Norman G. Finkelstein: Israel Overreached in Gaza
Norman Finkelstein has just completed a new book, This Time We Went Too Far: Truth and Consequences of the Gaza Invasion (OR Book April 2010). Finkelstein is a controversial scholar who has written extensively on Israel and its role in the Middle East. His new book examines the Israeli invasion of Gaza of December 2008-January 2009. Drawing on the numerous reports and studies in the wake of that invasion he challenges its defenders, analyzes why Israel launched it, and assesses its lasting implications. I spoke with Dr. Finkelstein via telephone.
You write “what happened in Gaza was meant to happen.” What happened and what was Israel seeking to accomplish?
In short what happened in Gaza was a massacre. About 1400 Palestinians were killed and about 13 Israelis were killed. Of the 1400 Palestinian casualties, about four-fifths were civilians and 350 children. In the case of the Israelis 10 soldiers were killed, (four of them by friendly fire) and three civilians. It was a ratio of about 100 to 1 overall, in terms of civilians it was 400 to 1. Israeli soldiers described what happened saying it was like a PlayStation computer game, everything was done by remote control. Another soldier said it was like a child with a magnifying glass burning ants. Those are not metaphors of a war. Those are metaphors of a massacre.
There were basically two goals. The main goal was to restore what is called “deterrence capacity.” Deterrence capacity is a fancy technical term for restoring the Arab world’s fear of Israel. There was concern by Israel after the July-August 2006 war with Lebanon where it had suffered a major military defeat. There was concern that the Arabs no longer feared Israel. The head of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, said to the Israelis the Arabs are no longer afraid of you, if you invade us again, we will defeat you again. So Israel had to restore the Arab world’s fear of Israel.
The problem Israel had, however, was that everyone knew that Gaza had no significant military force. Defeating it on the battlefield was not going to restore the Arab world’s fear of Israel because there was no combat in Gaza. There couldn’t be real combat because Hamas had no fighting force.
Israel decided to restore its deterrence capacity by indiscriminately attacking the civilian infrastructure and civilian population. They were very clear that that was their intention. That is what they did. After the massacre ended Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni went on Channel 10 News in Israel and said “Israel demonstrated real hooliganism during the course of the recent operation, which I demanded.”
You quote Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in his report, The Gaza War: A Strategic Analysis, that “Israel did not violate the laws of war.” You argue forcefully that he is wrong. Why?
It is not what I argue it is what all the human rights organizations concluded. There were many human rights organizations and missions that investigated what happened in Gaza. Amnesty International put out two very substantial reports. Human Rights Watch put out five reports. There was a fact finding committee headed by the distinguished South African jurist, John Dugard. There was the Goldstone mission [Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict]. There were reports put out by various Israeli human rights organizations and international medical teams. They all reached the same conclusion, Israel committed massive war crimes in Gaza and possibly or definitely — depending on which report you look at — crimes against humanity. There is no question that there were very significant violations of the laws of war.
The intentional targeting of the civilian infrastructure and also there were significant cases of intentional targeting of the civilian population.
Your book documents quite extensively the disproportionality of the Israel/Hamas confrontation. That said, who is Hamas? Or to sharpen this a bit, doesn’t Hamas have their own agenda based on a certain kind of Islam that is restrictive and repressive, as well as ties to the theocracy in Iran? Is it possible to oppose the actions of Israel without supporting Hamas?
It has nothing to do with what Hamas’s ideology is. Take World War II. Stalin was repressive. I don’t think rational people will dispute that fact. You could even say Stalin was tyrannical, but who would dispute the righteousness of the Red Army’s resistance to the Nazi invasion and occupation of the Soviet Union?
It has nothing to do with whether or not you agree with the regime. It is the fact that in the case of Hamas — and here distinctions need to be made — Hamas was the democratically elected government of the Palestinians. In January 2006 there were elections. Jimmy Carter, who was one of the international monitors, called the elections completely honest and fair. So it was a democratically elected government. Israel, along with the United States, immediately tried to impose economic sanctions on the Palestinian people in order to get them to reject and repudiate Hamas, and then eventually launched an attack.
In my opinion Hamas had very few options because Israel broke the cease fire that had been implemented on June 19, 2006. Israel broke the cease fire, as Amnesty International put it, on November 4 when it invaded Gaza and killed six Palestinians militants.
Up until the end of December of 2008, Hamas was saying that it wanted to renew the cease fire but only on condition that Israel implement the original terms of the cease fire. Those terms were that Hamas would stop its rocket and mortar attacks and Israel was supposed to lift its illegal blockade of Gaza, a blockade that Amnesty International called a flagrant violation of international law. A blockade which Mary Robinson, the former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said was “destroying Gaza’s civilization.” Israel refused to lift the blockade and demanded a unilateral and unconditional Hamas cessation of rocket and mortar fire on Israel.
