Monthly Archives: November 2009

Haiku on Arab Exports

It’s now the anniversary of my father’s stroke, and for a while there it looked like he’d checked out. The doctors didn’t help with their extremely cautious prognoses. But he’s improved consistently, and although we knew he followed conversations and “got” what was being said — mostly because he’d laugh in the right places — his articulation was limited. Today he gave me the punch line to this haiku:

    do arabs export
    more oil or hate? and
    which do people value more?

How not to analyze the Fort Hood Massacre: Robert Wright gets it wrong

Robert Wright is an interesting case study the mixture of LCE (liberal cognitive egocentrism) combined with MOS (masochistic omnipotence syndrome). After the collapse of Camp David, when the progressive left should have been begging the pardon of the Israelis for having urged them to take enormous risks with Arafat for the sake of a peace they were sure would come, Wright came out with a ringing defense of Arafat (elaborating on the work of Malley and Falk[!]), that embodies for me the moral failure of the left in the period after 2000.

Now this is perhaps related to his error-ridden work on the important issues of game theory and morality — The Logic of Non-Zero — in which he reads the record backwards and comes up with a model of inevitablility for the victory of positive-sum relations. It’s as if LCE were a part of our genetic make-up, and therefore, we begin assuming everyone’s on that page.

Let’s look at how he handles the case of Major Hasan and the Fort Hood massacre.

November 22, 2009
OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
Who Created Major Hasan?By ROBERT WRIGHT
Princeton, N.J.

IN the case of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan and the Fort Hood massacre, the verdict has come in. The liberal news media have been found guilty — by the conservative news media — of coddling Major Hasan’s religion, Islam.

Liberals, according to the columnist Charles Krauthammer, wanted to medicalize Major Hasan’s crime — call it an act of insanity rather than of terrorism. They worked overtime, Mr. Krauthammer said on Fox News, to “avoid any implication that there was any connection between his Islamist beliefs … and his actions.” The columnist Jonah Goldberg agrees. Admit it, he wrote in The Los Angeles Times, Major Hasan is “a Muslim fanatic, motivated by other Muslim fanatics.”

The good news for Mr. Krauthammer and Mr. Goldberg is that there is truth in their indictment. The bad news is that their case against the left-wing news media is the case against right-wing foreign policy. Seeing the Fort Hood shooting as an act of Islamist terrorism is the first step toward seeing how misguided a hawkish approach to fighting terrorism has been.

The American right and left reacted to 9/11 differently. Their respective responses were, to oversimplify a bit: “kill the terrorists” and “kill the terrorism meme.”

I would have put it very differently. Some people (I won’t call them the “right”) said, “What’s wrong with these people that they hate us so?” The others (I won’t call them “left”) said, “What’s wrong with us that they hate us so?”

Conservatives backed war in Iraq, and they’re now backing an escalation of the war in Afghanistan. Liberals (at least, dovish liberals) have warned in both cases that killing terrorists is counterproductive if in the process you create even more terrorists; the object of the game isn’t to wipe out every last Islamist radical but rather to contain the virus of Islamist radicalism.

Interesting. Would be nice to have some references to how this is an active campaign to strike at the terrorist meme (the closest I could find was this from 2004), rather than mere appeasement, which is what the argument that you can’t fight back lest you anger them produces most often.

Anatomy of “Progressive” Double Speak: Fisking Frank Rich on Fort Hood

I have yet to fisk Frank Rich, partly because he rarely deals with an issue in which I have some expertise, partly because, like Daniel Pipes, he so thoroughly links his comments to other literature, that I have not had the time or the energy to look them all up. But Rich is a former classmate (Harvard ’71), and I’m on a class listserv where I posted David Brooks’ criticism of the psychological school’s approach to Major Hasan’s killing spree, and several classmates answered. So when Rich weighed in on the subject, I decided to call up all his links, read the material, and respond.

The result is long and sometimes circuitous. At times, following his logic is like trying to deal with a bucking bronco: easier to watch than to ride. But in the end, I think what a close look at how Rich dealt with problem reveals, is how bereft of serious thinking even the most intelligent and apparently well-read among the self-styled “liberal left” are on the subject of Islam and its extremist manifestations, and to what lengths they will go to belittle people who try to think clearly on the matter.

Nietzsche once likened serious thinking to diving into an icy river and grasping a stone lying at the bottom. Rich won’t get his feet wet, but he mocks those of us who are soaking from head to toe.

The Missing Link From Killeen to Kabul
By FRANK RICH
Published: November 14, 2009

THE dead at Fort Hood had not even been laid to rest when their massacre became yet another political battle cry for the self-proclaimed patriots of the American right.

