Latest Open LETTER by Maurice to UN Chief Justice Richard Goldstone
A further Open Response re the UN's Goldstone Fact-Finding Commission*
To: Judge Richard Goldstone May 23, 2009
Dear Judge Goldstone,
Thank you very much for your courteous responses to my emails and for the copy of the near verbatim report of the April 16, press conference.
I refrained from writing until now because in your email of May 13 you said that, at that stage you could not make any exceptions to the decision that no further public comments would be made by the Fact Finding Mission until developments warrant them.
I am writing now because it appears,in view of your widely publicized statements on May 20, that developments again warrant public statements. You are reported as saying that the UN investigation into possible war crimes in Israel and Gaza will go ahead with or without Israel's cooperation and you expressed disappointment at not receiving a positive response from the Israeli government.
In the latter connection I respectfully ask whether you have received a positive response from Hamas indicating willingness to allow transparent investigations into its human rights violations of international law; firing rockets from civilian centers into civilian areas, assassination of Fatah members and depriving Gilad Shalit of his rights under the Geneva conventions.
Lack of a positive response from the Israel Government is really not surprising in view of the blatant anti-Israel wording of the enabling resolution S/9-1, which drastically departs from the even-handed spirit of the March 16 open letter you and others sent to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Unlike resolution S/9-1, in that letter you called for investigation of the conduct and actions by both the Israeli military and the Palestinian armed groups.
While you are held in the highest regard for your integrity, there is an understandable concern that you may not be allowed to exercise your declared intention to conduct an impartial investigation into all aspects of the conflict. Many of us fear that your hands will be tied by the HRC President's response to a question at the April 16 press conference about whether the scope of the mission has been widened in terms of the enabling resolution.
The President's curt reply was disconcerting, indicating that very little if any departure from the restrictive wording of clause 14 of resolution S/9-1 will be tolerated.
As you well know, the wording of OP14 unambiguously indicates that the HRC has already decided that violations have been committed ONLY by Israel and that your mission is denied the authority to look into possible violations by anyone else. The resolution fails to call for investigating the casus belli and does not even make the pretence of adhering to the convention of referring to violations as alleged, until proved. Only Israel is called upon not to obstruct the process of investigation. Other parties to the conflict are evidently exempted from this requirement. In the circumstances it is hardly surprising that the Israel Government regards your mandate as flawed.
Nevertheless, in response to your statement at the April 16 press conference that the Mission would seek submissions from all relevant persons and your statement that you wouldn't exclude any advice, I offer the following comments in the hope that the Mission will be permitted to take them into consideration, despite the narrow wording of the resolution.
1. Military aspects. As you said that you would be dependent on appropriate advice on the military aspects, I suggest sir, that you invite evidence from Colonel Richard Kemp CBE, a former Commander of British forces in Afghanistan and a senior adviser to the British government who was interviewed by the BBC about the Gaza operation on January 9, 2009. A transcript is available at http://maurice-ostroff.tripod.com/id199.html
2. Incitement. It is undeniable that for so long as adults and children in the Palestinian territories, from their earliest years, continue to be indoctrinated to hate, no peaceful solution will be possible. The present generation cannot be unaffected by having been subject to years of portrayal of Jews in cartoons reminiscent of those used in Nazi Germany, with Israelis depicted as sub-human creatures. If your mission intends not only to apportion blame, but also to contribute towards a solution, it cannot avoid addressing this fundamental but neglected issue.
As most visitors to the Palestinian areas do not understand Arabic, they remain ignorant of this insidious incitement. Fortunately, for those interested in seeking the truth, organizations like MEMRI and Palestine Media Watch (PMW) provide outstanding services, translating the Arab media into English.
There can be no doubt that your mission will broaden its outlook by inviting evidence from these organizations. Memri's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and its website URL is http://www.memri.org. PMW's archives may be viewed at http://www.pmw.org.il/tv.html and its home page at http://www.pmw.org.il/index.html
3. Gilad Shalit. There is one blatantly cruel crime against humanity that your mission under its Human Rights banner cannot ignore. It cries out for the immediate attention and does not require any complex forensic investigation. The facts are known.
If mental torture is included in the ban on torture, the deliberate torture of Gilad's family by Hamas cannot be ignored. What greater torture can there be than tormenting parents with 24/7 anxiety for three years about whether their son is dead, and if alive in what condition?
Shalit is denied the rights of unfettered access to the Red Cross and to sending and receiving monthly letters and cards while, by contrast, Palestinian prisoners in Israel enjoy visitation rights, including conjugal visits, access to telephones, newspapers, television and radio broadcasts, lawyers' visits and even academic studies at state expense.
Judge Goldstone, sir, I hope that you will find your way clear to overcome the evident flaws in the Mission's mandate and I wish you every success in conducting the impartial perceptive investigation that you envisage and that it will indeed contribute towards a peaceful solution to the tragic conflict raging in this region.
I will be grateful if you will kindly forward a copy of this email to the other members of the Mission.
Your considered response will be very much appreciated.
*This letter is the third one MO sent within their letter exchange with Judge RG on this subject - The whole correspondence can be seen on MO's website: http://maurice-ostroff.tripod.com