If you think the rocket and mortar fire by Hamas was wrong, or even a war crime, or even a crime against humanity, what else was Hamas to do? The blockade was, and is, a flagrant violation of international law. It was destroying Gaza’s civilization and the international community was doing nothing. Are you saying Hamas, or I should say here the Palestinian people in Gaza, had a moral/legal obligation to lie still and die?
In 2006 Condoleeza Rice famously described Israel’s invasion of Lebanon as the, “birth pangs of a new Middle East.” Not surprisingly the Bush administration strongly supported Israel’s action in Gaza. Barack Obama — who was awaiting inauguration — adopted a different posture. When the Israelis bombed a school where people had gathered — killing 42 — he broke his silence up to that point to tell the press that "the loss of civilian life in Gaza and Israel is a source of deep concern." This strikes me as a rather tepid statement at best that did not challenge what was going on. What was the US role during this whole undertaking?
The U.S. role was very clearly spelled out by Amnesty International in the report it published titled, “Fueling the Conflict.” Amnesty International stated three facts: 1) The U.S. is by far and away the chief arms supplier of Israel. 2) Under international law and domestic American law it is illegal to transfer weapons to a consistent violator of human rights. Israel is, according to Amnesty International, a consistent violator of human rights. 3) Amnesty said that everything that has happened in Gaza happened because of “U.S. taxpayer money.”
Were it not for the U.S. taxpayer what happened in Gaza could not have happened. In fact for example, among the more appalling things Israel did in Gaza was its use of white phosphorous. White phosphorus reaches a temperature of 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. Israel dropped white phosphorous on a marketplace, a humanitarian warehouse, and on two hospitals. These actions by Israel were, according to Human Rights Watch, war crimes. Now the relevant point here is that every single white phosphorous shell that was recovered after the attack were made in the U.S.A.
You write, “It can be fairly said that the Goldstone Report marked the end of one era and the emergence of another: the end of an apologetic Jewish liberalism that denies or extenuates Israel’s crimes and the emergence of a Jewish liberalism that returns to its classical calling that, if only as an ideal imperfectly realized, nonetheless holds all malefactors, Jew or non-Jew, accountable when they have strayed from the path of justice.” What is different after the war in Gaza and the release the Goldstone report?
In all of Israel’s past military engagements in the Arab world there has been what you might call a military component and civilian component. In the Six Day War, it was an overwhelmingly military component even though, as Walt Rostow said, that “It was a turkey shoot” on the battlefield. Also, in 1973 it was a military engagement between Israel and Egypt.
In the 1980s and 1990s most of the military engagements were with Lebanon, and while they had a military component, they also had a very large civilian component, the targeting of the civilian population in order to achieve the goal of getting the civilian population and the civilian government to – in the case of Lebanon – get them to turn on the Palestine Liberation Organization, and later in the 1990s to try and get the civilian government in Lebanon to put pressure on Hezbollah.
In the case of Gaza there was no military component. This is something the Israelis themselves acknowledge. Israel had descended to a new level of barbarism, which was qualitatively different than what preceded it. For that reason it evoked a large amount of international horror and outrage.
Goldstone is a Zionist who (according to him) has devoted a large part of his adult life to supporting the State of Israel. Goldstone is also a typical Jewish liberal. He is a defender of human rights, a distinguished international jurist, a former chief prosecutor of the International Tribunals in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. He was kind of a paradigm — torn between his Jewish loyalties and his professional convictions. In that respect he was fairly typical of Jews who are overwhelmingly liberal. Goldstone was paradigmatic of the liberal dilemma. He resolved it by going with his professional convictions and commitments, which is to say it is no longer possible to be liberal and to defend Israeli policy. That was the dilemma Goldstone confronted. He couldn’t in good conscience defend Israeli policy precisely because he was a liberal. I think the Goldstone moment is indicative of where Jewish public opinion is now headed, toward sharp criticism of Israeli policy.
Norman G. Finkelstein received his doctorate in 1988 from the Department of Politics at Princeton University. For many years he taught political theory and the Israel-Palestine conflict. He is currently an independent scholar. Finkelstein is the author of five books which have been translated into more than 40 foreign editions: Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History,The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict,A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth (with Ruth Bettina Birn) and The Rise and Fall of Palestine: A personal Account of the Intifada Years. For more information visit his website: www.normanfinkelstein.com.
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Elliott Aron Green - 5/10/2010
An opportunist as you say, some people [me too] compare richard richard with Talleyrand, one of the arch opportunists of modern history, jumping neatly from Napoleon's camp into that of his enemies.
Matthew Yglesias is already spinning the "hanging judge" past of RG. Yglesias forgives goldstone. Apparently, South African apartheid is the crime of the past. It's no longer fashionable to punish its perpetrators.
