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The Day In Israel: Mon Oct 12th, 2009

My friend Richard Landes has just launched a new website : Understanding the Goldstone Report.

Those of us who have constructed Understanding the Goldstone Report, have been following the claims under contention since the events themselves almost a year ago, and have read the report in detail.  We offer a wide range of analysis, from careful examination of specific incidents and controversies to broader legal and conceptual issues.  In so doing, we have come to the following conclusions:

  • The report violates international standards for inquries, including UN rules on fact-finding, replicating earlier UNHRC biased statements.
  • The Commission systematically favored witnesses and evidence put forward by anti-Israel advocates, and dismissed evidence and testimony that would undermine its case.
  • The commission relied extensively on mediating agencies, especially UN and NGOs, which have a documented hostility to Israel; the report reproduces earlier reports and claims from these agencies.
  • At the same time, the Commission inexplicably downplayed or ignored substantial evidence of Hamas’ commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of terror, including specifically its victimization of the Palestinian population by its use of human shields, civilian dress for combatants, and combat use of protected objects like ambulances, hospitals and mosques.
  • The Commission openly denies a presumption of innocence to the Israelis accused of crimes (while honoring Hamas’ presumed innocence) and acknowledges that it made accusations of crimes without proof that would stand up in court.
  • The report contains numerous gratuitous digressions into issues beyond the purview of a fact-finding commission that are inaccurate and profoundly hostile to Israel and Jews.
  • The Commission distorted legal standards, imposing on Israel standards that reverse their generally understood and applied meaning, while ignoring important rules of international law that put the onus of responsibility on an organization as base, by Goldstone’s own standards, as Hamas.

In all our analyses and conclusions, we have adhered to principles of empirical evidence and consistent reasoning.  Since the skeptical reader might well accuse us of making up our mind in advance, we emphasize that one should not agree or disagree with us because of how one feels about Israel or the Palestinians, but because of the evidence. We invite readers to examine our arguments without prejudice, make up their own minds and, where they see problems, challenge our arguments. Sweeping and inflammatory rhetoric not welcome.

I have also played a behind-the-scenes role with this website, although admittedly not as much as I would like due to time constraints.

I encourage anyone genuinely wanting to understand the Goldstone report to visit the site and evaluate the evidence and analyses presented.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

10:45PM: There have been reports that Hizbullah terrorist Abdel Nasser Issa, his son, and three others have been killed in a blast in Issa’s home in southern Lebanon.

For their part, Hizbullah has denied anyone was killed, or that the house was being used as an arms depot, instead claiming the munitions that caused the blast were IDF leftovers from the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

7:35PM: I am guessing this is the closest the palestinians will ever come to cloning.

Mock trial Abbas - Reuters

Hamas supporters, playing the role of judges (R) and of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, hold a mock trial for Abbas in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip October 12, 2009, following his decision to postpone action on a U.N. report that criticized Israel’s offensive in Gaza. Abbas on Sunday defended his decision to back the deferral of a vote on a U.N. war crimes report, saying he wanted to secure broad support for the document.

It is good to see that Hamas and their supporters can still find time from their busy schedules helping the “starving” people of Gaza to stage a lame propaganda event such as this.

Naqba Dwarf adds:

naqba dwarfNo-one asked me to take part in this.

I could have played the part of the jailer, or Mahmoud’s cellmate.

Screw ’em!

1:50PM: According to Ma’an News, an Egyptian News site has reported the reason for the PA’s decision to defer submitting the Goldstone Report on time was Qatar.

Qatar’s representative to the UN Human Rights Council Abdullah Dosari was the one who pressured Palestian Ambassador Ibrahim Khreisha to defer submitting the Goldstone report on time, according to an Egyptian news site.

The Cairo-based Rosonline reported on Sunday that the Palestinian Authority came under pressure after it was accused of complicity in deferring the report, and thus requested an exceptional emergency session of the Human Rights Council to discuss it.

The PA would have needed support from 16 of 47 member countries.

