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October 27, 2009

Letters to Goldstone Belie his Claims on Bill Moyer's Journal


Justice Richard Goldstone--whose deeply flawed report on Israel's Dec.-Jan. military operation in Gaza has come under harsh criticism-- has repeatedly attempted to defend himself by attacking his critics.

As we've noted previously, in a Jerusalem Post Op-Ed he asserted that "there has been no attempt by any of [the report's] critics to come to grips with its substance." And he repeated this on the October 23rd broadcast of Bill Moyers' Journal (PBS):

You know, the response has not been to deal with the substance of those allegations. I've really seen or read no detailed response in respect of the incidents on which we report.

But even if he can claim "not to have seen" the accumulating body of material by NGO's, bloggers, media watchdog groups, fellow lawyers, etc. that is readily available on the web addressing the substance of the report, Goldstone has received numerous letters detailing the report's flaws. And they are increasingly entering the public domain.

Telfed, an organization of Israelis from South Africa has posted several of these on its Web Site. And today, the Israeli daily, Ma'ariv, publishes a letter to Justice Richard Goldstone from Dr. David Zangen, who, as the chief medical officer of the IDF brigade that fought in Jenin during Israel's 2002 Operation Defensive Shield, defended the IDF from false charges of a massacre there. (See Movie Review: Jenin, Jenin/Road to Jenin)

Dr. Zangen warns Goldstone about the excessive credulity with which questionable Palestinian testimony was accepted at face value, comparing it to similar but false testimony that charged Israel with perpetrating a massacre in Jenin -- a charge that was subsequently acknowledged to be false. Below is the letter in English:

Dear Judge Goldstone,

My name is Dr. David Zangen, I am a consultant in Pediatric Endocrinology and diabetes at Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem. Over 50% of my patient population is Palestinian from Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. I speak Arabic and initiated the first training program for Palestinian physicians in the field of Pediatric Endocrinology. The trained physicians were fully respected and were included as first authors on our studies that are published in world leading professional journals.

But, at the same time I happened to be the chief medical officer of my brigade during the Defensive Shield Operation in Jenin 2002. I was responsible for the medical treatment of our soldiers but also for enabling the hospital in Jenin to provide full medical services to the civilian population and I was personally involved in numerous medical treatments that Palestinians (including warriors) received from Israeli physicians. During and after the operation the director of Jenin hospital was a source to what has been falsely called the "Massacre in Jenin where 5000 people were massacred" this same person Dr. Abu Rali has also claimed that one part of the Jenin hospital was destroyed by Israeli tank missiles "12 tank rockets were shot at the hospital …" etc

You should know, honored Judge that these statements have been proved and documented as straight lies not only by Israeli sources but also by the Human Rights Watch and the UN organizations counting only 52 dead people on the Palestinian side (23 on the Israeli side). These organizations and photographs of Jenin hospital following the operation showed no evidence for any destruction at the hospital buildings etc.

This Dr. Abu Rali a director of a hospital, a physician, lies and incites in the service of the Shahids. It is hard to believe that a director of a hospital can give such an obvious false testimony. I can't understand it and you can't understand it but unfortunately this is what has happened. Even persons who would usually be considered reliable sources become advocates of straight lies. Tragically, moral misbehavior of doctors in the Palestinian Authority is not new. The Pediatrician George Habash sent his terrorists to kill children in Israeli schools and so did the Hamas leader the pediatrician Dr. Rantisi…and so continues to do the Pediatrician encouraging the sending of rockets from Gaza on innocent Israeli schools Dr Mahmud Zaher.

Please judge Goldstone, you should really be careful when such straight liars serve as the basis for your report. I am sure that you mean well but being an eye witness both to the events in Jenin and to the subsequent media and initial false UN reporting I do understand what happened to you. How a person of such stature and integrity could become associated with such a faulted report.

