The Goldstone Report is a work of fiction. This book should have been a fair and unbiased fact-finding exercise conducted by a world-renowned judgeThe Goldstone Report is a work of fiction. This book should have been a fair and unbiased fact-finding exercise conducted by a world-renowned judge and his three 'expert' colleagues. The four authors of the report have displayed shocking bias in their determination to paint Israel as the criminal and the real criminals as the victims. From the very start it was plain that this was what the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) wanted.
The mandate handed to Goldstone by the UNHRC was deeply flawed and one-sided by his own admission: it read in part: '...strongly condemning the on-going Israeli military operation which has resulted in massive violations of the human rights of the Palestine people and systematic destruction of Palestinian infrastructure.' You don't need to be a genius to know where this is going. This is BEFORE the mission was assembled. Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson was originally asked to head it up but rightly refused on the grounds that it was not only biased but that the Council made a practice of '...adopting resolutions guided not by human rights but by politics. This is very regrettable.'
The mission was tainted from the outset. Mission member Christine Chinkin, LSE professor and barrister with the Matrix Chambers, should have recused herself at the outset on the grounds that she had previously signed an open letter to the London Times entitled 'Israel's Bombardment of Gaza is not Self-Defence - It Is a War Crime.' Of course she didn't recuse herself. The other three, including Goldstone himself, had displayed their attitude by writing open letters elsewhere that showed similar bias. The team must have been chosen on the basis of their hostility to Israel.
I haven't space or time to go into the dozens of examples of this anti-Israel bias, but believe me, there are many. At least Goldstone, forced into a half-hearted retraction after all the damage had been done, has seen his reputation shredded. He refuses now to engage in public debate on his report.
The way the UNHRC behaved was truly shameful. What makes me so angry is the damage this has done to Israel, because although a mountain of literature has grown from those who have subsequently exposed the incompetence, flawed methodology, bigotry and plain lies (yes LIES!) contained in the Report, the effects of its publication have been so profound, they will probably never be fully redressed. After all, aren't first impressions the most important?
I will say something about impressions though. The report states several times that on the basis of evidence it received it finds that Israel did deliberately target Palestinian civilians. i.e. that Israel committed mass murder. That evidence was given in the presence of Hamas fighters and/or their accomplices, never in camera. Some time earlier Hamas gunmen had entered a Gaza hospital and executed on the spot 12 Palestinians the gunmen said had been 'collaborators.' So those witnesses for the prosecution were acutely aware of what would happen if they did not recount the Hamas version. Not only that, but for reasons Goldstone has never adequately explained, he insisted that the mission's hearings be conducted live on TV! Was he mad? Or was he malign? Either way, those witness statements were obviously delivered under duress. And much independent evidence to the contrary, freely available then as now on the Web and elsewhere, was simply ignored. Those first impressions will linger in the memory of all viewers who at the time were unaware of what I have recounted.
Since mass murder was the accusation levelled at Israel, allow me to reproduce what Colonel Richard Kemp CBE, commander of British Forces in Afghanistan in 2003, told the United Nations Human Rights Council on October 16, 2009:
‘Mr President, based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.
‘Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of its civilian population.
‘Hamas, like Hezballah, are expert at driving the media agenda. Both will always have people ready to give interviews condemning Israeli forces for war crimes. They are adept at staging and distorting incidents.
‘The IDF faces a challenge that we British do not have to face to the same extent. It is the automatic, Pavlovian presumption by many in the international media and human rights groups, that the IDF are in the wrong, that they are abusing human rights.
‘The truth is the IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping over 2 million leaflets, and making over 100,000 phone calls. Nany missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were aborted to prevent civilian casualties. During the conflict the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. To deliver aid virtually into your enemy’s hands, is to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF took on those risks.
‘Despite all of this, of course innocent civilians were killed. War is chaos and full of mistakes. There have been mistakes by the British, American and other forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes.
‘More than anything, the civilian casualties were a consequence of Hamas’ way of fighting. Hamas deliberately tried to sacrifice their own civilians.
‘Mr President, Israel had no choice apart from defending its own people, to stop Hamas from attacking them with rockets.
‘And I say this again: the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.’
But the Goldstone mission did not consider Col Kemp had anything of substance to contribute to the inquiry and refused to allow him to testify. Because what he had to say ran counter to what the mission wanted, a bloodthirsty criminalised IDF that deliberately targeted innocent civilians.
As the Holocaust recedes from living memory so does antisemism continue its crawl from the pit. And this report belongs in a museum of antisemitism, alongside the Protocols, Mein Kampf and back numbers of Der Sturmer. ....................................................
