Last week a delegation of senior Jewish communal leaders, headed by the South African Zionist Federation, met with Judge Richard Goldstone. This after an explosion of criticism induced by the SAZF’s threats to hold peaceful protests against Judge Goldstone outside the Sandton synagogue.
Some of the criticism was precipitated by community members genuinely concerned about protest tactics that contradicted principles that they stood by. Most of the shrieking criticism, however, was just plain and easy opportunistic Zionist bashing.
Despite the pulsing emotions Goldstone and communal Jewish leaders agreed to meet to discuss Goldstone’s participation in the 2009 UN Fact Finding Mission into the recently concluded conflict in Gaza.
Below you will find links to the opening statements of SAZF Chairman Avrom Krengel and Judge Goldstone, which formed the basis of the discussion that followed.
It was agreed by both parties that the opening statements reflected the nature of the discussion and that no interviews relating to the content of the meeting would be given by any of the participants.
Goldstone’s response is a caricature of a deeply mistaken and stubborn man who clings to clever but empty sound bites. Over and over again he whitewashes the record of barbarism that stains the UN Human Rights Council by claiming that he initially refused the mission, but then agreed to accept it when he eventually (he casts himself as the star of this show) managed to convince them to allow him to investigate Hamas crimes instead of just Israeli ones.
Over and over again he accepts us to believe that any harsh findings made against Israel are the result of Israel’s refusal to participate in the process.
Over and over again he completely ignores the substance of the criticism against his report and blindly repeats his sound bites, uttering them as systematically as the sound of a Muezzin calling Hamas devotees to prayer.
Amazingly Goldstone states that he expected his heroic work to “herald the start of a new approach by the Human Rights Council to adopt an appropriate policy in which all similar human rights valuations around the world receive equal attention”. Really? An investigation into the conduct of Israel in a conflict with Gaza from a council where 90% of all its resolutions target ONLY Israel is going to lead to a utopia in which all similar human rights valuations around the world receive equal attention. Amazing.
Krengel’s opening statement includes most of the criticisms that have been addressed numerous times before. Goldstone could easily have predicted exactly what Krengel was going to say. He should have loaded his statement with answers to these criticisms. But he didn’t. And so like Goldstone blames Israel’s refusal to participate in the hearings for any harsh findings made against it Goldstone should not be surprised when we blame his failure to deal with common criticisms for any harsh findings we make against him.
I thought Krengel’s statement was very strong too emotional but made some good points. I recommend you read it all. I’m interested in hearing what you think?