal from Gaza . have been Muslims. Hamas's Kassam rockets, suicide
terrorists, abductions and military operations do not stem from the
occupation or the blockade, as the Goldstone Mission either claims or
hints. All of these actions stem from an Islamo-fascist ideology that
massacres mainly Muslims. Even during Operation Cast Lead, Hamas killed
more Palestinians than Israelis. Goldstone and his cohorts did not hear
It was one thing if Goldstone had just ignored the link between ideology
and actual practice. But in addition, when he jumps to Israel, he takes
the trouble to disparage the Zionist enterprise. Thus, for example, in
Article 207 of the report, in a footnote, he tells about confiscated
Palestinian property. Not that it has any relevance. But the
sophisticated Goldstone had to provide Hamas with justifications.
Historic accuracy? Certainly not. This is another product of the
industry of lies. Because the property robbed and confiscated from Jewish
refugees who were forced out of Arab countries was greater than Arab
property left behind in Israel. But let us not confuse Goldstone by
investigating the truth.
There is no need to go far in order to expose the lies. It is possible to
start with the first paragraph. There, Goldstone says that he was granted
the authority, "to investigate all violations of international human
rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been
committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were
conducted in Gaza." Really?
At this stage, let us go to the UN Human Rights Council decision to
appoint the mission. Article 14, regarding the mission's authority, says:
"To investigate all violations of international human rights law and
international humanitarian law by the occupying Power, Israel, against the
Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory,
particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, due to the current aggression,
and calls upon Israel not to obstruct the process of investigation and to
fully cooperate with the mission."
The difference is Heaven and Earth. Goldstone, I repeat, is not stupid.
He is a sophisticated jurist. He understands that the Human Rights
Council decision puts him in a bind. There is no demand for an
investigation. There are instructions to investigate only Israel, while
fixing blame in advance. Thus Article 14 and thus others in the same
document. How does Goldstone square the circle? First, he does not
mention Article 14 . which is the source of his authority . throughout the
entire report. And second, in cooperation with the Council President, who
was authorized to appoint the mission (but not to change its
responsibilities), the authorization is improved in order to present a
false objectivity. You see, Goldstone will claim in fawning interviews .
we were authorized to investigate both sides. He is lying and he knows
that he is lying.
It is not only the lie in the first paragraph. It goes on. In order to
supply the goods, Professor Christine Chinkin, an expert on international
law, was recruited to the mission, for example. There is only one
problem. Before being appointed to the mission, Chinkin signed a petition
that determined in advance that Israel had perpetrated war crimes. Can
someone who took a position in advance sit on the mission? And indeed,
the mission was presented with a legal suit for her dismissal. The suit
was denied. There is absolutely no difference between the "judge's"
pre-determination and the Council's. And when dozens of jurists
petitioned the mission to dismiss Chinkin, Goldstone rejected them. It is
clear why. The identity between the judge and the Council was absolute.
We must tarry another moment on the Council's decision. Any enlightened
person should give deference to human rights and the international bodies
dealing with them. This Council is the UN's most important body. And
indeed, it seems that 33 countries participated in the vote on
establishing the mission. And the results: Not one western democracy
supported the decision; most abstained. One country voted against .
Canada. The third-world countries voted in favor, as did all of the
Can such an automatic majority . of non-democratic countries . be taken
seriously? Certainly not. The Council will not send a Libyan
representative to discuss human rights The representative from Pakistan,
a country which caused millions of refugees only two months ago, in the
framework of a just struggle against several hundred Taliban fighters .
will find it hard to talk about "collective punishment" on CNN. For the
charade of accusing Israel, one needs an internationally renowned jurist.
He'll do the work. The automatic dark majority does not need to convince
itself. It needs someone to publish articles in The New York Times and
Ha'aretz, and appear on the BBC.
This is how to turn Israel into a pariah. This is propaganda that even
Goebbels the genius didn't dream of. He is also a Jew; he even has a
"Zionist" past. There could be no casting more perfect.
A precise study of the report reveals how the libel was perpetrated. This
is no cheap, old-fashioned libel. This is a much more sophisticated
libel. Now it is called a "narrative." The Goldstone mission builds the
narrative one stage after another. Does libel start with the Kassams that
began to fall in 2001? No way. Does the Executive Summary say anything
about the thousands of Kassams that have been fired since and have turned
the lives of the residents of southern Israel into hell? Not with
Goldstone. After the clauses regarding the appointment of the mission
members, relevant international law, methodology and Israel's
non-cooperation, the mission gets down to business. The findings. The
factual determinations and the verdict.
