Dvorit Shargel has collected some damning information from the Israeli media about the biased views of the commission chair, 75 year-old Justice Yaakov Tirkel and the lucidity of a 93 year-old member, Shabtai Rosenne.
Yediot Achronot writes:
The judge heading up the Gaza flotilla investigation is known in his rulings as someone who says “Yes” to the security services. He also protects freedom of speech–as long as its not connected to state security.
Tirkel notes that his legal rulings do not originate in a theoretical legal laboratory, but derive from a set of nationalist and humanist values. When there is a conflict between the two, Tirkel continues:
With great sorrow, I view the honor and freedom of our fighters as more dear than those of the enemy’s fighters.
I think we’ve heard enough, haven’t you?
And what can you say about poor Shabtai Rosenne, no doubt once an eminent Israeli diplomat and scholar of international law. But must they dust this fellow off in his nursing home and trot him out before the cameras in his summer pajamas along with his Filipino caretaker? Must they? I would never make the mistake of saying a 93 year-old can’t be sharp as a tack, but I’d suggest for a delicate mission such as this one, that propping up someone like this and sitting him in a chair for this panel was a ludicrous exercise.
An interview with him makes him appear equally out to lunch:
Modern communication is limitless. You can receive a protocol from the defense ministry six hours after the end of the meeting. It’s simply fantastic!
Then we have the case of the 86 year-old Amos Horev, a distinguished Israeli general with impeccable intelligence credentials and a booster of the Israeli defense industry. I’ve already written about the built in conflict of interest of having an Israeli general sit in judgment of the IDF. Now we have the added question of why Bibi Netnayhau felt the need for representation from the geriatric set on the panel. At least, Horev had his picture taken in a sports jacket without his caretaker (if he has one) present.
Turkey has wisely denounced the commission even before its first meeting as a sham. Haaretz in an editorial has done the same. They know the fix is in. Why doesn’t Obama? I hope he has a Plan B, because this ain’t the solution to resolving the Mavi Marmara crisis.
Jack Vanderwyk says
Richard, I disapprove of the term “geriatric” in this context. You and I have a high esteem of judge Richard Goldstone, for example, and he’s only three years younger than Yaakov Tirkel. We wouldn’t call him “geriatric”, would we?
Senile (if applicable): yes. Corrupt (if applicable): yes. But geriatric? No.
I think, in all honesty, that if the commission were made up of Amira Haas, Gideon Levy, and Amram Mitzna, the Turks would denounce it because it is Israeli.
Richard Silverstein says
I think that comment is ridiculous & if you don’t know it you should.
I actually think it isn’t, but here’s something that reminded me of your rather ridiculous use of the ambiguous term “hasbarist” – http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3906526,00.html
uncle joe mccarthy says
there are two international observers
how old are they?
richard, the united states demanded that retired supreme court justices be on the panel
hard to find many under 70
and i think turkey needs to be very, very quiet about demanding international inquiries…..cuz there is this whole matter with the kurds that they are engaged with
Richard Silverstein says
Observers observe. They’re just window dressing & completely irrelevant to the outcome.
Turkey will be as loud as it needs to be as its nationals were murdered by Israel. I don’t think the Turks needs any advice from you.
The caption is not unintentionally ironic. Neither is the choice of photo.
It’s not necessarily a political statement, could be plain old scorn for the elderly. A good joke at the professor’s expense.
Alice W says
Is that the best you can do? I’m afraid that post tells us more about you than it does on that commission. Honestly, there are much better arguments against it. I’m surprised you didn’t find them yet.
Vehadarta Pney Zaken.
uncle joe mccarthy says
do you think obama was wrong to choose 77 year old george mitchell as his mideast peace envoy?
btw, do you have a link to the comment of prof rosen and when it was said, and in what context
Richard Silverstein says
TV interview, so no I don’t have it available online. But this was translated from the Israeli newspaper which is linked in the post I believe. Actually, I think I only linked to Dvorit’s blog post which featured a screenshot of the article including the interview. She didn’t link to the original. You’ll have to trust my translation (or not).
