Dershowitz: Goldstone follow-up commission head a ‘bigot'

UN Watch urges Christian Tomuschat to resign; German law professor says writings reflect view Israel is bound by int'l law like any other country.

November 2, 2010 05:04
Alan Dershowitz speaks to the 'Post.'

Alan Dershowitz 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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Legal experts in the United States and a Geneva-based nongovernmental organization are criticizing and questioning the credentials of the German law professor appointed to implement the findings of the UN’s Goldstone Report.

Christian Tomuschat, a German jurist and academic from Humboldt University in Berlin, has been appointed to implement the findings of the controversial report which accused Israel of war crimes during Operation Cast Lead.

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UN Watch, an NGO that monitors bias at the UN, issued a scathing report last month questioning the impartiality of the Tomuschat Committee, accusing the German jurist of prejudice after he penned an essay in 2007 comparing Israel’s actions during the Second Lebanon War to “the barbarism which was the particular hallmark of World War II.”

The 30-page UN Watch report – based on Tomuschat’s legal writings in German and English – noted that “Professor Tomuschat’s extensive record of prejudicial actions and statements gives rise to actual bias, or the perception of bias.”

Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz told The Jerusalem Post last week that “Tomuschat is the perfect UN functionary to follow up on the Goldstone Report. He has a long history of bigotry toward the Jewish state and of singling out Israel for a double standard.”

Dershowitz added: “His comparison of Israeli military actions to the barbarism of World War II is morally appalling and factually inaccurate.

And his prejudgment of Israel’s capacity for self-judgment disqualifies him from being objective. That makes him perfect for the task assigned him by the UN!” The Post reported in July that before Tomuschat took over the chairmanship of the so-called second Goldstone Commission, he had called Israel’s conduct “state terrorism” and had drafted a legal opinion for PLO leader Yasser Arafat in 1996.


UN Watch urged Tomuschat to “immediately recuse himself from the committee, which was just given a renewed mandate from the Human Rights Council.”

The committee is set to report back at the council’s March 2011 session.

UN Watch’s report accuses Tomuschat of having a predisposed position on Israel’s investigative procedures.

“Astonishingly, eight years before Tomuschat undertook to objectively and impartially perform this examination, he had already made up his mind about Israel’s system for investigations,” said UN Watch.

Citing a list of statements alleging that Tomuschat’s credentials are tainted with anti-Israeli bias, the NGO reports that Tomuschat wrote “[i]n such instances, there is little hope that the judicial system of the State concerned [i.e., Israel] will conduct effective investigations and punish the responsible agents.”

In a statement to the Post last week, Tomuschat wrote, “It does not seem appropriate to respond to the aggressive language used by Professor Dershovitz (sic). Any discussion is welcome but it should not focus on individual sentences taken out of context. My writings are publicly available. Generally, I have taken the view that Israel is bound by international law like any other country. Should you find this line of reasoning objectionable I would take note of it.”

UN Watch documented statements from Tomuschat that could be construed as equating Israel with Nazi Germany.

“In 2006, Tomuschat wrote that ‘the observer gets the impression that the Israeli Armed Forces inconsiderately geared itself toward the overall concept of the Totalen Krieges [total war],’” noted UN Watch.

According to UN Watch, “This concept was made most famous by Goebbels’ 1943 Total War speech.

In 2007, Tomuschat again accused Israel of actions that were ‘close to total war, which does not take into consideration any protection needs of the civilian population.’ And in an essay from earlier this year, Tomuschat wrote that Israel’s actions are ‘a recipe for total war.’” When asked if his statements comparing Israel’s conduct to Hitler’s Germany meet the European Union’s definition of anti- Semitism, Tomuschat declined to comment. According to the EU definition, parallels between the Jewish state and Nazi Germany are a manifestation of modern anti-Semitism.

Amid the fresh round of criticisms of his alleged anti-Israeli positions, Tomuschat refused to comment on whether he would recuse himself.

He had previously told the Post that he “is not biased “against Israel and that he had participated in legal events in Israel.

”Would it not be a good idea to read and comment on the report which was submitted to the Human Rights Council on 27 September 2010, more than a month ago?” he told the Post.

Anne Bayefsky, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, told the Post that, “This [September 2010 Goldstone follow-up] report has one overarching purpose – to undermine Israel’s right of selfdefense...

It takes the form of an ongoing challenge to the 2009 Gaza war...

“The report is focused on keeping alive the odious UN-sponsored Goldstone Report, the 2009 blood libel that alleges the Gaza war was not self-defense but a deliberate move by Israel to murder Palestinian civilians. Follow-up of the Goldstone Report has been handed to a committee headed by German lawyer Christian Tomuschat – a man who has admitted providing legal advice to Yasser Arafat’s PLO.

“The Tomuschat Committee has now produced a report which never once mentions the word ‘Hamas,’ claims ‘the de facto Gaza authorities have made a series of unilateral declarations of respect for human rights,’ and decides it is reasonable to limit their consideration of events to ‘on or after 18 December 2009,” Bayefsky continued.

“Mysteriously, Tomuschat never produced Hamas’s human-rights respecting declarations, nor did he mention the organization’s charter and its actual commitment to Jewhatred and genocide. Instead, he decided that almost a decade of Hamas rocket attacks in pursuit of such goals were outside his jurisdiction, which was apparently to examine a war Israel launched in a vacuum.”

In a statement, Claire Kaplun, spokeswoman for the Human Rights Council in Geneva, said: “The Human Rights Council doesn’t comment on statements made by NGOs or States. The President of the Council has always remained firm on the principle of freedom of expression. He has also made it clear on various occasions that all stakeholders are expected to engage with each other in an appropriate, respectful and constructive manner on human rights issues.”

Kaplun added that “such statements are made under the sole responsibility of their author and do in no way mean that the Human Rights Council or the Office of the High Commissioner for human rights endorse or condone their content in any way whatsoever.”

Bayefsky added: “The threat which the Goldstone-Tomuschat tag-team poses, however, goes much farther. The Tomuschat report is intended to serve as a how-to manual for advocates challenging anti-terrorism actions more broadly… These armchair generals forgot that the lawful use of force is lawful precisely because it is used to protect real people from real enemies.”

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