Ron Rosenbaum

What You Need to Know About the U.N. Gaza Report

The indispensable Tom Gross gives a comprehensive–sickening–round up of its flaws and bias here.*

It’s like the lie of the Jenin “massacre” all over again.

*Apologies for non-working link above. I am reprinting Tom Gross’ summary of some of the articles in his post, plus, at the bottom you’ll find a working link to another site summarizing objections to the report:

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


Israelis across the political spectrum have reacted with fury to the outrageously biased report of a UN “fact-finding” mission in Gaza mandated by the horribly misnamed UN Human Rights Council and headed by South African Judge Richard Goldstone.

Goldstone denounced Israel for “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” and urged the Security Council to refer the matter to international war crimes prosecutors.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said it was “appalled” by the UN report which was based almost exclusively on unverifiable testimony by Hamas sympathizer groups in Gaza.

Government spokesman Mark Regev said: “This report was conceived in sin and is the product of a union between propaganda and bias.” Israel’s Foreign Ministry launched a special webpage in an effort to rebut the allegations by the Goldstone committee:

Referring to the upcoming speech of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said: “The same UN that allows the president of a country to announce on a podium its aspiration to destroy the State of Israel has no right to teach us about morality.”



Numerous states – including Canada, Japan, Switzerland and the European Union – refused to support the Goldstone mission before it even began, so slanted was the make-up of its team that included such anti-Israel bigots as London School of Economics Professor Christine Chinkin. (Goldstone himself served as a director of the anti-Israel group Human Rights Watch*.) Even so, Goldstone’s insistence that Israel be referred to the International Criminal Court is a very dangerous development for those who believe Israel should survive.

A special session of the Human Rights Council has been called for September 29 in Geneva, at which the Palestinians are expected to begin the process aimed at bringing the matter to the ICC.

* Goldstone was a director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) at the time HRW appointed Marc Garlasco its senior analyst. Garlasco, who authored the HRW report from which Goldstone “borrowed” so much “information,” was suspended last week after it was disclosed that he is an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia, and had said in an online posting that SS uniforms were “so cool.”

Even before his Nazi-link revelations came out, there were serious concerns about Garlasco. He appears to have played a major role in the later discredited allegations that Israel killed Palestinians on a Gaza beach in 2006 – allegations which The New York Times took seriously at the time and splashed all over its front page, even though it was later established that the Palestinians died after stepping on a Hamas shell. For more, see here: Goldstone relies on Garlasco’s supposed “military expertise” in his report.

(As reported last month in these dispatches, another senior HRW staff member – deputy director Joe Stork – hailed the “achievement” of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre of Israeli athletes for providing “an important boost in morale among Palestinians.”)

Among other “experts” cited by the Goldstone report was the Central Commission for Documentation and Pursuit of Israeli War Criminals.



Even longtime critic of Israel, Mary Robinson, denounced Goldstone’s mandate as “not balanced, because it focuses on what Israel did, without calling for an investigation on the launch of rockets by Hamas” at Israeli civilians. She added that it was “guided not by human rights, but by politics.”



Both The Guardian and The New York Times-owned International Herald Tribune made sure to emphasize on their front pages that Goldstone is a Jew, as if this would somehow excuse his extreme prejudice against Israel. (Throughout history those prejudiced against Jews have used individual Jews to do their “dirty work” for them in slandering or denouncing other Jews. This was particularly so during Roman times, the Spanish inquisition, Stalinist Russia, and Nazi Germany).

What The Guardian and others fail to tell their readers is that the UN Human Rights Council has adopted more resolutions condemning Israel than all the other 191 UN member states combined. But then, of course, the more time the Council spends demonizing Israel, the less likely it will ever mention the more than one million displaced people in Somalia this year, the more than one million displaced people in Pakistan this year, the 300,000 Tamil civilians now rotting in northern Sri Lanka, the systematic daily rape of male and female pro-democracy activists now occurring in Iranian prisons, the atrocious treatment of the leader of the Iranian bus workers union who has just had his tongue sliced off so he could no longer lead vocal protests against the regime, and so on.


Readers of Goldstone’s report may be surprised to learn that “individuals and groups, viewed as sources of criticism of Israel’s military operations were subjected to repression by the Government of Israel.” This is complete nonsense, of course, and pretty rich coming from a UN Human Rights Commission whose members include states like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, where protesters face more than just repression if they dare challenge their governments.



The extent of Goldstone’s undermining of the state of Israel has been too much even for the Israeli hard left.

David Landau – who was the editor in chief of the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz from 2004 to 2008 at a time when the paper veered to the far left and who famously told Condoleezza Rice that the U.S. should “rape”* Israel to force it out of the West Bank) – yesterday wrote an op-ed for The New York Times in which he described Goldstone’s report as “chilling and misguided.”

