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The Day In Israel: Wed Oct 21st, 2009

During a conference call with American “rabbis” this week, Richard Goldstone showed just how unbiased and impartial he really is.

“As far as the Israeli government saying our report inhibits the peace process, that is shallow and false. What peace process are they talking about? There isn’t one! The Israeli foreign minister doesn’t want one! What peace process are they talking about that’s going to be inhibited?”

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

3:20PM: The BBC’s Jeremy Bowen interviewed Richard Goldstone after the Arab-sponsored draft resolution adopting it was endorsed.

Note the following:

  • Goldstone says he has no problem with that part of the resolution dealing with the report, and will not comment on the “even-handedness” of the report, despite being on record as saying “This draft resolution saddens me as it includes only allegations against Israel.”
  • Goldstone reject the notion the report will impair the peace process, without rejecting the idea that a peace process exists as he did here

If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Goldstone was being disingenuous and “playing to the audience.”

12:52PM: From the No Sh*T Sherlock department:

IDF official: Israel needs better PR

12:50PM: Interesting photo-caption combination.

rocket graffiti - AFP

A Palestinian man walks past graffiti of rockets in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip i August. One of the world’s leading human rights groups is battling a barrage of criticism for lashing out at Israel’s record while allegedly soft-pedaling violations by Saudi Arabia. (AFP/File/Mohammed Abed)

That’s a reference to this story, although the photo – with the graffiti glorifying terrorism – is a stark reminder of the human right groups’ failure to lash out at the palestinians‘ violations of human rights.

8:50AM: Canada’s top General refuses to be Goldstoned.

“I’m not sure if the Israeli standpoint is that much different than the Canadian standpoint, having had the experience in Afghanistan,” Canadian Armed Forces Chief of the Defense Staff, General Walter J. Natynczyk said Tuesday, concluding a three-day visit, in an interview to the IDF journal Bamahane.

Natynczyk was commenting on the Goldstone report, which sharply criticized IDF tactics employed during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in January this year, saying he wanted to read the report following his tour here to understand whether the document took into account the complexities of the theater in which Israel operated and the methods used by the enemy it was battling.

“I’ve got to look through the whole report and read it through myself. But I fully understand how when someone is attacked from houses, family houses, and so on, that there is a responsibility to protect oneself and protect civilians,” Natynczyk said. “I want to have a look at the report myself and understand the full context. I have just had a great education in terms of where weapons were fired from and so on. I want to look at the report in terms of how does it describe it… My impression of the Gaza Strip up to now has been through media reports. Now I got to actually see the size, the space, the context… It just puts into perspective many of the reports and also the operations that were conducted before.”

Natynczyk arrived in Israel on Sunday for a work visit as guest of the IDF Chief of General Staff, Lt. -Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. Over the course of the visit, he held meetings with Ashkenazi, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and toured the country.


Natynczyk related to the similarities between what is required of Israel and what is required of his country as part of its battle against terror, saying: “I’m not sure if the Israeli standpoint is that much different than the Canadian standpoint, having had the experience in Afghanistan.” He added “We have really come to understand and appreciate what the Israeli forces have had to counter for quite some time and the techniques, the way and the procedures that the Israeli military has adopted and evolved over the past few decades. We’re learning what can we adopt from Israeli forces that will enable us to reduce risks to our people”

6:15AM: Al Jazeera has this story and interview on the Goldstone Report.

Note the following:

  • The choice of guests.  Al Jazeera were not content with a one-on-one style interview with an Israeli (representing the pro-Israel side) and an Arab (representing the anti-Israeli side), so they invited another Israeli who just happens to be even more vehemently anti-Israel than the Arab!
  • The editor of Al Quds Al Arabi making specific mention of Goldstone’s Jewishness  (04:25)
  • Retired Colonel Desmond Travers expressing his doubts about Hamas’ competency in conducting an investigation due to them being a relatively new political organization in Gaza, but hopeful they will show willingness to investigate themselves (14:30)
  • The editor of Al Quds Al Arabi claiming there are no attacks on Israelis from the West Bank (21:20), which is simply a lie

6:00AM: Hamas is claiming the Goldstone Report does not single out Hamas.

Hamas is preparing a committee to investigate allegations that prisoners under de facto police control were shot and imprisoned during Israel’s war on Gaza, member of the party’s politbureau said Tuesday.

Speaking on Al-Arabiya, Moussa Abu Marzouq reiterated the party’s stance on the UN-mandated Goldstone report, which says there is evidence of war crimes in the actions of Israel and Gaza factions during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in December and January.

“It was all Palestinian factions who launched projectiles,” Abu Marzouq said, “including Fatah,” indicating that the report does not single out Hamas.

The sad thing is they are correct. Per Elder of Ziyon:

Sure enough, the report does everything possible not to explicitly name Hamas as being in violation of any humanitarian laws.

