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Countering Bias and Misinformation mainly about the Arab-Israel conflict

An appeal to Judge Goldstone to review the report of the mission to Gaza

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About Maurice Ostroff

On 25-09-09 R.J. Goldstone  wrote
To: "Maurice Ostroff" <
maurice@trendline.co.il>
Cc:
jonathan@.. ca
Subject: Re: Attacks on mosques
From:
rjgoldstone@iafrica.com
 
Dear Maurice,
The e-mails I am now receiving from members of your family including my long-time former colleague Herb demonstrates the futility of my even attempting to respond to all e-mails I am receiving. I assure you that I will publicly respond to the important issues raised as also to what I consider to be the somewhat disinegenuous spins such as that of Prime Minister Netanyahu at the UN and Minister Barak's tendentious oped in the WSJ today.

It appears to me that they are erroneously (to use a polite term) alleging that the Report is directed at Israel and its people and supports terrorism. You know that that is not true. However it makes it easier for them to attack the findings made and, more important, to avoid dealing with the facts contained in the report.
You misquote me with regard to Al Jazeera. I was talking about the attack on a specific mosque that we investigated and which was shelled at a time that hundreds of people were attending prayers. We ackowledged in the report that other mosques may have been used as alleged by the IDF - I did not comment on them at all. The incident in Rafeh to which you refer, I suggest, proves nothing relevant to Operation Cast Lead or terrorist attacks against Israel..
Warm regards,
Richard
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

September 26, 2009 Maurice replied
 
Dear Richard,
 
In this open letter, I ask, in all seriousness, what is disingenuous about Netanyahu's speech at the UN? If by disingenuous you mean not candid or not straightforward, forgive me for suggesting it would be more appropriate to apply this adjective to your Report, which disingenuously ignores many of Hamas' sins and treads mildly on those it cannot ignore, while using a sledgehammer on every possible alleged real or imaginary Israeli transgression.
 
And what is tendentious about Barak's op-ed in the WSJ? He logically concluded that your Report encourages terrorists; a perfectly rational conclusion from the fact that your Report misguidedly applies rules of war that were designed for conventional warfare, where armies of both sides are clearly identifiable, to guerilla warfare where the combatants cannot be distinguished from the civilian population. In one of my memoranda I sent you a photograph of children among a group of Palestinian fighters in the act of firing their weapons. The implications of your Report impose a serious limitation on all who are engaged in countering terror, including NATO.
 
You say that Netanyahu and Barak are mistaken in alleging that the Report is directed at Israel. They have every reason to so believe. Let's take one egregious example:
 
Paragraph 9 of the Report deals at very great emotional length with the unfortunate shooting of Amal, Su�ad, and Samar, daughters of Abed Rabbo, and accepts, without any attempt at corroboration, testimony that they walked out of their house carrying white flags to find an Israeli tank. The Report describes two soldiers sitting on top of the tank, one eating chips, the other eating chocolate. One cannot but wonder how the witnesses in the tense circumstances were able to distinguish what the soldiers were eating. Without warning, the report says, a third soldier emerged from inside the tank and started shooting at the three girls. All very incriminating, creating an emotional picture of callous Israeli soldiers eating chips and chocolate while a third mows down innocent children carrying white flags. It is not inconsequential that none of these types of emotional descriptions are used when Hamas' infractions are mentioned.
 
BUT! Most importantly, the writers of this Report failed in their bounden fact-finding duty to check the accuracy of the information they purveyed. With just a little attention to detail, they would have read the report by Palestinian News Agency Ma'an and MECA � the Middle East Children's Alliance, that the unfortunate girls were killed in collateral damage from an attack by Israeli planes. No tank, no soldiers eating chocolate (or chips), and no white flags are mentioned. I trust you will agree that the Report must be amended to correct this and other inconsistencies.
 
The Report repeatedly declares that civilians were intentionally killed by the IDF, inferring that the Mission members, with no battle experience, possess superior intellectual powers that enable them to determine whether, in the heat of battle, a soldier has acted in self defense or with criminal intent. And, as the Mission places importance on intent, it is remiss in ignoring the openly declared intent of the rocket launchers to kill as many civilians as possible, the openly declared intent of the Hamas Charter to destroy Israel, and the Hamas declaration that it is not bound by international rules.
 
I did not misquote your statement on Al Jazeera. The interviewer asked you about a mosque incident mentioned in the report, adding a leading rider, "...and what it demonstrates about Israeli conduct in the war." You then described how a mosque was shelled during prayers with the deliberate intention of killing innocent civilians, implying that this was typical of IDF behavior. All of this was based on your unequivocal acceptance of oral testimony by dubious witnesses.
 
This is where the incident in Rafeh, to which I referred, is absolutely relevant. The battle in the mosque on August 14 in which 22 people were massacred is well-founded, positive proof of Israel's allegations that mosques are and were used for military purposes and storage of weapons. Instead of alleging that the mosque you spoke of to Al Jazeera was shelled with deliberate intention to kill civilians, at the very least your Report should have mentioned the motivation, namely the use of mosques for military purposes. The gathering in the mosque was as likely to be a military planning meeting as a prayer meeting.
 