(* For background on his “rape” remarks, please see:

Landau told New York Times readers: “The [Goldstone] report stunned even seasoned Israeli diplomats who expected no quarter from an inquiry set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council, which they believe to be deeply biased against Israel.”

“Judge Goldstone has thwarted any such honest debate – within Israel or concerning Israel. His fundamental premise, that the Israelis went after civilians, shut down the argument before it began.” (Full article below.)

(It is regrettable that in his article Landau makes no mention of key issues such as the false claims by Hamas to NGOs which gullible Goldstone and his team lapped up.)



Ari Shavit, one of the leading columnists for Israel’s left-wing Ha’aretz newspaper, writes:

“Some two weeks ago American airplanes fired on two oil tankers in northern Afghanistan. It was a German officer who’d asked the U.S. air force to attack the tankers in the middle of the night, in a populated area. The attack was successful – the two tankers were hit, went up in flames and were destroyed. But the overwhelming American-German air attack killed some 70 people. Some of those brought to hospitals were severely injured – with mutilated faces, burned hands and charred bodies.

“One way or another, it’s clear that the United States and Germany are responsible for an extremely brutal attack. Britain, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Norway also bear responsibility for the massacre as NATO members.

“Obama would probably be the principal defendant in this case. He was the one who believed in the war in Afghanistan and intensified it. As U.S. commander-in-chief, he bears direct responsibility not only for the deaths of those who were burned with the tankers, but the death of many hundreds of innocent Afghan civilians.

“If there are is such a thing as an international community, international law and universal ethics, they must seriously consider putting Obama on trial for his responsibility for severe war crimes.

“Absurd? Yes, it’s absurd. Only when Israel is involved is international judgment administered out of context… As long as Judge Richard Goldstone doesn’t probe the United States, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka or Turkey, just as he probed Israel, he is not a moral figure…”

Tom Gross adds: there have been dozens of cases where over a hundred civilians have died in a single airstrike in Afghanistan. This is why Israel avoided such airstrikes in Gaza and bravely sent its own soldiers into battle in a desperate effort to root out Hamas terrorists while avoiding harm to civilians. In other conflicts around the world, such as the ongoing conflict in Yemen against the country’s Shia population (in which 80 children and women were killed in a government airstrike on Saturday alone), or the Sri Lankan assault on its Tamil population earlier this year or the ongoing wars in Somalia, Congo and elsewhere, far more people have been killed.



The Associated Press reports:

The Obama administration sharply criticized a UN report Friday alleging that Israel committed multiple war crimes in Operation Cast Lead this year. The State Department statement ended nearly a week of muted reactions to findings already rejected by Israel.

The U.S. State Department said the conclusions of a UN commission headed by South African Justice Richard Goldstone were unfair to Israel and did not fully deal with the role in the conflict of the Palestinian group Hamas. It said the United States objected to a recommendation that Israeli actions be referred to the International Criminal Court.

“Although the report addresses all sides of the conflict, its overwhelming focus is on the actions of Israel,” spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters.

“While the report makes overly sweeping conclusions of fact and law with respect to Israel, its conclusions regarding Hamas’s deplorable conduct and its failure to comply with international humanitarian law during the conflict are more general and tentative,” he said.

Kelly said that the United States wanted to keep discussion of the report within the council and had “very serious concerns” about a recommendation that it be raised at other bodies, including the International Criminal Court.



The Washington Post reports:

Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, rejected a UN proposal to compel Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip, to conduct credible investigations into war crimes during last winter’s war in Gaza or face possible prosecution by an international prosecutor.

She said it has long had “very serious concerns” about the mandate the Human Rights Council gave to Goldstone, calling it “unbalanced, one-sided and basically unacceptable.” Israeli officials have said the mandate was biased against Israel.

“Our view is that we need to be focused on the future,” Rice told reporters outside the Security Council. “This is a time to work to cement progress towards the resumption of negotiations and their early and successful conclusion and our efforts, and we hope the efforts of others will be directed to that end.”



The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reports:

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh yesterday urged world powers to embrace the new report on alleged war crimes committed during Israel’s recent war on the Gaza Strip.

“We hope the report will not be doomed to the fate of the dozens of reports that [Israel] has condemned for decades,” referring to the report of the fact-finding mission led by Justice Richard Goldstone.

Haniyeh specifically asked the Arab League and European countries to use all means to make sure the report is brought to the attention to the UN Security Council and then referred to prosecutors.

The Hamas leader was speaking to a mass prayer session and rally in Yarmouk Stadium in Gaza City, shortly after dawn on Sunday morning, the first day of the Eid Al-Fitr holiday at the end of the month of Ramadan. Some 30,000 men, women and children filled the football pitch. Palestinian and Hamas flags flew from the goal posts.