It also became a non-battle cry for the self-proclaimed progressives of the left, who far preferred the psychologization of the event — “pre-proxy-post-traumatic stress syndrome” — to any discussion of the problem with Islam. Will Rich have the courage to address the problem? Or will he just bash the “right”?

Their verdict was unambiguous: Maj. Nidal Malikan, an American-born psychiatrist of Palestinian parentage who sent e-mail to a radical imam, was a terrorist. And he did not act alone.

“Terrorist,” I think it’s hard to argue against. Did not act alone? That’s another matter. As for “unambiguous,” does Rich mean “unanimous”? I don’t know too many people who thought he acted in concert with anyone.

Indeed, the near-unanimous verdict was that he was a loner. If there’s any support group here, it’s some of the more radical members of his mosque, like Duane. So what does Rich mean here, other than suggesting that the “self-proclaimed patriots of the right” are conspiracy theorists? (Unlike the truthers who have come up with the scenario whereby Hasan’s been framed.)

His co-conspirators included our military brass, the Defense Department, the F.B.I., the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Joint Terrorism Task Force and, of course, the liberal media and the Obama administration. All these institutions had failed to heed the warning signs raised by Hasan’s behavior and activities because they are blinded by political correctness toward Muslims, too eager to portray criminals as sympathetic victims of social injustice, and too cowardly to call out evil when it strikes 42 innocents in cold blood.

Oh, now I get it. Rich means that the vast range of responsible figures, hands tied by a political correctness that he, among others, plays a major role in enforcing, are, in the minds of the “right,” collaborators. Is this what, “didn’t act alone,” means? I thought it meant, “had co-conspirators.” Rich takes it to mean “enablers.” Intellectual integrity is not the first word that comes to mind here.

Is this clearly sarcastic summary of the “self-proclaimed patriots of the American right” suggesting that there’s no problem here with political correctness? Does it not matter that our intelligence services can’t talk about “honor-shame” culture because some people — Rich? — think it’s racist as Edward Said so urgently insisted? Does it matter that Hasan’s multiple flags never quite tripped a switch somewhere? Does it matter that all those doctors who heard his alarming presentation were too embarrassed to say, “something’s wrong?”

Cognitive Egocentrism, Dry Bones style

H/T fellow medievalist/blogger Jeffrey Woolf at Obiter Dicta who entitled his post “Cognitive Egocentrism, but didn’t link to the definitive introduction to the current problem.

From the inimitable Dry Bones.

I believe we have the definitive illustration of useful infidelity.

What Happened at the mosque and inside Goldstone’s mind?

Jonathan Dahoah Halevi, whose work on the evidence from OCL is extensive, has published some thoughts on the Al Maqadmah mosque case and the Goldstone Report’s handling of it. I add comments to bring out some of the more astonishing aspects of his argument.

What happened at mosque?
Jonathan Dahoah Halevi questions reliability of reports on Gaza mosque attack

Jonathan Dahoah Halevi
Published: 11.12.09, 17:21 / Israel Opinion

On November 5, 2009 there was a confrontation at Brandeis University in Massachusetts between the president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Dr. Dore Gold, and Judge Richard Goldstone. It dealt, among other things, with the affair of the Maqadmah mosque in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, about which two contradictory versions exist, that of Israel and that of the Goldstone Committee’s Report.

The Goldstone Report about Operation Cast Lead accuses Israel of an air strike on the mosque on January 3, 2009, which caused the deaths of “at least 15 Palestinians” who were in it at the time. During the confrontation with Dr. Gold, Goldstone claimed that 21 Palestinians had been killed, and he presented the attack as a salient example of Israel’s policy of deliberately targeting innocent civilians. However, Israel issued official documents stating that its Air Force did not attack the mosque and that the dead had been killed in fighting the IDF.

Norwegian University gives thumbs down to Boycott Israel

For a fine account of this development, see

Trondheim University Unanimously Rejects Boycott of Israel

It’s ironic that, just as a major Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions organizing conference is about to take place at Hampshire College, the BDS movement suffered a major setback. The Board of Governors of the prestigious Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) of Trondheim today unanimously rejected an academic boycott of Israel.

Read it all.

Magdi Cristiano Allam: Halte à l’antisémitisme sous couvert d’antisionisme!

Alexandre del Valle has posted at his blog an interview with France Soir of the Egyptian-born, Italian journalist and European deputy, who has just published a book, in response to Islamist terrorism, a hymn to life entitled, « Pour que Vive Israel » (ed du Roche). Since his conversion to Christianity, there are fatwas out on his life.

