Failure of attempts to discredit the Goldstone report and its authors 6Apr10 April 7, 2010
Dr Hanan Shehata – Middle East Monitor MEMO -Â 6 April 2010
There has been a prolonged and concerted campaign to discredit anyone who is brave enough to speak out against the Zionist policies of Israel. The list of academics, lawyers, activists, politicians and private citizens who have been lambasted by Zionists for daring to speak out against Israel is absurdly long and is growing every day. It is becoming almost comical how one can predict the tag of “anti-Semite” being flung at anyone who dares even raise a minor point of concern over Israel’s growing list of human rights abuses and breaches of international law.
It’s not really Colonel Travers but the Goldstone Report which is essentially under attack.
Colonel Desmond Travers is one such individual who has recently found himself subject to a flurry of completely unjustified attacks on his person simply because he has been brave enough to demand that Israel be held to account for its crimes in accordance with international law. Colonel Travers (a retiredÂ Colonel in the Irish Army with a distinguished military career spanning over 40 years and member of the board of directors for the Institute of International Criminal Investigation in The Hague) is one of the four co-authors of the landmark Goldstone Report who has recently been subjected to a barrage of completely unjustified abuse from Zionist apologists.Â If you look at the substance of the complaints levelled against him however, you will see that each criticism is completely unfounded and does not in any way relate to Colonel Travers as an individual but is merely in response to his association with and defence of the Goldstone report. His very association with the report has been enough to make him a target of the Zionist lobby.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has himself said that Israel has three main enemies Iran, Palestine and Goldstone. It seems that many Zionists have taken those comments to heart and are trying to defeat what is perceived to be one of the biggest threats to Israel, namely the Goldstone Report. This has also spilled over to include viewing anyone associated with the report as an enemy of Israel as well, which is grossly unfair considering the unbiased nature of the individuals involved as well as the fact that the report was the result of a desperately needed UN sanctioned fact-finding mission into a major, illegal, military attack on the civilian population of Gaza.
The report itself has been attacked as flawed, misguided and biased. However, to any objective person who has actually taken the time to read it, it is clearly an exceptionally well crafted and well researched report and the criticisms of it are generally the unfounded rantings of supporters of Israel who refuse to hear a single word said against their beloved state, no matter how well founded the criticisms of Israel may be. Like many others therefore, Travers is simply an innocent casualty standing too close to indiscriminate Israeli fire.
But let’s look at some of the recent criticisms levelled against him anyway.
Hamas rockets were an “excuse” not a justification for Operation Cast Lead
One of the criticisms that keeps coming up and which Zionists are attempting to use to discredit Colonel Travers are his comments in an interview with the Middle East Monitor relating to Hamas rocket fire. Colonel Travers was asked whether Israel’s claim of “self-defence” justified their attack on Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. After remarking, quite rightly, that every country has an inherent right to self-defence, he then again, quite rightly, pointed out that this justification did not apply in the case at hand. He explained that, as everyone knows, there had been a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas since June 2008, brokered by Egypt, which Hamas had scrupulously observed. For four months (between July and October) Hamas had not fired a single rocket into Israel, and no Israelis were killed. This is something that even Israeli spokesperson Mark Regev has himself admitted to, live on air. However, Israel then broke that ceasefire on November 4th 2008 when they killed 6 Palestinian men. It is only following Israel’s breach of the ceasefire therefore, that rockets started to be fired into Israel once again. It is a testimony to the strength and control of Hamas that throughout the ceasefire period they managed to ensure that their people, as well as most other Palestinian groups, adhered to the agreement. It is especially impressive considering the fact that Israel has kept Gaza under an illegal siege for years now, preventing access to food, medicine, humanitarian aid, clean water and so on. As such, Hamas’ success at restraining Palestinians who have been imprisoned by Israel and preventing them from retaliating in the only way that they can, by firing off a few homemade rockets cobbled together in a dusty basement somewhere, was a feat indeed.
However, while it is true that immediately following Israel’s breach of the ceasefire there was an increase in the number of rockets fired towards Israel, as Travers said, that does not make it directly attributable to Hamas. It must be borne in mind that just because a rocket is fired into Israel from Gaza does not mean that it was Hamas that fired it. Many breakaway factions exist in Gaza, in addition to Fatah supporters, as well as undercover Israeli agents.
