“Much worse than most of its detractors (and supporters) believe”: Dershowitz on Goldstone

Alan Dershowitz has written a 45-page article dissecting the Goldstone report’s “evidentiary bias,” which he is submitting it as evidence to the Secretary General of the UN. It’s now up at Understanding the Goldstone Report:




The Goldstone Report, when read in full and in context, is much worse than most of its detractors (and supporters) believe. It is far more accusatory of Israel, far less balanced in its criticism of Hamas, far less honest in its evaluation of the evidence, far less responsible in drawing its conclusion, far more biased against Israeli than Palestinian witnesses, and far more willing to draw adverse inferences of intentionality from Israeli conduct and statements than from comparable Palestinian conduct and statements. It is worse than any report previously prepared by any other United Nations agency or human rights group. As Major General Avichai Mandelblit, the advocate general of the Israeli Defense Forces, aptly put it:

    “I have read every report, from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Arab League. We ourselves set up investigations into 140 complaints. It is when you read these other reports and complaints that you realize how truly vicious the Goldstone report is. He made it look like we set out to go after the economic infrastructure and civilians, that it was intentional: It’s a vicious lie.”

The Goldstone report is, to any fair reader, a shoddy piece of work, unworthy of serious consideration by people of good will, committed to the truth.

Most of the criticism and praise of the report has been based on its highly publicized and controversial conclusions, rather than on its methodology, analysis and substantive findings. The one statement Richard Goldstone has made, with which I agree, is that many of the report’s most strident critics have probably not read the entire report. But it is also true, though I have not heard the report’s biased author say this, that many of the report’s most vocal defenders and advocates have also not read it.

It is not surprising that so few of the report’s critics and supporters have actually made their way through its dense and repetitive texts. The version I originally read was 553 pages long plus appendices. There are 1223 footnotes, though many of its most critical statements are not well sourced. It is poorly written, obviously drafted by several different hands and without the benefit of a good overall editor. It is laden with internal inconsistencies, shoddy citations of authority, and overall poor craftsmanship. If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, this report lacks even the grace of a dromedary. Most of the commentary on the report, both pro and con, seems to be based on its somewhat sanitized summary and conclusion. Some of the worst mistakes are buried very deep in the report, many of the most serious ones toward the end.

Efforts are currently underway by supporters of the report to have governments, prosecutors, non-governmental organizations, religious groups and distinguished individuals sign on to the report, so as to give it the credibility it now lacks. No one should do so without reading the report in full—and without reading responsible criticisms (and defenses) of the report. I have read every word of the report and compared different sections. I have offered to debate Goldstone about its contents. He has refused, as he has generally refused to respond substantively to credible critics of the report. My offer to debate still stands. If he refuses, as I expect he will, let him at least respond to the serious legal, factual and moral criticisms contained in this study and others. As the head of the mission and the report’s most visible public defender, Goldstone has a public obligation to respond to responsible criticism, which to date, he has not done.

In the coming week, the Secretary-General of the United Nations will present a compilation of responses to the Goldstone Report. I am submitting this analysis for inclusion.

From the report:

palestinian casualties in ocl

Read the rest.

14 Responses to “Much worse than most of its detractors (and supporters) believe”: Dershowitz on Goldstone

  1. sshender says:

    Coupled with your devastating critique – this is the best rebuttal of Goldstone to date.

    Let’s just hope that the upcoming official Israeli rebuttal will be at least as good – if not better – and shed some light on numerous otherwise mysterious accusations and incidents.

  2. Ray in Seattle says:

    This was better than his last couple of books IMO. Far more compelling.

  3. sshender says:


    I believe you are you referring to my comment on Dawkins’ book on the other thread. Am I right?

    It’s always hard to compare scientific books with those of polemic philosophy. I have grown to admire Dawkins for his clarity of mind and eloquent writing, regardless the topic. His Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker are scientific milestones of enormous importance that have revolutionized the way ordinary people understand and accept the evolutionary theory. Unweaving the Rainbow (along with Sagan’s Candle in the Dark) is the best celebration of science one can hope for. Other books are not as sensational, but are just as good.

    In that regard, the God Delusion stands out from the rest, but in my opinion lives up to its declared goals. It agree that the book has its weaknesses, not in the least because of his zealous reliance on Evolution as the main argument against belief, but overall it presents a solid summary of why atheists (don’t) believe what they do.

  4. Ray in Seattle says:

    Hi sshender. I was referring to Dershowitz’ latest books. “The case for . . ” series. i.e. “The Case for Israel”. There is nothing I disagree with in it. Just wasn’t as clearly stated as this 45 page work.

    I have “The God Delusion” right next to me on my “easy grab” bookshelf next to my desk. I can’t find your comment on it. Post a link if you have a few minutes and I’ll catch myself up ;-)

  5. sshender says:

    Oooopsss… (blushing)… My bad….

    From among Dersh’s books, I enjoyed “Preemption” and “Why Terrorism Works” the most. His the Case for Israel is awsome, but too general for people who know the ropes. The Case against Israel’s enemies is solid (especially his case against M&W), but not perfect.

    The comment I thought you were replying to was the one I made on the Darwins Are Out post here on Augean Stables, where I used the opporunity to praise Dawkin’s latest book about Evolution – The Greatest Show On Earth.


