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Goldstone's Apology and Samantha Power's Problem with Israel

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On my recent lecture tour in South Africa the subject of Judge Richard Goldstone came up quite a lot. Whether it was the dinner in Johannesburg at the home of Chabad head Rabbi David Masinter where acquaintances of the judge were in attendance, or at Sea Point Synagogue, South Africa's largest, where I lectured and whose Rabbi, Dovid Weinberg, had officiated at Goldstone's grandson's Bar Mitzvah in Johannesburg, or my speech for Chabad of Cape Town and later in Pretoria, the man whom the media describes as a 'respected international jurist' and who had falsely accused Israel of war crimes was never far from anyone's lips.

South Africans are among the world's proudest Jews and most ardent Zionists. So it was understandable that they would detest Goldstone, viewing him as a traitor to his people, a man who engaged in a blood libel against the Jewish state in order to enhance his standing at the United Nations.

I have personally never agreed with this assessment of Goldstone, seeing him instead as one of Lenin's 'useful idiots,' a man so full of his own pomposity and self-righteousness as to be utterly blind to simple notions of right and wrong. Like Jimmy Carter before him, Goldstone is one of those well-meaning ignoramuses whose view of morality is that whichever is the party without tanks and an air force must be the party who is just. This knee-jerk reaction to always champion the underdog, notwithstanding their evil actions explains the shockingly obvious statement in Goldstone's recent Washington Post apology to Israel in which he wrote, "In the end, asking Hamas to investigate [its own crimes] may have been a mistaken enterprise." It took a famous judge three years to come to the conclusion that asking a terrorist organization hell-bent on exterminating Israel to impartially report its own atrocities was not his brightest idea.

But Goldstone's Einsteinian moment is not over yet. In disavowing his earlier contention that Israel had intentionally targeted civilians in Gaza, Goldstone offers a classic lesson in how not to apologize. It turns out that the damage to Israel's global reputation by Goldstone's slanderous report was not his but Israel's fault: "Israel's lack of cooperation with our investigation meant that we were not able to corroborate how many Gazans killed were civilians and how many were combatants." So Goldstone condemned Israel as a regime that directs its missiles intentionally at children because he did not have enough information from Israel to establish otherwise. And yet, just a few lines later Goldstone writes that the UN Humans Rights Council, which commissioned his report, has a "history of bias against Israel [that] cannot be doubted." So even Goldstone admits that Israel was being asked to cooperate with an investigation commissioned by an authority inherently prejudiced against it, which explains why Israel rightly refused to participate.

It's clear that with his most recent ramblings the description 'respected international jurist' will never again be appended to Goldstone, whose tattered reputation strikes this writer as sad but just karma.

Much more troubling, however, are the comments attributed to Samantha Power, the rising star of the Obama Administration who is being discussed as a replacement for Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. I am a huge fan of Power's 2002 book A Problem from Hell, detailing how America refused to intervene to stop repeated genocides in the twentieth century. I have repeatedly extolled the Pulitzer-prize winning book in lectures and columns and believe it should be required reading by every American High School student. I was also not surprised to read that it was Power who was instrumental in persuading an always reluctant President Obama to intervene in Libya to stop Gaddafi from slaughtering his people.

It was therefore with considerable sadness that I learned of Power's troubling statements on Israel, comments that require her immediate clarification lest she compromise her own moral credibility. American Thinker and other publications have reported that Power said that the United States should send in a massive military force to protect the Palestinians from Israel. And that she maligned the American pro-Israel lobby with her advocacy of "alienating a domestic constituency of tremendous political and financial import [the pro-Israel lobby] and... sacrificing...billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel's military, but actually investing in the state of Palestine." Is Power really arguing for greatly reducing or eliminating American military aid to Israel and channeling it instead to the Palestinians who have repeatedly used foreign aid to foster hatred of Jews in schools, line the pockets of corrupt officials, and promote terrorism?

There is more, with Power seemingly criticizing the New York Times in 2003 for being insufficiently critical of Israel after it attacked terrorist-saturated Jenin. Of Israel's presence in Lebanon, Power wrote in her book, Chasing the Flame, that what sparked Israel's invasion of Lebanon was "dispossessed Palestinians and Israeli insecurity," where in truth Israel invaded Lebanon to stop the incessant stream of rocket attacks that terrorized its northern cities. The phrase 'Israeli insecurity' implies that Israel is paranoid rather than reflecting the reality of a Lebanon dominated by Hezbollah, whose genocidal aim is the destruction of Israel.

I spent the last day of my African trip in Dakar, Senegal, where I visited Goree Island, the point of no return from which 14 million African slaves were sent to a life of hell in servitude. Presidents Clinton and Bush visited the island to acknowledge the American sin of slavery. (President Obama, with his strange reluctance to denounce great evils, has yet to visit.) Samantha Power is one of the few people with the president's ear who can be relied on to influence him to overcome his inexplicable recalcitrance to broadcast American resolve abroad to stop the slaughter of innocents. It behooves her to immediately explain her issues with Israel, a nation whose principal purpose in having an army is in stopping yet another genocide of a people who lost half their number in the first one.


Shmuley Boteach, "America's Rabbi," is the international best-selling author of 25 books, most recently 'Honoring the Child Spirit' and 'Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life.' Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.