Even at a J Street event I attended in Washington two weeks ago, there was some condemnation of the United Nations' Goldstone Report on last winter's Gaza war. The report found that both the Israeli army and Hamas were guilty of war crimes -- Israel of using excessive force to deliberately target civilians (such as bombing a Mosque during a service), and Hamas of launching rockets into Israel and using its own civilians as human shields.
Richard Goldstone, the report's lead author, is a South African judge and internationally respected human-rights lawyer; he prosecuted war crimes in Rwanda and Yugoslavia. To compile the report, he worked alongside mainstream human-rights groups, including the Israeli organization B'Tselem. And the report is perfectly in line with journalism that came out of Israel and the Occupied Territories during the war, in which 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.
So on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, it's appropriate to look honestly at the Goldstone Report, instead of vilifying its author, a Jewish man who considers himself a Zionist. Brant Rosen, a Reconstructionist rabbi based in Evanston, Illinois, has an important op-ed in the Chicago Tribune:
...painful as it is for us to admit, Israel's behavior in Gaza has consistently betrayed our shared Jewish ethical legacy.
This was true before the war, when the Israeli blockade denied Palestinians basic necessities; it was true during the war, when Israel responded with disproportionate force to Hamas rockets; and it has been true since the war, as Israel has deepened the blockade, preventing Gazans from rebuilding their homes. As a result of Israeli actions, some 60 percent of Gazans don't have continual access to water and face near-daily power outages of up to 10 hours at a time, while hundreds of thousands are dependent on foreign aid agencies for food.
A humanitarian crisis of this magnitude demands a response from within the Jewish faith community -- and knee-jerk rejection of any and all criticism of Israel won't change the facts. It will only distance us from a just and peaceful solution to this conflict.
Hat tip: Mondoweiss.