Public Comment

Updated: Judge Richard Goldstone, Invited to Move Bar Mitzvah To San Francisco,to be Honored Instead

By Rabbi Michael Lerner
Thursday April 22, 2010 - 06:29:00 PM

Update: Judge Goldstone will now attend his grandson's Bar Mitzvah after all,according to an email from Rabbi Lerner.  


Judge Richard Goldstone has been reviled in some sections of the Jewish world for his UN report which found prima facie reason to believe that Israel (and Hamas) had committed war crimes during Israel's invasion of Gaza December 2008 - January 2009.  

Judge Goldstone recommended that Israel do its own investigation and answer the specific allegations. Instead (like Hamas) it did no such thing, but rather high level officials of the Israeli government suggested that Goldstone (a long time supporter of Israel and a member of the board of the Hebrew University, and a universally respected jurist who had conducted similar investigations for the UN of the human rights violations in South Africa, in other African countries, and in Bosnia) was actually anti-Semitic or a self-hating Jew. Meanwhile, the US Congress passed a resolution urging the UN to ignore the Goldstone report, and the Obama Administration similarly dismissed it as "flawed" but did not specify any of its alleged flaws. 

For those of us in the Jewish community who recognize that Israel's treatment of Palestinians and its overt violations of human rights are not only a rejection of traditional Jewish values, but are also dangerous both to the survival of the State of Israel and to the future safety of the Jewish people living all around the world, the pressure put by Judge Goldstone on Israel to clear its name was a welcome breath of fresh air. Goldstone made clear that his charges were not substantiated, that had Israel been willing to cooperate with his UN sponsored investigation they might well have helped him eliminate elements of the report that were not true according to Israeli information, which was not supplied to him, and that in any event his call for the UN to bring these matters before the International Court at the Hague was only to occur if Israel did not publicly appoint an independent judiciary of its own to investigate the charges in public hearings. As many of us in the peace community noted, the charges could easily have been responded to by Israel taking the stance that these acts were not part of its policy, that they regretted them and intended to take steps to make sure that things of this sort would never happen again, and that it would hold accountable and punish those engaged in or giving orders for or collaborating with human rights violations.  

We in the peace community both in Israel and around the world see Justice Goldstone as upholding the best ethical values of the Jewish community, so we are outraged at the treatment he has received. The most recent, the banning of him from his own grandson's Bar Mitzvah in South Africa, led us at Tikkun to invite him to do his grandson's Bar Mitzvah here in the United States where many Jews would honor him. He was delighted with the invite, but said it was too late. So we have decided to award Judge Goldstone the annual Tikkun Award at the celebration of our 25th Anniversary in the Spring of 2011. Other recipients who appeared at previous conferences include Abba Eban, Allen Ginsberg, Irving Howe, Alred Kazin, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Marion Wright Edelman, Yehuda Amichai, Senator Paul Wellstone, and James Hillman.