Apparently he’s been reading Fiamma Nierenstein.

Must say, it reminds me of the political cartoon Ellen Horowitz did for me some years back and I posted as part of an essay she had done on the way Arabs project their brutality onto Israelis:

Magdi Cristiano Allam: Halte à l’antisémitisme sous couvert d’antisionisme!
Lundi, 2 novembre 2009

L’avis inédit du célèbre journaliste italien député européen sur l’actualité internationale. Bientôt de passage en France, il publie en réponse au terrorisme islamiste un hymne à la vie intitulé « Pour que Vive Israel » (ed du Rocher),

Magdi Cristiano Allam, ancien Vice-Directeur du Corriere dela Sera, est l’une des personnalités politico-médiatiques les plus populaires d’Italie. D’origne égyptienne, auteur de nombreux best-sellers sur l’islam et l’Occident, il est menacé de mort par le Hamas et Al Qaïda en raison de ses positions sur l’islamisme, sur Israel et depuis sa conversion au christianisme. Député européen sur les listes de l’Union du Centre (UDC) parti membre comme l’UMP du Parti populaire européen, il a créé son propre mouvement, Io Amo L’Italia, Anima d’Europa, qu’il ambitionne d’implanter dans toute l’Europe. Protégé en permanence par de nombreux gardes du corps, France soir l’a rencontré au Parlement européen ;

France Soir : Les fatwas contre vous ont été renouvelées depuis que vous avez quitté l’islam, le fait de lier l’islamisme à l’islam a–t-il agravé votre cas ?

MCA : Je me bats plus que quiconque en faveur de la reconnaissance de droits des Musulmans en tant que personnes, mais je suis opposé à l’islam en tant que religion, que j’ai essayé en vain de réformer mais dont les textes fonateurs légitiment la violence. Hélas, les Musulmans modérés sont moins orthodoxes que les Islamistes.

Goldstone’s doubly revealing nightmare from which we have not awoken

In his “debate” on Thursday November 5, at Brandeis, during question and answer, Goldstone got chummy with the audience and told them an anecdote about how he felt going into Gaza:

As far as conditions in Gaza are concerned, I must say that my visit to Gaza turned out very differently from what I had anticipated. Frankly, and I make no, no, no, and I’m not ashamed to say it, I was very nervous about being a Jew going into Gaza on probe by Hamas, especially when the first reaction to my appointment by Hamas was to reject a meeting with me because I was Jew.

And my wife sitting here will remember that three nights before I went, I woke up in the middle of the night after a terrible nightmare, with sweat on my brow, because I had a vivid dream that I’d been kidnapped by, by Hamas, and people in Israel were rejoicing. [laughter] That was the nightmare, based on real fears.

Now Goldstone clearly didn’t tell this anecdote in order to reveal the utter intellectual bankruptcy of both his Report’s methods and and conclusions. But that’s what he did.

Covering the Disturbances on the Temple Mount: Insights into the Intimidation of Journalists

The following is an account written up by an Israeli journalist who feared for his life while covering the disturbances. S/he wants to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.

The following occurred on October 9, 2009, after a week of heightened tension in east Jerusalem and the Old City….

A group of reporters – myself included – had been covering a potential flashpoint in the Wadi Joz neighborhood of east Jerusalem, just opposite the Old City, on Friday morning, as hundreds of Muslim worshippers participated in a prayer session at the entrance to the neighborhood, meant to protest “Israeli aggressions” on the Temple Mount .

All ages of men from the neighborhood had come out into the street, and approached a police road block, which was meant to stop younger residents of the area from flocking to the Temple Mount for noon prayers, which were expected to be tense.

Nonetheless, tension made its way to Wadi Joz as well, as scores of police in riot gear faced the the massive gathering of worshippers, who in turn listened to a fiery speech from their imam, as he spoke through a bullhorn.

Fisking Goldstone’s Response to Berman: Whereas Clause #10

Part V of the fisking of Goldstone’s Response to Berman.

[Note: Justice Goldstone counts the descriptive paragraph as Paragraph 1. Therefore, “Paragraph 3” refers to Whereas 2 (and accordingly throughout his text).]

Whereas clause #10: ‘Whereas in the October 16th edition of the Jewish Daily Forward, Richard Goldstone, the head of the `United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict’, is quoted as saying, with respect to the mission’s evidence-collection methods, `If this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.’”

[Goldstone:] “7. Paragraph 11: What I had explained to The Forward was that the Report itself would not constitute evidence admissible in court of law and that investigators would have to investigate which allegations they considered relevant. That, too, was why we recommended domestic investigations into the allegations. The remark as quoted is both inaccurate and taken completely out of context.”