Yglesias mentions, in his ad hominem defense of goldstone, points out that neither Mandela nor Desmond Tutu [an archbishop of the Church of England, n'est-ce pas?] has pointed to goldstone's past as a defender of apartheid. That is enough to prove to Yglesias that the "respected judge" cannot be guilty or should not now be held guilty for what he did in apartheid times. But Tutu has no shame about smearing Israel, like some other, some white-skinned prelates of the Church of England. Tutu's black skin just gives the "apartheid" and other false accusations against Israel more credibility and force. But a lie is still a lie.
I see Tutu and Mandela and the ANC generally as subjected in their formative stages to ideological influences and prejudices coming from both the Communists and from British Establishment sources, such as the C of I. Some have pointed out that at the end of the apartheid regime, the ANC needed a respectable appearing judge for their own purposes of appearing respectable, decent, etc. Goldstone, according to these critics --mainly former South Africans-- covered up the ANC's bloody violence against the rival Inkatha movement led by the Zulu chief.
Some have also pointed out friendly relations between Israel and the SA govt in those years. Indeed, but these critics of Israel may be unaware that South Africa got its oil in those years from --- Saddam Hussein's Iraq which also had a friendly relationship with South Africa.
Peter Kovachev - 5/10/2010
As a few bloggers pointed out, the naughty little Goldstone secret wasn't discovered by our irreplaceable mainstream media (nor by a historian), but by a couple of Israeli investigative journalists from Yediot Aharonot.
So, our hero of the Left was a hard working and apparently quite an enthusiastic hangin' judge for the apartheid regime. How will they spin this one, I wonder. What I don't get, though, is that his record couldn't have been a secret to the ANC and yet, narry a peep from them on this.
Elliott Aron Green - 5/9/2010
Arnold, you speak of "independent human rights organizations." Why don't you look at the site linked to below? You will find that many so-called "non-governmental organzations" [NGOs] are actually funded by -- governments!!
If they are funded by governments, are they still "independent"???
Elliott Aron Green - 5/9/2010
Omar, here's a blog about Arab-Nazi collaboration during WW2. It sure sounds like the collaboration went beyond merely seeking German support against the "British/French/Italian colonialists."
Elliott Aron Green - 5/8/2010
I am sure, Peter, that Richard Richard would be a worthy successor to both Butros Butros and Kurt Waldheim. But I am hoping that the UN will totally implode by the time that Richard Richard is ready to assume the mantle of leadership at that august body.
Elliott Aron Green - 5/8/2010
Omar implicitly exempts the Arabs from the charges that he makes against European, Western, Christian civilization. Actually, the Arab nationalist movement in general and the Palestinian Arab leadership in particular, supported Nazi Germany. Omar splits hairs here by claiming that:
"The majority [of Arab nationalists] were for GERMANY, not Nazism, as a potential ally against Western, Anglo/French/Italian, colonialism.
You must have an extremely sharp scimitar lying around the house, Omar, to have been able to split the German Nazi hair in twain. So the Arab nationalists, as you say, supported Germany, whose chancellor just happened to be one Adolf Hitler, who was also the head of the Nazi Party.
Do you know that the British-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini, claimed in a speech to the Bosnian Muslim SS division, the Handschar [Khanjar], that Islam had much in common with German National Socialism. If you disagree, can you explain why??
By the way, several books and scholarly articles have been published on the whole subject of Arab-Nazi collaboration. The authors include:
Lukasz Hirszowicz, Joseph Schechtman, Simon Wiesenthal, Daniel Carpi, Matthias Kuentzel, Jeffrey Herf, Elias Cooper, et al. Yours truly too wrote an article on this subject. You can find it on the Net. I'm too tired at this time of night to look it up.
Happy reading, `Umar, la habibna!!
Before I hit the sack, do you see Haj Amin el-Husseini, the chief Palestinian Arab leader and British-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem, as having been against Italian imperialism/colonialism, let alone German imperialism?? Although you say that the Arab nationalists opposed "Anglo/French/Italian colonialism," Herr Husseini visited Mussolini in Rome and conducted a friendly chat with him. Was Husseini out of the mainstream of Arab nationalism??
Arnold Shcherban - 5/7/2010
Your ridiculous, cherry-picked attempts to libel UN, independent human rights organizations and anyone else who squeaks against any Israeli non-kosher action, including your most loyal allies (US and NATO countries), whom all Israeli Jews, and perhaps, especially such rabid Zionists like you're should be forever thankful for rescuing Israel for decades from world-wide isolation and severe economic sanctions, and perhaps, even for the very existence of state of Israel up to now, clearly shows your character...
Tragically, by constantly displaying this (I'm right no matter what and who speaks against me) attitude we, Jews doing ourselves a huge disfavor
by sharpening the propagandist tools
of our real enemies and estranging our friends.
That's all I have to say to you today and ever.
Peter Kovachev - 5/7/2010
Ugh, yuk...that's pretty ugly. Good find, Elliott.
