'Justice, justice shall you pursue'
Sir, - Judge Goldstone makes me feel bad when I think of the times in my career when I chaired or participated in mediations, arbitrations and inquiries ("The unforgiven," October 2). I recused myself if people might think me biased. I could not be dragooned into a hasty conclusion when I knew that Pirkei Avot told judges to be deliberate in judgment. Nor did I disadvantage those who failed to come forward with evidence; every side of a case had to be on the table before I was ready to examine the facts. If need be, I applied the rule of the Book of Proverbs, "Open your mouth for the mute," even though Maimonides and the Tur [Ya'acov Ben-Asher, the 14th-century author of the Arba'ah Turim] differ in regard to how far a judge may intervene to get the whole picture. I did not automatically accept anyone's testimony but sought to verify it for myself, even climbing onto the roof of a synagogue to see if the painter had done a fair job.
Maybe it is easier for a rabbi, as Jewish law lays down judicial rules and procedures. But surely every system of law has its rules, and Goldstone must have a professional code of conduct. Maybe it is easier for a Jew who knows that Judaism warns, "Justice, justice shall you pursue," which denotes just means as well as just ends, and cautions a judge that in the long run he/she is responsible to God.
Goldstone is not a rabbi - but he is a Jew; and whatever legal procedure he finds himself dealing with, whether it involves Israel or any individual, he must be able to live with himself and his conscience. What he said to the Almighty on Yom Kippur we cannot know, but the Goldstone Report will come back to haunt him for many Yom Kippurs to come.
If he now says that Israel should carry out its own investigation, that is a terrible admission of guilt on his part and that of his colleagues. It implies, "We failed to be fair and just - maybe you can do better." How strange that he now encourages a party (actually both parties) to his verdict to take over and judge the judgment.
I am retired and not available to Judge Goldstone. In any case, I would have to recuse myself. Not simply because Goldstone has made me feel so bad for the reasons I have outlined but because I am biased in favor of Israel's right to strike a persistent enemy. Goldstone as a Zionist should have declined to be involved in the whole tragic fiasco. He will never live it down.
RABBI DR. RAYMOND APPLE
... and justice for all
Sir, - The prime minister hasn't asked for my advice ("Netanyahu asks ministers to help him find ways to fight the 'delegitimization' of Israel," October 2), but if he did, I would say: "Go on the offensive! It's a waste of time to defend Israelis being tried in foreign courts for 'war crimes.' The cards are stacked too much against them."
Rather, Israel should use the same principle of "universal jurisdiction" (whereby any government can endow its court system to try foreign nationals for crimes committed in another country) to begin legal proceedings against nationals of states whose courts are prosecuting Israelis. Today, this includes Great Britain and Spain, and potentially Belgium, Ireland and others.
Israeli courts have a precedent for universal jurisdiction with the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann. And since there is no statute of limitations on war crimes and crimes against humanity, it should be no problem finding military personnel and politicians in the above countries who are guilty of the most heinous crimes in the Falklands and other colonies, Northern Ireland, the Congo, during the Spanish Civil War, and many other instances.
A small team of lawyers and researchers could easily open dozens, perhaps hundreds, of cases against foreign war criminals who should have their day of justice in an Israeli courtroom. If they do this aggressively and continuously, I have no doubt that those countries that are prosecuting Israelis with impunity will soon realize that universal jurisdiction is a double-edged sword and will stop flailing it.
Onus on us
Sir, - One may argue that releasing 20 prisoners for a mere videotape means we care more about our prisoners than the Palestinians do for theirs; but I believe the opposite is true ("Hello, I am Gilad," October 4). They've succeeded in releasing their prisoners, and we haven't. They've taken more responsibility for their captives than we have for ours.
Sir, - In highlighting US President Barack Obama's political naivete alluded to by French President Nicolas Sarkozy's criticism of his "offers of dialogue" leading nowhere ("Obama's French lesson," October 5), Charles Krauthammer arrives at the following troubling conclusion regarding the US president: "When France chides you for appeasement, you know your'e scraping bottom."
An unpalatable view that seems to be gaining momentum.
DR. RACHEL BIRATI
In good faith
Sir, - Dr. Anthony Luder wants to know if praying for the sick works, as it is cheaper than medicine (Letters, September 22). He is mistaken on a few counts. The religious believe that prayers are always answered - but sometimes with a no. That doesn't mean that such praying was in vain. Good done is never completely lost.
Furthermore, Jewish prayers are done in addition to, not instead of, the best medical treatment.
Dr. Luder quotes Richard Dawkins's book on religion. People who want to find truly good criticism on (Jewish) religious practice are better advised to turn to the Talmud, where the real questions are asked - and sometimes answered. The scientific study in the Dawkins book is a matter of cherry-picking, as other polemicists prefer to cite studies with the opposite results.
M. VAN THIJN
A well-kept secret
Sir, - Those who have not had to spend time as a caregiver in a hospital over Shabbat or a holiday are indeed fortunate. However, I had to spend Succot as a caregiver at Hadassah Ein Kerem and was overwhelmed by the hosts that welcomed me - all volunteers.
The meals were sumptuous. The menu, the quality of food and especially the ambiance made me feel like I was in a first-class hotel, not a hospital. To top it all, everything was provided at no cost.
I am amazed, after being in Israel for five years, that such elegant hospitality for caregivers is such a well-kept secret. The benefactors and volunteers of such a program deserve the most heartfelt gratitude.
Too much of
a good thing?
Sir, - A fabulous review and report about our wonderful "mensch" Leonard Cohen by David Horovitz ("A blessing welcomed, a blessing spurned," October 2). There are not enough words to praise this review. It is very sad that along our great divide on both sides, "some people's minds are like cement: all mixed up and permanently set" (- Andrew Welch, president of Ambrosia Software).
TZVI HERSHEL TOREM
Sir, - Michael Heymann (Letters, October 5) thinks that Leonard Cohen has had too much coverage in The Jerusalem Post. Quite right.
Much better to read about the Goldstone Report ad nauseam, the West's ongoing impotence in the face of the Iranian nuclear threat and, of course, Livni and Mofaz needling each other for the umpteenth time.