And indeed, the narrative begins with Article 27 (of the Executive
Summary), entitled "The Blockade." According to the article, Israel
imposed a blockade. Why? What happened? How did it start? Were there
thousands of rockets? Did Hamas take military control of the Strip, while
massacring dozens . maybe hundreds . of Palestinians? There is not a word
in the opening account. Neither is there any mention of Hamas's internal
terrorism against innocent Palestinians.
And this isn't all. If there is a blockade, it is not only Israel's
responsibility. The Hamas regime has a long border with Egypt. It seems
that this border is completely open. Hundreds of tunnels operate there on
a regular basis and deliver everything the Hamas regime wants. The
mission's Executive Summary makes no mention of the tunnels, the open
border with Egypt or the smuggling. And what does the report say about
the blockade? "Gaza's economy is further severely effected by the
reduction of the fishing zone open to Palestinian fishermen." This is an
amazing example of the mission's being recruited for the industry of lies.
And the Palestinians established industries before the "blockade"? See,
there is free movement of materials, through the tunnels. The problem is
that Hamas has chosen only one raw material. Explosives. And there is
also a flourishing industry. The production of rockets. "For the
Palestinian people," claimed Fathi Hamad, a Hamas member of Parliament,
"death became an industry." This even appears in Article 475. But
Goldstone, the Devil's advocate, insists on blaming Israel. The same
Fathi, in the same speech, admits with his own voice that Hamas, " created
a human shield of women, children, [and] the elderly." This is also cited
in the report. But Goldstone, " does not consider it to constitute
evidence." (Article 476) Certainly. When the result has been
pre-determined, even the explicit, filmed and recorded admission of a
senior Hamas official, like the video footage of the use of children, will
not change the conviction. Is it possible to call such work by Goldstone
"negligence", or is it a crime, in the service of a terrorist regime?
Article 28 simplistically determines that Israel is the occupying power.
Why? Because. Only in Article 88 does the mission see fit to mention the
disengagement. As if it had no bearing on the story. As if Israel had
not proven that it had no interest in the Strip. As if Israel had not
fulfilled all of its obligations. As if Israel had not left the
Palestinians to their fate, so that they could govern themselves, without
a single soldier or settler.
Article 29 says that Israel embarked on Operation Cast Lead. Were there
barrages of rockets beforehand? They appear later on but not in the
Executive Summary. Apparently, they are not relevant. This is how one
constructs a lie. Start with a blockade. Then a criminal assault.
That's the Executive Summary.
The mission's lie repeats itself when it presents a false picture of
permanent Israeli aggression. In exactly the same way, the mission says,
in Article 193, that Israel began Operation Defensive Shield and caused
the killing of hundreds of Palestinians. There is not even one word about
the series of terrorist attacks on cafes, restaurants and buses. There is
not one word about the Passover massacre at the Park Hotel in Netanya, in
which 30 Israelis were murdered . a massacre which broke Israel's long
Article 30 deals with the number of casualties but ignores . of course .
any study which proves that most of the Palestinian casualties were Hamas
personnel. In order to strengthen the impression, the report presents the
number of Palestinian dead as opposed to the number of Israelis. The
proportionality creates the result. So many Palestinians were killed. So
few Israelis. According to this logic, NATO perpetrated war crimes in
bombing Yugoslavia in 1999, because the results were similar to those in
Gaza: Over 1,000 Yugoslav dead (mostly civilians) and zero casualties
among the NATO forces. Thus in Afghanistan as well. Far more Afghans,
civilians and fighters, have been killed than NATO soldiers. Does this
turn the NATO countries and soldiers into war criminals? And there will
yet be proportionality issues. Pakistan sought to get rid of the vexing
problem caused by several hundred Taliban fighters. It caused thousands
of dead and millions of refugees. Thus also in Lebanon, when it was
obliged to fight a few hundred Fatah al-Islam fighters. Their refugee
camp, Nahr al-Bared, was destroyed. Hundreds were killed and tens of
thousands became refugees.
