On 25-09-09 R.J. Goldstone wrote
To: "Maurice Ostroff" <email@example.com>
Cc: jonathan@.. ca
Subject: Re: Attacks on mosques
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..
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
September 26, 2009 Maurice replied
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
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
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.
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.
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
See adjacent column for earlier correspondence
From Judge Goldstone to Maurice Ostroff
Wed, 23 Sep 2009 02:05:04 +0200
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,
Response to the above email
September 24, 2009
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.
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.
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.
Response to above email
September 25, 2009
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.
none of the valid critical issues that have been raised have been addressed in your many public comments in the press and
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 https://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?