[Berman Response]: Here is the relevant quote, as well as the passages that directly precede and follow it, taken directly from the article in the Jewish Daily Forward:

    “Goldstone defended the report’s reliance on eyewitness accounts, noting his mission had cross-checked those accounts against each other and sought corroboration from photos, satellite photos, contemporaneous reports, forensic evidence and the mission’s own inspections of the sites in question.
    For all that gathered information, though, he said, “We had to do the best we could with the material we had. If this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.”

Goldstone emphasized that his conclusion that war crimes had been committed was always intended as conditional. He still hopes that independent investigations carried out by Israel and the Palestinians will use the allegations as, he said, “a useful road map.”

We consider the quote in the whereas to be fully in context.

I’d have taken a different tack. First of all, Goldstone’s claim to having cross-checked his witnesses accounts is either dishonest or, if sincere, testimony to how sloppy the work of his Mission. To take the most salient — and vicious — accusation in the entire report, the claims of the Abed Rabbo family, there are dozens of versions many of which are mutually contradictory, and contradict testimony given previously to NGOs.

Fisking Goldstone’s Response to Berman: Whereas Clause #8-9

Part IV of the fisking of Goldstone’s Response to Berman.

[Note: Justice Goldstone counts the descriptive paragraph as Paragraph 1. Therefore, “Paragraph 3” refers to Whereas 2 (and accordingly throughout his text).]

Whereas clause #8: “Whereas the report repeatedly made sweeping and unsubstantiated determinations that the Israeli military had deliberately attacked civilians during Operation Cast Lead;

[Goldstone:] “7. Paragraph 8: This whereas clause is factually incorrect. The findings included in the report are neither “sweeping” nor “unsubstantiated” and in effect reflect 188 individual interviews, review of more than 300 reports, 30 videos and 1200 photographs. Additionally, the body of the report contains a plethora of references to the information upon which the Commission relied for our findings.

Since the terms “sweeping and unsubstantiated” are judgment calls, it’s hard for me to see how one can respond that they’re “factually incorrect.” Is this how lawyers write?

[Berman Response]: When summarizing the results of investigations into alleged Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians, the Report states that “the Mission found in every case [except one] that the Israeli armed forces had carried out direct intentional strikes against civilians” and that “in none of the cases reviewed were there any grounds which could have reasonably induced the Israeli armed forces to assume that the civilians attacked were in fact taking a direct part in the hostilities…

The assertion regarding “intentional strikes” is particularly mystifying. The Report does not take into account that Israeli soldiers were operating under fire, in an extremely volatile and dangerous environment, in which the enemy was hiding amongst a civilian population.

Nor does the Report generally take into account that testimony from Gazans was given under the watchful eye of Hamas officials. Moreover, the commission heard, at best, only one side of the story, since Israel, despairing of the biased mandate, chose not to participate. Whatever the wisdom of that Israeli decision – and, as indicated below, I do find it understandable – the Report at least should have acknowledged that Israeli non-participation limited the commission’s ability to reach firm conclusions.

Note that the reason the FFM could reach such sweeping conclusions as:

    in none of the cases reviewed were there any grounds which could have reasonably induced the Israeli armed forces to assume that the civilians attacked were in fact taking a direct part in the hostilities

is because they hand-picked the incidents to highlight precisely this point.

Goldstone explained to Bill Moyers:

    We chose those 36 because they seemed to be, to represent the most serious, the highest death toll, the highest injury toll. And they appear to represent situations where there was little or no military justification for what happened.

Once they had their incidents — most likely from a list created for them by the NGOs — they heard testimony which they found entirely credible.

Whereas clause #9: “Whereas the authors of the report, in the body of the report itself, admit that `we did not deal with the issues… regarding the problems of conducting military operations in civilian areas and second-guessing decisions made by soldiers and their commanding officers `in the fog of war.’;”

[Goldstone:] “6. Paragraph 9: The words quoted relate to the decision we made that it would have been unfair to investigate and make finding on situations where decisions had been made by Israeli soldiers ‘in the fog of battle’. This was a decision made in favor and not against the interests of Israel.

As far as I can make out, the Berman response did not address this point directly, but it is well worth addressing because it has to be one of the nastiest pieces of newspeak in the Goldstone lexicon. He used this same argument in the continuation of his comment to Moyers cited previously:

    We didn’t want to investigate situations where we would be called upon to second-guess decisions made by Israeli Defense Force leaders or soldiers, in what’s called the “fog of battle”. It’s really unfair to do that, especially without hearing the other side. So we tried to concentrate on issues which seem to be less likely to be justifiable by applying those standards.

