Home > Gaza, Israel, Palestinian Authority, Rabbi Dow Marmur, United Nations > Israel needs to address Goldstone Report seriously

Israel needs to address Goldstone Report seriously

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

By Rabbi Dow Marmur

JERUSALEM–Those in the know say that the Goldstone report is deeply flawed, but not entirely wrong. Some believe it would have been much less wrong had Israel cooperated with Judge Richard Goldstone when he was compiling it for the United Nations and that, even now, it’s important that the allegations about Israeli war crimes during the Gaza war be properly investigated by a public inquiry in Israel. The fact that the government has rejected it has been used as an uncritical argument in favour of the whole report. The inference is that Israel must have much to hide. Government action has become extremely counterproductive by giving the report more credence than it may deserve.

Instead of dealing with the allegations, spokespersons for Israel and their echoes in the Jewish world have chosen to discredit the report and brand its author with the usual label of self-hating Jew. That has in no way diminished Goldstone’s standing in the world, but it has opened Israel to the accusation that it’s shooting the messenger instead of listening to the message.

All this and much more will be reopened later this week when Israel submits its critique of the report to the United Nations. In anticipation Ha’aretz, the sane voice of Israel and the country’s leading newspaper, published an editorial last Sunday that once again calls for an Israeli investigation both for intrinsic reasons and as damage control. The final passage of the report reads thus in the official English version:

“But an Israeli investigation is needed not only out of fear of the International  Criminal Court and of the arrest of Israelis abroad; the Israeli public has the right to know whether the country’s leaders and military obeyed the laws of war and  moral principles during the operation in Gaza. That is the way to avoid the next  Goldstone report.”

The government of Israel is shooting itself in the foot. It’s a sovereign democratic state that rightly wants and needs to be part of the family of nations, even if some members of that family are less than friendly. The current official Israeli attitude resembles much more a ghetto mentality that assumes that everybody is against us. It rules out the possibility that the world out there could, at least occasionally, be right.

This attitude is consistent with the right-wing politics of the present coalition which in its exaggerated nationalism ends up with the contrary image: Israel as a ghetto. But unlike the previous ghettos this one is said to know how to defend itself and how to brand every form of criticism as anti-Semitism, whether it’s articulated by sworn enemies or by committed Jews, and all in between. The settlers celebrate it and many of their rabbis interpret Jewish history for them in that key. There’re reasons to fear that this will be the language in which Israel’s response to Goldstone’s report will be couched.

Ironically, Jews in the Diaspora are less and less inclined to see themselves as living in ghettoes, but some of their leaders like to view Israel (!) as a ghetto state which they must defend in the name of the Jewish Diaspora experience. As a result, instead, of exerting pressure on Israel to act as a sovereign state in our post-ghetto history, too many Diaspora Jews will no doubt regurgitate the official government line.

Rabbi Marmur is spiritual leader emeritus of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto. He new divides his time between Canada and Israel.

  1. carol ann goldstein
    January 27, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    I totally agree wtih Rabbi Marmur. I truly appreciate his insight and willingness to share in this and other publications.

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