Goldstone’s apology, Samantha Power’s problem with Israel

It took the judge 2 years to conclude that asking a terrorist organization to report its own atrocities wasn't the brightest idea.

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April 5, 2011 05:23
4 minute read.
Hamas members [illustrative].

Armed Hamas members celebrate Mubarak resignation 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)

 
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On my recent lecture tour in South Africa, the subject of Judge Richard Goldstone came up quite often. The man whom the media describe as a “respected international jurist” and who had falsely accused Israel of war crimes was never far from anyone’s lips.

South Africans are among the world’s proudest Jews, and most ardent Zionists. So it was understandable they would detest Goldstone, viewing him a man who engaged in a blood libel against the Jewish state to enhance his standing at the UN.

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I have personally never agreed with this assessment of Goldstone, seeing him instead as a man so full of his own pomposity and self-righteousness as to be utterly blind to simple notions of right and wrong. Like Jimmy Carter before him, Goldstone is one of those well-meaning, nobly-motivated buffoon whose view of morality is that whichever party is without tanks and an air force must be the party that is just.

This knee-jerk reaction to always champion the underdog explains this shockingly obvious statement in Goldstone’s recent Washington Post apology to Israel: “In the end, asking Hamas to investigate [its own crimes] may have been a mistaken enterprise.”

It took a famous judge two years to come to the conclusion that asking a terrorist organization to impartially report its own atrocities was not the brightest idea.

But Goldstone’s Einsteinian moment is not over yet. In repudiating his earlier contention that Israel had intentionally targeted civilians in Gaza, he offers a classic lesson in how not to apologize. It turns out that grave though the damage to Israel’s global reputation by Goldstone’s false report was, the slander was Israel’s fault: “Israel’s lack of cooperation with our investigation meant that we were not able to corroborate how many Gazans killed were civilians and how many were combatants... our recommendations... did not include any evidence provided by the Israeli government.”

So Goldstone only condemned Israel as a regime that directs missiles intentionally at children because he did not have enough information to establish otherwise. And yet, just a few lines later Goldstone writes that the UN Humans Rights Council, which commissioned his report, has a “history of bias against Israel [that] cannot be doubted.”

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So even Goldstone admits that Israel was being asked to cooperate with an investigation commissioned by an authority inherently prejudiced against it, which explains why it rightly refused to participate.

IT’S CLEAR that with his most recent ramblings, the description “respected international jurist” will never again be applied to Goldstone, whose tattered reputation strikes this writer as sad but just karma.

Much more troubling, however, are the comments attributed to Samantha Power, the rising star of the Obama administration, who is being openly discussed as a replacement for Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. I am a huge fan of Power’s 2002 book A Problem from Hell, detailing how America refused to intervene to stop repeated genocides in the 20th century. I have repeatedly extolled the Pulitzer Prize-winning book in lectures and columns, and believe it should be required reading by every American high-school student. I was also not surprised to read that it was Power who was instrumental in persuading an always reluctant President Barack Obama to intervene in Libya before Muammar Gaddafi slaughtered his people.

It was therefore with considerable sadness that I learned of Power’s troubling statements on Israel – comments which require her immediate clarification lest she compromise her own moral credibility. As one of the world’s leading voices against genocide, she understands that more Jews died in the Holocaust than in all the other modern genocides combined. Is it accurate then, as American Thinker and other publications have reported, that Power said the US should send a massive military force to protect the Palestinians from Israel? Or that she maligned the American pro-Israel lobby with her advocacy of “alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import [the pro-Israel lobby] and... sacrificing... billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel’s military, but actually investing in the state of Palestine.”

Is Power really an advocate of greatly reducing American military aid to Israel, channeling it instead to the Palestinians who have repeatedly used foreign aid to foster hatred of Israel in schools, line the pockets of corrupt officials and promote terrorism?

There is more, with Power seemingly criticizing The New York Times in 2003 for being insufficiently critical of Israel after it attacked terrorist-saturated Jenin. Of Israel’s presence in Lebanon, Power wrote in  Chasing the Flame that what sparked the invasion was “dispossessed Palestinians and Israeli insecurity,” where in truth, as everyone knows, Israel invaded to stop the incessant attacks that terrorized its northern cities. The phrase “Israeli insecurity” implies that Israel is paranoid, rather than reflecting the reality of Lebanon dominated by Hezbollah, whose aim is its destruction.

I SPENT the last day of my African trip in Dakar, Senegal, where I visited Goree Island, the point of no return from which 14 million African slaves were sent to a life of servitude. Both presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush visited the island to acknowledge the American sin of slavery. Obama has not.

Power is one of the few people with the president’s ear who can be relied on to influence him to overcome his inexplicable reluctance to broadcast American resolve to stop the slaughter of innocents. It behooves her to immediately explain her issues with Israel – a nation whose principal purpose in having an army is in stopping yet another attempted genocide.

The writer is the international best-selling author of 25 books, most recently Honoring the Child Spirit and Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

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