Now this sounds just fine until you realize what it meant in practice. First, it meant no systematic investigation of Hamas use of civilians as human shields.

And second it meant, no need to consult people like Colonel Richard Kemp because, since his comments are based on what it means to fight against an insurgency that embeds itself in a civilian population (while attacking your civilians), they are about “the fog of war,” and therefore irrelevant. So while Kemp concludes as a result of his perspective:

    During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare. Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population.

Goldstone finds it unnecessary to even hear his testimony because:

    There was no reliance on Col. Kemp mainly because the Report did not deal with the issues he raised regarding the problems of conducting military operations in civilian areas and second-guessing decisions made by soldiers and their commanding officers in the fog of war. The Mission avoided having to do so in the incidents it decided to investigate.“

Now I try and avoid ad hominem arguments, but this is intellectual dishonesty of the nastiest sort. “Hey, don’t blame me, I’m your friend.”

(From Daled Amos): The fact is that the Goldstone Report did not hesitate to “make finding on situations where decisions had been made by Israeli soldiers “in the fog of battle.” In its critique of the content of the Goldstone Report, CAMERA points out that the Goldstone Report does not hesitate to double-guess what was going through the mind of the IDF:

    Motive was freely and falsely attributed to Israel in order to charge them with war crimes. Paragraph 74 (74) of the Report asserts: The conditions of life in Gaza, resulting from deliberate actions of the Israeli forces and the declared policies of the Government of Israel – as they were presented by its authorized and legitimate representatives – with regard to the Gaza Strip before, during and after the military operation, cumulatively indicate the intention to inflict collective punishment on the people of the Gaza Strip in violation of international humanitarian law.

    And in paragraph 1331 (1325): The facts ascertained by the Mission, the conditions resulting from the deliberate actions of the Israeli armed forces and the declared policies of the Israeli Government – as they were presented by its authorized representatives – with regard to the Gaza Strip before, during and after the military operation, cumulatively indicate the intention to inflict collective punishment on the people of the Gaza Strip. The Mission, therefore, finds a violation of the provisions of article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

    Israel’s analysis of the Goldstone Report -– the existence of which Goldstone also denies -– also notes among the faults of the Report:

  • Second-guessing choice of weapons and tactics without knowledge of available resources. The Report concludes that with respect to one particular incident, Israeli forces should have used different weapons to further limit the risk to civilians in the area, and is untroubled by the fact that it has no information regarding the available troops, weapons or intelligence. The Report observes that forces had 50 minutes in which to respond to a significant threat (the time used by the force to accurately identify the source of fire), and opines that given this time, “it is difficult to believe that mortars were the most accurate weapons available” (¶ 696).
    Displaying a troubling disconnect from the reality of urban fighting on many simultaneous fronts, it suggests that the forces in the field should used “helicopters and fighter jets”, assuming that these are readily available to commanders in the field.[14]
  • Second-guessing what commanders should have anticipated. The Report concludes with respect to another incident that Israeli forces should not have been surprised that they were faced with anti-tank missile fire in the vicinity of a UNRWA installation, and therefore should have taken different steps to respond to this hostile fire, other than applying the commonly used technique of smoke screening (¶ 588). Again, the Report seeks to substitute its judgment for that of the commanders in the field, without any of the information necessary to conduct a proper analysis under the applicable law.One would almost think that Judge Goldstone did not read his own report–something he readily ascribes to his critics.

Notes Daled Amos: One would almost think that Judge Goldstone did not read his own report–something he readily ascribes to his critics.

Fisking Goldstone’s Response to Berman: Whereas Clause #4, 5, 6

Part III of the fisking of Goldstone’s Response to Berman.

[Note: Justice Goldstone counts the descriptive paragraph as Paragraph 1. Therefore, “Paragraph 3” refers to Whereas 2 (and accordingly throughout his text).]

Whereas clause #4: “Whereas the ‘fact-finding mission’ included a member who, before joining the mission, had already declared Israel guilty of committing atrocities in Operation Cast Lead by signing a public letter on January 11, 2009, published in the Sunday Times, that called Israel’s actions `war crimes’;

[Goldstone:] “3. Paragraph 5: The member concerned, Professor Christine Chinkin of the London School of Economics, in the same letter, together with other leading international lawyers, also condemned as war crimes the Hamas rockets fired into Israel.”

