George Bisharat on Goldstone: Not a Shred of Self-Criticism

George Bisharat, Palestinian-American professor of Law, has yet another attack on Israel — his last one was an eager recycling of the hearsay from Israeli soldiers that Ethan Bronner so accommodatingly offered up to the NYT readership.

This time using the Goldstone Commission as the prompter, he again goes on the attack. What’s astonishing — at least to an informed liberal who appreciates self-criticism — is how utterly void of any ability to examine the conflict from any but the totalistic Palestinian victim narrative in which Israel is a) guilty, b) responsible, and c) should engage in soul-searching as a result of the report.

Goldstone report: Israel’s failings
A U.N. report finds war crimes in last winter’s fighting; now Israel must be held accountable.

By George Bisharat
September 18, 2009

Will Israel’s decades-long impunity from international law finally come to an end? That is the question facing the international community in the aftermath of the just-released Goldstone report.

Richard Goldstone, formerly a supreme court justice in South Africa and chief prosecutor in the international tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia, headed a four-person United Nations mission investigating both Israel and Hamas for possible war crimes during Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip last winter. The mission conducted 188 interviews and reviewed more than 300 reports, 10,000 pages of documents, 30 videos and 1,200 photographs. The Israeli government barred the group from entering Israel or the Gaza Strip (it reached Gaza, ultimately, through Egypt). By contrast, Palestinian authorities, both in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, cooperated with the mission. The 575-page report concluded that both sides committed war crimes before, during and after the intense fighting in December-January.

This is a fascinating account. No one reading it would know the following:

  • The mission was stacked against Israel both in mandate and in composition of the “judges”
  • the hundreds of reports were from ideologically committed NGOs
  • the videos somehow managed to exclude the extensive footage of Hamas using civilians as shields
  • the Israelis were inhospitable because of the corruption that hung like original sin around the commission
  • and the Palestinians, especially Hamas, were hospitable because the commission would relay every claim, no matter how ludicrous and self-contradictory, to the rest of the world.

In its findings on Israel’s conduct, the report noted that the ruinous siege on Gaza, imposed long before the invasion, collectively punished its residents in violation of international law. During the attack, Israeli troops killed civilians without justification, wantonly destroyed civilian infrastructure and private homes, and used weapons illegally. Israeli troops targeted and destroyed Gaza’s last functioning flour mill. Israeli armored bulldozers razed the chicken farm that provided 10% of Gaza’s eggs, burying 31,000 chickens in rubble. Israeli gunners bombed a raw sewage lagoon, releasing 200,000 cubic meters of filth into neighboring farmland. Repeated pinpoint strikes on a water well complex destroyed all of its essential machinery.

These are just some of the facts that led the mission to conclude that Israel’s objective in the attack was “to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.”

I have repeatedly dealt with the extensive problems with the Commission’s report, not the least — replicated here — being the failure to hold Hamas accountable for firing at Israelis from civilian areas. In a vacuum, Israel’s actions seem reprehensible; understood in the context of thousands of rockets fired specifically at civilians in Israel — hence the limited blockade — and attacks at Israeli troops from within and nearby schools, UN buildings, private houses, etc. In the Middle Ages and anywhere in the Middle East other than Israel, these folks would have been starved to death or slaughtered, and outsiders would have said they deserved it.

Since a January cease-fire, Israel has maintained its illegal blockade, keeping relief supplies and construction materials from Gaza, and thus guaranteeing continued Palestinian civilian suffering.

Because Hamas rerouts all material to their insane addiction to attacking Israel, Israel cannot let these materials in.

The Goldstone mission found that Hamas, in its indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, also committed war crimes, calling the rockets “a deliberate attack against the civilian population.”

Just as with the Commission, Bisharat offers this late, mild account of Hamas’ behavior as his way of appearing “even-handed.”

The report recommends that all parties to the fighting conduct credible internal investigations of the abuses it documented. If they fail to do so within six months, the report recommends that the U.N. Security Council refer the matter to the International Criminal Court for investigation.

Israel clearly anticipated a critical report and has been planning for months to discredit it. Its spokespeople are making preposterous accusations, such as that Goldstone is “anti-Israel” (in fact, he is Jewish and has strong ties to Israel),…

So does Neve Gordon and David Landau, and hundreds of other useful infidels who think they’re helping by joining the chorus of demonization. That Bisharat can claim this either means he’s dishonest about or — more likely, at least in this case, ignorant of — the virulent meme of self-criticism that runs through Jewish culture.

