Thursday, October 15, 2009


From Ha'aretz:
The United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday endorsed a report that accused both Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas of committing war crimes during their December-January conflict in Gaza. In a special session, 25 of the body's members voted in favor of the resolution that chastised Israel for failing to cooperate with the UN mission led by South African jurist Richard Goldstone. Another 6 voted against and 11 abstained. The resolution agreed in Geneva simply calls for the U.N. General Assembly to consider the Goldstone report and for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report back to the Human Rights Council on Israel's adherence to it.

The report calls for the UN Security Council to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court if the Israelis or Palestinians fail to investigate the alleged abuses themselves.

The countries that voted against the report included the U.S., Italy, Holland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Ukraine. China, Russia, Egypt, India, Jordan, Pakistan, South Africa, Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ghana, Indonesia, Djibouti, Liberia, Qatar, Senegal, Brazil, Mauritius, Nicaragua and Nigeria voted in favor of the report. The abstaining countries included: Bosnia, Burkina-Faso, Cameron, Gabon, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Belgium, South Korea, Slovenia and Uruguay.

I received an e-mail from a congregant this week wondering whether in fact the damage done by Richard Goldstone in his now infamous report about Israel makes him more a candidate for excommunication than Bernard Madoff. I don't agree, but a good case can be made that Goldstone has done tremendous damage to Israel's reputation in his unfair and unbalanced presentation.

Still, there is another side to the Goldstone situation - the distrubing decision on Israel's part not to cooperate in the investigation. An interesting and balanced Israeli perspective is found in Ha'aretz:

The South African Jewish community is clearly up in arms. The following letter, ostensibly from a friend of Goldstone's, has been making the rounds of the blogosphere. It seems authentic, though I can't vouch for it 100%. But it is worth sharing.

Also see What South African Jews Think of Richard Goldstone

To: Judge Richard Goldstone
From: Barbara Press Subject:

Hello Richard... It's been a while...

Dear Richard

Our paths have crossed many times compelling me to correspond directly with you. I pray your indulgence that you hear me out by reading to the end of my missive. In fact I ask you to share my letter with Noleen from beginning to end and to respond with your thoughts. It has been a while since (inspired by you as head of ORT South Africa) I, together with Rabbi Bernard at Oxford Shule, established a school to teach the Killarney-Houghton Black domestic workers how to write, read, sew, cook and drive. It has been a while since you praised my father, Hubert Press, as one of the finest business brains you had ever encountered. It has been a while since I dined with you, Noleen, David and Marilyn Rivkin, discussing opera.

Jewish life has been crying out for a man of the stature of Adolph Cremieux, of Justice Louis Brandeis, of Sir Moses Montefiore, people of the highest integrity and purpose. For those who champion their own people are remembered forever in the annals of history. But those who are self-serving are lost in a trail of ignominy.

South African Jewry stands tall and your efforts in championing Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa were applauded and earned you a reputation as a man of stature.

I am bewildered by the direction you have taken as part of the United Nations Human Rights Council. This rogue Council has been tainted by a membership that does not condemn Iranian tyranny, Chinese oppression, African despotism, but spends their time condemning one country unjustly, Israel.

The Goldstone Commission bears your name. One would expect the mandate of any report to be objective, so that your name could be respected and a legacy ensured. Instead your committee ignored the facts, embraced bias and rendered the report bearing your name, illegitimate.

You tried to defend yourself in the New York Times but it was transparent and not effective. You could have resigned from the commission and retained your integrity. You knew that Israel faced 12,000 Grads and Kassams from its Iran-backed terror base of Gaza, 8,000 irreversibly traumatizing the families and children of Sderot. You knew that the U.N. never passed one resolution condemning these deadly missiles. You knew that before and during Operation Cast Lead, Israel made thousands of cell phone calls to warn civilians. You knew that Israel sent thousands of texts to warn civilians. You knew that Israel dropped hundreds of thousands of leaflets in Arabic (I managed to obtain one of these as evidence) to warn civilians.

You knew that Israel aborted operations to avoid civilian deaths. You knew that Israel set up medical facilities on the edge of Gaza to treat civilians. You knew that Israel dropped supplies of food into Gaza to feed civilians. You also knew that Hamas operatives are not "civilians". You knew that not only were they not civilians, but that they hid behind their own civilians to fire on Israeli civilians. You knew that they misused ambulances for military purposes. You knew that mosques and schools were used for Hamas depots and launching pads. You knew that Hamas operatives kill or shoot at the legs of any Gazans refusing to target Israel.

The video footage and U-tube sequences are still available for any and all of us to witness. You clearly knew that one of your team members had condemned Israel in a published letter, even before the conclusion of the incursion or the beginning of your investigation. But you did not resign or distance yourself from the hypocrisy of this illegitimate report. Instead, a tedious 500-page report of the 3 week battle was padded with pages from the tainted U.N. mockery of Israel's security barrier (misnamed the "wall"). What a sad indictment of the charter of the United Nations. Richard, you were indeed a respected legal giant in Johannesburg. This report did not arise from ignorance or naivete. I am trying so hard to resist the conclusion that your role and report might represent a self-serving desire to ingratiate yourself for a more senior position in the kangaroo court called the United Nations. But if true - and one hopes that this is not the case - at what price? Association with the infamous U.N., garners no respect in the USA so why would anyone seek to be head inmate at the U.N. Asylum?

I have been very direct as South Africans are want to be. But many of us South Africans have been tainted by the perfidy of the Goldstone report. This is the Jewish time of Judgment when the scales of fate are entered in the book of life and we all need to look into our souls. I am not sure how you could comfortably extricate yourself. Perhaps we could discuss this face to face.

Good Yomtov to you, Noleen and your family.

Regards, Barbara Press Fix

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