So, the folks who try to equate Israel with apartheid-era S.A. have made a hero of a guy who sent Blacks to be hung and whipped (whipped?!). Well, come to think of it, why should that surprising?
Goldstone's exlanation on the record is, essentially, that this is what the job terms called for. The vernacular term for this strategy is, "anything for a buck," with the subject in question being compared to a sex worker. My apologies to all the sex workers out there, I don't mean to compare them to Judge Richard Richard. Well, Goldstone's "professionalism" is what they approvingly call in HR jargon a "transferable skill set." No doubt it explains the swell job of dispassionate jurisprudence he displayed with the Operation Cast Lead report. What will this ambitious, multi-talented, Renaissance man turn his flexible talents to next, one wonders. Aha, I know; how about R-R as the next head of the UN? Richard-Richard appears to be eminently qualified. Remember, you read it here first!
omar ibrahim baker - 5/7/2010
"The big problem here is that the Arab nationalist movement on the whole, and the Palestinian Arab leadership especially, joined in supporting the Nazis. "
Is, in the tradition of Elliott and the rest of the herd, a complete fabrication and is a totally fallacious statement devoid of any truth much akin to their historical, but highly effective, " a land with no people for a people with no land"!.
Several elements, a minority, within the "Arab nationalist movement" were in favour of Nazism not unlike, and certainly fewer, than many in the USA, Britain and most of the West.
The majority were for GERMANY, not Nazism, as a potential ally against Western, Anglo/French/Italian, colonialism. And still are certainly against Zionism
The Arab nationalist movement was fully aware where Arabs stood in the Nazi racist hierarchy of nations and at least for that, if for nothing else, could not possibly , support Nazism.
Elliott seems not to note that their sweeping generalizations no longer command any credibility and that their incessant milking of the Holocaust to allow Israel more EXCEPTIONAL treatment has dried it to bone dryness.
Where ever and when ever they resort to naked lies and complete fabrications I feel good for the whole world is discovering the truth about Israel.
Elliott Aron Green - 5/7/2010
Omar points to
the truly horrendous and exceptionally vile maltreatment Jews were subjected to by a pillar of Western Judeo/Christian civilization : Germany during the Nazi era.
Doing so, Omar implicitly exempts from the charges that he makes against European, Western, Christian civilization, Germany and the Holocaust in particular, in regard to its treatment of Jews. The big problem here is that the Arab nationalist movement on the whole, and the Palestinian Arab leadership especially, joined in supporting the Nazis. The chief Palestinian Arab leader, Haj Amin el-Husseini, collaborated in the Holocaust, urging that more Jews be killed and none spared. After WW2, he was allowed to return from Europe to the Middle East, where he was acclaimed as a hero and great leader, including by the grandfather of Tariq Ramadan.
Furthermore, Jews were oppressed, exploited, and humiliated terribly in the Muslim/Arab lands as dhimmis, throughout the centuries. Omar, we could do with less psychologizing from you about our feelings and with more honesty about the history of Jewish-Arab relations.
Elliott Aron Green - 5/6/2010
the deficiencies and bias of one report does not undermine credibility of another made even by the same people (not already mentioning that the Bosnia and GAZA report were only headed by the same individual,...
Actually, Arnold, speaking hypothetically of course, if Mr G produced a defective and biased report about Country S, and this were known and understood fairly widely, then the credibility of all of his future reports would be undermined for sure. I do have trouble understanding how you can excoriate goldstone's misconduct in the Former Yugoslavia, as you see it, and not lose trust in anything he reports in the future. Theoretically, it is possible that the same person who falsified and acted dishonestly in reporting on one place will act honestly in reporting on another place. But it is not likely. If you had once been cheated, hypothetically of course, at Mr G's used car lot, would you return to his used car lot to buy another used car from him??
Maybe you would go back to Mr G's used car lot to purchase another used car. If so, you would be a rara avis indeed.
Next, I'm surprised that you're unaware of the scandals that have caught up both "human rights watch" and "amnesty international." Amnesty recently fired the feminist head of its women's rights department [Ms Sahgal] because she had objected to Amnesty collaborating with Muazzem Beg, a defender of the Taliban, notorious for their cruel treatment of women.
"human rights watch" earned notoriety for sending a delegation to Saudi Arabia, that bastion of human rights, in order to raise money to use against Israel, as the delegation leader frankly stated while in the Kingdom. HRW also had hired a "military expert" who was an avid collector of Nazi war memorabilia. The same man, one Marc Garlasco, had previously worked in the Pentagon targeting locations for bombing by the US Air Force. He admitted that the military target individuals that the US forces were looking for were not in fact where Garlasco had sent planes to bomb them. Be that as it may, hundreds of civilians were killed in the bombings that Garlasco initiated.