…and its diplomats are working the phones in an attempt to sway Western governments and members of the Security Council. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the report in discussions with U.S. special envoy George Mitchell, and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon is trying to orchestrate condemnation of the report by senior Obama administration officials and members of Congress.

This urging must be resisted, and Israel’s serial violations of international law — whether in pulverizing Lebanon in 2006; illegally detaining, torturing or assassinating Palestinians under its dominion in the occupied Palestinian territories; or building settlements on Palestinian lands for exclusive Jewish occupancy — must come to an end. Israel may not be the worst human rights violator in the world, but it is among those that most consistently evade accountability.

This is specially choice. The Arab regimes, including any Palestinian authority, whether in Lebanon (1970-82), the West Bank (1993-present) or Gaza (1993-present, under Hamas 2006-present), are some of the most vicious violators of human rights on the planet. And they constantly evade accountability. Israel not only holds itself accountable, but the world scrutunizes every move it makes.

Compare the attention to Israel’s action in December-January 2008/9 to Sri Lanka’s action in March 2009: Under 1000 civilians (perhaps as few as 300) killed by Israel, over 20,000 (!) civilians killed by Sri Lankan forces. How many HRW or AI reports have you read on the fate of the Tamils? How many UN Commissions of investigations?

Israeli abuses are deeply resented around the globe.

Just a bit of Muslimocentric fantasy here (along with a dash of radical “left” useful infidelity). In fact there are people the world over, victims of far more vicious regimes, who deeply resent the way Palestinians have hijacked human rights in the service of their obsessive effort to regain honor by destroying the Jews right to be anything but Dhimmis in the Middle East. Ask a Tamil, mourning the death of 20,000 civilians, whether he resents the UNHRC and Judge Goldstone lavishing all their “talents” investigating a situation where the civilian toll was in the hundreds.

For too long, we in the United States have abetted Israel, bestowing on it roughly $3 billion annually in aid since 1973 and vetoing scores of resolutions in the Security Council that attempted to hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law.

Again we get a good view of how demopaths use UN madness to jump on their hobby horse. The hypocrisy of a Palestinian, whose leadership has systematically abused his own people, and tried to wipe out another, complaining about Israel not being held accountable is hypocritical gall that can only come from dealing with Western fools for a very long time.

To his credit, President Obama has called for a halt to new Israeli settlements, though he has failed to enunciate consequences for Israeli defiance. He should now embrace the Goldstone recommendations strongly, and must also demand an immediate end to Israel’s illegal siege of Gaza.

Israel’s friends, rather than reflexively dismissing Goldstone’s findings, should reflect instead: Are the interests of Israeli citizens genuinely served by continued indulgence of their military’s excesses? Impunity for one state undermines the very legitimacy of international law. Yet international law protects weak and strong alike, and we ignore its continuing abuse at our peril.

International law, as embodied in Goldstone’s travesty of justice does not protect weak and strong alike. On the contrary, it protects the weak whether they are right or wrong. And despite Bisharat’s touching concern for the interests of Israeli citizens, how much more moral stature might he accrue were he to turn the critical eye on the Palestinian political and religious leaders who victimize his own people with a cult of death.

Instead, alas, he joins them in their vicious war against the Jews, and the newspapers give this kind of moral travesty honorable and unopposed exposure. Only a well-informed public can survive this kind of cognitive warfare, waged with the complicity of a MSNM that does not even know how badly it’s moral values are being abused.

What this editorial so beautifully exemplifies is how a man without a shred of self-criticism about his side can attack the other side using their willingness to self-criticize against them. The complicity of the “my side right or wrong” meme with the “your side right or wrong” meme, or what I have elsewhere refered to as the marriage of pre-modern sadism with post-modern mascochism.

The proper response from Westerners and others to whom Bisharat appeals is: before you demand that Israel search its soul, how about you Palestinians show even the glimmerings of a soul to search?

George Bisharat is a professor at UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco and writes frequently on law and politics in the Middle East.

I pity his students.

11 Responses to George Bisharat on Goldstone: Not a Shred of Self-Criticism

  1. Eliyahu says:

    Firstly, the notion of a “palestinian people” was invented in order to fight a cognitive/psychological war against Israel. The false notion of a “palestinian people, invented by British psywar experts, needs to debunked in order for peace to be able to come about.