Tom Gross adds: In remarks made in Gaza, a senior Hamas official is also reported to have thanked Goldstone for giving “ammunition to our supporters in the West”.



Israel’s generally dovish President Shimon Peres has joined criticism of the Goldstone UN report, saying it “legitimizes terrorism” and “ignores Israel’s right and obligation to defend itself.”

Peres said it “makes a mockery of history” and that “it does not distinguish between the aggressor and the defender.”

A visibly angry Peres added: “War is crime and the attacker is the criminal. The Hamas terror organization is the one who started the war and also carried out other awful crimes. Hamas has used terrorism for years against Israeli children.”

“The report gives de facto legitimacy to terrorist initiatives and ignores the obligation and right of every country to defend itself, as the UN itself had clearly stated.”

The criticism aimed at Israel, he added, “failed to supply any other way for Hamas fire to stop. The IDF’s operations have boosted the West Bank’s economy, liberated Lebanon from Hizbullah terror and allowed Gazans to resume normalcy.”

“The Israeli government withdrew from Gaza and Hamas began a murderous rampage, firing thousands of shells on women and children – innocent civilians – instead of rebuilding Gaza and caring for the population’s welfare.”



Former Israeli Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann also criticized the report, saying “it is a political report disguised in a legal cloak, but it is legally unfounded.”

“What this report really means is that Israel is the only country in the world which is not allowed to defend itself against acts of terror. Israel is the most threatened nation in the world and yet it makes the most effort to avoid harming innocent lives.

“Any comparison of Israel’s fight on terror with recent conflicts in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc. immediately shows that Israel holds itself to the highest ethical standard.”



Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that “The Goldstone Mission was established for the express purpose of finding Israel guilty of war crimes and to that purpose the members of the Mission didn’t for one moment let themselves be confused by the facts.”

“The whole purpose of the report, from the moment it was decided to write it, was to destroy Israel’s image through the agency of states to which the concepts of ‘human rights’ and ‘ethical warfare’ are totally foreign.”



Max Boot writes on the website of the magazine Commentary:

After reading the Goldstone Report on human-rights abuses committed during the Gaza War all I can say is, it’s a good thing that the United Nations wasn’t around during World War II.

I can just imagine it producing a supposedly evenhanded report that condemned the Nazis for “grave” abuses such as incinerating Jews, while also condemning the Allies for their equally “grave” abuses such as fire-bombing German and Japanese cities.

The recommendation, no doubt, would have been that both sides be tried for war crimes, with Adolf Hitler in the dock alongside Franklin Roosevelt.

Actually, that may be giving the UN more credit than it deserves. To judge by the evidence before us, the likelihood is that the UN in those days would have devoted far more space to Allied “abuses” than to those of the Axis and would have recommended that FDR stand alone before the world court.



Alan Dershowitz writes:

Richard Goldstone has now become a full fledged member of the international bash-Israel chorus. His name will forever be linked in infamy with such distorters of history and truth as Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein and Jimmy Carter.

The so-called report commissioned by the notorious United Nations Human Rights Council and issued under his name is so filled with lies, distortions and blood libels that it could have been drafted by Hamas extremists. Wait, in effect, it actually was! UN members were accompanied on their investigations in Gaza by actual Hamas activists who showed them only what they wanted them to see.


Michael Freud writes in The Jerusalem Post:

Even for a body with a steady and dependable record of demonizing Israel, the UN has truly outdone itself this time. Mustering all the righteous indignation at its disposal, the world organization has deemed itself morally fit to accuse the Jewish state of “actions amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity” during last winter’s conflict in Gaza.

… Israel’s assault, the report concludes, “was directed at the people of Gaza as a whole,” which is about as close as you can come to depicting a country’s actions as Nazi-like without actually using the “N” word.



Solly Ganor, a survivor of the Dachau death camp, who moved to Israel after the war, writes an angry open letter to Goldstone which I attach below.

I also attach a piece from The Los Angeles Times which says that “the Goldstone mission report has endorsed tactics of unlawful guerrilla movements the world over that purposefully endanger the lives of their own civilians in order to protect themselves from attack.”

The Goldstone mission ignored numerous media reports by Palestinians stating that Hamas held them as human shields, for example a Newsweek article in which a Palestinian witness said “resistance fighters were firing from positions all around the Al Quds hospital” and an article in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera quoting a Gaza resident saying, “The Hamas gunmen had taken refuge mainly in the building that houses the administrative offices of Al Quds; the nurses were forced to take off their uniforms so the gunmen could blend better and escape the Israeli snipers.”

Other eye-witness accounts from European newspapers quote Gaza residents saying Hamas fighters forcibly prevented them from leaving their houses and shot at Israeli forces from the same locations, telling them that they should be happy to die together with the “holy warriors.”


For those who want to read more about the Goldstone report, there is a good round-up with various link: .

[All notes above by Tom Gross]