Response: The letter Professor Chinkin signed, which was published in the British press in mid-January, did indeed accuse Hamas of war crimes. But it also accused Israel of war crimes, months before the investigation began, clearly prejudging the outcome of the investigation regarding both parties. In my view, Professor Chinkin should have been disqualified from serving on the commission, based on her having signed the letter. The UN watchdog UN Watch notes that Justice Goldstone himself admitted in an August interview that the signature “would have been grounds for disqualification” if the commission had constituted a formal judicial inquiry.

This is actually a weak response. The letter Chinkin signed was entitled: Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is not self-defence – it’s a war crime. The target of criticism is clear. Its comments on Hamas’ “war crimes” are essentially concessive clauses intended to sound balanced while attacking the real target, Israel.

    The rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas deplorable as they are, do not, in terms of scale and effect amount to an armed attack entitling Israel to rely on self-defence. Under international law self-defence is an act of last resort and is subject to the customary rules of proportionality and necessity…
    We condemn the firing of rockets by Hamas into Israel and suicide bombings which are also contrary to international humanitarian law and are war crimes. Israel has a right to take reasonable and proportionate means to protect its civilian population from such attacks. However, the manner and scale of its operations in Gaza amount to an act of aggression and is contrary to international law, notwithstanding the rocket attacks by Hamas.

Note that at no time prior to condemning Israel, did Chinkin or any of the other signatories condemn these rocket attacks.

But Goldstone said none of his critics read the report…: US Rep. Berman replies to Goldstone.

First Goldstone came out with his report. Then a whole lot of people came down on him like a ton of bricks.

Then the UNHRC went ahead and did just what their mandate – the one Judge Goldstone keeps telling everyone was changed – called for: condemned Israel. Then some congressman produced a Non-binding Resolution (#867), calling on a slightly invertebrate administration to dump the report.

Then J-Street operative Morten Halperin wrote a response for Goldstone, which JTA blogger Ron Kampeas (and others) found rather convincing.

Others, of course, like Daled Amos and Israel Matsav, who have read the report and blog at Understanding the Goldstone Report, found it rather weak.

Now one of the principle sponsors, Howard Berman, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs has responded. Apparently, those who read carefully and know the material agree: Goldstone’s responses are weak.

It is curious why Goldstone used a ghost writer, and someone not too familiar with the report, whom, I’m sure he at least briefed verbally. But to hand off to someone else the job of defending (poorly) his report to Congress, rather than write his own response, seems strange. It suggests something I definitely suspect: that Goldstone himself has not read the report carefully.

Fisking Goldstone’s Response to Berman: Whereas Clause #2

Part I of the fisking of Goldstone’s Response to Berman.

[Note: Justice Goldstone counts the descriptive paragraph as Paragraph 1. Therefore, “Paragraph 3” refers to Whereas 2 (and accordingly throughout his text).]

Whereas clause #2: “Whereas, on January 12, 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed Resolution A/HRC/S-9/L.1, which authorized a `fact-finding mission’ regarding Israel’s conduct of Operation Cast Lead against violent militants in the Gaza Strip between December 27, 2008, and January 18, 2009;

[Goldstone Response]: This whereas clause ignores the fact that I and others refused this original mandate, precisely because it only called for an investigation into violations committed by Israel. The mandate given to and accepted by me and under which we worked and reported reads as follows:”. . .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 during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after”.

That mandate clearly included rocket and mortar attacks on Israel and as the report makes clear was so interpreted and implemented. It was the report with that mandate that was adopted by the Human Rights Council and that included the serious findings made against Hamas and other militant Palestinian groups.”

[BERMAN Response]: The broadened mandate Justice Goldstone sought was discussed, but not voted on, at a UNHRC plenary session. It was then announced via a press release in an altered formulation, more restrictive than the formulation envisioned by Justice Goldstone. The UNHRC did not create a new mandate. The only relevant mandate remained the one which includes operational paragraph 14 of UNHRC resolution A/HRC/S-9/L.1, as was accepted by the Council on January 12, 2009. The January 12 mandate was also the only mandate referenced in the October 16 UNHRC resolution that adopted the Report.

This whereas clause focuses on the mandate. Of course, the far more important issue is the Report itself, which makes only limited mention of the rocket attacks on Israel.

Indeed, all that Goldstone can point to is a very vague, purely verbal rearticulation of the mandate that could include Hamas. There was never a formal change in the mandate, and surely any effort to change it would have never passed, especially now that we know that the original drive behind this mission was the Organization of Islamic States. To insist heatedly that this ambiguous verbal change justifies his taking this admittedly biased mandate from a notoriously biased body, seems somewhat in bad faith.

