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Countering Bias and Misinformation mainly about the Arab-Israel conflict

Response to a letter by British Jews urging PM Gordon Brown to endorse the Goldstone Report

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About Maurice Ostroff
See original advert in the Times and list of signatories below
 
 
An open response to the December 1, letter in the London Times
urging PM Gordon Brown to endorse the Goldstone Report
 
December 9, 2009
From Maurice Ostroff   
                                                                                                                    
In view of the eminence of the signatories to the above letter, it is extremely difficult to understand their unqualified support of a document that contains serious flaws which are evident to all who examine it objectively.  At best one must assume that being the busy persons they are, the signatories could not spare time to read, much less to analyze the 452 pages and that they relied instead on the reputation of Judge Goldstone.
 
In the circumstances, I list below a few examples that should cause all signatories who value intellectual honesty, to publicly qualify their earlier public support of the Goldstone Report. The following are examples only. Many more flaws are obvious to the serious reader and I refer to the following web sites for details. http://www.2nd-thoughts.org/id235.html and   http://www.goldstonereport.org/
1.                  Weapons in mosques
The report denies Israel's claims that Hamas stored weapons in mosques despite substantial freely available evidence of this practice. For example the widely reported August 14 Hamas attack on a mosque in which 22 opponents of Hamas were killed and 125 badly wounded is proof positive that mosques are used for militant purposes, albeit in this instance not against Israel.
Clauses 464 and 465 of the report refer to the investigation of a missile attack by Israel against a mosque in January 2009, claiming that this was an intentional attack on unarmed civilians. Israel claims that the mosque was controlled by Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades and that several named known terrorists who were operating from the mosque were killed in this attack.
(see http://tinyurl.com/ycrzudt and

http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/hamas_e065.pdf )
That the UN Fact-finding Mission (FFM) found no evidence that this mosque was used for the storage of weapons or any military activity is a clear case where absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It would be absurdly naive to expect that, in preparation for the FFM's visit to this site in July, Hamas would have left evidence that weapons had been stored there in January when the attack took place.
2.                  Human Shields
The report's declaration that it found no evidence that Hamas used human shields is clearly inconsistent with video evidence freely available on the internet. More egregiously, it contradicts the statement in clause 477 of the Report itself that the FFM was aware of a public statement by none other than Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mr. Fathi Hammad, that Hamas did indeed "create human shields of women, children, the elderly and the Mujahideen, against the Zionist bombing machine."
It would be logical to expect that while in Gaza, the FFM's fact-finding role, would have obliged it to clarify this matter with Mr. Hammad. Instead, the FFM acted as his defending council. Without any investigation at all, the report states that although it "finds Mr. Hammad's statement repugnant, it does not consider it evidence that Hamas forced Palestinian civilians to shield military objectives against attack".

3.                  Colonel Kemp
In a memorandum to the FFM, I recommended that Colonel Richard Kemp who has expert knowledge of warfare in conditions similar to those in Gaza, be invited to give evidence. My recommendation was rejected for the inexplicable reason that "the evidence of Kemp was not relevant as we did not report on situations where decisions might have been taken by the IDF "in the heat of battle". We did not "second-guess" the soldiers in the field or their commanding officers." Inexplicable, because the entire report deals with both sides acting in the heat of battle.
Even if the FFM disagreed with the views of this expert, the credibility of the report would have been enhanced if his views had been addressed and it is inexcusable that this was not done. See http://www.2nd-thoughts.org/id199.html

4.                  Lack of freedom for witnesses to testify.
In view of the widely reported violent retribution inflicted by Hamas on dissidents, (including being thrown from tall buildings), the complete lack of testimony in Gaza, supporting the Israeli viewpoint is understandable. On June 9, the Palestinian Ma'an news agency, reported that Hamas inhibited the ability of witnesses to speak freely and since the hearings were televised Hamas was able to keep track of every witness.
Because of these limitations, it is inexcusable that the FFM did not carry out its fact-finding obligation to provide witness protection and actively seek out evidence widely, including from Fatah members whose stories of the abuse of hospitals, ambulances  and schools are readily available on Youtube.
5.                    Allegation that children with white flags were shot
Clause 771 tells how the Abed Rabbo family stepped out of their house carrying white flags to find an Israeli tank less than 10 meters from the door. "Two soldiers were sitting on top having a snack, one was eating chips, the other chocolate,..then a third soldier emerged from inside the tank and started shooting at the three girls and then also at their mother"
The FFM accepted the veracity of the witnesses without question, including the unbelievable feat, in that tense situation, of being able to identify exactly what the soldiers were eating. No effort was made to investigate contradictory evidence such as reports by Palestinian News Agency Ma'an and MECA that the unfortunate girls were killed in collateral damage from an attack by Israeli planes.
Having said the above, I endorse completely the humanitarian principles enunciated on the web site of "Independent Jewish Voices" one of the sponsors of the letter to PM Brown, as well as its statement that the battle against anti-Semitism is undermined whenever opposition to Israeli government policies is automatically branded as anti-Semitic.

