Those fortunate enough to live in countries where questioning the Holocaust is not illegal will have noticed the irony of the stance Israel and her apologists seem pleased to take up in the aftermath of Judge Richard Goldstone’s recent groveling in the Washington Post (Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes Friday, April 1, 2011). Just as the Holocaust deniers argue that there is no documented line of command from Hitler himself to the WW2 atrocities against Jews, so Goldstone’s extremely limited concession:
While the investigations published by the Israeli military…have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.
This of course gives the green light for Israel’s defenders to happily claim that the Israeli Government was not responsible. Not, it should be noted that blood was not deliberately shed by Israeli soldiers. The historically-minded will see a difference between the proportion of German and Israeli High Command archives in the public domain.
Goldstone’s Breaking brings another historical parallel to mind: the Soviet Show Trials of the 1930s. These of course featured devastating confessions from the accused, often so absurd as to completely defy credibility. Many observers overseas were deeply puzzled by the extent of the reversals involved. The Goldstone charade chillingly echoes these events – for understandable reasons, as Kevin MacDonald has pointed out.
In his comment on Goldstone, Professor Macdonald drew attention to a Forward article Did a Private Meeting Prompt Goldstone To Change His Mind? By Larry Cohler-Esses, Gal Beckerman and Claudia Braude April 06, 2011. This is worth reading in full.
The article celebrates, in unashamedly enthusiastic terms, the mental torture inflicted on Goldstone on his return to his native South Africa last May. The Lubyanka managers would have been proud.
Conspicuously missing is any interest in the actual facts of Gaza. Instead the focus is entirely on the inconvenience created by the Goldstone Report for the Jews. We learn that a presentation by
Avrom Krengel, chairman of the South African Zionist Federation…seemed designed to puncture by turns both Goldstone’s intellectual defenses and his heart. Krengel and other board members told Goldstone his findings that Israeli soldiers had committed war crimes had made it impossible for young South African Jewish émigrés who served in the Israeli army to return home for visits.
“Goldstone said this was not supposed to affect them,” Krengel related. …“Your request that countries prosecute Israeli soldiers under universal jurisdiction principles will prevent thousands of Jews from visiting their parents and grandparents in certain countries and force their absence from family celebrations,” Krengel told Goldstone in his formal statement.
Gleefully, the story highlights a reason-defying contortion by Goldstone. The Israeli investigations upon which he based his assertion were secret:
Goldstone’s acceptance of these closed investigations by the Israeli military of itself represented a dramatic turnaround. In an in-depth interview with the Forward in October 2009, he explicitly rejected such probes as inherently flawed…. He offered the example of Israel’s investigation into the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres by an independent panel appointed by Prime Minister Menachem Begin as a model to emulate. The call for an open and independent investigation was one he repeated at his May meeting in South Africa, citing this as “the first and primary” recommendation of his U.N. report.
Yet the core of his Washington Post “retraction” as noted above was his acceptance that
investigations published by the Israeli military… indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.
There is no doubt what has gone on here. Leftist Jewish writer Letty Cottin Pogrebin explained it in The Un-Jewish Assault on Richard Goldstone Forward December 29, 2010:
There’s a Hebrew word for what these people did to Richard Goldstone: They put him in cherem, meaning he was not just persona non grata in the eyes of our religious arbiters, he was totally cut off from the Jewish community. From the moment the report was released, he was treated like a leper — shunned, defamed, disowned…
In April 2010, the South African Zionist Federation reportedly threatened demonstrations outside the Sandton Synagogue if he showed up at his grandson’s bar mitzvah… No less an authority than Rabbi Moshe Kurtstag, head of the local rabbinic court, endorsed the idea that Goldstone should simply stay away, calling it “quite a sensible thing to avert all this unpleasantness.”…
It would have been “good for the Jews” and for Israel had the report’s substance been frankly confronted and debated, however the only game in town is “Kill the message, trash the messenger.”
Pogrebin appears to have been completely silent since Goldstone capitulated.
Not so the U.S. Senate, which carefully stepped through the torture scene: U.S. Senate unanimously calls on U.N. to rescind Goldstone by Ray Kampeas JTA.org April 15, 2011
Perhaps, an aeon from now, historians might wonder why a compelled retraction on a narrow issue of causation compelled the American Senate to take such an extreme step…or maybe it will be obvious.