Part 2 of an open response to Judge Goldstone and Mission Members
re the Report of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict
from Maurice Ostroff
September 22, 2009
Dear Judge Goldstone,
Human shields, dehumanization and methodology
Having read more of the Mission's report since sending part 1 of my open response, I respectfully suggest
that it is incomplete and requires substantial editing and even revision before it can be accepted by the HRC.
I hope that, as a conscientious human being and eminent jurist, you will seriously consider these factors
and accept that mistakes can be made by even the most well-intentioned persons. Because of the immensely serious consequences
of your report, and the likelihood that existential decisions will be made based on its conclusions, I urge you to recall
the report for further critical examination for the reasons I enumerate below.
In part 1 of my response I dealt extensively with the available evidence that has been ignored. I reiterate
that, even if your mission disagrees with the credible evidence presented by authorities like Colonel Kemp and the fifteen
eminent Australian lawyers, their views nevertheless deserve to be seriously considered and dealt with in detail. So, too,
the facts contained in the video memoranda sent to you deserve to be investigated and reported on. These matters are much
more worthy of consideration than some of the insignificant items that have received undue attention and taken up pages in
At the very least, in the interests of transparency, the HRC and the public should not be deprived
of the opportunity to evaluate the above information.
As it stands at present, the report - perhaps - fulfils the narrow mandate prescribed in OP14 of resolution
S/9-1, which you criticized for its lack of balance. However, the report blatantly contradicts the worthy amendments to the
resolution that you told us had been accepted. Below are a few examples of the many deficiencies that need to be corrected
before the report can be considered as constructive and worthy of consideration.
Paragraph 475 of the report states briefly that the Mission
is aware of the public statement by Mr. Fathi Hammad, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, "... which is
adduced as evidence of Hamas' use of human shields."
It is not clear what the word "adduced" means in this context. One must wonder at the reluctance to
state unambiguously that Mr. Hammad declared proudly, as he did, that the Palestinians use human shields.
Although Mr. Hammad's precise words can be heard and read in translation in the video sent to you,
your report states, "Mr. Hammad reportedly (the emphasis is mine) stated that the Palestinian people has developed
its [methods] of death seeking. For the Palestinian people, death became an industry, at which women excel and so do all people
on this land: the elderly excel, the mujahideen excel and the children excel..This is why they have formed human shields
of the women, the children, the elderly and the mujahideen..."
In dealing with the above public statement the Mission acts as his
defending counsel. The Report states, "Although the Mission finds this statement morally repugnant, it does not consider
it to constitute evidence that Hamas forced Palestinian civilians to shield military objectives against attack" See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLFAJK5LtwY
The evidence of the use of human shields by Palestinians is strengthened by Paragraph 481 which states
"... While reports reviewed by the Mission credibly indicate that members of Palestinian armed
groups were not always dressed in a way that distinguished them from civilians, the Mission
found no evidence that Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian population with the intention of shielding themselves
Surely the HRC must insist that the authors explain the contradiction between paragraphs 475 and 481
as well as the actual content of the video clip.
See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx-CW3UKoIg&feature=related and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLFAJK5LtwY.
During an interview on Al Jazeera TV, you emphasized that dehumanization of the other is the essential
factor leading to horrific acts like genocide. It is therefore astonishing that this report ignores the daily incitement against
infidels, Jews, and Israel that continues unabated in PA mosques and schools,
contrary to the Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap; and
strangely refers only to supposed dehumanization of Palestinians by Israelis. It states, for example, "... graffiti left on
the walls in Gaza, the obscenities and often racist slogans
all constituted an overall image of humiliation and dehumanization of the Palestinian population."
The Mission failed in its fact-finding
obligation by depriving itself of important credible information in ignoring my recommendation to invite evidence from Palestinian
Media Watch and Memri, two organizations that document Palestinian incitement. The Mission
also ignored evidence that had been drawn to its attention about the dehumanization of Jews. For example, in the At Al Omari
mosque, the imam refers to Jews as "the brothers of apes and pigs" and, in a video presentation, a three year old is taught
that Jews are the sons of pigs and apes, and a school class is taught to strive for martyrdom by killing as many Jews as possible.
If the members of your Mission were not inclined to express
horror, surely they were duty bound to at least mention in the report the likely effect of this indoctrination of children?
Or do they consider the indoctrination justified?
The Mission also completely ignored a recent PA TV broadcast of an event in which the savage murder
and mutilation of two Israelis by a frenzied mob of Palestinians was celebrated and lauded as an example of national pride
and duty. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEqeKdjJto0.
It is surprising that your report fails to recommend appropriate action against Hamas and the PA in
terms of Article 3 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which provides that incitement
to commit genocide is a punishable act.
The report ignores the thesis presented to it that the cycle of violence, of which pundits speak glibly,
is inaccurate. The cycle is not Palestinian attacks and Israeli responses. The missing element is the Palestinian INCITEMENT,
which undeniably leads to the initial violence and which must be eliminated if any peaceful solution is to be contemplated.
An alarming aspect of your Mission's report is the irresponsible manner in which uninformed speculation,
with no foundation in fact whatsoever, has been used as a basis for making critical recommendations that will affect the lives
Paragraph 1680 rejects the Israeli government's assertion that the Cast Lead operation was essentially
a response to rocket attacks in the exercise of its right to self defense. The Mission speculates,
without any effort at substantiation, that the plan was directed, at least in part, at a different target: the people of Gaza as a whole.
This statement is reckless defamation in the extreme, in view of the more than 10,000 rockets that
rained almost daily on Sderot and the western Negev, fired from heavily populated civilian
centers and deliberately aimed at civilian areas (a double war crime) over the past eight years.
Your Mission was shown video clips
of schoolchildren rushing to take shelter whenever the red alert sounded, giving only 15 seconds warning. Mr. Bedein of the
Sderot Media Center
gave evidence in Geneva about the tragic suffering of the
population. Yet your Mission does not accept that this was
the reason for Cast Lead.
The rockets were often deliberately fired at times of the day when schoolchildren were gathering so
as to achieve maximum casualties and it is only by good luck or divine providence that they claimed only 28 lives, over 600
injured, and thousands psychologically traumatized. Needless to say, the families of the 28 dead innocent citizens of Israel, the 600 injured, and the thousands traumatized do
not consider this good luck at all.
In these circumstances, denying that the Cast Lead operation was aimed at ending the rocket fire is
equivalent to claiming that the earth is flat. The irresponsible, weighty recommendations of your Mission, based on preconceived opinions supported by pure speculation, with no attempt at
substantiation, will have long-term, existential effects and reflect egregiously on the entire methodology adopted in preparing
the report. This flaw is so serious that - on this count alone - the report must be either rejected or returned for serious