Friends ask me what I think of Judge Richard Oct. 23 interview on Bill Moyers’ Journal. Here are my impressions:
The fact that he’s a Zionist Jew adds to his credibility. So does his experience in investigating war crimes in the Balkans, Rwanda and his native South Africa. When asked to investigate crimes by Israel in Palestine, he had refused unless being allowed to investigate crimes by Hamas as well.
The fact that death threats came, not from Hamas supporters but from Israel supporters is an important point. So is his observation that despite being a Jew in Palestine, his fears for his own safety were unfounded.
More than usual, Moyers played devil’s advocate in his questioning of Goldstone. These, for the most part, were not softball questions.
Goldstone made an important distinction between the US targeting civilian populations in cities like Dresden and Hiroshima during World War II and Israel’s targeting civilian populations more than a half a century letter. International law did not govern such US actions then, he said, but laws enacted during the late 1940s in response to such actions then apply today and all the nations of the world, including Israel, have agreed to obey such laws.
Goldstone surprised me with his pro-American government stance. Despite complaints from human rights groups against US military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, Goldstone argued that atrocities committed by American troops and military contractors were not ordered from above but were violations of such directives. In his judgment, the US’s actions have not violated international law the way Israel’s have. The US, for example, he said, has not destroyed the agricultural fields of Afghanistan the way Israel has done in the Middle East. As for Israel’s attack on Palestinian elected officials, Goldstone compares it to bombing Congress, not the Pentagon, in time of war. Goldstone makes it clear Palestinian civilians were not “collateral damage” as victims of US violence in Afghanistan and Iraq, but direct targets of Israel war crimes.
Goldstone used a term we don’t hear much from the mainstream media like the Anchorage Daily News—“collective punishment,” punishing entire groups for the crimes of a few of their numbers. That, he says, is flat out immoral. Where do Daily News blog responders stand on that issue?
Goldstone refuses to take sides with Hamas terrorists. He doesn’t hesitate to call them that and to condemn their crimes. Nor does he deny Israel’s right to exist. I doubt even the most rabid Zionist critics of mine can call Goldstone an anti-Semite who hates Jews.
I echo what Goldstone told Moyers several times during the interview. People can feel free to bring facts to refute his findings. He does not pretend to be perfect or omniscient. You are free to attack the message, he says, but attacking the messenger does not good whatsoever.
Now,if you believe your favorite foreign nation deserves my paycheck more than I do and if you are such a socialist, you believe simply throwing money at that country's problems will solve them, go ahead and provide me with the facts that support your conclusion. Until then, please keep your hands off my paycheck. If that's an unreasonable position, you are free to explain why. You can me e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you can prove that refusing to give money to another person or nation is the same as hating such a person or nation, please prove your point. If you believe that when A gets into a fight with B, B’s bad behavior requires me to give handouts to A, don’t merely assert your point, prove it. Do Israel’s war crimes require me to fork over my paycheck to Hamas? Moyers and Amy Goodman both make the point that fighting in Gaza killed 13 Israelis, four or five of them, by friendly fire, while Palestinians lost over 1300 lives—a ratio of more than 100 to one innocent civilians. The Old Testament limits retaliation to no more than an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. How do Israel’s actions in Gaza reflect Biblical teachings? Since Israel killed 34 US sailors in 1967, is the US justified in killing 3400 innocent Israeli citizens? I know it’s a lot easier to duck these questions and instead to call me names to try to cover us these issues. But we have patriotic men and women risking their lives and their physical and emotional health in Iraq and Afghanistan; do we here in Alaska have the courage to risk our discomfort by facing the truth?