Goldstone, J Street, and xkcd.

A friend noticed something odd: I haven’t used this space to address the Goldstone Report (other than really ineffectually, here).

It is at least as odd, I imagine, that I have also not addressed the upcoming J Street conference, and the smear campaign against J Street and its supporters (which I number myself among).

To a very real degree, this is because I don’t know what I could possibly add to the conversation. Going over the facts is to repeat that which has already been said several hundred times, and accusing those who exercise bad faith of exercising bad faith is an exercise in going in circles. Person A accuses Goldstone/J Street of being anti-Israel and thus dismissible; Person B points out that Goldstone is a self-professed Zionist/J Street declares itself to be fighting to preserve Israel’s status as a Jewish democracy; Person A rejects out of hand whatever was said; Person B fulminates.

Rinse, repeat. Take a step to the right. Do-se-do. On and on.

I am, frankly, so tired of it. I want people to speak honestly. I want people to accept — even as just a possibility — that Israel is capable of something just shy of perfection, and that the Palestinians are not the only ones who do horrible, inhuman things (and yes, the Palestinians have done horrible, inhuman things). I want people to be open to questions, open to not-knowing, open to surprises, good or bad. I want people to stop putting words in the mouths of others, I want people to argue on the merits of their case, I want people to stopstopstop being so arrogant and so presumptuous and so blinkered, and start looking one.single.step beyond their noses. I want the zero-sum game mentality to die, be buried, and be forgotten.

Also, though, and not incidentally, Goldstone came out just before my Israeli mother-in-law came for a two-week visit, and the J Street shit hit the fan while she was here — and I found myself both busy, and longing for home. I am tired, as well, of feeling contempt for my (other) country and its leadership, of not believing a word that comes out of any official mouth, of thinking always and only of the occupation.

So instead, I will point you to the words of other people, people who are apparently less worn down and worn out by the struggle, and then, believe it or not, I will post something happy.

  1. In the spirit of letting the man speak for himself, Rabbi Brant Rosen and Rabbi Brian Walt hosted a conference call between Justice Goldstone and 150 rabbis: here’s the transcript.
  2. Rabbi Rosen’s earlier thoughts about the report, and his thoughts about the Jewish people airing our “dirty laundry.”
  3. The always powerful Leonard Fein on the rope that Goldstone threw to Israel.
  4. MJ Rosenberg on the J Street kerfluffle, in HuffPo and Politico.
  5. A little taste of the absurdity of the anti-J Street attacks, from Bernard Avishai at TPM.
  6. UPDATE: Goldstone in his own words in the Jerusalem Post.

And now, as they say, for something completely different:

An awesome Israeli-made animation of a wonderful xkcd strip, itself inspired by the delightful Discovery Channel song “I Love the World” (watch for Stephen Hawking’s contribution!). Ta-daa! Something happy!

[Thanks Boing Boing!]



Israel/Palestine: the basics.

Israel/Palestine peace advocacy – places to start.

Israel/Palestine – a reading list.


  1. MK

     /  October 22, 2009

    Hmmm, interestingly, you overlooked the following article, which looks at the evolving perspective of Jewish Americans on Israel:

    Funnily enough, the author of this quote seemed to ring a bell. “The suffering of the [Palestinian] people there is a very, very powerful thing for people to be talking about. The community as a whole is far less likely to throw you out.” 🙂 I apologize if I’m being overly cheeky here.

    On the whole, I found it to be a rather interesting (and encouraging) article. But it was posted on a lefty site, so clearly, it’s just a piece with fringe ideas and comments that must be disregarded.

  2. Michael Levin

     /  October 22, 2009

    Also worth reading:

    A remarkable conversation with Judge Goldstone
    Rabbi Brian Walt

    Excerpt: “The reality of what happened in Gaza is shocking and he is bearing the brunt of this painful reality that our community is determined to avoid. All our pain and confusion, all our efforts to avoid the truth are channeled into vicious attacks on him. He shared that these attacks keep him up at night and how painful it is for him to see the ways in which the members of his family are suffering as a result of his demonization in our community. He shared that the only other time he had been attacked as viciously was during Apartheid when he was the head of a commission looking into secret government armed groups who were torturing and killing opponents of Apartheid. Then he was attacked by Whites and Jews as a traitor to the white community; now he is attacked as a traitor to the Jewish community. In both cases his courage in placing his moral commitments above any ethnic, religious or racial affiliation, elicited vicious attacks.”


    The Magnes Zionist
    Friday, October 9, 2009
    Beyond Chutzpah – Jewish Responses to the Goldstone Report

    Excerpt: “It used to be that the classic example of chutzpah was the man who murders his parents and then pleads for clemency on the grounds that he is an orphan.

    Now the example of chutzpah should be the state that refuses to cooperate with the human rights committee and then criticizes its report as “one-sided” and “biased”.


    Another breach in Israel’s wall of impunity
    Hasan Abu Nimah
    The Electronic Intifada
    21 October 2009

    Excerpt: “It may be too early to hope that the Goldstone report will result directly in Israeli leaders facing trial in international courts; there are still too many opportunities for Israel and its backers to block such action. But Goldstone marks another major breach in the wall of Israeli impunity that is slowly but surely crumbling. It is a matter of time before Israel faces the consequences of its crimes and all who support peace and justice should welcome and work for that with renewed vigor.”

  3. Lise

     /  October 22, 2009

    Oh, MAN! Animated xkcd! Cool!

    (I hope I don’t embarrass you {too much} in front of your way more politically aware commenters…)

  4. CollegeBookworm

     /  October 22, 2009

    Not surprisingly, there’s a university chapter of J Street on my campus. There’s been all sorts of lovely drama between the pro-Palestine contingent of UBER LIBERAL PROGRESSIVE types, the old-school Zionist ISRAEL CAN DO NO WRONG club, and J Street. We are talking nasty signs and sidewalk chalk all around campus. It’s just- it’s horrible. Everyone just listens to the sound of their own voices instead of engaging each other.

    It’s actually disappointing- I’m on a campus that ought to have a seriously active dialogue on Israel, and I just don’t want to get involved, because I don’t think anyone is actually listening to each other.

  5. Sorry to pile on your bad mood, but you’ve neglected the flaws-prove-perfection feint: ‘Well, whatever our problems, at least WE allow for self-criticism. YOU don’t allow even that—which only proves the correctness of our decision to dismiss your grievances.’

    This move is hardly limited to certain supporters of Israel, of course. It is, unfortunately, broadly deployed across all kinds of politics.

%d bloggers like this: