J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami released the following statement in response to Judge Richard Goldstone’s op-ed in The Washington Post this weekend:
J Street welcomes Judge Richard Goldstone’s op-ed in The Washington Post this weekend and his conclusion, based on evidence from Israel’s investigations into allegations of misconduct in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, that “civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.” This was one of the most serious charges against Israel contained in the Goldstone Report. While J Street never took a position supporting or opposing the Goldstone Report, we did second calls by prominent Israelis such as Dan Meridor and former attorney general Menahem Mazuz for Israel to launch its own credible, independent investigation, as it had in the past. The Israel Defense Forces did in fact launch internal investigations into some of the charges related to Operation Cast Lead that were in the report and some that were not. We share Judge Goldstone’s belief that Israel deserves credit from the international community for launching these investigations and further that Hamas should be strongly condemned for its failure to address the charges against it in any way. We hope Israel will vigorously pursue and complete the inquiries it has begun and that it will do so in an open and public way. As Judge Goldstone emphasizes, and as we noted last February, his report would have been far better and more balanced had the government of Israel chosen to cooperate – a conclusion that is emerging as conventional wisdom in Israel today. Israeli commentator Nahum Barnea begins a recent column asserting, “It was a mistake to boycott the Goldstone commission,” while Brig. Gen. (res.) Zvika Fogel, the Southern Command’s fire center commander during Operation Cast Lead, writes in Yisrael Hayom that, “We should have cooperated with the commission of inquiry.” We further urged at the time that the report’s critics should refrain from personal attacks on Judge Goldstone or on the human rights advocates who brought the violations to light. The judge’s column in The Washington Post confirms our sense of respect for him as a person and a jurist who should never have been so viciously attacked on a personal level by his opponents. Our hope moving forward is that all parties will take steps to avoid any escalation of tension or renewed conflict between Gaza and Israel and to ensure the safety and well-being of the residents of southern Israel and of Gaza. To that end, we call in particular for an end to rocket fire against Israeli civilians. Finally, we urge the United States, Israel and the Palestinians to focus now on achieving a two-state solution so that we reduce the chances of future conflicts entailing civilian casualties, alleged human rights violations and investigative reports.