I would add that the struggle for justice is equally undermined whenever unjust and unsubstantiated attacks on Israel, like those mentioned above, are automatically supported by well intentioned but misinformed humanists.

Sincerely
Maurice Ostroff

The original letter published in the Times
and the list of signatories

On 1st December a full-page advert appeared in the Times supported by  565 individual signatories and the following groups: Independent Jewish Voices, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, the Jewish Forum for Justice and Human Rights, the Jewish Socialists’ Group, Jewish Writers Against the Occupation and Scottish Jews for a Just Peace. Download the pdf here.

See the  Jewish Chronicle report and the Haaretz article by Cnaan Liphshiz. The text and list of signatories is given below:


Dear Prime Minister,

We appreciate your Government’s stated intention to build bridges with the Jewish community in the light of responses to the Goldstone report. To achieve this, it is vital for you to recognise that British Jews do not speak with one voice on this matter.

We welcome the Goldstone Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza conflict as a key document in the upholding of international law in situations of violent conflict, and regret your Government’s failure to endorse the Report and its recommendations at the United Nations General Assembly.

We condemn the vilification of Richard Goldstone, an internationally acclaimed jurist who has made a substantial contribution worldwide to the development and maintenance of international humanitarian law, and

We note that the preparation of the Report was severely hampered by the refusal of the Israeli authorities to respond to reasonable enquiries or to facilitate access by the mission to Gaza or the West Bank and that it was only Egypt’s assistance which eventually allowed the Mission to gain access to Gaza.

We further note that the Report unequivocally condemns not just Israel’s devastation of Gaza but also Hamas’s indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israeli neighbourhoods and does not in any way deny Israel its right to legitimate self-defence. We fully support its recommendation that both parties conduct full investigations into the allegations of war crimes in the Report.

We believe Israel cannot afford, nor should it wish, to exempt itself from the scrutiny of the international community on these matters. We consider that it is the attempt to do so, rather than the Goldstone Report, that is damaging Israel. We therefore urge you to endorse the Report at the next available opportunity.

