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Report: Goldstone Was An Apartheid Judge

U.N. report author sentenced 28 blacks to death

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Richard Goldstone, late last year.(Jonas Ekstromer/AFP/Getty Images)

This won’t exactly detract from the controversy of the Goldstone Report. Richard Goldstone is the (Jewish) South African jurist who conducted a report on the January 2009 Gaza conflict for the U.N. Human Rights Council, which found that the Israeli military (and Hamas) committed war crimes and, possibly, crimes against humanity. But, according to a new report from the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, as an apartheid-era appellate judge Goldstone sentenced at least 28 black defendants to death; sentenced others to a whipping; and even sentenced two black men for having a video tape showing a speech by an associate of Nelson Mandela.

In the report, Goldstone appears as a staunch defender of capital punishment, which whites typically supported and blacks typically opposed, and which was not abolished in South Africa until Mandela became president in 1995. Goldstone says he is a personal opponent of the death penalty, but felt compelled to apply the law of the land. According to the report:

Most of them were found guilty of murder and sought to appeal the verdict. In those days, [Goldstone] actually made sure he showed his support for the execution policy, writing in one verdict that it reflects society’s demands that a price be paid for crimes it rightfully views as frightening.

In another verdict, in which he upheld the execution of a young black man convicted of murdering a white restaurant owner after he fired him, Goldstone wrote that the death penalty is the only punishment likely to deter such acts.

And remember, folks: This was apartheid. The deck was likely stacked against these black defendants to begin with.

(One could imagine a psychologist diagnosing Goldstone with a severe case of guilt. Maybe doing the bidding of apartheid can be expunged by revealing the crimes of a subsequent state that many have accused of officially discriminating against an ethnic minority?)

Oh, and meanwhile: Did no one in the Israeli foreign ministry bother to do the kind of basic research on Goldstone that is usually assigned to first-year law students on their summer break? Sure looks that way.

In Israel, that hard question has not been broached, yet. Instead, the revelations have been greeted with a sense of vindication across the political spectrum. And Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz compared Goldstone’s defense to those of Joseph Mengele and others complicit in the Holocaust, who said they were just following orders. “Goldstone took a job as an apartheid judge,” he told an Israeli television station. “He allowed dozens of black people who were unfairly tried to be executed.”.

He added, “When you are in an apartheid country like South Africa, you don’t follow the law.”

Judge Goldstone’s Dark Path [Ynet]
Related: Report Card [Tablet Magazine]

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“(One could imagine a psychologist diagnosing Goldstone with a severe case of guilt. Maybe doing the bidding of apartheid can be expunged by revealing the crimes of a subsequent state that many have accused of officially discriminating against an ethnic minority?)”

This is a compassionate understanding of Goldstone’s record. I am not inclined to be so merciful towards him. To me he appears to be someone who assesses power relations and then aligns his ethics and thinking alongside the party he considers to be the strongest and more likely to persevere and dominate public opinion. If he passed judgments that in effect and in principle served to strengthen the continued and reprehensible rule of a minority of privileged Whites over a majority of blacks, he did so probably because it was the most convenient, least-resistant thing to do.

In his report about Gaza he followed the same logic. He assessed the power structure of those who appointed him (Mr Goldstone was “shocked, as a Jew”, to be invited to head the mission. Read that as: deeply gratified that despite his disabling Jewishness he was entrusted with such a prestigious job…) and expected obedience against those who were to be the subject of his enquiry. On the one hand, the United Nations Human Rights Council, whose members consistently finger and vote for condemnation of Israel, mostly third world Muslim and Arab countries where anti-Semitism is a bona fide justification for demonization of Israel, and, on the other hand, Israel, that council’s favoured and most convenient whipping boy. Judge Goldstone must be a man of rare opportunistic talent to run with the hunters against their quarry.

He is an out-and-out conformist, a rhinoceros in the Ionescan sense of the word.

victoria says:

Thank you Noga.

Honest Broker says:

I respect judge Goldstone and his decisions despite the vicious attacks on him. I would take a Judge Goldstone as an fair an honest judge doing his best in a bad situation over the unscrupilous Dershowitz , Lieberman (both anti-democratic), or other apologists for the failure of Israel to live up to its Zionist ideals and send down further the road to becoming just another undemocratic and brutal middle east country only a Jewish one.

“unscrupilous Dershowitz”

Dershowitz is a defense lawyer. He defends people accused by a democratic system and he does that in accordance with the loftiest ideas that underlie the American Constitution.

Judge Goldstone acted for a skewed judiciary, a cog in the machine, a useful instrument.

Did anyone force him to be a judge under such a regime? At the very least he could have done as Socrates did, when the Thirty Tyrants asked him to arrest Leon of Salamis so that he might be executed. He refused to do so. He neither protested the decision nor took steps to warn Leon of Salamis, but at least he withstood the pressure to actively contribute to this kind of law-enforcement.

A judge complicit in buttressing apartheid regime’s laws in SA is invited, twenty years later, to write a report about the Gaza war. In each case he has God on his side. The first, when he was merely following the letter of the law. The second, he was merely following the mandate from one of the most corrupt bodies in the UN.

“Professor Irwin Cotler, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, called the resolution “deeply one-sided and flawed”, arguing that the resolution begins by assuming what the inquiry it mandated was supposedly meant to determine. Cotler further noted that Goldstone himself revealed that he had initially refused his own appointment for this very reason. He quoted Goldstone saying: “More than hesitate, I initially refused to become involved in any way [with the inquiry], on the basis of what seemed to me to be a biased, uneven-handed resolution of the UN Human Rights Council”.[7]”

The question is then asked, why did he become involved in an inquiry based on “what seemed to me to be a biased, uneven-handed”?

To me it sounds like: “he was obligated to honor the laws of the country, even under Apartheid rule, and could not find enough mitigating evidence to spare the defendants from execution.”

In both cases, given that he was fully aware of the more than real danger to render injustice, he should have walked away. Why didn’t he?

Judge Goldstone damaged Israel and should have recused himself. End of story.

Honest Broker says:

Judge Goldstone like the prophets of ancient Israel told the people and the kings they were on a path heading toward isolation and destruction. Those who revile him confirm his prophetic status as a great one of the Jewish people.

“Judge Goldstone like the prophets of ancient Israel told the people and the kings they were on a path heading toward isolation and destruction.”

The ancient prophets of Israel, if I remember correctly, were concerned with two types of Hebrew transgression:

1. Injustice and greed practiced by too many of the Israelites, largely blamed by the prophets as

2. the consequence of getting distracted from the true and pure path of God by political expediencies and the lure of other cultures.

The prophets of ancient times would be much more likely to excoriate reckless radical Jews for straying away from Judaism in an attempt to curry favour with non-Jews in trying to appease their own narcissistic needs for affirmation, even at the cost of doing grievous harm to their brothers and sisters.

Judge Goldstone would be thus deemed a false prophet,if we persist in “Honest broker”‘s pompous analogy: someone who wishes to corrupt the proper thinking and ethos of the Hebrews in the service of strange Gods…


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Report: Goldstone Was An Apartheid Judge

U.N. report author sentenced 28 blacks to death

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