Jeffrey Goldberg, a writer for the Atlantic magazine and a former soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces, has been pounding the center-left lobby group J Street at his blog lately. In a Sept. 30 post, Goldberg criticizes J Street for allegedly arranging visits for Judge Richard Goldstone to Capitol Hill, smears the Goldstone report and mischaracterizes the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem’s position on the report.
According to an article posted on The Washington Times site last night, J Street helped arrange visits by Judge Richard Goldstone, the South African jurist appointed by the U.N. to investigate the most recent conflict in Gaza, to Capitol Hill. Goldstone’s work, heavily reliant on Hamas for uncorroborated information, has been condemned on both the left and right, here and in Israel (including by the left-wing Israeli human rights group B’Tselem), for its fairly obvious biases.
The claim that Goldstone’s report was “reliant” on Hamas for “uncorroborated information” is factually wrong. How exactly was Goldstone “reliant” on Hamas? Goldberg doesn’t specify. If you read the report, it becomes clear that the information in it is, in fact, corroborated, citing Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and many other human rights organizations’ reports on the conflict. Many of the Goldstone report’s conclusions were backed up by subsequent reports that came out after Goldstone’s report. Even Israeli military investigations further bolster the report’s findings.
The claim that the Goldstone report was “condemned” by B’Tselem is misleading. Goldberg is most likely referring to a New York Times report by Ethan Bronner that quoted Yael Stein of B’Tselem as saying that he does “not accept the Goldstone conclusion of a systematic attack on civilian infrastructure. It is not convincing.”
Stein certainly criticizes the report’s findings. But B’Tselem’s position is much more complicated, and far more supportive of the report, than Goldberg lets on.
After that Times report came out, Jessica Montell of B’Tselem wrote in Mondoweiss:
The quote of Ms. Stein was the result of a two-hour conversation with the journalist, most of it focused on the inadequacy of Israel’s investigations to date. While Ms. Stein was quoted accurately, this is a very small part of our views on the Goldstone report and Cast Lead, and not what we would chose to emphasize at this point…
B’Tselem has invested tremendous resources over the past year to research and publicize the extent of the civilian harm caused during Israel’s military operation in Gaza last winter and to hold Israel accountable. B’Tselem also provided extensive assistance to the UN fact-finding mission headed by Justice Goldstone – escorting them to meet victims in Gaza, providing all of our documentation and correspondence, and meeting the mission in Jordan. Much can be said about the very lengthy, detailed report submitted by the mission, and about the UN process it set in motion. The most important message to promote now – and one on which B’Tselem agrees whole-heartedly with the Goldstone report – is that Israel must conduct a thorough, independent inquiry into all the allegations that have been made.
Does that sound like condemnation to you? But I guess Goldberg plays by different journalistic rules than the ones saying journalists should be accurate and tell the truth. We all learned that in the run-up to the Iraq War.