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.

And yet, there’s not a trace of “cross-examination” or even friendly efforts to clarify contradictions in the testimony. On the contrary, the Report concludes after detailing the terrible claims of of Khalid and Kawthar Abd Rabbo that an Israeli soldier shot their three little girls and an mother in cold blood, that:

    777. The Mission found Khalid and Kawthar Abd Rabbo to be credible and reliable witnesses. It has no reason to doubt the veracity of the main elements of their testimony. The Mission also reviewed several sworn statements they and other eyewitnesses gave to NGOs about the incident and found them to be consistent with the account it received.

But, apparently, they didn’t even check the Palestinian news agency, Maan’s report from the day after the event that the girls were killed in an airstrike. He prefers to go with the media reports and the NGOs, who have never heard a lethal narrative about Israel they didn’t like.

Even when aware of the inconsistencies and contradictions in testimony, the Report has no problem dismissing them out of hand:

    1091. The Mission notes in particular that Mr. Majdi Abd Rabbo has told the story of his experience from 5 to 7 January 2009 to several NGOs, to several journalists and to the Mission without any material inconsistencies. There are some minor inconsistencies, which are not, in the opinion of the Mission, sufficiently weighty to cast doubt on the general reliability of Majdi Abd Rabbo. There are also, not surprisingly, some elements of the long account which appear in some versions and not in others. The Mission finds that these inconsistencies do not undermine the credibility of Majdi Abd Rabbo’s account.

After a close examination of the evidence, Tamar Sternthall concludes:

    This analysis is only a partial expose of the many inconsistencies between Khaled and Kawthar Abed Rabbo’s testimonies to the Goldstone committee, as well as disparities between the family members’ account to Goldstone versus earlier NGO accounts and media reports. While the mission says “it has no reason to doubt the veracity of the main elements of their testimony,” an objective observer would have no trouble identifying literally dozens of reasons to discount the Abed Rabbos’ testimony.

The most strikingly unprofessional comment on the attitude of the Goldstone Mission to testimony came from Mission member Hina Jilani:

    “I think it’d be very cruel to not give credence to their voices.”

I think it’s terribly cruel of “fact-finders” and amateur judges to believe lethal narratives.

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

  1. Steven says:

    @Richard: Please could you write a post at the end containing the key points of all your posts in one?

    Thank you!

  2. harris says:

    “Spinning the Story – Justice Goldstone and the Mosque Case”

    My follow-up post examining the mosque case as laid out by Goldstone in the Goldstone/Gold debate at Brandeis university in relation to the written report and the spinning of that story that already took place on several occasions.

  3. […] ongoing efforts to document the character of the Goldstone Report, The Augean Stables is now daily fisking Goldstone’s response to the original version of H. Res. 867 passed by the House this […]

  4. sshender says:

    @ Harris
    Very keen observations!
    One should expect that Goldstone be familiar with his facts down to the smallest details – especially in an incident that he claims was the most striking example of IDF misconduct and testament to his conclusions – and yet, he can’t even make up his mind about the number of casualties, let alone the omission of those tungsten squares from the original report.

    I try to refrain from premature judgement because people are often nervous and prone to mistakes during such high publicity events, and yet Goldstone is hardly a stranger to publicity, did not lose his temper (which can cloud your reasoning) and his inconsistancies were too signifacant to have been the result of any such pressures. So either he’s not familiar with his own report, or he’s a liar and distorts the truth intentionally. I haven’t quite made up my mind yet.

  5. sshender says:


    I just wish we could send a true military expert (not Gerlasco) to examine the evidence, and more importantly to verify that it was not tampered with. Because having seen what the Palis are capable of in their Pallywood efforts I don’t think it is too far fetched to assume that at least some of the evidence far fake, staged or self-inflicted in a way so the IDF could be blamed. As much as I hate to stigmatize a whole people, but the Palis have perfected lying and deception to an art form, so much so that nothing that they say or claim can any longer be taken at face value.

  6. harris says:



    One should not forget that Goldstone was not the only one on that report. Imagine that he just had superwised the writing. Think about Chinkin: She is obviously not right-minded (putting it very carefully). Perhaps some chapters were written by different members of that mission. That still would be a grave breach of good practices I think.

  7. Eliyahu says:

    Shender, there was a “military expert” as a member of the “fact-finding mission,” one Colonel Desmond Travers. But his expertise was much of a kind with goldstone’s own. In other words, Travers is a master of invention and hyperbole; a practitioner of arousing emotions, Judeophobic emotions. Indeed, some of his charges hark back to the they-poisoned-the-wells charge made against Jews in the Middle Ages, around the time of the Black Death. See link:

  8. Cynic says:


    there was a “military expert” as a member of the “fact-finding mission,” one Colonel Desmond Travers.
    In other words, Travers is a master of invention and hyperbole; a practitioner of arousing emotions,..

    You mean like Marc Galasco?

  9. Eliyahu says:

    cynic, if you read my post linked to in #7, I think you’ll see that Travers is much more proficient than Garlasco. I don’t know what sort of soldier Travers was, but his propaganda faculties are quite well developed.

  10. Cynic says:


    I was not referring to the proficiency of their military abilities but to their apparent affinity for pre-meditated bias.
    Obviously the military aspect of Travers is just adds more gloss to the UN’s narrative but had they been truly interested in facts they would have resorted to forensics.
    Time and time again the Palestinians refused to permit verification through post mortems, forensics etc., leaving it to their “allies” in the propaganda war to carry the day.

  11. Cynic says:


    I meant to carry on but there’s many a slip between mouse and grip.

    From your link you mention
    a retired Colonel of the Irish Army. His last appointment was as Commandant of its Military College. In a career spanning over forty years, he served in various field command, …

    If he was with the Irish troops in the Congo in the early sixties then he was part of some atrocious behaviour carried out by them, along with Swedish troops, against the Africans.
    I cannot back this up with documents except to say that the pictures two Austrian photographers took (which I was privy to viewing when they returned to Cape Town where they developed their rolls of film) in the Congo was gut churning.
    The Congo was the place where the UN was shown up for the farce that it is.
    The Realpolitik of that time just exposes the massive hypocrisy of the West that continues today.

    “The land is dying” — Here Travers shows or pretends to show his professional expertise in the scientific fields mentioned above.

    Sounds like the Rev Al.

    One thing I do know and that is if the military officer has not had on hands experience of the specific aspect he knows zilch; that was seeing a confrontation of a Colonel expounding on part of a rifle because he had fired it and a lance corporal “tiffy” having to correct him to be able to explain why a batch of ammunition was faulty.

  12. Eliyahu says:

    I remember the UN’s intervention in the Congo that you mention. The UN was not a peacemaker in that many-sided conflict. Rather, the UN was just another party to the conflict.

    I mentioned the Congo intervention in a grad school paper that I wrote about the UN in the mid-sixties.

    It seems to me that the UN is even worse now than it was then. There is no longer any pretense at decency or maybe decency has new definitions. Prez Obama most likely knows all about this.

    btw, I posted your comments in #11 on my post about Travers. Interesting that he may have been in the Congo at that time.

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