However, according to the Egyptian website, Qatar surprised the Palestinians with its stance, which was believed to have stemmed from increasingly good relations between Qatar and Israel. Despite that, the website alleges, Qatar has been leading a campaign against the PA on Al-Jazeera TV, which is based in Qatar, accusing the PA of treason for deferring the Goldstone report.

In the same regard, the PA minister of economy, Bassem Khoury, was interviewed by Al-Jazeera two days ago, and during the interview, he accused Qatar of complicity to defer the report “because it contains criminalization of Qatar’s friends, Hamas and Israel.”

When asked about the validity of the allegations that Israel stipulated allowing a new Palestinian mobile company to deferring the Goldstone report, Khoury said 51 percent of the company was owned by a cousin and son of the Qatari emir.

He asserted that the ball was in Qatar’s court on Goldstone, and said that if they were really against deferring the report, they could simply demand it be considered since Qatar is a permanent member of the Human Rights Council.

So whichis it? Qatar’s business interests in a mobile phone company or increasingly good relations between Qatar and Israel? And how could a country be simultaneously good friends with Hamas and Israel?

12:40PM: Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has implored the Arab world to ignore lies that Israel is planning to dig under the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

“There is an extreme minority that has spread lies according to which Israel is planning to conduct excavations beneath the Temple Mount,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said regarding the recent unrest in east Jerusalem.

“I want to make it clear that these are lies, and I call on the majority of Arabs in Israel not to believe these lies,” said the PM at the onset of Monday’s cabinet meeting, “The vast majority of Israel’s Arabs are not being dragged in by these provocations.

“I want to tell the Arab citizens of Israel – those who want to lead normal lives – that you are a part of the State of Israel. The government is working to make certain that you (Arab sector) enjoy full equality in every field, be it education, economy, employment or infrastructure,” he said.

In response, a spokesman for the Islamic Movement has taken the “No, he’s a big fat liar” approach (a favorite amongst school children).

Islamic Movement spokesman Attorney Zahi Nujidat said in response to Netanyahu’s statements denying that Israel is digging beneath the Temple Mount: “Netanyahu’s statements amuse us. We are the ones saying – don’t believe Bibi’s lies.”

6:05AM: In the wake of Turkey’s decision to bar Israel  from an air force drill, leading to the cancelation of the entire event, Israeli officials called an emergency meeting at the Foreign Ministry to discuss the crisis between the two countries.

A senior source at the ministry told Haaretz about concerns that strategic ties with Turkey are in jeopardy after Operation Lead Cast in the Gaza Strip earlier this year.

Foreign Ministry sources confirmed that the meeting had taken place following instructions by ministry director general Yossi Gal, but they declined to give details.

Officials are debating the depth of the crisis. One view holds that “strategic ties” has become a unilateral description of the situation and that Turkey’s government under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not interested in such links.

“It may be that the reality has changed and the strategic ties that we thought existed have simply ended,” said a senior Israeli official. “Maybe we need to be the ones who initiate renewed thinking regarding our ties and must adopt response measures.”

Supporters of this approach point out that of the countries with diplomatic ties with Israel, Turkey might be the most hostile.

But other officials argue that the situation can be saved. “There is a serious crisis and we need to address it quickly,” said a senior official who has experience with the Turkish file.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon is clearly of the latter opinion.

“Our interest is not to reach a point of friction or crisis with Turkey. We consider Turkey an important strategic partner of Israel’s and an anchor of stability,” Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon said Sunday night, in hopes of calming the storm that followed Turkey’s decision to bar Israel  from an air force drill, leading to the cancelation of the entire event.


Ayalon hinted that the Turks also have something to lose from the move: “The commitment to strategic partnership is two-sided. It is important for both sides to maintain the meaningful strategic bond in Israel’s ties with the Turkish government, which has proven to be moderate in the past.”

I doubt Turkey has reciprocal feelings about the value of its strategic relationship with Israel. After all, they barred Israel from the drill in the first place.

Perhaps they’ll have second thoughts once Iran achieves its nuclear capability goals.


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About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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