If Israel really is interested in defending itself, perhaps it should stop attacking Palestinians. Can Israel really expect to be able to breach a ceasefire agreement, kill Palestinians, and then when there is retaliation claim that their next act of violence is in self-defence? That is in abuse of the very term. You can not provoke a reaction and then use self-defence as a justification for a new attack.
It is hard to understand why this line of argument has come as such a shock to some people. Colonel Travers is by no means the first or only person to point out the fact that Israel initiated the violence by breaching the ceasefire. Professor Avi Shlaim from Oxford University, for example, has similarly pointed out that “the home-made Qassam rockets fired by Hamas militants from Gaza on Israeli towns were only the excuse, not the reason for Operation Cast Lead”. Regarding the ceasefire, as Prof. Shlaim says, “contrary to Israeli propaganda, this was a success: the average number of rockets fired monthly from Gaza dropped from 179 to three. Yet on 4 November Israel violated the ceasefire by launching a raid into Gaza killing six Hamas fightersâŚ”
The Pro-Israel Lobby in Britain
In a report by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) they complain that in the MEMO interview, Colonel Travers made the remark that “Britain’s foreign policy interests in the Middle East seem to be influenced strongly by Jewish lobbyists.” By making this statement, they assert, “Travers implies that British Jews have interests that differ from Britain’s own national interests and that Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government is influenced by these considerations. This statement, unless corrected, places Travers in a position in which his views are suspect of being motivated by anti-Semitic prejudices.”
Apparently you do not have to say very much at all to be branded as an anti-Semite then. The mere observation that Britain’s foreign interest policies “seem” to be “influenced” by pro-Israeli lobbyists is apparently enough to get you into the club. This should reassure the countless others who have been unjustly branded as such that they are not alone. Furthermore, you would probably be hard pressed to find any right thinking individual who did not agree with Colonel Travers statement.
In any event, what really seems to be the problem with the comments Colonel Travers has made with regards to the pro-Israel Lobby? Why are the Zionists so defensive? Are the critics really trying to deny that such a lobby exists? In a world where a lobby exists for almost anything, from the gun lobby in America to the fox hunting lobby in the UK, are they trying to suggest that one does not exist for Israel? Surely Israel, the lauded masters of PR spin, has a lobby too. I can’t imagine that anyone is really trying to suggest that they do not. That would just be a facile position to try and maintain.
Instead then, are they objecting to the strength and influence which is being attributed to the pro-Israel lobby in British politics? Again, I find it hard to believe that they would agree that they do have a pro-Israel lobby but that it is a weak and feeble lobby with no real significance, influence or power. Surely that is not what they want us to believe either, which is good, since it is literally unbelievable. So what are the critics objecting to? They do not make that clear. Apparently just alluding to the very existence of a pro-Israel lobby is enough to raise their hackles; but why?
The pro-Israel lobby hardly operates under the radar anymore; what with the Labour Friends of Israel; the Conservative Friends of Israel; Gordon Brown’s 2007 appointment as Patron to the Jewish National Fund UK; the funding and wooing of politicians as uncovered by Peter Oborne’s “Inside Britain’s Israel lobby“ documentary on Channel 4; it would be hard to argue that the lobby did not exist.
One need only look at the state of British relations with Israel to see the presence and influence of the Israel lobby lurking in the foreground. For instance, who is behind Britain’s refusal to abide by its international legal obligations to pursue and arrest Israeli war criminals? Give us one good reason why Britain is risking its international reputation to protect Israeli war criminals? The pressure being brought to bear on British politicians to change the law to accommodate such offenders and protect them when they visit our shores is surely coming from one primary source; the pro-Israel lobby.
In one of the many on-line attempts to mar the character of Colonel Travers a posting on Wikipedia said, under the heading “controversy”, that “when asked about his controversial statement about the influence of “Jewish lobbyists” at the London School of Economics on 8th March 2010, Travers chose not to answer the question or make any comment, even when urged to do so repeatedly by an audience member.”
However, what the “critic” failed to explain was who that audience member was. The question was raised by Jonathon Hoffman who is a vice-chair of the Zionist Federation in the UK and he has recently been banned from attending public events as a result of his aggressive anti-social conduct at public events. In July last year for instance, War on Want’s Executive Director John Hilary told theÂ Jewish News that Hoffman had been banned from an event because of fears that he would ‘disrupt’ activities, saying: “It has been advised to us by fellow organisers of similar events that Jonathan Hoffman attends these functions strictly to disrupt proceedings. When he applied to attend the meeting, we informed him he would not be permitted, as we want to ensure the event is not hijacked by people who cannot act respectfully.”
