19 April 2009

19 April 2009 - Once again, credit where it is due

I don't approve of President Obama glad-handing Hugo Chavez. But at least he decided to pull out of the Durban 2 conference. He never should have considered going in the first place, but the decision is welcome nonetheless.

06 April 2009

06 April 2009 - An Obama statement to agree with

I still disagree with many aspects of his foreign policy, including his obsequious approach to the Arab and Muslim world, but at least President Obama has come out against the canard that Israel is the reason Al-Qaeda hates America:

Al Qaeda is still bent on carrying out terrorist activity. It is-- al Qaeda is still bent on carrying out terrorist activity. It is, you know, don't fool yourselves because some people say, well, you know, if we changed our policies with respect to Israeli/Palestinian conflict or if we were more respectful towards the Muslim world, suddenly, these organizations would stop threatening us.

That's just not the case. It is true that we have to change our behavior in showing the Muslim world greater respect and changing our language and changing our tone. It is true that we have to work very hard for Israeli/Palestinian peace.

But what is also true is that these organizations are willing to kill innocent people because of a twisted distorted ideology and we, as democracies and as people who value human life, can't allow those organizations to operate.

06 April 2009 - Goldstone's twisted idea of justice

Richard Goldston, newly-appointed head of the inquiry into "war crimes" in Operation Cast Lead, reveals why neither he nor his tribunal can be trusted. Fast-forward to 8:12:

Q: What is this sense of justice that moves you?

A: What moves me is the effect that justice has on victims. It's really the victims that are the customers, or should be the customers. They are often forgotten. But justice is for victims, whether it's in domestic ocurts, or whether it's in international courts, it's the victims who need the acknowledgment. And that's what justice gives them. Whether it's prosecutions or truth and reconciliation commissions, it doesn't matter. Victims are craving for the public acknowledgment of their victimhood, what happened to them. And I've seen this time and again in South Africa, and Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and Kosovo--it's a very important aspect of justice.

There are two fundamental problems here. One is that if justice is for victims, then the outcome of court decisions must depend on who is defined as the victim. This turns justice into a perverse political contest. In the Gaza case, it's clear that Goldstone and his UN colleagues believe that Palestinians are the principal victims and Israelis the main perpetrators. Hence justice is for Palestinians, and punishment for Israelis. The outcome is determined in advance by institutional prejudice.

The second problem is that justice is not only for victims, alleged or otherwise. Justice is for both sides--for the plaintiff and the defendant, for the victim and the accused. In law-abiding countries, criminal courts are particularly concerned with protecting the rights of the defendant. If judicial proceedings were all about victims, we would see many more wrongful convictions, many serious cases turned into show trials. There is a reason that justice is often depicted as blind: courts are meant to be concerned with truth, not with sentiment.

The fact that Goldstone could claim otherwise is reason to question his fitness to serve not only on this tribunal but on any other.

03 April 2009

03 April 2009 - Richard Goldstone must recuse himself

South African judge Richard Goldstone, prosecutor in the Yugoslavia and Rwanda war crimes tribunals, has been appointed to investigate claims of war crimes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.

The investigation is a farce, drummed up by anti-Israel activists and their willing dupes, including Goldstone himself. A few weeks ago, he signed a petition calling for just such an investigation. His co-signatories included people of noted anti-Israel views, such as Desmond Tutu, as well as the likes of Dumisa Ntsebeza, noted for whipping up racial hatred in the South African legal profession and defending AIDS denialist Matthias Rath.

When the petition was first reported, I contacted Judge Goldstone, amazed that he could lend his name and reputation to so spurious an endeavor. The following is our complete correspondence, which I publish here because I believe it in the public interest. E-mail addresses have been redacted.

From: Joel Pollak
Sent: Mon 3/16/2009 6:11 PM
To: Richard Goldstone
Subject: Questions about Gaza commission

Dear Hon. Goldstone:

I would be interested in speaking to you about your recent signature on a
petition calling for an international commission to investigate the recent war
in Gaza. I would like to know more about why you signed it.

Kind regards

Joel Pollak


On Mar 17, 2009, at 3:02 AM, "Richard Goldstone" wrote:

Dear Mr. Pollak,

I am not teaching in the US tis semester and I regret that we therefore cannot meet. I signed the letter because an independent and even-handed inquiry into the Gaza events is necessary and in the interests of peace in the Middle East.

Best wishes,

Richard Goldstone


From: Joel Pollak
Sent: Tue 3/17/2009 7:14 AM
To: Richard Goldstone
Subject: Re: Questions about Gaza commission

Dear Hon. Goldstone:

Thank you for your reply. I had hoped you might respond in greater detail.

To me, such a commission seems an empty gesture at best, an anti-Israel show trial at worst. Israel acted in conformity with international law against a terrorist force that continues to target Israeli civilians while using Palestinian civilians as human shields in violation of the Rome Statute. Its response was proportional to the military objective of reducing rocket fire and it daily shipped in humanitarian aid to assist the innocent residents of the Gaza Strip. What more is there to discover? What purpose would a commission serve except to allow people with avowed anti-Israel views, like Tutu and Ntsebeza, to vent their spleen?

I do hope you reply in greater detail to the above. I am interested in your own
reasons and motivations, because I cannot understand how so esteemed a judge
would lend his reputation to such an enterprise.

Kind regards

Joel Pollak


From: Richard Goldstone
Sent: 3/17/2009 12:16:04 PM
To: jpollak@law.harvard.edu
Subject: RE: Questions about Gaza commission

Dear Mr. Pollak,

I would respond to your e-mail only by suggesting that you are assuming the truth of facts that are very much in issue. I do not wish to debate this matter further by way of e-mail correspondence.

Kind regards,

Richard Goldstone

Whether Goldstone knew he would be appointed to lead the investigation he was calling for (and it seems clear to me now that he did), his appointment is completely unjust and inappropriate. It is like allowing plaintiff in a lawsuit also to serve as the judge and jury.

Goldstone's appointment makes the inquiry even more of a farce than it already is. He has irreparably damaged his credibility by agitating for, and serving, a show trial whose sole purpose is to demonize Israel and gratify its rights-delinquent enemies. He ought to come to his senses and recuse himself immediately.