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.


At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The UN's HRC seems to think putting a Jew at the head of one of its anti-Israel witch hunts gives it more credibility. First it was Richard Falk, now they're offering Goldstone.

In a similar vein, the US State Department has, over three administrations now, put Jews in prominent positions with responsibility for the "peace process" - Kurtzer, Ross, Miller, Indyk, et.al. - all with tendencies to "squeeze" Israel into making more concessions.

At 11:07 AM, Blogger Alpha3958 said...

I think Israeli officials by now are used to the crooked ways that the UN operates, so they will be able to see through this. In the end, whatever he decides will be irrelevant because Israel will not submit to this courts jurisdiction.

At 12:03 PM, Anonymous TP O'Connor said...

"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."

Firstly, Joel. It was Israel itself who broke the ceasefire in November 2008. Israels actions in Gaza did not comply with International Humanitarian Law. In fact Israel is still in breach of humanitarian law simply by continuing to deny the 'Human Right' of return.

Israel also broke international law by its use of certain ordinance.

These are the charges leveled against the Israeli state. The world will investigate those charges. And the courts will deliver its verdict.

At 5:35 PM, Blogger Alpha3958 said...


You and the rest of the world can continue to pass resolutions and whine and cry all you want. I can see why some people enjoy this kind of thing, but to us it is really irrelevant. We will continue our lives as normal, and defend our land by whatever means we decide.

At 2:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In reply to TPO'Connor:
1. The use of 'certain ordinance' likely refers to the use of phosphorus. These weapons are NOT illegal acording to international law. The IDF has admitted to using these weapons in the past. A quote in Haaretz reads:"The International Red Cross is of the opinion that there should be a complete ban on phosphorus being used against human beings and the third protocol of the Geneva Convention on Conventional Weapons restricts the use of "incendiary weapons," with phosphorus considered to be one such weapon.

Israel and the United States are not signatories to the Third Protocol. In fact, the US military has admitted using phosphorus in the Irag conflict. No human rights accussations or accusations of the violation of intrnational law have been levelled to date against the US military that I am aware of.
2. In regards to the issue of who broke the Gaza cease fire, according to Human Rights Watch, 223 rockets and 139 mortar shells were fired towards Israel from Gaza during the ‘cease fire’, including 20 rockets and 18 mortar shells before November 4! Israel attacked a Hamas-built tunnel that was to be used to kidnap more Israel soldiers and killed 6 Hamas militants on November 4th, 2008. Despite subsequent negotiations, Hamas unilaterally ended the cease fire on December 20, and resumed shelling southern Israel.
3. What is meant by 'Humanitarian Law'in regards to the issue of the right of return? My experience is that much like 'ethics', it depends on the eye of the beholder and often who your paymaster is. Secondly, what is 'humanitarian' about the indiscriminate shelling of an unarmed civilian population in southern Israel to achieve a political goal?

No, what the region desperately needs is constructive, enlightened and progressive Palestinian leadership. What the region does not need, is the myths and propaganda so faithfully rehashed by TPO'Connor that continues to hinder progress towards a meaningful resolution of the plight of the Palestinian Arabs.

At 6:24 AM, Anonymous J.G. said...

I would just like to add that Justice Goldstone is a very fair and just administrator of the law and is unwavering in his honesty and integrity no matter what the outcome and no matter who is right or wrong.
I think this is an important aspect of who he is.
I myself have served in the IDF and am a very strong supporter of Israel.

At 11:42 AM, Blogger salubrius said...

The UN suggested the return of Arab refugees "who were willing to live in peace with their neighbors" The PLO and Hamas charters show the goal of annihilation of the Israelis. Nonetheless over 100,000 refugees were permitted to return to reunite families.

The WP shells used in Gaza were smoke shells, not antipersonnel weapons. This is a permitted use of WP under the law of war.

At 8:47 PM, Anonymous L. King said...

Joel -

I'm surprised at Goldstone's appointment as well. His background shows quite a reasonable set of credentials. If anything he might recuse himself because a finding in favor of Israel would not be considered credible by some.

Signing a petition asking for an investigation does not necessarily mean that he would be predisposed to find one result or another - it may merely signify a desire to clear the air through legal means. Judges (at least in Canada, I can't really speak for other jurisdictions) are not supposed to hold public political opinions. Rather than asking him as to his intent I would suggest:

a) Looking the terms of the appointment and
b) Asking a contact in S.A. to look into his previous judgments
c) Looking at the other members of the panel in the same light

There are several hundred other conflicts going on in the world today and I agree that it is unfair that only Israel is put under a microscope, however attacking the judicial panel rather than the process might be a mistake.

At 11:38 PM, Blogger Joel said...

I must disagree, L. King.

The panel, Goldstone in particular, was part of the process.

The process was conducted by the corrupt Human Rights Council (which, to America's shame, President Obama now wants to join).

We have seen other formerly respected South African legal figures (e.g. John Dugard) seduced by the notoriety that prosecuting Israel brings. Goldstone is but the latest example. He will secure his fame but destroy his reputation.


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