14 thoughts on “The Forward Attacks Goldstone, Poorly – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Worshippers at prayer are not legitimate targets, period, whether they are militants or not. And even if they are militants, they are not legitimate targets with 350 civilians praying around them. You can dress up a pig any way you like, but in the end it’s still a pig. And this is a war crime.

    It is, but that’s part of the problem – in the long-term, you’re encouraging potential insurgents and the like to hide among civilian populations and putting them at risk (like putting a headquarters underneath a hospital), and also allowing the conflict to stretch out forever since no side ever takes enough of a blow to seriously put them off fighting for a while.

    1. Brett, that’s a “problem” you’ll have to take up with the states that have signed the 4th Geneva Convention.

      I’d say that “potential insurgents” was a laughably meaningless designation, were it not for the fact that Palestinians routinely become “insurgents” posthumously, by virtue of having been killed by Israeli forces. Ironically that’s a point where Israeli and Hamas propaganda agree.
      Even while alive but unable to prove a negative, every person becomes a “potential insurgent”, the inhabitants of Gaza no differently than those of Faludjah. Conversely, every Israeli then becomes a “potential soldier”; certainly actual but off-duty soldiers (protected under the 4th GC) become legitimate targets. According to you, such soldiers are also “hiding among civilians”, making collateral damage among the latter “regrettable, but inevitable”, as Israel would put it. IOW, you’re asking for Total War.

      1. Brett, that’s a “problem” you’ll have to take up with the states that have signed the 4th Geneva Convention.

        Quoting the international law at me doesn’t address the point.

        Conversely, every Israeli then becomes a “potential soldier”; certainly actual but off-duty soldiers (protected under the 4th GC) become legitimate targets.

        That’s how Hamas treats them, or Al-Qaeda and their ilk.

        making collateral damage among the latter “regrettable, but inevitable”, as Israel would put it. IOW, you’re asking for Total War.

        You say the latter like it’s a bad thing. But look at the history of conflicts over the past 150 years. It was the wars that ended with restraint and few casualties, like the Franco-Prussian War, that did little permanent damage to either side but bred a giant mass of animosity, which is exactly the situation you’ve got in Gaza – even the Israeli assault in December barely put a dent in the population when you consider its phenomenal growth rate. That type of on-and-off conflict means that both sides can sustain the war for that much longer, and can thus put off any type of meaningful resolution for that much longer.

        1. That’s how Hamas treats them, or Al-Qaeda and their ilk.

          Hamas, al Qaeda…they’re all the same & blah, blah, blah…Don’t you guys ever play a new song or is the needle permanently stuck in this position?

          even the Israeli assault in December barely put a dent in the population when you consider its phenomenal growth rate.

          I’ve got the solution. Total war against Gaza AND putting something in the water supply to stop those A-rab rabbits from multiplying like fleas. Whoa, this isn’t just racism it’s highly entertaining racism to boot in a dark sort of way.

          But Brett, do spell out in greater detail how Total War would look against Gaza. Would it mean dropping the Big One (in which case wouldn’t you be taking Sderot with you into oblivion)? Or just carpet bombing with B-52s as Pammy Geller advocates?

          1. Hamas, al Qaeda…they’re all the same & blah, blah, blah…Don’t you guys ever play a new song or is the needle permanently stuck in this position?

            I’m merely pointing out that both groups view all Israelis, civilian and military, are legitimate military targets. But do continue to mischaracterize my position – I’m rather used to it.

            I’ve got the solution. Total war against Gaza AND putting something in the water supply to stop those A-rab rabbits from multiplying like fleas. Whoa, this isn’t just racism it’s highly entertaining racism to boot in a dark sort of way.

            I find it amusing that you take a point I made about how it’s the low-level, stop-and-go conflicts that never really put a dent into either the population willing to fight or the strength of the groups (that includes all parties, including Israel, Hamas, Fatah, and whomever is involved) in terms of willingness to fight, and then try to stereotype me as a racist. For someone who goes into High Squeal whenever you think someone is mischaracterizing your position, you’re awfully quick to launch strawman and ad hominem attacks.

            I’ll say it again – do you dispute the point I made, about how it’s the low-level conflicts that never settle things but breed considerable animosity, as opposed to the larger ones that do? Do you dispute my point about how in terms of casualties and the like, the December War barely put a dent into either Gaza in general or Hamas’ fighting strength in particular? Germany lost 10% of her population in World War 2, and the Japanese were close to that if you count the Chinese campaign. It was brutal, short compared to the decades-long conflict that has been going on between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and it was enough to put both groups off fighting altogether for a while.