So much for the sterling, unassailable reputations of hrw & amnesty. Yet, you say that, The credibility of those organizations is unassailable.
For info on amnesty and hrw, I recommend:
On Goldstone and his Reports, see:
Arnold Shcherban - 5/6/2010
Aha, Mr Green
One just got to love it: the degree of cynicism, betrayal of elementary
decency, and vicious double standards to which rabid Zionists and some of their Western supporters are ready to go to exonerate themselves of any wrongdoing.
So, now you throwing in the arguments on NATO's vile affair in Balkans that in your mind, blinded by religious fanaticism and chauvinism, is going to make me cry with the despair of total defeat.
It hardly occurred to you and other kovachevs that not only I was one of the first commentators on this board that condemned not only NATO's bombing of civilian installations in Serbia, but exclusive support given by that military Treaty to the same Islamic fanatics/terrorists (Bosnians, KLA and Al-Qeada operatives) as long as the latter performed their pro-Western "duties" against sovereign Serbia that was just protecting itself from
the Islamic and Christian terror.
I was also adamantly against the Western imperialists forcefully chopping off the part of historical
Serbian territory (Kosovo) and declaring it independency as a separate state, once more stressing
the fact who's the World's Big Daddy and confirming that the (19th century's) "divide and conquer" murderous principle still remains one of the major tools in the arsenal of a peace-loving "Western civilization."
The same goes to the clear bias in favor of Bosnians that also committed war crimes against Serbian populace.
So, if Goldstone's report refused to acknowledge NATO's and Bosnian crimes (though even him doing that would not make any difference as far as the prosecution of Western political and military leaders is concerned), this report was not genuine and entirely objective and therefore should have been criticized and corrected.
On the other hand, the deficiencies and bias of one report does not undermine credibility of another made even by the same people (not already mentioning that the Bosnia and GAZA report were only headed by the same individual, but GAZA commission had largely different make-up.)
Convicted criminal cannot be accused
in another crime, just because he was found guilty in the former.
Therefore I would submit that the respective principle should be applied even more strongly in the case of international commissions.
But I would not (and never did) ground my case just on conclusion of one international body, however, respectful and trustworthy it was.
The second, perhaps, more important credibility argument that goes to the heart of my response to Kovachev in much greater measure than the above one is that two independent human rights organizations respected by the entire world: Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, both coming, basically, to the same conclusion of conspicuous criminality of Israeli actions in GAZA.
The credibility of those organizations
is unassailable (unless one is grossly
biased), on the simple reason (not to go deep into their history) that they would report and accuse ANY country (and mostly non-democratic ones, like
Soviet Union and ALL Islamic ones) in Human rights violations, when those
had a single one and made a major contribution to initiating and continuing immigration of Soviet Jews to Israel and the US.
But I'm sure, kovachevs in their turn will made every possible and impossible attempt to libel those independent organizations, as anti-semitic, or that they have been
bribed by some oil Muslim oligarchs...
I'm saying the above (as anything else) not as Marxist-Leninist (you know well I'm not), but because such thing as objectivity and decency compels me to say this.
It's one of the big-time tragedies of the world that such ideologues as you and kovachevs are led by the dogmas and nationalism instead of the former
By the way, don't you as anti-Marxist-Leninist, consider NATO's actions in, say, Kosovo imperialistic and in violation of pertaining international agreements?
If not, we have nothing else to discuss, gentlemen of nationalistic fortune.
omar ibrahim baker - 5/6/2010
Reading their reactions to bodies and institutions universally renowned and respected for their objectivity
,courage and impeachable credibility such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International etc and , even to self declared Zionists as Justice Goldstone, inter alia, one cannot help but wonder what is it that makes them see white where everybody else sees black?
FOR Zionist Israelis and fellow travelers have, in a seemingly all pervasive general affliction , reached the point where anything short of lauding Israel and /or total support of Israeli policies and actions is not only suspect BUT is perceived as decidedly hostile, prejudiced and, with very many among them, categorically anti Jew and anti Semite!
Amazingly most of them do seem, however, to be consciously, but mainly sub consciously, sincere about the way they feel and perceive things even in the face of definite proof and quasi universal consensus to the contrary.
-A case of collective blindness?
-A case of collective obsessive one sidedness?
-A case of collective disengagement from the universally held perceptions of legality and morality?
I guess the answer lays in two, psyche and mind forming, factors that drove them to this pathetic state:
a-The truly horrendous and exceptionally vile maltreatment Jews were subjected to by a pillar of Western Judeo/Christian civilization : Germany during the Nazi era.
Out of remorse, or resignation, most of the Christian West, the historical hot bed of genuine and intrinsic anti Semitism have come came to sympathize with them to the degree of allowing them exceptional lee ways and according them exceptional treatment particularly in all projects that promise to meet the West’s perennial desire to solve the Jewish Problem by mainly getting rid of as many of them as possible.