That bad faith is compounded by the fact that the Mission did, indeed, carry out the original mandate with the merest fig leaf of a modification (see below). Of the “36 incidents” they chose to investigate, the overwhelming majority concerned Israel’s behavior. The crucial issues like Hamas’ use of civilian shields remained virtually, insidiously untouched.

Fisking Goldstone’s Response to Berman: Whereas Clause #3

Part II of the fisking of Goldstone’s Response to Berman.

[Note: Justice Goldstone counts the descriptive paragraph as Paragraph 1. Therefore, “Paragraph 3” refers to Whereas 2 (and accordingly throughout his text).]

Whereas clause #3: “Whereas the mandate of the `fact-finding mission’ makes no mention of the relentless rocket and mortar attacks, which numbered in the thousands and spanned a period of eight years, by Hamas and other violent militant groups in Gaza against civilian targets in Israel, that necessitated Israel’s defensive measures;

[Goldstone:] “2. Paragraph 4: This is factually incorrect. Chapter XXIV of the Report considers in detail the relentless rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel and the terror it caused to the people living within their range. The finding is made that they constituted serious war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.”

[Berman Response]: Paragraph 4 [Whereas #3] of H.Res.867 is addressing the mandate, not the Report. It reads as follows: “Whereas the mandate of the ‘‘fact-finding mission’’ makes no mention of the relentless rocket and mortar attacks, which numbered in the thousands and spanned a period of eight years, by Hamas and other violent militant groups in Gaza against civilian targets in Israel, that necessitated Israel’s defensive measures”. That statement is an accurate characterization of both the formal mandate, as passed by the UNHRC, and of the broadened mandate requested by Justice Goldstone.

The Goldstone counterattack, misdirected at the text it claims is factually incorrect, suggests that it was not a sharp lawyer, accustomed to read texts carefully, who wrote this response. But there’s more. Consider the chapter to which Goldstone refers, XXIV of the Report.

It carefully restricts its treatment of “rocket and mortar fire from 18 June 2008 to 31 July 2009.” No discussion of the long previous years of rocket fire, no discussion of the way in which rocketing increased with the Israeli withdrawal in 2005, no discussion of how it increased still further when Hamas took over in 2006. So the entire framework of the Israeli response is occulted.

But even more striking, there’s no discussion of how the Israeli response came as a result of Hamas formally calling an end to the cease-fire on December 18 (6 months later) and again increasing rocket fire on Israel.

The chapter is mostly about Israeli suffering (peanuts compared to Palestinian), with some side digs on Israel not protecting its Arab population. Nothing on the way that this provoked an Israeli response which was very long in coming. So not only the does the mandate not take into account Hamas’ responsibilities for the violence, neither did the report, even the part to which Goldstone points with pride.

Boycott This: Smart Prosthetic Hand

Goldstone has unleashed a whole new round of boycotting activity, including the folks at Trondheim U. in Norway. As a number of people have pointed out, if you don’t want to be a hypocrite, refuse not only to deal with Israelis, but also anything they produce.

prosthetic hand

Applause For The SmartHand: Human-machine Interface Is Essential Link In Groundbreaking Prosthetic Hand
ScienceDaily (Nov. 5, 2009) —

In one sense, our hands define our humanity. Our opposable thumbs and our hands’ unique structure allow us to write, paint, and play the piano. Those who lose their hands as a result of accident, conflict or disease often feel they’ve lost more than mere utility.

A new invention from Tel Aviv University researchers may change that. Prof. Yosi Shacham-Diamand of TAU’s Department of Engineering, working with a team of European Union scientists, has successfully wired a state-of-the-art artificial hand to existing nerve endings in the stump of a severed arm. The device, called “SmartHand,” resembles — in function, sensitivity and appearance — a real hand.

Robin af Ekenstam of Sweden, the project’s first human subject, has not only been able to complete extremely complicated tasks like eating and writing, he reports he is also able to “feel” his fingers once again.

In short, Prof. Shacham-Diamand and his team have seamlessly rewired Ekenstam’s mind to his SmartHand.

Read the rest.

If you have academic credentials, I recommend the following petition protesting European lunacy in Norway.

hereA Petition To Refute and Condemn the Anti-Israel Academic Boycott Campaign at Norway’s Trondheim University

Written by: By 246
October 31, 2009

To: Academic Colleagues From Around The World Wishing to Refute and Condemn the Campaign at Norway’s Trondheim University to Boycott Israeli Scholars and Academic Institutions

We, the undersigned Nobel Laureates, scholars and members of the international academic, research and professional community, refute and condemn the campaign to boycott Israeli academics and academic institutions at Trondheim University.

