In Haaretz, Hagai El-Ad writes:
What will they come up with next? The campaign to discredit Judge Richard Goldstone, his fact-finding commission and the report that now bears his name seems to reach new heights every week. The latest installment in this high-drama farce has been the revelations about Goldstone’s record during apartheid-era South Africa, and the implication that his report can therefore be disregarded. The mind reels at the intensity of attempts by Israeli officials and others to do everything to dodge the real questions of accountability, policy and justice that have been lingering inconveniently since Operation Cast Lead. But inconvenient questions do tend to linger, and the attempts to deploy an ever-thicker smokescreen usually only draw more attention to what may be hidden behind it.
And yet, the recent attacks on Goldstone have been helpful in re-introducing into public discourse what is perhaps the most important question of all: moral responsibility. How must individuals behave when faced with injustice? What do we expect from our judges, public servants and elected officials? And what do we expect from ourselves? The focus on Goldstone’s past, far from enabling us to escape the lingering questions of Cast Lead – and other questions that must trouble anyone seeking justice – actually serves to throw them into sharp relief.
So here are some complementary questions about justice and those involved in its disservice. And mind you, these questions were not drawn from a far-away past, but from the here-and-now. It is the present that will determine our future – and to what extent justice will be a part of it.
Consider this: What is the reader’s moral judgment of a law that allows some people to reclaim past ownership rights but denies the same rights to others? This is the question today in Sheikh Jarrah.
How just do we deem the conduct of legal advisers who approve the evacuation of longtime indigenous residents from the center of a thriving city, enforcing almost complete separation between the hundreds who have moved in and the thousands who were displaced? This is the question today in Hebron.
What do we think of military commanders who collectively punish more than a million human beings, systematically answering their nutritional needs with provisions that keep them just above a state-secret “red line”? This is the question today in Gaza.
It is not surprising that Israeli officials do all they can to discredit the Goldstone Report, for it (in effect) accuses many of them of complicity in war crimes and puts them and their policies in the dock. We do not expect criminals (or the accused) to be champions of the indictment.
What is more deeply disappointing is that, overwhelmingly, US Jews, including leading Rabbis, do not support Goldstone and his Report and do not demand (of the US) that the Goldstone Report receiving a fair hearing.
Those that do not do so are saying that their primary loyalty is to the state of Israel (rather than to international law or to human-rights or to the Jewish people or to the human-rights tenets of the Jewish religion). Those that do not do so are saying that the political decisions of a corrupt ruling class of a small country defines their ethics and their politics. These are the same people who PRAISED THE “GOOD GERMANS” WHO OPPOSED HITLER.
When Israeli soldiers kill unarmed civilians at demonstrations (where the soldiers had no reason to be anyhow) and the US Jews (and Rabbis) look on approvingly, they are also bringing down if not the wrath of God, then the possibility of an anti-Semitic backlash.
Unless they will say that by definition the government and military of Israel can do no wrong, let them tell us what wrong the government of Israel and its military can do, and then explain why what has been done and is being done does not fall within their own definitions of “wrong.”
It is heartening to see there are people in Israel who do support human rights and justice. It’s disheartening to see what a difficult path they tread.
It seems futile to look to those living in America — that stole a whole country from its indigenous inhabitants — to adjudicate the issues fairly. Perhaps representatives from those peoples could offer some suggestions, but it seems that only time has patched over the injustices.