To atone for its EXCEPTIONAL vile treatment of Jews they demanded and were awarded EXCEPTIONAL support by the West.
b-The realization of their historical ambition to dispossess ,dislocate and supplant the Palestinian people in his homeland that was only achieved through a series of truly EXCEPTIONAL
measures with no parallel in modern history.
Foremost of which are:
-Promising them a homeland in a populated land that does NOT belong to him he that made the promise
-Distorting the demographic composition of that land by allowing in aliens against the express will and determined opposition of its indigenous population
-Denying the overwhelming majority of the indigenous population of the land his right to SELF DETERMINATION
-Partitioning the land by allocating a majority of it to a predominantly alien, foreign born, community that remained a minority despite the demographic disfiguration of the land
-Allowing them the free unfettered use of another’s people lands, homes, shops, offices etc
-Condoning their unremitting violation of cardinal inalienable human rights such as the Right of Return of war time dislocated people to their homeland
-Acquiescing to their relentless expansionism into other peoples’ land ; actually funding it in many cases as with first massive German then uninterrupted American financial support
-Arming them to them for them to better retain their illegitimate spoils
As a Result they have come to hold, both consciously and subconsciously, two cardinal self perceptions:
1-That they are an EXCEPTIONAL community with rights and privileges unilaterally and exclusively pertaining to them
2-That they are allowed to hold EXCEPTIONAL self perceptions and designs, and implement EXCEPTIONAL policies.
This pervasive feeling of being EXCEPTIONAL, planted and nurture in the hot and fertile ages long hereditary grounds of the myth of the “chosen people”,and of being EXCEMPT from universally upheld standard rules, regulations and ethics is what makes them see white where everybody else sees only black.
However these self perceptions are intrinsically BUT a severe case of self delusion that would ultimately ricochet negatively on them
Elliott Aron Green - 5/5/2010
Richard Richard's rather gamey past in South Africa is coming to light in an investigative report in Yedi`ot [available on ynet]. Goldstone was a sort of "hanging judge." The first link is in English [to the Jerusalem Post].
Here is the article in Hebrew on the ynet site:
Elliott Aron Green - 5/5/2010
"an unprincipled, opportunistic little climber"
That's just about how I see Richard Richard Goldstone [the Richard Richard sobriquet was given by some who detected an ambition by RG to follow in the footsteps of Butros Butros-Ghali, and become UN secretary-general].
Peter Kovachev - 5/5/2010
Your throwing Goldstone's record with ICTFY was brilliant, Elliott. Not only does it underline what an unprincipled, opportunistic little climber the man appears to be, but it addresses the larger question of whether international laws and related judicial proceedings can ever be anything but new play pieces in the same old political games. The record, so far, is nothing to be cheered about.
As for Arnie, he can't compute this one, so he won't discuss it honestly, if at all. You threw him something which he'll have to ignore or reframe into something else, because it's well outside of his mouldy script. But he has bigger problems; the ideals he could once feel virtuous about and the shrinking, debased groups that form his community can no longer sustain the egos and imagined status of people like him. Not even Stalin would have guessed that one day his political descendands would have to essentially live off trash by sucking up to primitives like Islamists and jihadis, and linking arms with fascists and antisemites.
Elliott Aron Green - 5/5/2010
Peter, when Arnold can't answer, even to give some factually wrong and convoluted answer, he goes ad hominem.
Peter Kovachev - 5/4/2010
Yeah, yeah, you'd kick my butt, but can't be bothered to get out of the chair. Anyway, a "detailed reply" wouldn't help, Arnie, since you know I'm right and you're flat-out-dead wrong. And then you'd have to explain why Israel deserves a special treatment, and that's one thing antisemites, or "anti-Zionists" don't want to ever do is to explain why such glaringly different standards and censures apply only to Jews and to Jews alone.
Elliott Aron Green - 5/4/2010
Three cheers for you, Arnold. That's a great ad hominem answer to Mr Kovachev.
But I ask you to consider Judge Goldstone's record as the chief prosecutor of the ICTFY [int'l court for ex-Yugoslavia]. The Serb side in the bloody war in Bosnia, most of them veteran Communists, perhaps like yourself, were quite unhappy with Goldstone. They said and say that he favored the Bosnian Muslim side and displayed bias against the Serbs. They say that he sided with NATO and overlooked cases where NATO air forces bombed Serbian civilian locations, killing Serbian civilians, like the TV station in Belgrade. It is a fact that Goldstone agreed with the ICTFY that cases where NATO aircraft killed Serbian civilians did not deserve to be investigated or prosecuted because NATO was sincerely acting in good faith when it bombed those civilian locations and killed those Serbian civilians. Of course, Goldstone and his comrades on his "fact finding mission" to Gaza knew likewise, they just knew, that Israel was not sincerely acting in good faith when it said that it had bombed mosques in Gaza because they were storing weapons.
