Dershowitz, Goldstone, Israel and South Africa

Posted 05/13/2010 - 05:11 by Rabbi Brian Walt

My colleague, Rabbi Brant Rosen, has just published a important response on Huffington Post to a series of articles by Alan Dershowitz over the last few weeks. I recommend his article highly and encourage you to share it with others.

When a Jew starts to accuse rabbis of blood libel; when an American shouts "McCarthyism" at an American magazine editor whose life is dedicated to dialogue; when a professional, highly experienced lawyer accuses a world-renown jurist of "evil," equating him with the Nazi "Angel of Death," and uses Star Wars terminology against a legitimate, widely-supported political lobbying group - well, it adds up, and it indicates one thing: Desperation.

Alan Dershowitz, and many of Jewish America's leading conservative lights, have seen the writing on the wall, and it frightens them. Their brand of Jewish chauvinism is fading from the world, and they are justifiably frightened that a different approach to both Israel and Jewish life is taking hold among American Jews.

Read the complete article here.

As an ex-South African, it was so distressing to see the latest attack by the Israeli newspaper, Yediot Achronot, on Judge Goldstone's history as a judge during the Apartheid years. This latest attack celebrated by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, and American Israeli apologists, is particularly odious as it is launched by Israelis who either ignored or supported Apartheid. I recommend reading this important article, Glass Stones, Glass Houses, by Sasha Polakow-Suransky that highlights the hypocrisy of this latest attack:

Goldstone's apartheid-era judicial rulings are undoubtedly a blot on his record, but his critics never mention the crucial part he played in shepherding South Africa through its democratic transition and warding off violent threats to a peaceful transfer of power -- a role that led Nelson Mandela to embrace him and appoint him to the country's highest court.

More importantly, Ayalon's and Rivlin's moralism conveniently ignores Israel's history of arming the apartheid regime from the mid-1970s until the early 1990s. By serving as South Africa's primary and most reliable arms supplier during a period of violent internal repression and external aggression, Israel's government did far more to aid the apartheid regime than Goldstone ever did (emphasis mine).

In 1986 I was in my first pulpit and I remember the revelations about Israel's role in supporting Apartheid. In my rabbinic office I had publications and statements from several Jewish organizations denying the charges of Israel's close ties to the Apartheid government. When I think of that time it is so similar to the current campaign to deny the Goldstone Report. I was younger then and was shocked that the mainstream Jewish organizations had lied, calling those who wrote about the relationship anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and worse. Now it all seems very familiar.

The only reason that Yediot Achronot, the Israeli government and Israeli apologists are focused on this story is another cynical effort to avoid facing the allegations in the Goldstone Report. Even if Judge Goldstone was a pro-Apartheid judge, which he wasn't in any way, the reports don't alter the shocking moral violations by Israel detailed in the Goldstone Report. The same Israeli apologists and Jewish organizations who lied then about the relationship between Israel and South Africa are the ones attacking Goldstone now.

As Rabbi Rosen wrote:

It's time for Jewish leaders in Israel, America, and around the world to grapple with the difficult truths of Israel's occupation and its treatment of the Palestinian people - rather than launching personal attacks against the messengers with whom they don't happen to agree.