Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Other People's Mail

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Other People's Mail

Article excerpt

Goldstone's Backtracking

To The New York Times, April 5, 2011

The significance of Richard Goldstone's op-ed article in The Washington Post is being overblown. As the judge who led an investigation into the Gaza conflict, he stands by most of his report.

Mr. Goldstone's shift focuses on his allegation that Israel had an apparent policy to target civilians. He says that because of information now available, he no longer concludes that civilians were intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.

Human Rights Watch's investigation in Gaza found some cases of apparently deliberate killing of civilians by Israeli soldiers, such as the killing of 11 civilians holding white flags, but no evidence that these resulted from a policy to target civilians.

However, Mr. Goldstone has not repudiated his panel's findings that Israel committed numerous serious violations of the laws of war. Israeli forces, according to the Goldstone report, indiscriminately used heavy artillery and white phosphorus in densely populated areas and deliberately destroyed civilian buildings and infrastructure without a lawful military reason. That conduct was so widespread and systematic that it must have reflected policy.

As for investigations, Israel looks good only by comparison with Hamas, which has done nothing at all to investigate its war crimes. Israel has indicted four soldiers and convicted three. Only one has served jail time (7 1/2 months), for stealing a credit card.

Israel has yet to investigate the policies behind the indiscriminate attacks that caused so much civilian harm.

Kenneth Roth, New York, NY. The writer is executive director of Human Rights Watch.

Spotlight on Israel's Conduct

To the Guardian, April 8, 2011

Western hypocrisy is the reason that so many people focus on the particular conduct of Israel. When a single Chinese dissident disappears the U.S., Britain and others instantly respond. When the Israeli government was killing 700 civilians in Gaza, the U.S., British and other Western governments said nothing.

Peter Nicklin, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

A "Risk" That's Worth Taking

To the Los Angeles Times, March 16, 2011

The notion that a Palestinian move to "go international" in its quest for statehood, forsaking negotiations with the Israelis, is "risky" is almost laughable. What have years of negotiations produced for the Palestinians? There has been a relentless expropriation of Palestinian land and continued dispossession of the Arab population.

Indeed, the only reasonable chance for the Palestinians to achieve independence is to appeal to the world community. The fate of the Gaza Strip, too, may only be determined with the active involvement of international organizations.

The chance of failure is very high, of course. Without the effort, however, there is no hope for an independent Palestine. This is surely a risk worth taking.

Raymond Hansen, Los Angeles, CA

Tresspassers in West Bank

To The Calgary Herald, March 26, 2011

Re: "Silence on Itamar massacre and Middle East uprisings": I remind Scott Gelfand that no credible evidence has been produced that implicates Palestinians in the recent heinous murder of the Fogel family in the settlement of Itamar in the occupied West Bank.

Surely, a legitimate question to ask is why did Rabbi Udi and Ruth Fogel have their children accompany them while they were illegally occupying other people's land through force of arms and residing in a Jewish-only settlement well known for its extremism? In my view, it is comparable to an armed robber taking his children with him during a bank heist.

Gary Keenan, Vancouver, Canada

Libya's Future

To The Independent, March 29, 2011

Democracies begin with revolutions that take a chance for democracy. With the educating of a new generation by al-Jazeera, blogs and Internet, the Arabs seem to have studied the concept, and be ready to fight for it. …

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