18 October 2009

So who is wise? And who is astonished?

"Who is wise?" asks the Talmud. "He who can see what is about to happen."
This reminder by Daniel Gordis in an article that laments the poor political situation Israel had found itself in, particularly in the aftermath of the Goldstone report approval, is very apt. Gordis' article is a good review of the pitiful state of the Israeli diplomatic establishment. On the other hand, "there is no longer any prophet" will be another apt way to describe it.

While it seems that the Goldstone report and the voting by the Human Wrongs Council didn't require any prophet, the only "astonishing" part of the whole story (aside of the amazing Goldstone's interview to Forward - I wonder whether Goldstone caught the Arafat's bug of speaking in tongues) was the overflow of fury produced by our political establishment. The grown-ups' equivalent of falling on the floor screaming and kicking the said floor, displayed for everyone to see.

The surprise and the fury

It is better to be pissed off than pissed on, they say. It seems that our government has chosen to combine the two options.

How childish could one get, crossing into being ridiculous, is shown clearly by that quote:
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in Jerusalem Thursday night that he hoped all the "responsible countries" would vote against endorsing the Goldstone Commission Report "that encourages terrorism and harms peace."
Sure, see that (partial) list of the "responsible countries" out of 25 who voted yes: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa and Zambia. The luminaries of human rights indeed, but saying this is rather obscuring the point: how could Bibi expect a different outcome? Enough said re "seeing what is about to happen".

Doing something about it then

Didn't Bibi know what will be the outcome of the vote? Surely he knew. And here we come to another question - what was done in advance - not to prevent the inevitable outcome of that report and the vote, but to counter-attack the show, to make sure that the report is met by a solid body of evidence and legal work that could be presented, if not to the UNHRC, at least to the whole political world, to the UN that is going to discuss the Goldstone report, to the media etc.? Well, almost nothing. Starting with the refusal to cooperate with the Goldstone's team to absence of any activity (save the above mentioned fury and some weak indignation upon the report going public), our politicians and diplomats have done precisely what they do best: stuck their collective heads in the sand.

Doing something about it now

The displays of impotent fury, aside of making many of those who care to watch them very happy, will not change the votes or the opinions, most probably they will make the situation even worse, insulting some of our supporters. In general, most of what could be done now, when the battle is over, is akin to an attempt to lock the stable door after the horse has been stolen

However, losing the battle is not yet losing the war, and the next step - discussion of the Goldstone report in the UN - should be met with something more productive than fury. To start with, Israel must do what it neglected to do in the first place: conducting its own thorough and as public as it is humanly possible (even with IDF screaming and kicking) investigation of everything mentioned in the report. And if there appear to be IDF faults or misconduct, let the heads roll when deserved and applicable. Only public and detailed investigation will do, not some half-hearted attempts at military justice, confined to the walls of military offices, mostly closed to the outside world. No matter how laudatory, warm and fuzzy was the testimony by Colonel Richard Kemp, it is not something that will serve as proof - only as a supporting statement by a professional soldier. And of course, the commission should be able to hear and cross-examine the testimony by Goldstone and his colleagues.

Goldstone report is eminently faulty, even if we turn to Goldstone himself as a witness:
If this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.
Of course, we can also try to decipher Goldstone's more mysterious statements, like:
Ours wasn’t an investigation, it was a fact-finding mission...
but it will take some doing and a lot of time, which we all don't have in the current situation.

As an example of an ongoing work on the Goldstone's report's many fallacies I would like to refer to The Goldstone Report site - an endeavor undertaken by several good people who are doing their considerable best to undermine the foundations of the report. Quite successfully, I would say.

Still, as it was exceedingly well articulated by Ami Isseroff in his article Goldstone and investigating the Gaza war, there is one main point that should become focal in any well-organized attack of Goldstone report:
Beyond all its irregularities, the Goldstone report made one claim that cannot be refuted: That Israeli policy and war tactics were deliberately designed to kill civilians. It can't be refuted because it is not logical or based on any facts.
Goldstone's report claimed:

1211. Statements by political and military leaders prior to and during the military operations in Gaza leave little doubt that disproportionate destruction and violence against civilians were part of a deliberate policy.
How could a prominent legal beagle make (or allow to be made) a statement that opens the whole report to annihilation in a court of law is impossible to guess. But you better read the above linked article by Ami as a whole.


Confronting Goldstone is a marathon, not a sprint, as Herb Keinon correctly states. If, as he predicts, the Goldstone report is passed by the UN General Assembly to International Court of Justice in The Hague, we better come prepared, with more than indignation in our hands.

After that, if all ends well, we could deliberate at will on other subjects. Like Israel's dire int'l standing, who lost Turkey, whether it's the 'Obama effect' turning the world against Israel, which countries are "responsible" in Bibi's book and so on, and ad absurdum.

But meanwhile - we should get prepared.