SA Chief Rabbi’s defense of Israeli War Crimes is Untenable and Absurd

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n an article intended as a rebuttal of the Goldstone Report, South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, states that according to the Talmud : “The world stands on three things: truth, justice & peace.”

With due respect to the Rabbi, it is my submission that his argument is faulty and militates against the concepts of truth, justice and peace!

On the contrary, an objective study of the Goldstone Report will reveal that it sought to obtain a truthful account of Israeli atrocities committed in the Gaza, and that unlike the Rabbi’s attempt to whitewash Israeli crimes, Judge Goldstone [himself Jewish] paved the way for justice to be executed.

Thus, the assumption by Goldstein that "The United Nations often uses the superficial veneer of law and legal mythology to give credence or credibility to its anti-Israeli agenda" must be dismissed with its deserving contempt. Indeed, for his information, it must be stated that the very " legitimacy " of Israel’s existence has depended on the interpretation and application of that legal mythology.

The Rabbi contends that the distinction between a judicial inquiry and a fact finding mission is a distinction without difference. With due respect may I remind him that the doctrine of the separation of power is of paramount importance to the operation of the rule of law and is the cornerstone of constitutional dispensation. It is therefore misleading for the Rabbi to construe a factual finding as a judicial finding when its terms of reference clearly requires that its conclusions be referred to the United Nations for appropriate action.

Without reference to any one of the paragraphs of the report the learned Rabbi in sheer arrogance and self-righteous states:

"These procedural and substantive injustices demonstrate the complete lack of integrity and fairness of the process. It looks like law, but it is not. It is just politics. The Goldstone Mission is a disgrace to the most basic notions of justice, equality and the rule of law, and it is dangerous. Injustice will only lead to more death and destruction. The Talmud says; ‘ The world stands on three things: truth, justice and peace. ‘ There can never be peace without justice and truth. The Goldstone Mission is unjust and wanting in truth. It has therefore harmed the prospect of peace in the Middle East."

Without quoting any of the paragraphs of the report related to the locus standing of the mission, the applicable legal principles, terms of reference and conclusion, etc., the Rabbi deliberately seeks to mislead public opinion and tarnish Goldstone as a liar.

For instance, he chooses to ignore that on 3 April 2009, the President of the Human Rights Council established the United Nations Fact Finding Mission with the mandate "to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after."

Paragraphs 27 to 128 speak of the facts investigated by the mission the categories are stated hereunder:

THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY: THE GAZA STRIP.

1. The Blockade.
2. Overview of Israel’s military operations in the Gaza Strip and casualties.
3. Attacks by Israeli forces on government buildings and persons of the Gaza authorities including police.
4. Obligation to take feasible precautions to protect civilian population and objects by Palestinian armed groups in Gaza…
5. Obligation to take feasible precautions to protect civilian population ant) objects by Israel in Gaza.
6. Indiscriminate attacks by Israeli forces resulting in the loss of life and injury to civilians.
7. Deliberate attacks against the civilian population.
8. The use of certain weapons.
9. Attacks on the foundations of civilian life in Gaza: destruction of industrial infrastructure, food production, water installations, sewage treatment and housing.
10. The us of Palestinian civilians as human shields.
11. Deprivation of liberty –¢ Gazans detained during the Israeli operations of 27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009.
12. Objectives and strategy of Israeli’s military operations in Gaza…
13. The impact of the military operations and of the blockade on the Gaza population and their human rights.
14. The continuing detention of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
15. Internal violence and targeting of Fatah affiliates by security service under the control of the Gaza authorities,
16. Treatment of Palestinians by Israeli security forces in the West Bank, including use of excessive or lethal force during demonstrations.
17. Detention of Palestinians in Israeli prisons.
18. Restrictions on freedom of movement in the West Bank.
19. Internal violence and targeting of Hamas supporters by the Palestinian Authority, restrictions of freedom of expression and assembly,
20. Impact on civilians of rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian armed groups on southern Israel.
21. Repression of dissent in Israel, the right of access to information and treatment of human rights defenders.
22. Proceedings carried out or being carried out and responses by Israel to
Allegations of violations by security forces against Palestinians (ChapterXXV)
23. Proceedings carried out or being carried out by Palestinian authorities (Chapter XXXV)
24. Universal jurisdiction.
25. Reparations.

This is followed by setting out detailed explanations under the following themes:

A. Self determination
B. International human law
C. International Criminal law
D. International human rights law

The mission was struck by the repeated comment of Palestinian victims, human rights defenders, civil society interlocutors and officials that they hoped that this would be the last investigative mission of its kind, because action far justice would follow from it. It was struck, as well, by the comment that every time a report is published and no action follows, this "emboldens Israel and her conviction of being untouchable". To deny modes of accountability reinforces impunity and impacts negativity on the credibility of the United Nations, and of the international community. The mission believes these comments ought to be at the forefront in the consideration of Members States and United Nation bodies of its findings and recommendations and action consequent upon them.

The mission considers that the serious violations of International Humanitarian Law recounted in this report following the subject-matter jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The mission notes that the United Nations Security Council has long recognized the impact of the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, on international peace and security and that it regularly considers and reviews this situation. The mission is persuaded that, in the right of the long standing nature of the conflict, the frequent and consistent allegations of violations of international humanitarian law against all parties, the apparent

Increase in intensity of such violation in the recent military operations, and the regrettable possibility of a return to further violence, meaningful and practical steps to end impunity for such violations would offer an effective way to deter such violence recurring in the future. The mission is of the view that the prosecution of persons responsible for serious violation of international humanitarian law would contribute to ending such violations, to the protection of civilians and to the restoration and maintenance of peach.

The mission makes the following recommendations related to:

(I) Accountability for serious violations of International Humanitarian Law
(ii) Reparations
(iii) Serious violations of human rights law
(iv) The blockade and reconstruction
(v) The use of weapons and military procedures
(vi) The protection of human rights organisations and defenders
(vii) Follow up to the mission’s recommendations

To the Human Rights Council
To the United Nations Security Council
To the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court
To the General Assembly
To Israel
To Palestinian armed groups
To responsible Palestinian authorities
To the Intentional Security
To the international community and responsible Palestinian authorities
To the international community, Israel and Palestinian authorities
To the United Nations Secretary General
To the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

It will be observed that the findings and recommendations are subject to test. Therefore, Rabbi Goldstein’s arguments of procedural and substantive injustices are without merit and consequently legally untenable. He is at liberty to argue his case at the appropriate forums listed above, particularly at the International Criminal Court where he can use the veneer of self defense to justify Israeli aggression (which he has vigorously and strenuously done) in Gaza and Palestine.

The issue of malicious intent and the lack of evidence raised by the learned Rabbi as an aspect of substantive injustice is self evidently absurd. The report in itself is directed to present evidence of the violation of human rights, etc. by the Israeli army in Gaza.

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