In fact Col. (res.) Jonathan  Halevi has reported that the mosque was used to recruit operatives, and that several known terrorists who were operating from the mosque were killed in this attack, including Ibrahim Moussa Issa al-Silawi, an operative in the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.  According   to   the   Izz   al-Din   al-Qassam   Brigades   website, Ibrahim   �received   his   love   of jihad   and   hatred   for   the   Zionist   enemy   with   his mother�s   milk.�  He was a Muslim Brotherhood operative and had close relations with Nizar Riyyan, a senior Hamas terrorist operative. Other known terrorists killed in this operation included Omar Abd al-Hafez Moussa al-Silawi; Sayid Salah Sayid Batah; Ahmed Hamad Hassan Abu Ita; Muhamad Ibrahim al-Tanani; Rajah Nahad Rajah Ziyyada and Ahmed Assad Diyab Tabil.
 
aNo doubt if you had been aware of this critical information, you would have investigated it thoroughly. It is too important to ignore even at this late stage.
 
May I look forward to your serious consideration of the above highly relevant concerns?
 
Sincerely,
Maurice

See adjacent column for earlier correspondence


 
 

 From Judge Goldstone to Maurice Ostroff

From: <rjgoldstone@..
To: <maurice@t..l>
Date: Wed, 23 Sep 2009 02:05:04 +0200

Dear Maurice,
In my earlier e-mail I informed you that I did not intend to continue an open discussion. I responded to your request to deal only with the two points I raised in a private exchange. As far as I am concerned that is the end of it.
I really do not have the time to respond to the many requests I am receiving from both supporters and critics of the Report.
With warm regards,
Richard

 
Response to the above email
September 24, 2009

Dear Richard,
 
I fully appreciate that you are a very busy man indeed, but my many readers, who have been looking forward to your clarification of the points I raised, will be more than disappointed by your refusal to address the substance of these serious issues.
 
If the report is to be understood and regarded as credible, open discussion has become all the more necessary since its publication.
 
When you accepted leadership of the Mission, after a great deal of soul searching, you were surely aware of the huge responsibility you would bear for its consequences. I do not believe that you would claim that any report, produced by fallible humans  can be perfect and because of its awesome implications, I would expect that if you became aware of any major, or even minor inaccuracy in the report that may result in unjustified actions by the HRC, you would hurry to rectify it, even at this late stage. And I venture to reaffirm that I have drawn your attention to several major aspects that call for urgent revision.
 
To use the engineer analogy, as in previous correspondence: if I build a radar installation, and a critic subsequently draws my attention to a defect that may, in certain circumstances, pose a danger, you would consider me to be duty- and conscience-bound to correct it, no matter how tired or busy I am. So, too, sir, it is not unreasonable that we in Israel, who are directly affected by your report, expect our concerns to be addressed by the head of the mission that prepared it. I do not believe that a man of your eminent reputation will present the report on the 29th on a take it or leave it basis, and walk away. Please don't prove me wrong in this.
 
I appeal to you to address the matters that I raised in
parts 1 and 2 and, possibly, a forthcoming part 3 response.
 
Sincerely,
Maurice
 
From rjgoldstone@.
To maurice@..
24/09/2009 22:41,
Dear Maurice,
I have as always, given due consideration to your e-mail. You can imagine that I have been inundated with requests for responses to open and private letters. I have tried to my utmost to respond to them. I have refussed other requests for open responses and I do not feel I can make an exception even in the light of my respect for you and your serious approach to the issues. I do not feel that I am under any obligation to continue to respond to individual approaches.
I would be so grateful if you could accept my refusal with my warm respect.
Richard

Response to above email
September 25, 2009

Dear Richard,
While you may not feel an obligation to respond to individual responses, very many responsible people believe that because of the momentous implications of your report, all persons who have taken the trouble to address sincere credible questions to you, deserve the courtesy of considered replies to the issues raised, if not in direct correspondence, at least in your published comments.  In fact, if the HRC is to arrive at a meaningful decision, it too, is entitled to receive explanations to questions that have been raised.

Unfortunately, none of the valid critical issues that have been raised have been addressed in your many public comments in the press and on TV.

Your recent interview on Al Jazeera TV was disturbing, and I quote only one example of a factor that cries out for correction. You quoted the firing on a mosque as one of Israel's heinous crimes, denying Israel's claim that mosques were used for military purposes and storage of weapons. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hbi6FnvWwvc

Yet on August 14, while your report was being prepared, a fierce gun battle was reported as Hamas stormed a mosque that had been taken over by a group of Islamic militants resulting in 22 people killed, (or massacred in the words of Mahmoud Abbas), including an 11-year-old child, and 125 badly wounded.

This incident unambiguously confirms Israel's claim that mosques are used for military purposes and in the circumstances it is not only fair, but incumbent that your report be amended accordingly. Or does Hamas enjoy the impunity that you mistakenly referred to in regard to Israel, during that interview?

Sincerely
Maurice

 

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