Lauren Aarons
Lesley Abdela MBE
George Abendstern
Marion Adler
Bernie Ahrens
Michael Albu
Alan S Alexander
Seymour Alexander
Rebecca Amiel
Lisa Appignanesi
Ruth Appleton
Libby Ardren
Oreet Ashery
Martha Jean Baker
Dr Anthony Bale
Lynne Reid Banks
Dr Lisa Baraitser
Lisa Barcan
Julia Bard
Barbara Barnett
Prof Tony Barnett
Michael Baron MBE
Robert Bartfield
Rosemary Bechler
Dr Alex Benchimol
Emeritus Prof Robert Benewick
Bert Benham
Joan Benham
Leonie Bennett
Paul Benson
Marge Berer
Daniel Bernstein
Sir Geoffrey Bindman
Dr Lynn Bindman
Jo Bird
Rica Bird
Dr Martin Birnstingl
Jude Bloomfield
Ilse Boas
Prof Tony Booth
Jenny Bourne
Rachel Boyd
Emeritus Prof Leslie Baruch Brent
Prof Haim Bresheeth
Sarah Broadie
Adam Broomberg
Babette Brown
Fiona Brown
Judy Brown
Dr Michael Brown
Michelle Brown
Peter Brown
Peter Brown
Dr Raymond Brown
Jennie Buckman
Veronica Butler
Prof Brian Butterworth FBA
Prof Jane Caplan
Prof Lionel Caplan
Gail Chester
Brian Chinnery
Linda Clair
Ruth Clark
Mr Mike Cohen
Norma Cohen
Norman Cohen
Ron Cohen
Prof Stan Cohen
Sylvia Cohen
Roy Collins
Ruth Conlock
Rabbi Howard Cooper
Mike Cushman
Lady Ellen Dahrendorf
Angela Dale
Dr Renee Danziger
Prof Miriam David
Sara Davidson
Bernard Davies
Sally Davies
Jean Davis
Wendy Sarah Davis
Gerald de Groot
Emanuel de Kadt
Rabbi Prof Nicholas de Lange
Peter Deadman
Ivor Dembina
Jenny Diski
Prof Elizabeth Dore
Dr Robert Dourmashkin
Aaron Dover
Marc Eady
Rebecca Earle
Joanne Edelman
Dan Edelstyn
Hilary Edelstyn
Linda Edmondson
Susan Egert
Prof Barbara Einhorn
Prof Eric Eisenhandler
Aram Eisenschitz
Thomas Eisner
Mark Elf
Liz Elkind
Marie Ellis
Michael Ellman
Prof D B A Epstein FRS
Ms R R Epstein
Sheila Ernst
Moris Farhi MBE
Prof Paul Fatt FRS
Rabbi Michael E Feinberg
Prof Stephan Feuchtwang
Alf Filer
Dr Neil Finer
Deborah Fink
Sylvia Finzi
Frank Fisher
Mark Forstater
Erika Fox
Jonathan Fox
Peter Fraenkel
Richard Fredman
Bella Freud
Martin J Frishman
Prof Stephen Frosh
Ruth Fruchtman
Uri Fruchtman
Ian Fulton
Dr Martin Gaba
Ellen Galford
David Ian Garfinkel
Rachel Garver
Merle Gering
Denis Glaser
Sarah Glass
Murray Glickman
Dr Sarah Glynn
Debra Gold
Rabbi Dr David J Goldberg OBE
Martin Golding
Dr Debbie Goldman
Angela Godfrey Goldstein
Ann F Goldstein
Ronnie Golz
Arthur Goodman
Geoffrey Goodman
John Goodman
Paula Goodman
Dr Peter Goodstein
J L Gordon
Lionel Gordon
David Gould
Robert Gould
Susanne Graham
Tony Graham
Lesley Grahame
Michael Graubart
Alice Gray
Ilse Gray
Jeremy Green
Tony Greenstein
M Greenwood
Marion Gripaios
Rebekah Gronowski
Grahame Gross
Justin Grossman
Heinz Grünewald
Ilona Halberstadt
Michael Halpern
Noel Hamel
Michele Hanson
Keir Hardie
Jenny Harris
Abe Hayeem
Rosamine Hayeem
Mike Heiser
Dr Harold Heller
Anna Hellmann
Dr Jane Henriques
Denis Herbstein
Thena Heshel
Julie Higgins
Prof Susan Himmelweit
Prof Eric J Hobsbawm
Marlene Hobsbawm
Michael Horovitz OBE
Miriam Bennett Houlton
Deborah Hyams
Elaine Hyams
Dr Keith Hyams
Prof Paul Hyams
Henry Hyatt
Anna Isaacs
Dr Anthony Isaacs
Dr Jeremy Isaacs
David Iwi
Vivienne Jackson
Emeritus Prof Howard Jacobs
June Jacobs
Nicholas Jacobs
Sandra Jacobs
Dr Susie Jacobs
Fay Jacobsen
Prof Michael Jacobsen
Sharon Jacobsen
Dr Laura Jacobus
Prof Mary Jacobus
Prof Anne Janowitz
Joanna Jellinek
Lawrence Joffe
Gabriel Josipovici
Dan Judelson
Ann Jungmann
Prof Ahuvia Kahane
Prof Mary Kaldor
Prof Deniz Kandiyoti
Prof Cora Kaplan
Anne Karpf
Paul Kaufman
Ruth Kaufman
Shirley Kaufman
Sid Kaufman
Ellie Kavner
Prof Adah Kay
Paul Kelemen
Michael Kendall
Nicolas Kent
Dr David King
Brenda Kirsch
Reva Klein
Pam Kleinot
Roger Kline
Dr Brian Klug
Prof Francesca Klug OBE
Dr Tony Klug
Prof Eleonore Kofman
Robert Kornreich
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Stevie Krayer
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Philip Kuhn
Prof Adam Kuper
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Ralph Land CBE
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Louis Levi
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Dr Peter Levin
Diane Levine
Dr Ralph Levinson
Paul Blain Levy
Emeritus Prof
Raymond Levy
Keren Lewin
Sue Lewis
Dr Keith Lichman
Nikki Lichtenstein
Vivien Lichtenstein
Sanford Lieberson
Sonja Linden
Laurie Abrams Lindey
Miles Litvinoff
Dr Tim Lobstein
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Dr Susan Loewenthal Lourenço
Tom Lowenstein
Heinz Lubasz
Prof Steven Lukes
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John Jacob Lyons
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Mike Marqusee
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Sandra Harris Ramini
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Dr Naomi Richman
Frances Rifkin
Lee Roberts
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Dr Ben Rogaly
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Prof Anne Rogers
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Prof Jacqueline Rose FBA
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Montague Young
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Emeritus Prof John S Yudkin
Prof Nira Yuval-Davis
Betsy Zander
Emeritus Prof Michael Zander QC
Dr Pam Zinkin

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