Of course, Arnold, as a good Marxist-Leninist, you must see NATO as an "imperialist" body. But Goldstone was indulgent towards NATO. He was indulgent towards NATO's bombing of civilians. Can he be really considered a man of judicial probity?? Can you ignore what those Serbs who were raised on Communism as on their mothers' milk, have to say about Judge Goldstone in his doings in Former Yugoslavia??
Elliott Aron Green - 5/4/2010
De Zayas says that the Americans, he seems to mean the USGovt, apply human rights selectively. De Zayas himself does that. He worries about that subgroup of Arabs now fashionably called "Palestinians," but he has not a word about the victims of mass murder in the Sudan or about Obama's failure to defend the civil rights of Iranian protestors brutalized by their own government.
Of course, one must defend the "Palestinians" religiously since they have come to be considered a "collective Jesus." Furthermore, as a collective Jesus, they are repeatedly crucified --in the mass mind & the upper-middle brow mind-- by the same folk that are reputed to have tormented Jesus on the Cross, the Jews. It's obvious, therefore, why the "Palestinians" must get special consideration denied to others.
As to Geneva IV, its meaning and its applicability to Israel in Judea-Samaria, I must disagree with you. Article 49 forbids "transfer" of population into "occupied territory. But the Jews who have gone to live in Judea-Samaria, the heart of the ancient Jewish homeland, did so eagerly and voluntarily. They were not coerced or forced or "transferred." They were exercising their human, civil and national rights.
Further, does Israel "occupy" Judea-Samaria or did it ever do so since 1967? I remind you that Israel is the Jewish state envisaged by the Jewish National Home principle. This principle was adopted into international law by a series of international acts, including the San Remo Conference , the League of Nations , the Anglo-American Convention on Palestine, etc. This status of the country was confirmed by Article 80 of the UN charter. Since the UN general assembly partition plan was a mere recommendation, as are all GA resolutions on political issues, then the Partition Plan does not have the force of law and is not binding. Further, the Arab states refused to accept the 1949 armistice lines as recognized boundaries for the 18 years from 1949 to 1967. Hence, the status of Jewish National Home remained in effect for Judea-Samaria and the Gaza Strip too for that 18 year period and till today. See link, inter alia:
Elliott Aron Green - 5/4/2010
Well, well, well. Welcome to you, Professor de Zayas. Sorry that I don't have a "de" or a "von" to put in front of my name, but perhaps you will deign to read my considerations from your lofty aristocratic heights.
The UN is an association of states, about 190 of them. States have interests. States do all sorts of things to advance their interests. Even states belonging to the OIC, although that may be hard for some to swallow. States that belong to a large group of states with similar interests, such as the OIC, have much more chance of advancing their interests in the various UN bodies than do states belonging to smaller groups or to no group at all [like Israel].
Then we have the related phenomenon of logrolling in UN bodies. In other words, State A promises to vote for an interest of State B if State B will vote for State A's interest or cause. This also goes for blocs of states, like the OIC, which is the biggest single bloc. Or the Arab League which is actually less than half as big as the OIC which most or all Arab states also belong to. Then there is the African bloc and the Euro bloc and the Latin American bloc and the NATO bloc. The blocs don't always vote uniformly, but I think you get the idea, Professor. UN votes in the various UN bodies are more based on interests, of an individual state or a collectivity of states, than on justice or truth. Likewise, you refer to the "world court" at the Hague which handed down an opinion about the never completed defensive wall that Israel built to stop terrorist mass murderers from coming into our cities. The judges on that court are appointed by governments. The govts have interests and the judges themselves have prejudices. The decision against the Wall was based on extraneous, non-judicial, non-legal political considerations and prejudices. As to Falk and Goldstone, I am not impressed with the probity of either of them. To imagine that the votes in any of the UN's bodies represent justice is the height of stupidity or prejudice.
Recall that the UN"human rights council" [which meets near your home in Geneva], the UN body with the most Orwellian name of all, does not condemn the mass murder practiced by the govt of Sudan for most of the last 54 years since Sudan's misbegotten independence by grace of Her Britannic Majesty. The genocide in south Sudan and later in Darfur has had its pauses and intervals, so the slaughter was not continuous. But do tell us, Professor de Zayas, just what the UNHRC has done to dissuade Sudan from committing mass murder. Then, please explain why Libya, which was persecuting several Bulgarian nurses plus one Palestinian Arab doctor on the false charge of injecting Libyan children with AIDS virus, was voted in as chairman of the UNHRC while violating the human rights of these medical personnel?? Can a reasonable person take the UNHRC seriously??
Arnold Shcherban - 5/4/2010
When kovachev's dinosaurus comments have ever risen to the factual level?
You, sir, as I already told you once, don't even deserve the detailed reply that I would have rendered to other not so dogmatic and fanatically nationalistic commentator.