            But Brett, do spell out in greater detail how Total War would look against Gaza.

            Most likely it would involve extensive use of artillery, mostly from the Israeli side as far as I know (I have no idea of what Hamas’ military capabilities actually are, other than that they possess a number of short-range rockets).

            But let me pose a question, Richard – which do you think settled more in terms of boundaries: decades of low-level fighting and animosity between Zionist settlers in Mandatory Palestine and the natives, followed by grotesque 1947 Partition Plan – or the resulting 1948-49 War, which was all out with the full stakes at hand?

        2. That’s how Hamas treats them, or Al-Qaeda and their ilk.

          That’s also how you’re asking them to be treated. What’s good for the Palestinian goose is good for the Israeli gander.
          Brett, I don’t know where you live, but here in Germany (Europe, planet Earth) the phrase “totaler Krieg” (total war) has a specific ring ever since Joseph Goebbels asked his Sportpalast audience for it and got it. I wouldn’t exactly say Europeans were better for it. The 4th Geneva Convention of 1949 was largely an answer to this total warfare.

          WW I did massive damage to all sides (even though it was relatively “restrained” in terms of civilian casualties), but still bred a giant mass of animosity, not so much because of either side’s conduct of the war but because of the idiotic, jingoist myopia on the side of the victors. Previously, too, it hadn’t been the war of 1870-1 but the politics of Prussia (in which that war was a means to Bismarck’s ends) that had stoked French resentment.

          1. That’s also how you’re asking them to be treated. What’s good for the Palestinian goose is good for the Israeli gander.

            Your point? I never said that total war was only for the Palestinians. I’m merely pointing out that the Palestinians are the ones doing it right now, at least openly.

            WW I did massive damage to all sides (even though it was relatively “restrained” in terms of civilian casualties), but still bred a giant mass of animosity, not so much because of either side’s conduct of the war but because of the idiotic, jingoist myopia on the side of the victors.

            That’s partially true, but keep in mind the way the war ended. It ended with Germany suing for peace as opposed to being invaded, but then getting treated as if they had been invaded and stomped down. It was total war, but they didn’t really “finish” it in the way World War 2 was finished, which is why you had a proliferation of “stabbed in the back” mythology arising in Germany afterwards.

            But even to get to that point, Germany had to be militarily exhausted and worn down from total war – and because of the unrestrained nature of the warfare, that only lasted four years. Try to imagine what it would have been if instead some type of low-level trench warfare and on-and-off artillery shots were exchanged. The overall casualties might be lower (or at least drawn out over a longer period), but would it have been less damaging over the long run?

            Previously, too, it hadn’t been the war of 1870-1 but the politics of Prussia (in which that war was a means to Bismarck’s ends) that had stoked French resentment.

            That was certainly part of it (I’m not saying Total War is the sole reason determining whether a conflict is “decisive” or not, but it is a very important one), but I think you’re under-estimating how much of a blow the Franco-Prussian War was to France at the time (not to mention that it stirred up further animosity over the Alsace-Lorraine issue).

          2. I never said that total war was only for the Palestinians. I’m merely pointing out that the Palestinians are the ones doing it right now, at least openly.

            Oh please. Sling shots & Qassams are “total war?” You don’t know what you’re talking about.

            YOu’re blathering on about a theory that has no relevance to the I-P conflict. War doesn’t work, period whether it’s all-out or guerilla insurgency. The Gaza war didn’t work. The LEbanon war didn’t work. The next war won’t work. The last one didn’t work.

            There is no war between Israel & the Palestinians that can be decisive unless Israel is willing to engage in genocide. And even if it were the world would finally intervene & Israel would lose the ability to determine the outcome of the conflict as happened in both Rwanda & Kosovo.

          3. Your point? I never said that total war was only for the Palestinians. I’m merely pointing out that the Palestinians are the ones doing it right now, at least openly.

            My point is that if you advocate designating Palestinians, Gazans, or even Hamas members summarily as combatants, with adding the conditional “potential” making no difference to their actual treatment, then you can’t complain about Israelis getting a dose of the same medicine in the form of bus bombings or the like. That’s a morally indefensible position in my book.

