Sunday, November 8, 2009

Moshe Halbertal on Goldstone

Moshe Halbertal, a thoughtful, left-leaning professor of philosophy at the Hebrew University, has written a fine essay about the Goldstone Report. Being who he is, his line of reasoning is novel: he had hoped the Report might have something to contribute to the thorny philosophical issues of asymmetrical war.

In 2000, I was asked by the Israel Defense Forces to join a group of philosophers, lawyers, and generals for the purpose of drafting the army’s ethics code. Since then, I have been deeply involved in the analysis of the moral issues that Israel faces in its war on terrorism. I have spent many hours in discussions with soldiers and officers in order to better grasp the dilemmas that they tackle in the field, and in an attempt to help facilitate the internalization of the code of ethics in war. It was no wonder that, when the Goldstone Report on the Gaza war was published, I was keen to read it, with some hope of getting a perspective on Israeli successes or failures in this effort to comprehend war, and to fight it, morally. Unlike many who responded to the report, in praise or in blame, I gave this immensely long document a careful reading.

Alas, the Report didn't do what he'd hoped it would, Rather than being serious, it's foolish. Read his essay to see why.


Victor said...

Yaacov, I got the sense for the first time this weekend that maybe, just maybe, we're giving Goldstone too much attention. Someone needs to fight the good fight, and that's you here and me on a dozen blogs and the op-ed pages and military professional and...

We're giving spare minutes and hours and days of our lives to discrediting this man's pathetic work product. There are people who are paid to think about this, like Moshe Halbertal (it took him long enough) and and nameless, faceless IDF generals who are no doubt (at least I hope!) writing internal strategic memorandum and learning how to fight wars smarter. Much of the moral wrangling seems contained within the Jewish community; most of the world is on to other issues.

What's the right balance here? When do we move on from Goldstone?

Yaacov said...

Hi Victor -

How right you are. In my case, I am close to finishing an essay about what I've learned having read the report; by this week's end at the very latest I'll have posted it (unless it's waiting to be published eleswhere), and by next week - I'm outta here, as they say. Enough is enough.