Friday, April 8, 2011

Last Words On Juliano Mer-Khamis and Goldstone

Instead of posting a comment about the murder of Juliano Mer-Khamis, the award-wining poet Fred Marchant, veteran, activist, recent visitor to Jerusalem, and (gratefully) reader of this blog, sent me the following poem, which I thought I might share with you. It captures, touchingly, what one can only feel observing from afar something that feels strangely personal and terrible. I suggest you read his poem after watching this YouTube filmlet, the last thing Juliano prepared about his Jenin theater before he was gunned down.

“Here is what the mind does”

when my laptop opens to a small red car, a tight street,
the dust gray and yellow, the electric window half open,
and five little lean-to cards, on each a number to denote

where a spent round ended after traveling its distance
with lead certitude, with molten heat a match for its sense
of the truth, and when blood pooled by the opened door,

pooled and followed a tilt in the road, it was not far,
was more a lingering, as if it could choose not to leave,
and now that this man was gone it was standing around

like those on their way to and from, those with work
and school and small plastic bags of food, those merely
puzzled or curious, those who watch the men with duties

do them as quickly as they can, which is slowly, picking
through pieces, which is what the mind does at moments
like this and, honestly, it is not much more than nothing.

--For Juliano Mer-Khamis,April 4, 2011


MY FINAL TRY at making sense of Goldstone's reconsideration appears in today's Haaretz.  As I implied in my previous post about him, we all need good editors. I am indebted to David Green, the gifted editor of Haaretz's English editorials, for helping me say just what I meant to.

And this email came in from Leonard Fein:

Re: Goldstone

I haven't the time for a detailed analysis, but this is where I come down for the time being:

1. No one comes out of this looking worse than Goldstone himself. That was true even before we learned that in the OpEd piece he sent to the Times a week before submitting his piece to the Post, and which the Times rejected, he evidently said nothing about the issue of intentionality. That makes it seem as if he introduced that matter in order to ensure the Post would want it. Sleazy. I remain convinced that Goldstone was so deeply offended by Israel's refusal of cooperation (which was, in fact, utterly disrespectful) that his judgment was, and continues to be, impaired.

2. There was, and is, a much more proximate explanation than intentionality for the devastation that Israel caused during Cast Lead -- to wit, a policy decision by Israel not to take casualties. Pretty much everything follows from that. Goldstone does not at all address this issue in his OpEd piece. There, while he withdraws the most incendiary of his charges (intentionality), he leaves everything else in the original report intact.

3. Goldstone relies, in his OpEd piece, on the McGowan Davis report, which is in fact quite critical of Israel. It acknowledges Israel's efforts to investigate, but terms them not yet adequate and very belated, points as well to a significant conflict of interest.

4. Ehud Barak is a major offender in his response to Goldstone, but there are also the scoundrels who have decided that the real villain of the piece is the New Israel Fund. Rachel Liel's piece on that matter, available on line, is classy and wise. I recommend also B'Tselem's Jessica Montell's OpEd in today's Washington Post, which includes a devastating quote re the Goldstone OpEd from Gabriela Shalev, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations: "The one point of light is that if we have to defend ourselves against terror organizations again, we will be able to say there is no way to deal with this terror other than the same way we did in Cast Lead." Goldstone himself opened the door to that, but the politicians have gone well beyond what he said.

Israel's political echelon is, as expected, using the OpEd to exonerate the policy makers. They plainly intend to use the Goldstone shift as their principal defense when the need arises. Montell goes on to say, correctly, that "Shalev's words make chillingly clear that this debate is not only about the past but also about the future. For this reason it is vital that we move beyond the slogans and soundbites around Goldstone. Instead, we must honestly discuss how to ensure genuine accountability for past wrongs, full respect for international humanitarian law and protection for civilians in any future military operations."