We stand in solidarity with Israeli academics and academic institutions; if you boycott them, boycott us as well.

Read the rest.

Always wanted to go to Trondheim.

Goldstone, Kemp, and the “36 Incidents”: The Bizarro World of the UNFFM to Gaza

At a number of points in the controversy over his report, Judge Goldstone has referred to the fact that his Mission selected 36 “representative” incidents to investigate. Here he explains to Bill Moyers:

We chose those 36 because they seemed to be, to represent the most serious, the highest death toll, the highest injury toll. And they appear to represent situations where there was little or no military justification for what happened.

While Goldstone never made the list public, here is, as close as possible, a list of the incidents that the Goldstone Report discussed in some detail, which only come out to a somewhat vague 32. The only two that examine behavior unbecoming of the Palestinians are Gilad Shalit (6 paragraphs) and Palestinian attacks on Fatah supporters (25 paragraphs). The Qassams are condemned, but not investigated, and Hamas is never named as a culprit in the “war crime and possibly crime against humanity that these rocket attacks constitute.”

In other words, the principle incidents — those chosen, and those upon which the Report lavished their attention and their ink — are exclusively about alleged Israeli attacks on Palestinian victims.

List of 32 Incidents in Goldstone Report (compiled by Anne Herzberg, NGO Monitor)

1. The Israeli air strikes on the Gaza main prison and on the Palestinian Legislative Council building (paras 336-373)
2. Arafat City Police HQ (398-402)
3. Attacks on 5 police stations (403-407)
4. UNWRA Compound Gaza City (paras. 543-595)
5. Al-Quds hospital, Tal el-Hawa, Gaza City (paras.596-629)
6. Attacks on al-Wafa hospital, 5 and 16 January 2009 (paras. 630-652)
7. The shelling in al-Fakhura Street by Israeli armed forces (paras. 653-54)
8. Al-Samouni (paras. 706-35) (yet this involves 3 specific incidents)
9. The shooting of Iyad al-Samouni (paras. 736-744)
10. The death of Muhammad Hajji in the attack on his family’s house
11. and the shooting of Shahd Hajji and Ola Masood Arafat (paras.745-754)
12. The shooting of Ibrahim Juha (paras.755-763)
13. The killing of Majda and Rayya Hajaj (paras. 764-769)
14. The shooting of Amal, Souad, Samar and Hajja Souad Abd Rabbo (paras.770-779)
15. The shooting of Rouhiyah al-Najjar (paras.780-787)
16. The Abu Halima family case (paras.788-801)
17. The attack on the al-Maqadmah mosque, 3 January 2009 (paras. 822-43)
18. The attack on the al-Daya family house, 6 January 2009 (paras. 844-866)
19. Attack on the Abd al-Dayem condolence tents (paras. 867-885)
20. The destruction of el-Bader flour mill (paras.913-941)
21. The destruction of the Sawafeary chicken farms (paras.942-961)
22. The Gaza wastewater treatment plant, Road No. 10, al-Sheikh Ejlin, Gaza (paras. 962-974)
23. Namar wells group, Salah ad-Din Street, Jabaliyah refugee camp (paras. 975-989)
24. The destruction of housing (houses of Saleh Hajaj, of Wa’el al-Samouni, of Khalid Abd Rabbo and of Muhammad Fouad Abu Askar [–are these all one incident or four?] (paras. 990-1007)
25. The case of Majdi Abd Rabbo (paras. 1033-1063)
26. The case of Abbas Ahmad Ibrahim Halawa (paras. 1064-1075)
27. The case of Mahmoud Abd Rabbo al-Ajrami (paras. 1076-1085)
28. The case of AD/03 (paras. 1086-1088, 1143-63)
29. Al-Atatra sandpits (paras 1112-26)
30. Detention and abuse of AD/02 (paras 1127-42)
31. Gilad Shalit (paras.1336-1342) [6 paragraphs]
32. Several cases of Hamas killings of Fatah members [though none are mentioned by name and the specificity does not approach other incidents – are these part of the 36? No idea.) (paras 1343-1368).
33? Various incidents in the West Bank?
34? No specific incidents of rocket attacks are detailed.
35? Repression of Dissent chapter lists several incidents.

What’s missing here, of course, is any investigation into the extensive evidence that Hamas used the civilian population as a shield, that they deliberately fired from the midst of civilian neighborhoods in order to provoke attacks, that they dressed as civilians, commandeered ambulances, stole food supplied by Israel to the Gazan population… in short that they did everything they could to maximize their own civilians’ casualties.