Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Critical Reading of the Goldstone Report

As regular readers of this blog have noticed, I've been reading the Goldstone Report, in my spare time, for weeks now.

It's a fascinating document. Not for what it tells about the Gaza Operation in January 2009, it's putative subject. If you want to know about that you'll have to look elsewhere, since the Report is of an intellectual and methodological stature that is simply contemptible - and I'm aware that's a very strong word. It's fascinating for the wide window it opens into the minds of a certain type of person who is becoming ever more common in the early 21st century. Intelligent and educated people, who enthusiastically cast off empiric and rational modes of investigation achieved over centuries of effort, in a mad race to impose their world view; this worldview includes undermining democracy itself if the democrats don't think as these people know they must.

As such, the Report is a warning to all of us who regard the uncertain freedoms of the Enlightenment as the best form of society devised by mankind.

My response, 5,600 words, can be found in Google Document form here, and in PDF here.

Here's a snippet:

Even more baffling than the willingness of the investigators to invent Israeli motives, which at least is not denied, is their refusal to seek evidence of the actions and intentions of the defenders. They made a few feeble enquiries of what they call the Gaza Authorities about the fighters, were rebuffed with the odd response that these authorities had no knowledge of what the fighters of their own side might have been doing, and that was all. Yet in dozens of cases described in their report, the question demands to be answered: if the IDF was firing in this direction, what do the Hamas commanders have to tell about their forces? Had they booby trapped the building? Were they firing from here? Had they laid mines in this field? Were they congregating in this mosque, and for what purpose? Was this farm intended as a line of defense, or that zoo as a trap for advancing IDF troops? In many cases the investigators asked local civilians, but they never asked the fighters or their leaders.

Bizarre as it may sound – and it is truly bizarre – the investigators came to what had been the scene of a war, and tried to piece the events together without talking to either of the warring sides. They asked the Israelis, and the Israelis refused to talk. They didn't ask Hamas, so Hamas never even had to refuse. Yet they had the arrogance to tell what had happened.
Having read and written, it is my intention now to put the Goldstone Report firmly behind me. Enough is enough.


Michael W. said...

And to those who haven't read the lengthy report, consider this: 68% of the 114 countries in the UN General Assembly that voted for the resolution endorsing the Goldstone report are considered "partly free" and "not free" by the 2009 World Freedom Index, while only one of the 18 countries that voted against the resolution is considered "partly free" (6%).

aiwac said...

Wow. Brilliant, just brilliant. You are a credit to any intelligent human being worthy of the name.

If I had a hat, I'd tip it to you three times over.

Well done, sir.

Avram said...

Good man, well done.

Zach said...

It's a great analysis. You're an inspiration, Mr. Lozowick.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen this kid on YouTube? He has some thoughtful commentary that reminds me of your blog.

In that video he talks about how the UN is blinded by its good intentions. The idiotic Goldstone Report certainly comes to mind as an example.

Great analysis, as always.

Gavin said...

Great stuff, thanks Yaacov.

And hey! I like the moniker; Dr. Yaacov Lozowick, Historian – Entrepreneur – Blogger.

I bet you'd never envisioned calling yourself that 10yrs ago.

volchan said...

Dear prof. Yakov,

I think you nailed it when you mentioned this stream of supposedly educated and
intelligent people with either have no clue or, worse, show contempt for scientific way of thinking.

This is the result of the noxious blend of psychoanalysis, literary criticism and science-ignorant philosophy known as "postmodernism", aka the Endarkment. In the words of philosopher Mario Bunge they represent a betrayal of 25 centuries of humanity's efforts to crawl out of the cave.

Problem is, universities are "teaching" these people that go out with their degrees to positions of decision-making in which enable them to cause great harm. This is the real brave new world...

Best regards,


David Brumer said...

Superb commentary Yaacov. Thank you for your comprehensiveness and addressing the specious counter-arguments that invariably fail to provide context, background, etc.
Below, other excellent commentaries that I posted on my blog, including Amb Michael Oren's

"UN Report a Victory for Terror"

"Ironically, the greatest victim of the UN report is not Israel’s ability to wage a moral war but its willingness to make an historic peace. If asked to take immense risks for peace, Israelis must be convinced of their internationally recognized right to self-defense should that peace be broken. Deprived of that right, even after being subjected to years of murderous rocket attacks, an Israeli electorate will understandably recoil from such risks."


"The Hypocrisy of the Goldstone Report: Asymmetric Warfare, Democracies & the Inalienable Right to Self-Defense"

david brumer

Yaacov said...

Sergio -

I liked that word Endarkment. Heh.

Gavin - not only ten years ago, even five. I suppose the change was part of climbing out of a mid-life crisis - but if so, I'd recommend such a crises to everyone. :~)

Gavin said...

Oh by the way Yaacov, in retrospect I probably should have mentioned that in the Boston example Goldstone said 5000 casualties for the 2000lb bomb, not 500. (I checked the video, Q&A 33min) Not important IMO & you did qualify it anyway, but you know what the nitpickers are like...

(I was struck by that example he gave too, it was meaningless without context so it had no truth or fact as he used it. What if the only bomb available was a 2000lb & the building was vital to the war effort? What if the 'weapons' were chemical weapons about to be launched... and so on. It seemed that every time Goldstone opened his mouth he dug a bigger hole for himself.)

dcdoc said...

This editorial in today's (11/15) Washington Post does a pretty good job on Goldstone's report.

Stewart Mills said...

Dr. Yaacov Lozowick,

The Goldstone Report merely seeks to identify prima facie evidence of any breach of international humanitarian law, international criminal law and international human rights law. Your essay sorely misses this critical point.

What intrigues me is why does it take 262 pages to establish a prima facie case that Israel may have conducted a breach of international law while it only took 19 pages of evidence to establish a case for identifying Palestinians as having breached?

Sadly, people don’t get this when they read the report. They are too busy trying to deny that their side could do any wrong. At the end of the day that is all Goldstone said. Side A you have acted wrongly, side B you have acted wrongly. Set up investigations, prosecute and make sure you do better next time.

Stewart Mills
Sydney, Australia

Yaacov said...

Sorry, Stewart Mills, but the judge in London who issued a warrant for Tzipi Livni disagrees. As does the Human Rights commission at the UN. So I'll stand by what I wrote.

Stewart Mills said...

Dr. Yaacov Lozowick,

What is your evidence for both your points? Eg. Point 1 - According to the Guardian the arrest warrant was issued but was later dropped by Tayab Ali the solicitor acting for the Palestinian claimants when they realized Livni had cancelled her trip.

Point 2- The UN Human Rights Commission has only spoken in favour of Richard Goldstone’s report eg see the commissioner’s address to the UN Security Council 11 November “. The Council is urged to embrace the recommendations in the report, by working to secure accountability for all perpetrators, and by fully integrating human rights guarantees into peacemaking efforts.”

Sir, please accept I will be the first to speak against Hamas, be first to call for an end to violence from another, but please do not confuse the good work that Richard Goldstone has done with his report. He is a proud Zionist, a great friend of Israel and argues that Israel has a right of self-defence in the case of Gaza. However, he is concerned that the methods used were not proportionate to the military gain sought.