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.
Last week, Justice Richard Goldstone sent us and other Members a memorandum outlining his “strong reservations about the text of the resolution” (H.Res.867) that will be voted upon by the House tomorrow. We have the utmost respect for Justice Goldstone, but we disagree with his criticisms of H.Res.867. Our primary concerns are as follows:
- The mandate of the commission Justice Goldstone chaired (“The United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict”) was one-sided and biased, and, even though Justice Goldstone made earnest efforts to alter the mandate, he did not fully succeed, as we indicate below. We intend to alter the resolution to take account of Justice Goldstone’s effort.
- The commission’s report lacks context. It does not take account of the nature of Israel’s enemy – operating from the midst of civilian populations, committed to Israel’s destruction, and fully supported by state actors Iran and Syria. (In fact, it is rather dismissive of claims that Hamas operated from amidst civilian populations.) The report generally gives short shrift to Hamas’ relentless rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, over a period of eight years, which precipitated the war.
- The report does not take into account the extent to which witnesses from Gaza were likely intimidated by Hamas.
- In general, the report is credulous of Hamas claims but skeptical of Israeli claims.
We would like to share with you, below, my point-by-point analysis of Justice Goldstone’s comments.
HOWARD L. BERMAN, Chairman GARY L. ACKERMAN, Chairman
Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East
and South Asia
Letter and Response.
I will be publishing a series of posts, each one dedicated to one of the “Whereas…” paragraphs, Goldstone’s response, Berman’s reply, and my additions.