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

March 2015

A Sage in Harlem

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Man Stopped

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Spy Who Fired Me

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Giving Up the Ghost

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Invisible and Insidious

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
No Slant to the Sun·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“She didn’t speak the language, beyond “¿cuánto?” and “demasiado,” but that didn’t stop her. She wanted things. She wanted life, new experiences, a change in the routine.”
Photograph © Stuart Franklin/Magnum Photos
[Browsings]
Burn After Reading·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

William Powell published The Anarchist Cookbook in 1971. He spent the next four decades fighting to take it out of print.
“The book has hovered like an awkward question on the rim of my consciousness for years.”
© JP Laffont/Sygma/Corbis
Article
The Fourth Branch·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Both the United States and the Soviet Union saw student politics as a proxy battleground for their rivalry.”
Photograph © Gerald R. Brimacombe/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
Article
The Spy Who Fired Me·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In industry after industry, this data collection is part of an expensive, high-tech effort to squeeze every last drop of productivity from corporate workforces.”
Illustration by John Ritter
Article
Invisible and Insidious·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Wherever we are, radiation finds and damages us, at best imperceptibly.”
Photograph © 2011 Massimo Mastrorillo and Donald Weber/VII

Hours per day that a death-row inmate in China wears hand and ankle restraints:

24

A multidisciplinary team detected cardiac arrhythmia in the works of Beethoven.

There was a run on cases of 5.56mm M855 green-tip rifle bullets, after the White House moved to ban their manufacture and sale because they can pierce police armor.

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Driving Mr. Albert

By

He could be one of a million beach-bound, black-socked Florida retirees, not the man who, by some odd happenstance of life, possesses the brain of Albert Einstein — literally cut it out of the dead scientist's head.

Subscribe Today