Dina Hecht says
“סירסנוך יא מוחמד” – עברו של אחד מחברי ועדת טירקל נחשף
עודכן 21:11 15/06/2010
אלוף במילואים, עמוס חורב, שימש בשנת 1943 כקצין בפלמ”ח. כחלק מפעולת נקם על אונס צעירות יהודיות, חטף חורב עם שני לוחמי פלמ”ח אחרים ערבי וסירס אותו
… חורב שימש באותה תקופה ככקצין בפלמ”ח. שלושת חברי החוליה התייעצו עם רופא כיצד יש לבצע את הסירוס מבלי להרוג את החטוף. החוליה נכנסה לעמק בית שאן כשהיא מחופשת לערבים, חטפה את אותו אנס וסירסה אותו. בדרך חזרה לבסיס ולביתם בקיבוץ בית השיטה התקבלה החוליה במחיאות כפיים. הפלמ”ח מאוד התגאה בפעולה הזו ואפילו המשורר חיים חפר כתב על זה שיר “סירסנוך יא מוחמד”.
Do you need a translation?
Richard Silverstein says
Thanks very much for this. It’s very interesting & suggestive of what kind of “justice” the Mavi Marmara victims can expect fr. Horev. I’ll translate this later in a post.
Just what is “this”?
“This” is the disclosure of a detail in General [res.] Amos Chorev’s past. According to the Israeli TV network, Nana 10: In 1943, Chorev, one of a 3 member Palmach detail, kidnapped an Arab and castrated him in revenge for allegedly raping Jewish women. The Palmach ‘in house poet’ Chaim Chefer wrote a popular ditty to celebrate the operation, “Sirasnucha Ya Muhammad” ” We’ve Castrated You Ya Muhammad” “.
Personally, I think it’s sad. It seems as if your desire to pass judgement causes you to stray off the objective path.
First, it’s interesting to note that Tirkel has “biased” views, as opposed to others which are obviously platonic ideal judges who judge by the Great Book of Law and Morality.
Second, Dvorit Shergal did not “collect damning evidence”. She was simply pointing out the headline which twisted his words into “the honor of our fighters is dearer than the freedom of the enemy”, which is not what he said and I think you would agree is bad journalism.
Third, you’re also twisting his words (although considerably more subtly). He didn’t say that the rulings derive from nationalist values, but that when he’s weighing the various factors, he’s not doing it in a sterile environment, and the various values (both national value and compassion) affect his judgement.
I also don’t understand what your problem is with someone who’s willing to prefer X in their fighters over X in the enemy’s fighters. Is there something basically wrong with that? Are you suggesting he should prefer those of the enemy?
The quote from the article doesn’t give the details of why he gave that opinion and in what context (although it says he was in a minority with two other judges), so I think it’s not really possible to derive any kind of judgement based just on that quote.
I did, however, go and find the original article (http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3904599,00.html). The ruling there was about whether the state can keep holding Lebanese prisoners after their sentence was up just to have them as bargaining chips for an exchange.
In this context, I can understand criticizing his decision. Holding prisoners past their sentence is certainly a problematic decision on any number of levels, but it does not automatically mean it is not in the legitimate scale of decisions a state can make.
And speaking of bad journalism, the sub-headline you quoted about him protecting the freedom of speech as long as its not connected to state security seems somewhat wrong – the actual article text says he holds freedom of speech (for extremes from both sides) as dear, but that in a specific case he ruled (as a minority) that the government has authority to take extreme measures if the security of the nation is at risk.
According to the article, the case was about taking hold of the foreign media channels during the second gulf war in case of a missile attack against Israel. The article does not specify what this entails or what its intended purpose was (e.g. prevent demoralization, use as many channels as possible to warn people of an impending attack, etc.), so I also don’t think you can learn much from that about his stance on “freedom of speech”. Since he was in the minority, presumably the action wasn’t meant to directly save lives, but it’s impossible to tell without looking up the details.
Richard Silverstein says
Dvorit’s portrayal of the Maariv story featuring Rozen in his PJs pictured w. his Filipino caretaker was deeply satirical and hilarious. The story plus her analysis were enough to persuade any resonable person that placing Rozen on the commission made a laughingstock out of it & the poor man himself. This wasn’t ‘evidence’ in the legal sense. But it was evidence in the sense that it was persuasive.
I said Tirkel stated that his rulings are informed by nationalist & humanist values. You claim that these values merely “affect his judgment.” What the diff.?
Absolutely, because the passengers on the Mavi Marmara are “enemy fighters” in this man’s book and they will be given short shrift because their honor conflicts with that of the passenger-victims. He cannot possibly be an unbiased judge in this situation. Besides, the Israeli article already noted that he always sided with the security apparatus in his rulings. Or did you miss that?
It certainly is not legitimate since these prisoners were originally kidnapped by the IDF solely for the purposes of being bargaining chips. They had committed no crime & there was no suspicion they had done anything wrong. They were merely in the wrong place at the wrong time. For Tirkel to rule as he did is a travesty.