    Second, Bisharat mentions $3 billion given by the US to Israel every year. Whatever the exact amount, the Arabs have gotten much more from the USA over the years through the Foreign Tax Credit applied to the purchase of oil, as if the price or royalty of the oil were an “income tax” imposed by Saudi Arabia on oil extracted by ARAMCO. The tax credit allowed ARAMCO to deduct the full amount of the fake “oil income tax” from its corporate income tax payable to the US Treasury. Let Bisharat complain about US funds given to Arab entities, including the PA.

  2. Cynic says:


    Egypt by way of Carter’s quid pro quo gets some 2 billion every year.
    Now Bisharat and all those Americans who complain so loudly about what Israel gets should be forced to do an accounting of what the US gets in return for those “handouts”.

    Apart from Israel buying from the US with that money and spurring employment and profits it is also bolstering the US with cutting edge technology in many different fields and aiding in the commercial success of many US corporate entities.
    What would the economic results of Intel, IBM, Motorola, HP and others have been like had it not been for the research carried out in Israel?
    What riches have accrued to the US because of Israeli input over the years?

    None so arrogant as those so ignorant.

  3. RedPencil says:

    Sort of on topic: Here’s a call to “take action” on the Goldstone Report from the Daily Kos. Most of the comments amplify the tone. One accused Israel of of “consistently … murder”ing true partners for peace. (Without naming these paragons of course.)

  4. Eliyahu says:

    Bisharat is lying about relief supplies not getting in. Even while the war was going on in January, food and medical supplies have been getting in to Gaza. Likewise since then too. Construction materials have been limited for the good reason that Israel doesn’t want Hamas to build more deep bunkers and tunnels. Unfortunately, Hamas confiscates building supplies for its war needs, uncaring about civilian needs.

    This brings me to Prez Obominable. In his UN speech, he subtly blamed Israel for the poor living conditions in Gaza and poor infrastructure conditions, thereby justifying Hamas rocket attacks on Sderot. “The boy in Gaza who can’t get clean drinking water.” Firstly, Israel supplies water to Gaza, although I would rather Israel did not do that. The sewage situation is supposed to be bad. But that is because Hamas and the PA before it did not use the huge amounts of international donor money to build water and sewage treatment facilities, homes, hospitals, etc. They use the money for war purposes and, besides, poor Arab kids sitting in poor homes make good anti-Israel propaganda. So why build new homes for them?? But Obama is echoing PA/Hamas propaganda. He’s no friend.

    but bisharat does not merely interpret reality in a way that we may not like. He lies outright.

  5. Cynic says:


    It seems that the “sewage tsunami” of some 2 years ago in Gaza has been forgotten.
    Nobody discussed it in much detail, least of all the MSM, and why it happened.
    It was not PC to point out that Hamas had ripped out piping to use for rockets and even German donations for a sewage project was misused.

  6. JD says:

    So a Palestinian guy supports an anti-Israel screed. So what? And how hard did it take to find this guy, because it certainly seems quite from the Palestinian side elsewhere about this report. Pretty quiet, actually.

    They know BS. But this time, it absolves Hamas. Few Pal. intellectuals have the time to support a group that will bring oppression to their values.

    The way to attack the UN screed is at its feet. Goldstone knew and accepted a judge that expressed a prejudice before she was assigned to the panel. That is a basic, fundamental no-no, in, I assume, every judicial system in the world. That he did not find some other ringer to fill her space either hints at something darker, maybe payoffs, or his complete arrogance.

  7. JD says:

    “certainly seems quite”

    That’s “quiet” to non-dyslexics.

  8. […] zur Goldstone-Hetze: – George Bisharat on Goldstone: Not a Shred of Self-Criticism […]

  9. Eliyahu says:

    Cynic mentions a sewage pond overflowing or its walls collapsing in Gaza a few years ago. Several Arabs died in the subsequent flooding when the sewage liquid flowed onto their homes. Hamas was already the govt in Gaza at the time and money had come in from abroad to build a better sewage system. But Hamas did not care and did not deal with it.

  10. rl says:

    i blogged on this here.

  11. Anonymous says:

    medical insurence with unemployed coverage erie pa…

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