Gaza Strip Hamas Israel Richard Goldstone UN Human Rights Council United Nations

The Goldstone report and why I am a self-hating Jew

I am a self-hating Jew. Sometimes, that is. Sometimes I hate myself after losing my temper at my daughter or wife, or envying a friend’s success, or not comforting someone who needed comforting. Sometimes I hate myself for being too hard on myself.

Today, I am a self-hating Jew because I realize I’ve never taken the trouble to denounce those who call critics of Israel “self-hating Jews.”

If you Google “Richard Goldstone self-hating Jew Gaza,” you will find more than 5,000 entries. They include recent posts that invoke the new, controversial report from the UN Commission that Goldstone headed, which charges Israel and Hamas with war crimes and possibly even crimes against humanity. But his accusers are just getting started. By the time I finish writing this post, I bet a few hundred more will appear. A campaign of very personal character assassination is as predictable as a rain shower after the clouds have grown dark.

Fortunately, before we are completely drenched, there is a great piece about Goldstone by Claudia Braude in the upcoming Forward. It sets the record straight about his own relationship with Judaism and Israel:

Goldstone is proud of his Jewish identity and links it firmly to his human rights concerns. A president emeritus of World ORT, an international Jewish vocational training organization that maintains some of its biggest projects in Israel, he also serves on the Hebrew University of Jersulem’s board of governors.

Characterizing the struggle for human rights as “a secular religion of our time,” Goldstone once described the existence of the State of Israel as its Jewish embodiment. “This struggle for human rights has been in the most profound existential sense very much the struggle for ourselves — for our own Jewish destiny. For the creation of the State of Israel,” he said.

“I’ve been involved with Israel since I can remember,” Goldstone told the Forward. “My mother was very active in the women’s Zionist movement.” His daughter, Nicole, lived in Israel. Speaking to the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists in 1995, Goldstone described the recognition of human rights as a “central part” of Jews’ “ancient and noble heritage.”

“As Jews, and particularly as Jewish lawyers and jurists, we… have a duty to inform ourselves of human rights abuses wherever they occur, and to add our voices to those… who seek to protest against them,” he said. “We must not only insist that we be judged by those standards by our neighbors and by the international community. We should indeed object vehemently when any seeks to judge us by any other standards,” he said.

I’ve just finished reading the Goldstone report. As the Forward notes, it “blisters with specificity.” It is upsetting. I don’t know exactly what happened in the Gaza Strip during “Operation Cast Lead” last winter. I do know that Israel will have a difficult time discrediting the report by citing the UN’s past transgressions, or insisting that Israel went out of its way to avoid civilian casualties, or explaining how the report neglected to include the “context” for Israel’s actions. White phosphorus provides its own context.

I also know that Richard Goldstone is my kind of Jew. And this time, I’m not going to hate myself for neglecting to lambaste those who reflexively call him “self-hating.”

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