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South African Jewish community rejects Goldstone

Judge Richard Goldstone, in his capacity as a much respected lawyer and judge, was highly regarded by his colleagues and contemporaries. He is well known to many of us, as a friend and colleague and, has played a positive role in Jewish affairs and always presented himself as a dedicated Jew concerned about the community, Israel and its development.

The report of the “United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict” which he headed has understandably caused a great deal of consternation and anger amongst many of us who have chosen to live here. Much has been said and written, there have been endless condemnations of the findings by Israelis, and others around the world, including non-Jews, because the reality of what happened does not at all match the language used to describe what is presented by the commission. We do not here delve into the evidence or lack thereof of many of the incidents referred to; we leave this to experts in this field. As citizens of Israel, and not as legal luminaries, we know that the army that we, our children and grandchildren served or serve in, that protects us, are most certainly not criminals of any kind. No amount of legal manipulations which cause words to turn reality on its head, can convince us that our sons and daughters are deliberate criminals driven by some sort of official policy of hunting civilians. None of us, who have been there and know what extraordinary steps are taken to preserve the lives of our soldiers and equally so of the enemy civilians, can contemplate the possibility that our army has suddenly changed its policy and now conducts itself in a criminal way.

Richard Goldstone, because of a legal fiction has allowed himself to create, and use, definitions which turn self defense into criminal activity. Because this is the simple reading of the matter, Telfed, the representative body of Southern Africans living in Israel, feels it incumbent to voice its strong objection to the line taken by Goldstone and his commission members. He must understand that his words and actions are causing many of us who are fulfilling the Zionist dream, to experience a nightmare which at its core is the delegitimization of Israel and its right to defend itself.

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