As of the time of this writing, there have been two responses to the famous Goldstone op-ed on the Huffington Post. One is by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and the other is by MJ Rosenberg. As you might expect we are talking about the latter, titled “Goldstone’s Edit Changes Nothing.” Of course not. Heaven forbid Mr. Rosenberg concede that Israel might be right for once. We’ll begin by his rage at everyone who thinks Goldstone was right to apologize:
“This ‘exoneration’ of Israel’s behavior has Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and their defenders in Israel and the United States crazily dancing in the end zone. You see, they shout, Goldstone lied all along. We didn’t kill all these people on purpose. Hooray for us.
These celebrations tell us infinitely more about the Israeli government and its cutouts here than Goldstone’s column does about what happened in Gaza.”
Oh my. Sounds like someone’s upset. Let’s contrast that with what he had to say about the Itamar killings and then move on, as he desperately tries to backpedal and engage in damage control:
“Imagine if the United States government were forced to admit that it killed hundreds of innocent people in a few days and that hundreds of that number were kids. Does anyone imagine that our government would pat itself on the back because the killings were deemed unintentional?”
This is an absurd comparison because America often kills innocent people accidentally, declares that oh well it was accidental and moves on. And the UN just lets them get away with it. Remember this? Or this? Do you think the UN or anyone else except America will get involved in prosecuting the perpetrators? So Mr. Rosenberg is making a comparison with no validity, because the two situations are not at all similar. He is instead trying to make a case that because Israel is no longer being accused of crime against humanity, that they have nothing to cheer about. And that’s crap. Of course they do. Goldstone finally grew a conscience and admitted he was wrong. It makes a big difference, Mr. Rosenberg just doesn’t want to admit it. And here we have his most shocking point of all (emphasis mine):
“Even if it could be proven that the United Nations school was destroyed by accident, what difference would it make? It was destroyed. Would Israel exonerate Hamas if it, by accident, hit an Israeli hospital when its target was a nearby army base? It is a distinction without a difference and only the morally bankrupt would point to it with pride.”
If Mr. Rosenberg cannot see the difference between intentionally killing militants and intentionally killing civilians, he is the last one to ever lecture anyone on morality. In a court of law intention matters a lot, it’s the difference between murder (and serving 25 years to life) and involuntary manslaughter (and serving 2-4). In fact it is the only difference between war criminals like Slobodan Milosovic and legitimate armies like that of America and NATO. Is Mr. Rosenberg saying there is no difference between Al Qaida and America, since they both killed civilians? Or is this one of those talking points that only ever applies to Israel? I’m going to say it one last time and then move on: There is no more equivalence between those who target civilians and those who do not. If Mr. Rosenberg doesn’t get that, I don’t know what more I say to convince him.
The rest of the article is filled with other inaccuracies and half-truths. Click below to read some.
Our first example is when Mr. Rosenberg attempts to rewrite what Goldstone said. Emphasis mine again:
“The jubilation over Goldstone’s minor edit is also misplaced because the strong opposition felt in most quarters to the Gaza onslaught had nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not the killings of civilians were intentional, but rather was over the fact that they took place at all.”
Um, yeah. No, it’s not a minor edit, because the whole point of the report was that Israel was punishing the people of Gaza instead of fighting Hamas. It wasn’t accusations of misconduct by individuals soldiers, but a blanket declaration that the entire state was guilty. Goldstone has now admitted that that was not true, which undermines the credibility of the entire thing. Of course Mr. Rosenberg has a dog in this fight too, since he claimed that “the Israelis leveled Gaza” and often lectures that Israel’s supporters need to “stick to the facts.” Unfortunately, the facts are not shifting underneath his feet, and so he is now forced to make the case that they don’t matter.
Mr. Rosenberg’s next tactic is to simply repeat what he knows to be a lie, as if to convince us he knows better than Goldstone:
“The outrage came when it became clear that Israel was not exercising its legitimate right to defend itself against rocket fire from Gaza by targeting the people launching the missiles but by targeting everyone who lived in Gaza.”
So even after Goldstone (who we know Mr. Rosenberg thinks is legitimate) told us the exact opposite, as well as Hamas, Mr. Rosenberg still expects us to believe that Israel wanted to kill everyone living in Gaza. And that he is “pro-Israel.” I believe neither. Let’s take a look at the next half-truth:
“Additionally, the whole war was unnecessary. A cease-fire between Hamas and Israel had been in effect for the six months leading up to Israel’s decision to invade. Why did it end?
The answer comes from U.S. News, a newsweekly owned by Mortimer Zuckerman, one of the Israeli government’s leading defenders in the United States and the former president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations [quote].”
Here is something truly amazing. Mr. Rosenberg provides a link to a U.S. News article and makes a big kerfluffle about the man who owns the newspaper, no doubt trying to make the article seem like a legitimate and unbiased source. But what he doesn’t mention is that the author of the article is Larry Derfner, as one sided a critic of Israel as Gideon Levy and Rosenberg himself. Now why would he make such a big deal about Zuckerman if not to try and deflect our attention away from Derfner? Is it because he knew that we know who Derfner is and that maybe we wouldn’t notice? Very informative.
Mr. Rosenberg’s conclusion, as it always is, goes right for the emotional “gotchas:”
“If that could only be accomplished by mass slaughter in one of the most crowded spots on earth, so be it. The Israeli government is indifferent to the fate of Palestinians and its backers here share that indifference. And it does not matter whether a Palestinian is a terrorist or just a kid….But that is insignificant compared to the pain felt by all those still mourning loved ones killed in the monstrous and illegal Gaza war. So long as the concept of war crime exists, it will apply to the Gaza war of 2008-9, and nothing can change that.”
Sorry Mr. Rosenberg. You can rage about Cast Lead all you like, and keep criticizing Israel’s decision making. But the facts are now in: There was no “mass slaughter,” Israel took care to avoid killing Palestinians, and the war was hardy “monstrous” or “illegal.” But you keep right on telling it to the echo chamber of the Huffington Post, and leave the facts in the dust. When they aren’t on your side, who needs them, right?