Peter Kovachev - 5/3/2010
Arnie, many folks here may be unfamiliar with agitprop lingo of last century's vintage. Allow me to clarify for them.
Independent Human Rights Organizations: UN, governmental and institutionally sponsored clients with the prime directive to focus almost exclusively on Israel, no matter how horrendously dozens of nations, especially ones everyone is scared of (e.g., China, N. Korea, Iran, Russia, Saudis), behave.
International body: Any Organization of Islamic Conferences-approved and sponsored UN entity with an imortant sounding name.
Timid Critique (of Israel): Nearly exclusive, clinically obsessive and unrelenting slander of Israel and Jews.
Don't mention it; you're welcome. I just hope this helped. Tah-dah...
Arnold Shcherban - 5/3/2010
Sure, any international body, including independent human rights organizations with the record respected by the whole world, including UK and the US (the Israel closest allies) that merely squeaks a timid critique of acts of Israeli governments and army is corrupt, but the latter ones are absolutely and always right, democratic and noble...
For how long this outrageous and nationalistic BS will continue?
Peter Kovachev - 5/3/2010
What we have here is not just another humdrum book review, but another humdrum example of a derivative piece of propaganda shlock in servile defense of murderous, atavistic primitives...the kind who openly and proudly target playgrounds and schools of Jews, while cowering behind the skirts, mosques and hospitals of their own people. If this relates to historiography on any point other than as an exhibit of contemporary charlattans, we should ask, "Whither goeth thou, Clio?"
The indelicate term, "circle-j--k," best describes the substance and purpose of this piece. We have a second-rate propagandist in the guise of a third-rate journalist utilizing the format of a book review to fawn over the latest agitprop by a notorious self-hating crank and an accomplished shill for terrorists. He, the notorious crank, plugs his ideological comrades and co-cranks, the politicised "we-keen-for-hire" organizations of rapidly diminishing credibility and relevance. They, of course, will add the crank's "work" to their own ever-growing dung heap of pseudo-evidence. Around and around they all go, hoping to weave a cloak of credibility from bits of their own vomitus. I suppose we need to thank HNN, however reluctantly, for providing us with this macabre freak show.
Important questions here for everyone. Those interested in the workings of historiography can ponder how the disciple degraded to the point where psychological curiosities and radical apartchiks can re-invent very recent events and have their absurdities legitimized in mainstream forums. The apparent ease with which such literary droppings can acquire even a thin and temporary veneer of respectability, rather than universal disgust, should be a topic of serious discussions, especially for historians.
Historians can also puzzle over how it happened, in such a short time, that the long-living phenomenon of antisemitism re-emerged and again managed to mask itself as principled, humanitarian concern. The age-old tradition of villifying, deligitimizing, disarming, robbing, exiling and murdering Jews to protect their imagined victims and "for their (the Jews') own good" seems to have a life of its own.
Of more immediate importance, though, the Israelis and their friends, and all free people concerned about the spread of tyranny and terror, need to take another look at Gaza and seriously question the failed strategy of willingly surrendering even an inch of territory to a pretend-people with a pretend-leadership with the pretend-desire of building a pretend-state.
alfred maurice de zayas - 5/3/2010
No serious international lawyer has any doubt about the reality of war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza. The Goldstone report and the reports of Professor Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur for Palestine are pretty clear on this matter -- the problem lies in a consistent pattern of impunity that unfortunately the United States government and media condone and connive at. I am an American citizen and I voted for Obama, but I am dismayed at the lack of leadership shown by Washington when it comes to the human rights of the Palestinians. We Americans seem to apply human rights selectively -- and international law à la carte. The Finkelstein book raises many issues we must still come to grips with, including the systematic violation of article 49 of the Geneva Convention IV of 1949, and the total disregard by Israel of the Advisory Opinion on the Wall (July 2004). Prof. Alfred de Zayas, Geneva.
Elliott Aron Green - 5/3/2010
Goldstone and his report, sponsored by the immensely corrupt UN "human rights council," have been thoroughly discredited. The UNHRC is dominated by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a body that in fact opposes human rights as set forth in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The OIC has produced its own anti-human rights manifesto, called The Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam. The OIC secretary-general, Ihsanoglu, boasted that the UNHRC had set up the so-called Gaza "Fact Finding Mission" at the behest of his own OIC.
The site below contains an abundance of information, analysis and comment on the Goldstone Report, including some articles in support of the Report. It also contains reflections on the overrated reputations of Goldstone and some other members of his mission.
- Biographer of a Progressive reformer says it's odd reading stories about inequality in the news every day
- Dutch sociologist says that what is new about mass killing is that we’re embarrassed by it
- NYT History Book Reviews: Who Got Noticed this Week?
- Convicted felon Conrad Black has a new book out
- German Historian: Rich Greeks Evade Taxes Since 1830