I am not a Jew, just a rather unremarkable Englishman, baffled and incensed by the unprecedented and unjustified demonisation of Israel that has continued for more than sixty years. ...more
Quite the most fascinating book I have ever read on Hitler. It was genuinely unputdownable. I feel that I understand the man more than I thought I couQuite the most fascinating book I have ever read on Hitler. It was genuinely unputdownable. I feel that I understand the man more than I thought I could.
An astonishing analysis of the 20th century's greatest monster.
I was moved to write this post, elsewhere, a single insight among many that I gleaned from this extraordinary book:
'As we all know, by July 1940 Hitler was master of continental Europe. Had he wished it, he could have concluded a peace with France any time that summer, and had it been reasonably generous without doubt all the lesser western European nations would have been anxious for peace too. Think of it. A conclusion of peace with France followed by a European Peace Congress, possibly called jointly with France, could not a kind of European league of states have been possible? Or at the very least, a defensive and economic community might have emerged. All this was possible had Hitler been a statesman. It would also have promised a solution to the problem of Britain, for what then would be left for Britain to fight for? The countries Britain had fought for would be now concluding their own peace treaties with Germany. And what then could Britain have done against a unified Europe? The war, from Britain’s point of view would simply begin to wither away.
But Hitler of course was not a statesman. An extraordinarily gifted and, up until now, successful politician. But he was blind to the opportunities that would have been obvious to a statesman like, say, Bismarck.
So what did he do? After a victorious campaign in France and the low countries he made an offer of peace, not to vanquished France, but to undefeated Great Britain! Undefeated and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.
Hitler had a plan. A plan for France.
A plan that could be clearly seen in the pages of Mein Kampf. ‘The eternal, in itself so unprofitable, struggle between ourselves and France’ he wrote, can make sense only ‘on condition that Germany regards the annihilation of France really as just the means of subsequently giving to our nation, at long last, the possibility of expansion elsewhere.’
In the summer of 1940, while Hitler still hoped for peace with England and if not an alliance then at least ‘benevolent neutrality’ then he could hardly at that time practice against France the policy of annihilation he was already conducting in Poland and would begin the following year in Russia. But Hitler simply could not envisage any other war aim for France other than annihilation. The idea was not dropped. It was simply postponed.'
Really chilling. And there is so much more in this surprisingly slim book.
The most disturbing book I have read on the current state of the British armed forces.
Watching on TV the British handover in Basra at the end of MarchThe most disturbing book I have read on the current state of the British armed forces.
Watching on TV the British handover in Basra at the end of March '09, I felt the humiliation that Maj Gen Andy Salmon must have felt as he relinquished command to Maj Gen Oates and his US 10th Mountain Division. I wrote of this feeling on My.Telegraph.co.uk blog site and expressed the view that this was no withdrawal but a serious defeat (I later heard it described as the worst defeat of British arms since the fall of Singapore). I was attacked at length for my blog and gained the impression that most people (in the UK) thought we had done pretty well and believed the blather of the mutual congratulations that day.
Singapore. That bad? The worst defeat in our history? - Such a damning statement had to be checked and search as I could, I found nothing since then that comes close in terms of loss of pride and reputation. At least at Dunkirk we left fighting. And made up for it three years later. The Basra retreat cost us far fewer casualties than Singapore but the damage to our prestige was no less fatal. Because that was the moment the Americans first began to regard us as not necessarily their first choice of ally.
And the way our commanders would lecture the Americans on how to fight small wars! It made my toes curl with embarrassment. It got so bad that British officers were forbidden to mention Malaya or Belfast at meetings! AAaagh! - can you imagine that?
And that opinion is being reinforced by our performance in Afghanistan. Again we suffered the humiliation of being replaced in the south, an American general remarking that 'the Brits aren't up to it.' Hardly surprising when, to take one example, the single battle group led by 3 Para could only put 168 combat troops to conduct operations from the entire brigade! Mind you, those troops certainly made a difference. Before their arrival the Afghans regarded the Brits with simple, historically understandable, hostility. By the time they left, the civilians had come to hate us.
This book is an essential read for anyone concerned with the current state of Britain, because if our armed forces can't do what is demanded of them then who the hell is going to take any notice of us? We are in danger of being regarded (by the Americans at least) as just another European soft power, all talk at the UN but not much use where it really counts.
However, let me stress that neither the author nor anyone else expresses any criticism whatsoever of the bravery and commitment of the British fighting troops (SAS contributions are eye-openers).
It is yet another example of lions led by donkeys, and, nearly a hundred years after those words were spoken, I'm thinking it's time we seriously examined what is rotten (with sadly few honourable exceptions) at the top of our command structure.
p.s. - I just thought. The attitude of many senior British officers (British Greeks to Yankee Romans) in Iraq and Afghanistan, reminded me of Keith Douglas' description of the officer class in his 'Alamein to Zem Zem.' Now there's a good read.