Thursday, October 15, 2009

Politics, Not Law

We've been having a discussion here about whether Richard Goldstone read the report that bears his name. The significance of the matter can be overestimated - the report and its content are out there in any case. Yet the fact that the Commission was headed by a Jew with connections to Israel has given it tremendous added weight; the man thus opened himself to personal investigation, certainly in the context of his report.

Warren Goldstein, a South African rabbi with a PhD in International law, claims in his column published yesterday in the Jerusalem Post that there is very little about the report that is legal, and much that is politics. One of the four procedural weaknesses he finds in the work of the Commission is the impossible haste with which it did its job:

Any lawyer with even limited experience knows that there was just not
sufficient time for the Mission to have properly considered and prepared its
report. One murder trial often takes many months of evidence and argument to
enable a judge to make a decision with integrity. To assess even one day of
battle in Gaza with the factual complexities involved would have required a
substantial period of intensive examination. According to the Mission's Report,
the Mission convened for a total of 12 days.

They say that they considered a huge volume of written and visual material
running into thousands of pages; they conducted three field trips; there were
only four days of public hearings; and yet in a relatively short space of time
the members of the Mission agreed to about 500 pages of detailed material and
findings with not one dissenting opinion throughout.

They made no less than 69 findings, mostly of fact, but some of law and
within those 69 there were often numerous sub-findings.

All of this was quite simply physically impossible if the job had been
done with integrity and care.

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