This is a beautifully written and sympathetic letter addressed to Dr Richard Goldstone, from 25 souls out of a few million, and I am sure Dr Goldstone appreciates their sympathy.

Dear Judge Goldstone,

As rabbis from diverse traditions and locations, we want to extend our warmest mazel tov [congratulations or good luck] to you as an elder in our community upon the Bar Mitzvah [male coming of age] of your grandson. Bar and Bat Mitzvah [i.e. male and female coming of age] is a call to conscience, a call to be responsible for the welfare of others, a call to fulfil the covenant of peace and justice articulated in our tradition.

As rabbis, we note the religious implications of the report you authoured. We are reminded of Shimon Ben Gamliel’s quote, “The world stands on three things: justice, truth and peace as it says ‘Execute the judgment of truth, and justice and peace will be established in your gates’ (Zekharya 8:16).” We affirm the truth of the report that bears your name.

We are deeply saddened by the controversy that has grown up around the issuing of the report. We affirm your findings and believe you set up an impeccable standard that provides strong evidence that Israel engaged in war crimes during the assault on Gaza that reveal a pattern of continuous and systematic assault against Palestinian people and land that has very little to do with Israel’s claim of security. Your report made clear the intentional targeting of civilian infrastructures such as hospitals, schools, agricultural properties, water and sewage treatment centres and civilians themselves with deadly weapons that are illegal when used in civilian centres.

This is the ugly truth that is so hard for many Jewish people to face. Anyone who spends a day in Palestinian territories sees this truth immediately.

Judge Goldstone, we want to offer you our deepest thanks for upholding the principles of justice, compassion and truth that are the heart of Jewish religion and without which our claims to Jewishness are empty of meaning. We regret that your findings have led to controversy and caused you not to feel welcome at your own grandson’s Bar Mitzvah. We believe your report is a clarion call to Israel and the Jewish people to awaken from the slumber of denial and return to the path of peace.

Rabbi Everett Gendler, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Rabbi Brant Rosen, Rabbi Brian Walt, Rabbi Haim Beliak, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Rabbi Shai Gluskin, Rabbi David Shneyer, Rabbi David Mivassair, Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman, Rabbi Douglas Krantz, Rabbi Margaret Holub, Rabbi Rebecca Alpert, Rabbi Mordecai Liebling, Rabbi Phyllis Berman, Rabbi Zev-Hayyim Feyer, Rabbi Eyal Levinson, Rabbi Doron Isaacs, Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill, Rabbi Erin Hirsh, Rabbi Michael Rothbaum, Rabbi Benjamin Barnett, Rabbi Julie Greenberg, Rabbi Linda Holtzman, Rabbi Ayelet S.Cohen, Rabbi Jeffrey Marker

This is nice. The situation surely calls for a sympathetic note from fellow Jews who understand the importance of what has happened to Dr Goldstone at the advent of his grandson’s Bar Mitzvah,.

Such a note of understanding, and the expression of unity and sympathy, are commendable. However, given the personal nature of the event in question, the rabbis could have chosen to express themselves in a private communication. The fact that they chose to express themselves very publicly begs the question why?

Was it to send a note of understanding and sympathy to a man who has been denied his paternal privileges and dignity in his own faith and ritual, or was the purpose to  indicate the degree of holiness (we are holier than they who torment you) of a few rabbis who have a message or purpose of their own?

I admire the strategic thinking and purpose of the rabbis who wish to express sympathy and brotherhood with their co-religionist, Richard Goldstone, in his dismay at the treatment he has received at the hands of the hypocrites in his own family and synagogue.

But I read not a single hint of a solution, in terms of a proposal for change, or remedy in the rabbis’ letter.

“Return to the path of peace…” is empty rhetoric until someone defines a path for peace. There are many paths for peace, and it can even be argued that Israel has a “path for peace”, albeit one that is paved with the bodies of Palestinians and the death and destruction wreaked over six decades of aggressions and massacres.

Empathy for the demonization of Goldstone is in one sense justified, but empathy for the Palestinians living under oppressive occupation for decades, and enduring years of blockade and violence in Gaza, is where the focus and concern of all people of conscience and pundits in the media should be.

I hear none of the pious rabbis vociferously and unequivocally repudiating Israel, Zionism and world Jewry for what they have done to Palestinians and for the ethnic cleansing which continues to this day in broad daylight.

Those who condemn this evil seldom receive visibility in the mainstream media. A case in point is Judith Weisman who has given pretty powerful testimony and even more powerful poetry, built on some very hard truths about Zionism and Israel. Another laudable example is Michael Neumann who, totally condemning Israel and Zionism, said: “In the end, you will give the Palestinians some scrap of a state. You will never pay for your crimes and you will continue to preen yourself, to bask in your illusions of moral ascendancy.  But between now and the end, you will kill and kill and kill, gaining nothing by your spoilt-brat brutality?”

Leading Israeli Scholar Avi Shlaim says, in an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, that Israel is committing state terror” in Gaza and preventing peace.

Avi Shlaim makes excellent points, but he neglects to mention that Israel and its lobbies in America, through money and the media, have an absolute lock on this and all other Middle East issues.

Anything that an American president might want to do for peace with Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Iran that is not in accordance with the Zionist interests would be a political kiss of death for him. The powerful 100,000-strong  American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and other lobbies would go all out to ruin him, and they would succeed.

Video by Anthony Lawson documenting some powerful and tragic truths about the insidious nature of the Israel lobby in the US

Debbie Menon is a freelance writer based in Dubai. For more information, go to her website – My Catbird Seat.

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