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Monday, November 02, 2009

Daily Goldstone 11/2

As I mentioned this morning, Richard Goldstone wrote a letter to Howard Berman and the other sponsor of US HR Res 867 saying that the resolution has what he perceived as some mistakes.

Berman has written his own response to the response. Interestingly, his response seems to be to the letter that may have been written by Morton Halperin, advisor for J Street. Here's only a small part of his response, which is really a fisking:

[Goldstone:] “9. Paragraph 13:This is the first suggestion that I have come across to the effect that we should have investigated the provenance of the rockets. It was simply not on the agenda, and in any event, we would not have had the facilities or capability of investigating these allegations. If the Government of Israel has requested us to investigate that issue I have no doubt that we have done our best to do so.”

Response: As noted, Justice Goldstone’s Report went beyond its mandate in several respects; looking at the roles of Iran and Syria in assisting Hamas certainly would have provided critical context to the Report. Iran and Syria enable Hamas’ terrorism. The assistance Hamas receives from outside actors allows the Hamas terrorist organization to attack Israel incessantly, certain in the knowledge that its arsenals will be replenished.

Hamas’ support by state actors makes it a formidable foe. The report should have considered that geopolitical context.

[Goldstone:] “10. Paragraph 14: This is a sweeping and unfair characterization of the Report. I hope that the Report will be read by those tasked with considering the resolution.”

Response: The Report uncritically attributes numerous statements to “Gaza Authorities” (meaning, Hamas), while often casting doubt on information derived from the international and Israeli press and from non-government-affiliated Israelis.

For example, the Report criticizes the fact that an Israeli Government web-post cites a Newsweek article reporting on Hamas depredations against its own population and casts doubt on the accuracy of the article. According to the Report, the citing of the Newsweek article, far from being an effort to invoke a neutral source, is merely evidence that Israel itself finds the Newsweek report unconvincing, since Israel does not adduce evidence from its own internal sources (p.143 paragraphs 612-614). This is an odd criticism, since intelligence information, no matter how compelling, is only rarely disclosed to the public.

Perhaps most tellingly, the Report appears only to cite Israeli statements when it finds such statements a useful basis for criticizing Israel. For example:

Section 41 – “The Mission examined the mortar shelling of al-Fakhura junction in Jabaliyah next to a UNRWA school, which, at the time, was sheltering more than 1,300 people (chap. X). The Israeli armed forces launched at least four mortar shells. One landed in the courtyard of a family home, killing 11 people assembled there. Three other shells landed on al-Fakhura Street, killing at least a further 24 people and injuring as many as 40. The Mission examined in detail statements by Israeli Government representatives alleging that the attack was launched in response to a mortar attack from an armed Palestinian group. While the Mission does not exclude that this may have been the case, it considers the credibility of Israel’s position damaged by the series of inconsistencies, contradictions and factual inaccuracies in the statements justifying the attack.”

Section 702 – “The Mission views as being unreliable the versions given by the Israeli authorities. The confusion as to what was hit, the erroneous allegations of who was specifically hit and where the armed groups were firing from, the indication that Israeli surveillance watched the scene but nonetheless could not detect where the strikes occurred, all combine to give the impression of either profound confusion or obfuscation.”

By contrast, the Report is far more forgiving when discussing contradictions in Palestinian evidence:

Section 1092 – “There are some minor inconsistencies, which are not, in the opinion of the Mission, sufficiently weighty to cast doubt on the general reliability of Majdi Abd Rabbo. There are also, not surprisingly, some elements of the long account which appear in some versions and not in others. The Mission finds that these inconsistencies do not undermine the credibility of Majdi Abd Rabbo’s account.”

Read the whole thing.

(h./t Israel Matzav)