Jewish Right To Israel

Jewish Right To Israel
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Monday, February 08, 2010

Goldstone vs Groucho

I don't want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member
Groucho Marx

On the other hand, it is interesting to note what groups Judge Richard Goldstone is a member of. After all, we are constantly being reminded that Goldstone is Jewish and a Zionist--though considering the broad range of people who support the Goldstone Report, it would be interesting to note their differing interpretations of just what that term means.

In Arguments "Ad Hominem" and 'By Ethnic Identify" in Defense of Goldstone Report, Alan Dershowitz notes:
Even before the Goldstone Report was released, Richard Goldstone was arguing for its credibility by invoking his Jewishness, his Zionism, his daughter's residence in Israel and his connection to Hebrew University. It was the mirror image of the classic fallacy known as the argument ad hominem, which is defined as follows: A substantive argument should not be rejected solely because of who has offered it.

It follows of course from this fallacy that an argument should also not be accepted because of who offered it.



A close relative of the ad hominem fallacy is what I have called "the argument by ethnic identity," which I have defined as follows: An anti-Israel argument is made stronger if offered by a Jew. ("See, even a Jews agrees that...)

...The Goldstone report should be rejected on its demerits. The added fact that it was authored by a Jew -- selected precisely because he is a Jew with aspirations to be honored by the international community -- should diminish, rather than increase, its credibility.

But even putting aside the claim that the Goldstone Report is unimpeachable because Goldstone is a Jew and a Zionist, there is the issue of Judge Goldstone's associations--associations that are all the more pertinent because he and his supporters have made his background an issue from the very beginning.

Recently, New Israel Fund (NIF) has come under intense scrutiny in Israel because so many of the groups it funds lent support to the composing of the Goldstone Report. But putting that issue aside, there is another point that is made by Im Tirtzu, the group that broke the story on NIF's associations:

"To our great surprise,” [Ronen] Shoval [Chairman of Im Tirtzu], said, “we found that three organizations that Goldstone is a member of are patently anti-Israeli ones.”

One such organization is the International Center for Transitional Justice, which accuses Israel in its website of grave violations of international law, including 'extrajudicial executions, prolonged administrative detention, torture, forced displacement (often repeated), extensive property confiscation and destruction, movement restrictions, and collective punishment, much of this within the framework of a four-decade-long occupation.'”

Goldstone has been a member of the ICTJ's Board of Directors since 2004. Shoval added that Goldstone is a signatory on a document issued by ICTJ six months before he was appointed to head the famous UN committee of inquiry, in which the ICTJ expresses “shock at the crimes against civilians” in Operation Cast Lead. The group received $7.5 million from the Ford Foundation in 2006-7.

In addition, Shoval charged, Goldstone is a member of the Board of Directors of Physicians for Human Rights, which accused Israel of war crimes before the Goldstone Report was issued. It, too, is funded by the Ford Foundation.

As exposed by Professor Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor, Goldstone was also a member of the Board of Directors of a third group, Human Rights Watch as late as July 2008. The organization accused Israel of war crimes well before the Goldstone Commission was appointed. HRW also receives hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from the Ford Foundation.

To his credit, Goldstone did resign from the board of Human Rights Watch--after NGO Monitor pointed out the clear conflict of interest. However, there is no indication the Goldstone ever resigned from the other 2 groups.

One could argue that Goldstone's membership is one such anti-Israel group is not necessarily an indication of where Goldstone stands on the issue of Israel and its fight against terrorism, but the fact that Goldstone belonged to 3 such groups, did not come to the conclusion on his own to distance himself from any of these groups--that indicates a lack of objectivity and of sensitivity to what his position as head of the commission required.

Is it any wonder that Goldstone defended Christine Chinkin from charges of bias based on her signing an open letter accusing Israel of war crimes? To have admitted bias in that case would have rendered his own position as head of the group questionable as well.

Judge Goldstone is free to be a member of any group he sees fit--but his membership in those 3 groups and his clear statement of his position on Israel's Operation Cast Lead in advance of his being appointed to head the fact-finding commission, renders his judgement questionable. This is especially true when his supporters lavish praise on his judiciary career.

Groucho Marx is quoted as having said:
Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.
And whatever else one may say about the Goldstone Report, it is all about politics.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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