I missed this. After the Israelis came out with their lame investigation saying that they would indict several officers and soldiers in four cases arising from the Gaza conflict of ’08-’09, a fairminded South African columnist, Allister Sparks, published an important piece a few days ago, calling on South African rabbis to apologize to Judge Richard Goldstone for slamming Goldstone’s report last year.
The significance of the piece was explained to me by a friend: “This is an important statement recognizing that even the Israeli Gov’t is finding truth to the report’s findings—–it’s the beginning of a vindication of Goldstone… So why isn’t it all over the place that some of the findings in the report–a report that had been totally trashed by the Israeli gov’t and friends–are proving to be true? …Shouldn’t we challenge the overall attack on Goldstone and the report — like the SA rabbi being called to make a public apology?”
Great point. Here is Sparks’s case. Beautiful story about Naude, beautiful writing:
Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein… chastised Goldstone for “doing great damage to the state of Israel”. He should have recused himself instead, Goldstein said, and taken no part in the investigating mission.
I have had difficulty understanding what the chief rabbi meant by this.
Goldstein is a trained lawyer as well as a rabbi. Did he mean that no Jew, however professionally disciplined — and Judge Goldstone’s legal reputation is among the highest in the world — can be objective when it comes to a matter involving Israel?
And if so, does that involve Jews individually or collectively as well, or just the interests of the state of Israel? Or did he mean that it is a Jewish person’s inherent duty either to set aside his professional ethics and find in favour of the state of Israel regardless of the merits of a case or, if that is unacceptable, to recuse himself? But that for a Jew to find against Israel is traitorous?
…I am reminded here of the conflict between the Dutch Reformed Church and Beyers Naude over the issue of apartheid.
I attended the Dutch Reformed Church service in Linden, Johannesburg, at which Naude had to respond to the church leaders’ demand that he choose between the church’s doctrine of support for apartheid and his commitment to the nonracial Christian Institute he had founded.
In other words, Naude was forced to choose between his moral principles and his loyalty to his own people and their church.
I heard Naude announce his decision that memorable day before the glitterati of Afrikaner nationalism in the packed pews before him. Smilingly, boldly, he told them simply: “I choose God before man.”
In other words, principles, truth and justice before ethnic or group loyalty. It was the defining moment of that great man’s life.
So I ask the chief rabbi that same question today: what is your choice? Then, at the level of plain human decency, don’t you think, Chief Rabbi Goldstein and those members of the Orthodox Jewish community and the South African Zionist Federation whom you lead, that you owe Judge Goldstone an apology? A public, abject apology.
Philip Weiss, author of the blog MondoWeiss