Goldstone Critics Have a Real Case

Letters to the Editor

Published January 05, 2011, issue of January 14, 2011.
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Letty Cottin Pogrebin’s defense of Richard Goldstone is as factually inaccurate as the Goldstone Report itself (“The Un-Jewish Assault on Richard Goldstone,” January 7).

Pogrebin’s thesis can be summarized in her own words: “Rather than discuss the contents of the report — which concluded that during the 2008-2009 Gaza war, Israel (as well as Hamas) may have committed war crimes — Israel’s defenders launched an all-points campaign to bury it.” She claims that “almost no one is talking about his findings.” She is dead wrong.

Within days of the report’s publication, there were numerous discussions of the contents and findings of the report. I myself published a 49-page, point-by-point critique of the report’s contents entitled “The Case Against the Goldstone Report: A Study in Evidentiary Bias” (which can be found at www.alandershowitz.com/goldstone.pdf). In it I focused on the report’s main findings that 1) the Israeli government had a policy of targeting civilians; and 2) that Hamas did not have a policy of hiding behind civilians. I proved that both of these findings were contradicted by the evidence.

Goldstone has never responded to my substantive criticism. The Israeli government issued very specific point-by-point rebuttals of Goldstone’s findings, to which he has never responded. Moreover, when students at Fordham University’s law school invited Goldstone and me to discuss the contents of the report, Goldstone declined, even though he was teaching at Fordham at the time. I accepted and presented a specific response to the contents of the report. Most recently, I wrote an article for The Huffington Post citing an important Hamas leader’s recent statement indicating that those killed in Gaza were predominantly combatants, an admission that I showed undercuts the report’s findings. Again, no response from Goldstone. So Pogrebin simply makes it up when she says that Israel’s defenders refuse to “discuss the contents of the report.”

Pogrebin faults me for comparing Goldstone’s defense of the ignoble role he played as an apartheid judge with the defense offered by Nazis, “I was just doing my job.” She neglects to mention that his “job” included ordering the whipping of black prisoners — which constitutes torture in violation of international law.

If these misstatements are in any way typical of Pogrebin’s forthcoming chapter on the Goldstone Report, then its publisher ought to demand that she make corrections. But don’t hold your breath, because the book in which her chapter appears is being published by Nation Books, a virulently anti-Israel press.

Alan M. Dershowitz
Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law
Harvard Law School
Cambridge, Mass.


Letty Cottin Pogrebin claims that the Goldstone Report’s critics haven’t engaged with its content. Well, I personally found the time to read the entire 575 pages. I was in contact with scholars, lawyers and bloggers who were all doing the same and sharing their insights. Some of us sent our findings directly to members of Goldstone’s commission, though none ever received a substantive response. The State of Israel, of course, responded repeatedly to specific and general allegations in the report. All these efforts can be found easily on the Internet. Google it.

Sadly, Pogrebin then relies on Jewish tradition to castigate the report’s critics: Their criticism of him is un-Jewish, she says, in that they “put him in cherem.” But of course cherem — the Jewish version of ostracism — is a time-worn traditional Jewish method to hit back at Jews who cause damage to the community. So far as my reading of the Goldstone Report and Jewish law inform me, shunning him for his malice is easily defensible. Pogrebin’s talmudic reading, on the other hand, is outlandish.

Yaacov Lozowick
Jerusalem, Israel


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