    Now, do you see why I thought you were replying to me. lol? ;)

  6. Ray in Seattle says:

    Yes, it’s clear now. I agree with you about “The Case for Israel”. It’s a good book for those who don’t know much about the conflict – which includes almost everyone in this country. And what they do know tends to be flat wrong and/or facile. Anyone who writes for the few that do know anything about it will find a small market.

  7. sshender says:

    The main problem with “The Case for Israel” is that the book has been in the centre of the controversy and thus was the main objective of many anti-Zionists’ “rebuttals”. It has come to a point where by quoting this book one stands the chance of being rediculed with throroughly prepared counter points of view which sound reasonable but are of course made up of the usualy half-truths taken out of context which only an expert eye can detect and which would require toms of material to take apart.

    This is why our job is so hard. It takes small brains and effort to throw accusations, and tremendously hard work to rebut them.

  8. Ray in Seattle says:

    “It takes small brains and effort to throw accusations, and tremendously hard work to rebut them.”

    Yes, but I would propose that the reason lies with the belief systems already existing in those minds. Not with the nature of the arguments. Thus, my often repeated view that reasoning about these things with one’s enemies is worse than useless. It only makes them think they have a chance to win. It gives them very dangerous false hope.

    My advice for any state (like Israel) stuck in such a defensive bind – is to first make some effort to produce a reasonable moral and legal argument for their position – and then proceed to violently destroy in stages any people or nation who attacks them – until the attacks stop and there is adequate assurance they won’t continue later.

    If any world body objects, they should be told that they are welcome to try to stop their defensive actions but if they interfere in any way that they will be considered as one of the enemy and subject to the same violent destruction.

    They should make it clear that they fully realize that their very existence is in jeopardy and that they are willing to completely destroy their enemies with their most powerful weapons if that’s what it takes – or die trying – and that they really don’t give a damn what anybody else thinks about it.

  9. Ray in Seattle says:

    I would add that Dershowitz, as much as I admire his intellect and passion, is the consummate advocate. He believes that his exceptional skills (they are) at advocacy will win the day, if only he has one more chance to lay out his argument.

    Meanwhile, Israel’s enemies in the West grow in power and numbers and Israel’s position in the world becomes more precarious.

    I admire people like Dershowitz for their efforts and contribution to right the grave wrong that is the treatment of Israel by the West. But, unless such efforts are backed up by hard lines-in-the-sand on the part of the GOI then Dershowitz has no chance and neither do any of Israel’s allies in the West.

    Israel needs to make the world realize that it sees arguing about this stuff as very secondary to its intention to defends itself with whatever force is necessary – while it adheres to its own definition of right and wrong that is fully in compliance with all notions of just war.

    Israel’s initial response to the Goldstone commission was very good IMO – ignore it. But now, rather than admit that the commission might have some credibility and cooperate with it – as seems possible from some recent articles – this is the perfect time for Israel to clearly state that its first priority is to defend itself vigorously against all enemies and that the next time it goes into Gaza the results will be much worse for Hamas (and the people of Gaza no doubt) than the last time – and that such after-battle discussions are interesting but academic. Netanyahu needs to state this IMO.

  10. sshender says:

    Ray, have you read Samson Blinded: The Machiavellian perspective on the Middle East conflict?

    It’s available as a free download from his official site:


    It’s a very controvercial book, with many things ranging on the insane, but nonetheless, worth a read. It is differernt from other books in its utter lack of PC and its suggestion of drastic measures such as transfers, carpet bombing and fostering unrest in the enemy’s ranks.

    BTW, One State, Two States by Benny Morris also makes for a great (if not very original) read.

  11. Ray in Seattle says:

    sshender, Thanks for the link to Samson Blinded. After dealing with an non-working copy of Adobe Reader and getting that fixed and updated I now have it downloaded and saved.

  12. sshender says:

    Cheers :)

    Let me know what you think.

    P.S. If I may, (and if you haven’t already), I suggest you switch to Foxit Reader to satisfy all your PDF needs for free!!! Much lighter and user friendly than the cumbersome Acrobat Reader.

  13. Ray in Seattle says:

    I started Samson last nite. I’ll keep you posted. I was unable to get very far into Shapira’s “Land and Power” (150 pages or so) but I’ll keep it for a reference and maybe a full read later when I have time to concentrate on it.

    I do appreciate your recommendations and look forward to others. I have just loaded Foxit and already see that it provides me the ability to make personal notes in a pdf and find them later. Thanks. You have just improved my life.

    Regards, Ray

  14. incognito says:

    I admire people like Dershowitz for their efforts and contribution to right the grave wrong that is the treatment of Israel by the West. But, unless such efforts are backed up by hard lines-in-the-sand on the part of the GOI then Dershowitz has no chance and neither do any of Israel’s allies in the West.

    1. It’s an underlying belief of liberalism that the true, the moral, the good will win and hence that’s why coercion, violence, cunning, manipulation are not necessary. That’s why they keep losing.

    2. If drawing lines in the sand by GOI was to be effective, it should have been done from the beginning and continuously to date. But it did Oslo and since then there is no concession they have not given, regardless of the contempt and violence they got in return.

    3. At this point there is absolutely that Israel or the jews can do to change the direction in which things are going. And with Obama in power and America in self-destruction I can safely assume that neither can America.

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