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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Goldstone takedown by Richard Landes

For a lengthy and excellent criticism of the Goldstone Report, see Richard Landes' two-part article in the Meria Journal. Part one goes into detail about the report itself, and part two about how NGOs and journalists created the false memes that Goldstone happily repeated.

Some small excerpts from part one:

It is difficult to specify what is wrong with the Goldstone Report since its failures are so pervasive. This article will highlight four fundamental errors of this report, all of which compounded each other and literally inverted the understanding of its readers as to what happened during Operation Cast Lead.[12] These include:

1) Failure to investigate Hamas’s use of civilian shields

2) Credulity of Palestinian sources

3) Systematic attribution of malevolent intention to Israeli forces and studied agnosticism about Palestinian intentions

4) Exceptionally judgmental conclusions for admittedly inadequate evidence.

The first and most critical failure of the Goldstone Report comes from what it did not do: investigate Hamas. Despite Goldstone’s insistence that he investigated both sides, where Hamas is concerned, he focused on two fairly obvious issues and ignored the most problematic and consequential.

In other words, if Hamas used human shields as a central strategy, then by ignoring this aspect of the conflict, Goldstone’s mission played directly into the hands of a militia that actually targeted their own civilians.[16] Far from protecting innocent Palestinian civilians then, the mission may have confirmed the tactics of those who deliberately sacrificed them for the sake of a public relations victory against their enemy, a PR victory that the mission then inscribed in law.[17]

Although the mission members ran across repeated hints that such activity went on,[18] they did not investigate it directly and in more than a dozen passages, pointedly insisted that they found “no evidence” of such activity.

The significance of the mission’s avoidance of this issue, of course, becomes particularly acute when it is a question of judging whether or not Israel targeted civilians. If Hamas fired from their midst, if they tried to draw Israeli fire to kill their own civilians in order to accuse them of war crimes, then the mission is in a double bind: 1) How can they judge Israeli actions without knowing what IDF soldiers were aiming at when they fired their weapons, and 2) how can they avoid becoming the dupes of this strategy of waging war intended to maximize one’s civilian casualties for the public relations victory?
I am honored to be quoted twice in the footnotes, and I provided Dr. Landes with some other sources as well, such as Palestine Today's article detailing how Hamas hid among civilians.