> Dvorit’s portrayal of the Maariv story featuring Rozen in his PJs pictured w. his Filipino caretaker was deeply satirical…
I don’t think she was trying to be satirical per se. The point of the post was not to say anything about him, but to cover the Israeli newspapers. I would agree that the picture makes him looks ridiculous (and that she also thinks so), but the picture has nothing to do with the quotes you gave, which are presented in another part of the post and are talking about a different article.
> I said Tirkel stated that his rulings are informed by nationalist & humanist values. You claim that these values merely “affect his judgment.” What the diff.?
Your terms (“does not originate” vs. “derive”) seem to indicate that the external values are the main building blocks of his rulings, as opposed to simply being one part of them.
Yes, it’s semantics, and maybe I’m too sensitive, but I feel that’s the kind of subtlety that’s the difference between objective and subjective and I think you’ll agree my translation is closer to what’s in the original article (which in itself may be a bastardization of the text in the original ruling, since the quote in the article has two separate parts).
I would also point out that you don’t have to be objective (I don’t think anyone can be), but at least when “judging” someone, as you have done, the honest thing to do is to try to be as objective as possible, both personally and towards your readers.
> Absolutely, because the passengers on the Mavi Marmara are “enemy fighters” in this man’s book
Where did you get that from? Maybe they are (and maybe they ACTUALLY are), but I didn’t see him say that. His quote was about a completely different matter.
Let’s assume that he thinks they are (regardless of whether or not they are). Should he not prefer the safety of Israeli soldiers over the safety of “enemy fighters”? Are you suggesting that he should prefer the safety of “enemy fighters”?
>… the Israeli article already noted that he always sided with the security apparatus in his rulings. Or did you miss that?
I did miss that. The article says they went through a few of his rulings, which allowed them to get some insight into his world view. It said nothing about “always”.
In fact, they specifically mention a case where he acquitted an Arab journalist who called for using molotov cocktails from the charge of “supporting a terrorist organization” (whatever that means), and I assume the security services would have preferred to see him convicted.
> It certainly is not legitimate since these prisoners were originally kidnapped by the IDF solely for the purposes of being bargaining chips. They had committed no crime & there was no suspicion they had done anything wrong.
What makes you say that? The article says they were Lebanese prisoners who did their sentence (which apparently lasted for about 10 years) and the ruling was about keeping them after their sentence was up and while they were not considered a threat.
As I said, defending such a position is highly problematic (and I lack the ability to debate intelligently on that issue, since I have neither the details nor the legal training), but those people certainly were considered by the system to have deserved the time they did do. They were presumably not random people picked off the street and then slapped with a decade of jail time just so that Israel could have some bargaining chips.
Richard Silverstein says
Not when he’s supposed to be acting as an impartial judge in an investigation such as this. If he cannot be fully objective (& clearly he can’t be) then there should be an international investigation that will be more objective.
Perhaps I”m talking about a diff. incident, but before or possibly during the Lebanon war Israel kidnapped Lebanese farmers for the express purpose of bargaining them away in a prisoner exchange. There was a major outcry among Israeli & other civil libertarians about this outrage. And this wasn’t the first time Israel has done this.
It’s not entirely clear to me what the mandate of the committee is, but my impression was that they are supposed to examine the various decisions and actions on all sides to determine their compliance with international law. I’m not exactly convinced that such a mandate requires disqualifying him based on that ruling (unless you’re going to automatically disqualify all the Israeli judges as interested parties).
Horev might be an easier case, but because of doing questionable deeds (assuming the story is true), not because of being partial.
In general, no judge is completely impartial. Every single judge in the world has a certain background and personality which affect their decisions in some way.
I don’t suppose you would suggest that the Goldstone report is tainted because one of its members voiced her opinion even before being selected for the mission, right? You did trust her to go and perform an impartial investigation?
As for the Lebanese prisoners, I guess you are thinking of a different incident. The only one that comes to mind (although it’s possible there are others I’m unaware of) is during the 2006 war, where Israeli forces kidnapped some citizens, supposedly due to a case of mistaken identity (one of them was named Hassan Nasrallah and if memory serves, they were near a hospital where the two kidnapped soldiers were suspected of being). As far as I know, they were released after a few days and would probably have been released without any relation to public outcry.
There were some cases where Israeli forces kinapped high ranking Syrian officers (presumably for interrogation and exchange purposes). Maybe that’s what you’re thinking about?