Going back to the section that is about Qassam rocket attacks against Israel, here is the first time the word “Hamas” is written in the body of the report, para. 1608:

On 20 April 2009, a member of Hamas called on other armed groups to stop firing rockets “in the interests of the Palestinian people”

Unbelievably, Hamas is only mentioned as a force that wants to stop rocket fire!

Later on, Goldstone does passingly mention the “armed groups” that it is referring to. Hamas, of course, is not one of them, but the Qassam Brigades are described as:

1611. The ‘al Qassam Brigades’ are the armed wing of the Hamas political movement.

Goldstone’s reluctance to blame Hamas even for rocket attacks on Israel borders on the comical. The report is forced to admit that Hamas had taken specific responsibility for rockets:

1627. The first civilian casualties from rocket fire were recorded on 28 June 2004 in Sderot, when Afik Zahavi (4 years old) and Mordehai Yosefof (49 years old) were killed by a Qassam rocket. Afik’s mother, Ruthie Zahavi (28 years old) was critically injured and nine others were wounded. Hamas claimed responsibility.994

1631. On 6 January 2009, during the Israeli military operations in Gaza, Khaled Mashal, Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau wrote in an open letter that the demand to stop the Palestinian resistance was ‘absurd … our modest home made-rockets are our cry of protest to the world”

The comedy descends into farce in this paragraph:

1635. In response to questions by the Mission, on 29 July 2009, the Gaza authorities stated that they had “nothing to do, directly or indirectly, with al-Qassam or other resistance factions” and stated that they were able to exercise a degree of persuasion over the armed factions in relation to proposed ceasefires. While noting that the weaponry used by the armed factions was not accurate, the Gaza authorities discouraged the targeting of civilians.

Not an ounce of skepticism by Goldstone for these manifestly absurd distinctions between Hamas and the al-Qassam Brigades; on the contrary, it appears that Goldstone embraced these distinctions – even when it clearly knows otherwise (para. 1611 above.)

In its Conclusions and Recommendations section, concerning rockets, the most critical paragraph again avoids blaming Hamas:

1950. In relation to the firing of rockets and mortars into southern Israel by Palestinian armed groups operating in the Gaza Strip, the Mission finds that the Palestinian armed groups fail to distinguish between military targets and the civilian population and civilian objects in southern Israel. The launching of rockets and mortars which cannot be aimed with sufficient precisions at military targets breaches the fundamental principle of distinction. Where there is no intended military target and the rockets and mortars are launched into civilian areas, they constitute a deliberate attack against the civilian population. These actions would constitute war crimes and may amount to crimes against humanity.

This is the “balance” that Goldstone proudly points to. Israel is mentioned explicitly with regards to tens of alleged human rights violations; Hamas is not mentioned in connection with any war crimes!

Nothing about Hamas in the Gilad Shalit paragraph:

1952. With regard to the continuing detention of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the Mission finds that, as a soldier who belongs to the Israeli armed forces and who was captured during an enemy incursion into Israel, Gilad Shalit meets the requirements for prisoner-of war status under the Third Geneva Convention and should be protected, treated humanely and be allowed external communication as appropriate according to that Convention.

Even the sections that undoubtedly must refer to Hamas manages to avoid They Who Must Not Be Named:

1954. Although the Gaza authorities deny any control over armed groups and responsibility for their acts, in the Mission’s view, if they failed to take the necessary measures to prevent the Palestinian armed groups from endangering the civilian population, the Gaza authorities would bear responsibility for the damage arising to the civilians living in Gaza.

Similarly, the Recommendations section avoids the dreaded H-word as well:

1973. To Palestinian armed groups,
(a) The Mission recommends that Palestinian armed groups should undertake forthwith to respect international humanitarian law, in particular by renouncing attacks on Israeli civilians and civilian objects, and take all feasible precautionary measures to avoid harm to Palestinian civilians during hostilities;

(b) The Mission recommends that Palestinian armed groups who hold Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in detention should release him on humanitarian grounds. Pending such release they should recognize his status as prisoner of war, treat him as such, and allow him ICRC visits.

The only recommendations in the report to “Gaza authorities” are to release political detainees and to “continue to enable the free and independent operation of Palestinian non-governmental organizations.”

Hamas is not given a single recommendation to stop rocket attacks. Hamas is not told to stop incitement. Hamas is not told to release Gilad Shalit (as if he is being held against Hamas’ wishes!).

No wonder Hamas is thrilled about the report. In the entire 450 page report, Hamas is not singled out once for condemnation.

And all the news stories and Goldstone interviews that claim that the report condemns Hamas are wrong.

5:40AM: The kisser strikes again, the victim this time being US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice.

Shimon Peres kissing Susan Rice - AP

He just can’t help himself.

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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