In the weeks surrounding Colonel Travers’s excellent talk at the LSE Hoffman was removed by Parliamentary police on at least two occasions following him disrupting speakers as they delivered talks on Israel and Palestine, one of which was during a talk by Ilan Pappe and Ronnie Kasrils. Hoffman has become notorious for his rude heckling of guest speakers who in anyway criticise Israel. When the wikipedia critic therefore says that Travers did not answer a question “even when urged to do so repeatedly by an audience member”, that comment has a little more meaning when viewed in the light of who was asking the question and the rude manner in which the question was asked. In any event, it is ridiculous to assert, as the JCPA do, that Travers’s reference to a pro-Israel lobby in the UK “places Travers in a position in which his views are suspect of being motivated by anti-Semitic prejudices.” The leap that they have made from his mere observation, to them branding him an anti-Semite is one more feeble attempt to discredit him and through him the Goldstone Report; one that, as usual, looked at closely, holds no weight at all.
The term Anti-Semitism is being abused by Zionists
Jews have a right to be very upset with Israel right now and indeed many of them are. Israel is committing atrocious acts of violence and barbarism and is daily committing gross violations of human rights in their name.
Even President Obama has been accused of being anti-Semitic, (by Netanyahu’s own brother in law, Dr Hagi Ben-Artzi no less) and this is despite his country giving billions of dollars to Israel, supplying them with weapons, supporting them in the UN, and being their closest ally. If Obama has been branded as anti-Semitic then how can Colonel Travers, or indeed anyone else, expect to fair any better?
It has been said that Travers avoided the “difficult question of anti-Semitism.” It is not a difficult question however. It is an easy one. Criticism of Israel does not equal anti-Semitism. It is as simple and easy as that. Amidst all of their spurious allegations of anti-Semitism there has not yet been a single statement of his in which Travers reveals even the slightest hint that he holds any ill will, prejudice or hostility towards Jewish people. Therefore, either his critics are sadly misinformed as to the true meaning of the words anti-Semitic or their claims are false. There is not a shred of evidence of any anti-Semitism on his part. He is merely being branded, as so many other critics of Israel have been, in the hope that this will cast doubt as to his true motivation in taking part in the Goldstone Report and consequently in the hope that, in this way, the report itself might lose credibility. It will not however, as at each turn critics of the report are failing. Following months and months of scrupulous nitpicking and dissection if what is out there so far is the best that critics can come up with, the soundness of the Goldstone report has been demonstrated. It has stood up remarkably well to assaults from every angle and it still stands.
Lastly, the JCPA state that Travers “clearly emerges as an individual who is not qualified to take part in any serious fact-finding mission and the U.N. should not seek his services in the future. Given his statements, Justice Richard Goldstone should repudiate Col. Travers and completely reject the conclusions that he reached as a result of his work.” Again this is baseless. The charges laid against him are flimsy at best and merely attempts to divert attention away from the larger picture; Israel’s actions itself. In what has been referred to as a tactic of “distraction” Israel and its supporters try to deflect attention away from its own offences and attack the messengers instead. By complaining that Colonel Travers has dared to allude to a pro-Israel lobby in the UK or by complaining that he would not answer every single question of a well known Zionist heckler in a university lecture, they are trying to draw attention away from Israel’s crimes. But no amount of distraction will make us forget that the IDF killed some 1,400 Palestinians, including 300 children, and hundreds of other unarmed civilians, including more than 115 women and some 85 men aged over 50 during Operation Cast Lead.
Nothing will make us forget that Gaza has been under a virtual lock-down – siege – for over one thousand days now; that children are dying from lack of medical care; mental health is deteriorating; malnutrition is common place; 95% of the water in Gaza is unfit for human consumption; thousands of Palestinian homes have been illegally destroyed; Israel’s use of illegal weapons have left children mutilated and orphaned. These are the matters that must stay in focus. We will not be hoodwinked by Israel’s tactics of distraction. Colonel Travers is just one messenger and the Goldstone is just one message and we will not let Israel shoot the messenger or destroy the message. Support the Goldstone report and all those who support it.