The world understands that these are the proportions of dealing with
terrorists, who hide among civilians. But when Goldstone comes to Israel
. he refuses to understand even though Hamas's threat to Israel is greater
than the Taliban's threat to Europe or Fatah al-Islam's to Lebanon.
Goldstone knows the new battlefields. But he ignores because the goal was
to demonize Israel. And therefore, he must lie and mislead.
Article 32 deals with Israel's bombing of Palestinian Authority buildings,
rejects the Israeli claim that these were part of the, "Hamas terrorist
infrastructure," and determines that these were, "deliberate attacks on
civilian objects in violation of the rule of customary international
humanitarian law." Certainly. If they ignore the fact that Hamas is a
terrorist entity that uses terrorism mainly against innocent Palestinians
as well . the result is that this is a legitimate political body. Maybe
even a charitable organization. Now it is possible to understand why the
mission ignores the Hamas Covenant. It is no coincidence. It is easier
to square the circle that way.
How is Hamas absolved of responsibility for serious crimes? The Goldstone
report cites hundreds of inquiries that were carried out by various
groups. One of the groups cited is, of course, Amnesty International,
which has provided countless hostile reports against Israel. These are
cited extensively. But there was another Amnesty report, issued on
21.2.09. This surprising report reviews a series of incidents in which
Hamas eliminated dozens of Fatah members, during the time of Operation
Cast Lead, in Gaza. And here's the surprise: Of all the reports, it is
this one which is not mentioned in the Goldstone report. There is mention
of attacks on Fatah personnel (in Article 80, for example), but with
exaggerated effort to minimize the significance of the matter.
The general impression is that Goldstone is much more critical towards
Fatah than towards Hamas. For example, Goldstone blames Fatah for the
"refusal to cede control of the security institutions" in favor of the
Hamas (Article 190), causing the confrontation between the factions.
Hamas, according to the whole report, is a completely legitimate body that
should control the security institutions. Goldstone stubbornly refuses to
see the very anti-Semitic and terrorist nature of Hamas, an entity whose
very existence is a crime against humanity.
It is possible to continue, article after article, in order to expose the
construction of the deceptions and the lies. The mission details 36
factual events that prove, as it were, that Israel perpetrated war crimes.
In their reduced framework below, let us examine the attack on the Abd
Rabbo family. This event became one of the most prominent symbols of
Operation Cast Lead, received widespread coverage and was mentioned in
many reports. The Goldstone report devotes ten articles (768-777) to this
incident. The mission repeated the claim that family members waived a
white flag and that its daughters were murdered in cold blood by Israel.
This claim is not only negligent, it is also a malicious lie. Thorough
checks have shown that family members agave different and contradictory
versions. One of the claims was that this was cold-blooded murder because
there were no Hamas personnel in the area. It seems that this claim has
also been refuted, by contradictory testimony, even byTime magazine, to
the effect that there were indeed Hamas personnel in the area. Moreover,
it seems that Al-Hayat Al-Jadida reports that, ""The Abd Rabbo family kept
quiet while Hamas fighters turned their farm in the Gaza strip into a
fortress." The testimony is contradictory and the Time and Al-Hayat
Al-Jadida reports were supposed to be before the mission. But there is
not even a hint of them in the Goldstone report, which publishes a libel,
even though it has already been contradicted. The objective has been
marked. The facts will not confuse the mission.
The foregoing is only the tip of the iceberg. Space is too short to
detail the parade of lies known as "the Goldstone Report." We have
presented here only isolated examples about the method. Goldstone, who
chose to collaborate with the dark majority, supplied the goods. The
report deserves a much closer study. The State of Israel must establish a
commission of inquiry, led by top-notch jurists, in cooperation with their
colleagues from around the world, in order to examine article after
article, claim after claim, and refute the libel. Israel should also
inquire its own misdeeds. The argument here is not that Israel is exempted
from criticism. Every loss of human life is regrettable, and should be
examined, in order to see how much Israel is responsible (as I recommended
in previous article). But not in the way of the Goldstone Fact Finding
Mission. The deeper one digs into the report, the more it becomes clear
that Goldstone is a criminal hiding under the umbrella of human rights.
On behalf of human rights, he and his lies must be exposed. The truth
must come to light.
* * *
To the readers:
Any comment or additional information about the deception and the lies of
the report or the members of the commision will be welcomed at my email:
Ben-Dror Yemini (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Links to translated articles: :