Look Judge Goldstone at your report on the Al Fakhura event on January 5-6th 2009 (paragraphs 651-688). You do report how Israel was accused for directly bombing the UNRWA school. It took 2 weeks to withdraw from this accusation but you, honored Judge, went back to get your testimony only from the same people who spread the blood libel of bombing the school. Moreover when analyzing the scene you claim that you could not verify the numbers of 24 dead and 40 wounded but these numbers are not considered exaggerated. Finally in the Factual findings part you already determine that 24 people were killed and 40 injured!

Did you by any chance try to validate any of these invented and inciting details? Did you look at the Al Jazeera or BBC reports from the same very date of the event? Did you try to validate your "factual findings" conclusions by getting at least Emergency Room charts on the people admitted to their trauma department on this very day? Did you go over the I.D.'s of the "dead" people and the place or cemetery where they were supposedly buried?

Well you didn't!

In all the scene of "40 dead and 40 wounded" filmed by Al Jazeera and other channels reporters and screened at the same day all over the world you could not see bodies or blood spots in the streets beside two or three casualties and one footage of a single wall damaged by a bomb. As a physician who was at terrible suicide events with smaller number of casualties I can testify how it looks like for hours following the event….The media documentation of the Al Fakhura event does not verify and definitely does not go along with the fantasy and lies of your witnesses.

As a judge I must be sure that you did not mean to hurt Israel, I try to believe that you came to Gaza without prejudice…but a judge is expected to look at least for some evidence and verification (media, ER registration, burial places etc….) of the testimonies and not accept impossible "facts". You have let yourself to be misled by fabrications made by either terrorists or even doctors such as Dr. Abu Rali from Jenin.

I and my colleagues in Israel are proud of the medical service that is given equally to every human being regardless of his origin; we are also proud to belong to a nation that has the imprint of having higher moral standards than others.

The price that we pay for this status is very high. The Palestinians and other Muslims around the world, either common people or even respected doctors, use straight lies as part of the war against us. The Western world media criticizes us and tries to find where we were not behaving up to the extremely high moral standards that we made ourselves.

I call on you Judge Goldstone take this Al Fakhura event, look at the media coverage from the very same date…see the events in the context…try to live one day with the responsibility for the existence of this small nation of 6 million Jews threatened constantly by 300 million Muslims. I call on you to try and not draw conclusions from such lies and misleading witnesses even if they come from so-called professionals. In the modern world propaganda and lies are definitely a part of the war and as a judge you should not serve as a tool for augmenting hatred and conflicts.

We look for peace , we love peace and we do try our very best to fight for our right to exist in the highest possible moral standards even at the cost of our lives.

David Zangen M.D.

Posted by RH at October 27, 2009 11:23 AM


Without getting long winded, simply, to objectively comply to an independent third party investigation into the Goldstone report would remove any questions in the eyes of world wide public opinion, as to guilt or innocence. To assume that an internal investigation would be impartial to the charges not only of Goldstone but also The Red Cross et al is to make an agregious error where Israel currently sits in the eyes of the world. To be standoffish in the wake of these charges is to thumb the nose at popular opinion. I for one believe that the report is more true than false, having read the diction over the last 2 weeks. That isn't to say that Hamas isn't to blame, as there are numerous points made about their actions, especially concerning civilians, but at this point, they are making overtures to (possibly) investigate. the numbers don't lie and in the court of public opinion, they are the most telling: 1400 Palestinians to less than 20 Israeli's? Come on. You don't have to be a Rhode's Scholar to figure this one out.

Posted by: Daymond at October 27, 2009 05:36 PM

Daymond, a Rhodes Scholar you would certainly never make since you can't even differentiate between a country that allocate funds for building shelters and protect its citizens (Israel), and a terrorist organization who cynically uses its population as cannon fodder, allocating all its resources to buying rockets instead of building shelters (Hamas). That's the only two reasons for the discrepancy in casualty numbers.

Posted by: J.J. Surbeck at October 28, 2009 11:46 AM

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