            WW I wasn’t total war the way the phrase is understood now. By and large, it was still a “traditional” war, combatants vs. combatants. Heck, for a while the “drôle de guerre” was hardly even that.
            And even at the most terrible battlefield of all, Verdun, a monument was erected in honour of the former enemy, soldiers who in the view of their French “colleagues” had fought every bit as valiantly as they themselves.
            Of course the civilian population suffered greatly, as in any war, but they weren’t specifically targeted on a grand scale. To change that was the dubious distinction of the “total war” that was to come. WW II was certainly not the first war in which civilians were targeted, but the first one in which the means to do so were available on an industrial scale and used with reckless abandon on all sides.

            I believe the “stabbed in the back” myth after WW I would have evolved in any case, but the victors needn’t have provided the fertile ground for it to fester. The fact that democracy in the Weimar Republic was always an uphill struggle was partly due to the immature vindictiveness of the victors who, instead of giving Germany’s budding democracy every support it needed chose to humiliate it.

            I’m mindful of the blow the crushing defeat of 1871 and the loss of Alsace and Lorraine was for France, but I can’t follow when you seem to say that Germany shouldn’t just have defeated but virtually exterminated France. And that’s even without considering that the war had been largely provoked by Bismarck.

  2. Richard, you’ve attacked the Forward poorly.

    You write:
    “Strangely, the title of the story is Goldstone: ‘If This Was a Court Of Law, There Would Have Been Nothing Proven.’ Yet, nowhere in the story does this quotation appear.”

    Did you read the article? How about:
    ‘For all that gathered information, though, he said, “We had to do the best we could with the material we had. If this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.”’

    I know, it’s a long paragraph. Two whole lines. Easy to miss.
    And it’s nearly halfway down, so your attention span may have run out.

    The proper interpretation of Beckerman’s scoop is that Goldstone is a jurist who responded to a specific request under specific circumstances, without cooperation from all sides, and that he’s dead honest about what it’s worth. It’s he, not Beckerman alone, who points to official Israel’s lack of cooperation. He’s refusing to be a propaganda tool for _either_ side.

    If his report and The Forward quote “pro”-Israel sources who are right-wing crackpots, that’s because official Israel won’t respond. You can’t have it both ways; these are the closest approximations to an official Israeli response available, so it’s legitimate to include them.

    The one truly problematic phrase I find in Beckerman’s piece is where he calls Goldstone’s report a “rush to judgment.” That’s an incorrect characterization, since Goldstone is clear that he’s reporting, not judging. It reflects a kneejerk tendency to reject observations by labeling them as the opinions of an enemy.

    But those 3 words apart, this article is no attack on Goldstone. It’s a classic he said/she said piece which both allows Goldstone opportunity to let him explain himself and attempts to get something like a response from the Netanyahu govt (via an associate of his dear friend, the oleaginous Dore Gold).

    1. I have not attacked the Forward poorly. My mistaken claim that the headline’s quote was not in the article wasn’t meant as an attack. There were many other arguments I did advance which were attacks. But this pt wasn’t.

      The Forward’s assistant editor managed to pt out this error to me in a much less snarky way than you. I guess that’s why he’s a respected editor of the Forward and you’re left to snipe in a blog comment thread.

      So yes, the quotation IS in the article, but used as a headline it is terribly misleading. I have my doubts that Goldstone even said precisely what he’s quoted as saying here since all of his other interviews have been models of clarity. What he meant to say was that his report is not a formal legal document and could not be used to indict or convict anyone for a crime. That has to be done either by Israel, Palestine or the ICC.

      these are the closest approximations to an official Israeli response available, so it’s legitimate to include them.

      The day when Elder of Ziyon comes even close to be an “official Israeli response” is the day when Israel has become a state I will have nothing to do with. And the idea that you countenance the charade that this blogger is a legitimate source of opinion on anything is preposterous.

      If the article isn’t an attack on Goldstone why did Larry write to me informing me about the article and warning me that there might be material in it to which I would object??

    2. RE: The one truly problematic phrase I find in Beckerman’s piece is where he calls Goldstone’s report a “rush to judgment.” – Russell Miller

      MY COMMENT: The “rush to judgement” argument was central to O.J. Simpson’s defense in the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Apparently, it can be quite effective.

      DISCLAIMER: No insinuation(s) or generalization(s) are intended by the author of this reply/comment.

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