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The Goldstone Report Raises Storms in the UK too

An open response to the December 1, letter in the London Times 
urging PM Gordon Brown to endorse the Goldstone Report

December 9, 2009 
From Maurice Ostroff    
In view of the eminence of the signatories to the above letter, it is extremely difficult to understand their unqualified support of a document that contains serious flaws which are evident to all who examine it objectively.  At best one must assume that being the busy persons they are, the signatories could not spare time to read, much less to analyze the 452 pages and that they relied instead on the reputation of Judge Goldstone. 
In the circumstances, I list below a few examples that should cause all signatories who value intellectual honesty, to publicly qualify their earlier public support of the Goldstone Report. The following are examples only. Many more flaws are obvious to the serious reader and I refer to the following web sites for details. http://www.2nd-thoughts.org/id235.html and  http://www.goldstonereport.org/

1.                  Weapons in mosques

The report denies Israel's claims that Hamas stored weapons in mosques despite substantial freely available evidence of this practice. For example the widely reported August 14 Hamas attack on a mosque in which 22 opponents of Hamas were killed and 125 badly wounded is proof positive that mosques are used for militant purposes, albeit in this instance not against Israel.

Clauses 464 and 465 of the report refer to the investigation of a missile attack by Israel against a mosque in January 2009, claiming that this was an intentional attack on unarmed civilians. Israel claims that the mosque was controlled by Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades and that several named known terrorists who were operating from the mosque were killed in this attack.

(see http://tinyurl.com/ycrzudt and

http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/hamas_e065.pdf )

That the UN Fact-finding Mission (FFM) found no evidence that this mosque was used for the storage of weapons or any military activity is a clear case where absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It would be absurdly naive to expect that, in preparation for the FFM's visit to this site in July, Hamas would have left evidence that weapons had been stored there in January when the attack took place.

2.                  Human Shields

The report's declaration that it found no evidence that Hamas used human shields is clearly inconsistent with video evidence freely available on the internet. More egregiously, it contradicts the statement in clause 477 of the Report itself that the FFM was aware of a public statement by none other than Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mr. Fathi Hammad, that Hamas did indeed "create human shields of women, children, the elderly and the Mujahideen, against the Zionist bombing machine."

It would be logical to expect that while in Gaza, the FFM's fact-finding role, would have obliged it to clarify this matter with Mr. Hammad. Instead, the FFM acted as his defending council. Without any investigation at all, the report states that although it "finds Mr. Hammad's statement repugnant, it does not consider it evidence that Hamas forced Palestinian civilians to shield military objectives against attack".

3.                  Colonel Kemp

In a memorandum to the FFM, I recommended that Colonel Richard Kemp who has expert knowledge of warfare in conditions similar to those in Gaza, be invited to give evidence. My recommendation was rejected for the inexplicable reason that "the evidence of Kemp was not relevant as we did not report on situations where decisions might have been taken by the IDF "in the heat of battle". We did not "second-guess" the soldiers in the field or their commanding officers." Inexplicable, because the entire report deals with both sides acting in the heat of battle.

Even if the FFM disagreed with the views of this expert, the credibility of the report would have been enhanced if his views had been addressed and it is inexcusable that this was not done. See http://www.2nd-thoughts.org/id199.html

4.                  Lack of freedom for witnesses to testify.

In view of the widely reported violent retribution inflicted by Hamas on dissidents, (including being thrown from tall buildings), the complete lack of testimony in Gaza, supporting the Israeli viewpoint is understandable. On June 9, the Palestinian Ma'an news agency, reported that Hamas inhibited the ability of witnesses to speak freely and since the hearings were televised Hamas was able to keep track of every witness.

Because of these limitations, it is inexcusable that the FFM did not carry out its fact-finding obligation to provide witness protection and actively seek out evidence widely, including from Fatah members whose stories of the abuse of hospitals, ambulances  and schools are readily available on Youtube.

5.                    Allegation that children with white flags were shot

Clause 771 tells how the Abed Rabbo family stepped out of their house carrying white flags to find an Israeli tank less than10 meters from the door. "Two soldiers were sitting on top having a snack, one was eating chips, the other chocolate,..then a third soldier emerged from inside the tank and started shooting at the three girls and then also at their mother"

The FFM accepted the veracity of the witnesses without question, including the unbelievable feat, in that tense situation, of being able to identify exactly what the soldiers were eating. No effort was made to investigate contradictory evidence such as reports by Palestinian News Agency Ma'an and MECA that the unfortunate girls were killed in collateral damage from an attack by Israeli planes.

Having said the above, I endorse completely the humanitarian principles enunciated on the web site of "Independent Jewish Voices" one of the sponsors of the letter to PM Brown, as well as its statement that the battle against anti-Semitism is undermined whenever opposition to Israeli government policies is automatically branded as anti-Semitic. 

I would add that the struggle for justice is equally undermined whenever unjust and unsubstantiated attacks on Israel, like those mentioned above, are automatically supported by well intentioned but misinformed humanists. 

Maurice Ostroff

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