Washington Babylon — March 20, 2009, 11:31 am

Jeffrey Goldberg and Israeli War Crimes

Jeffrey Goldberg is upset. “When the IDF fails to achieve its goal, and ends up inflicting needless destruction and suffering, it sullies not only its own name, but the name of the Jewish state,” he writes.

The source of Goldberg’s angst is that Haaretz has reported on what appear to be gross war crimes committed by Israeli soldiers in Gaza earlier this year:

During Operation Cast Lead, Israeli forces killed Palestinian civilians under permissive rules of engagement and intentionally destroyed their property, say soldiers who fought in the offensive…

Another squad leader from the same brigade told of an incident where the company commander ordered that an elderly Palestinian woman be shot and killed; she was walking on a road about 100 meters from a house the company had commandeered.

The squad leader said he argued with his commander over the permissive rules of engagement that allowed the clearing out of houses by shooting without warning the residents beforehand. After the orders were changed, the squad leader’s soldiers complained that “we should kill everyone there [in the center of Gaza]. Everyone there is a terrorist.” The squad leader said: “You do not get the impression from the officers that there is any logic to it, but they won’t say anything. To write ‘death to the Arabs’ on the walls, to take family pictures and spit on them, just because you can. I think this is the main thing: To understand how much the IDF has fallen in the realm of ethics, really. It’s what I’ll remember the most.”

Back in January, though, Goldberg was an ardent apologist for the Israeli Defense Forces and attacking accounts of Israeli atrocities in Gaza. He suggested such accounts were overblown or that Hamas was responsible because it was using civilians as human shields or that anti-Semitic Westerners were exaggerating the situation. In one post, he linked to this “very funny” satirical interview about an “NGO that uses an ostensible human-rights agenda as camouflage for an anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic program.”

And he wrote, “I don’t think Israel is committing war crimes. Israel is fighting an enemy that intentionally seeks to kill civilians; in the course of fighting Hamas, Israel does some stupid and brutal things, but, by Andrew’s standard, every act of self-defense by a Western nation against Islamist insurgents is a war crime.”

Even now Goldberg is busy apologizing for Israeli actions. The Haaretz revelations show Israeli soldiers behaving “like Cossacks,” but his item makes sure to note that the “world media, generally speaking, doesn’t like Israel very much, and stacks the deck against it,” while the “goal of Hamas is to murder innocent people; the goal of the IDF is to avoid murdering innocent people.”

Based on the Haaretz stories, the IDF didn’t work too hard to avoid killing civilians.

Note: Also, see this:

A United Nations human rights investigator said on Thursday that Israel’s military assault on densely populated Gaza appeared to constitute a grave war crime. Richard Falk, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said the Geneva Conventions required warring forces to distinguish between military targets and surrounding civilians.

“If it is not possible to do so, then launching the attacks is inherently unlawful and would seem to constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law,” Falk said.

Of course, Falk has already been attacked by Israel for his alleged partiality towards Palestinians, so this can no doubt be dismissed as more anti-Semitic propaganda.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

January 2015

Come With Us If You Want to Live

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Body Politic

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Problem of Pain Management

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Game On

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Love Crimes

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Body Politic·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“‘He wrote all these love poems, but he was a son of a bitch,’ said a reporter from a wire service.”
Illustration by Steven Dana
Article
Love Crimes·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If a man rapes a woman, she might be forced to marry him, because in Afghanistan sex before marriage is dishonorable.”
Photographs © Andrew Quilty/Oculi/Agence VU
Article
Game On·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union had posed a truly existential threat.”
Illustration by Taylor Callery
Article
Come With Us If You Want to Live·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“I was startled that all these negative ideologies could be condensed so easily into a positive worldview.”
Illustration by Darrel Rees
Article
Christmas in Prison·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Just so you motherfuckers know, I’ll be spending Christmas with my family, eating a good meal, and you’ll all be here, right where you belong.”
Photographer unknown. Artwork courtesy Alyse Emdur

Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:

36,000

A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.

Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today