Sunday, April 03, 2011


PIAG's Dispatch for April discusses the confusing and contradictory comments made by Judge Richard Goldstone about his own 2009 report to the UN Human Rights Council on abuses by Israel and Hamas during Israel's siege on Gaza.

In 2009, the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict headed by Judge Goldstone reported, among other findings, that Israel had committed human rights abuses and possible war crimes during "Operation Cast Lead," including indiscriminate and/or deliberate attacks on the civilian population, purposeful destruction of infrastructure, and the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields. The report was condemned by Israel as "biased," and discussion of its findings was largely suppressed in the US media.

Now, Judge Goldstone has entered a retraction of sorts, saying in a Washington Post op-ed that his report would have looked different if Israel had been cooperative and allowed his committee access to information during its fact-finding mission. Now that Israel has conducted its own investigation, he says, it appears that what looked like war crimes were simply unintended consequences. And Hamas has not conducted any investigation of its own behavior at all.

Former AFSC Program Director in Israel/Palestine, Adam Horowitz, finds Goldstone's remarks "confusing" at best. While it is true that Hamas has not conducted a credible investigation by independent experts as the Goldstone Report recommends, neither has Israel. How credible is a country's investigation of its own military's behavior, he wonders. In an incident where IDF soldiers used a Palestinian child as a human shield, Israel's report explained that the soldiers involved were probably fatigued, and that "they had done nothing to degrade or humiliate the boy." The soldiers involved in the crime were sentenced to the minimum -- three months and a demotion. Part of the problem, Horowitz says, is that the Israeli investigators were part of the same office that would be responsible for providing legal counsel to the IDF's Chief of Staff and other top military brass. Judge Goldstone had pointed out this uncomfortable conflict of interest in his report, yet he ignored the issue in his recent retraction. Why?

Meanwhile, amid this flurry of reports and counter-reports, the IDF's recruitment to racist violence continues. Ha'arez reports that Israeli twelfth-grade students took part in a simulated shooting attack in which the targets were figures decked out with the Arab keffiyeh headdress. The incident took place at a military base last week during the annual senior class trip. The students were being escorted to a commanders' base in the Negev as part of an "IDF preparation" project, which is sanctioned by the Education Ministry.

Work for a saner world,
Helen Fox
Convener, Palestine Israel Action Group
Ann Arbor Friends Meeting


1. QUAKERPI is the national website for Quakers interested in PI issues. It is maintained by Anne and Fred Remley in Ann Arbor, Donna Schumann in Olympia, WA, and Roger Conant in Mt. Toby, MA. It is the most comprehensive of these sites.

2. PIAG'S BLOG is a site where I post these dispatches and PI articles from time to time. This site allows responses from the public. Please comment!

3. PIAG's own web page represents much of the work PIAG has done over the past three or four years.

4. In addition, PIAG maintains a presence on the Michigan Peace Network site Many of our educational materials appear in their "Resources" section.