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Jonathan Ball

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Anthea Jeffery Attacks the Goldstone Report(s)

People's WarAnthea Jeffery won’t let sleeping dogs lie. She digs deeply into matters that many, especially the political elite, would rather leave untouched. One example being her book, People’s War: New Light on the Struggle for South Africa, which re-assigns blame for SA’s political violence in the 80s and 90s.

Recently, spurred on by Judge Richard Goldstone’s report on the Gaza strip conflict, Jeffery presents readers with a new perspective on the judge’s earlier reports on the causes of the SA violence at the tail end of the last century. The author believes that the Gaza report is reminiscent of Goldstone’s South African work and goes on to point out what she sees as its failings:

Judge Richard Goldstone’s recent report on conflict in the Gaza strip adjoining Israel has been severely criticised by many, including the chief rabbi of South Africa, Rabbi Warren Goldstein, and Mr Benjamin Pogrund, a South African born journalist and author now living in Israel. However, neither Messrs Goldstein and Pogrund, nor a host of other commentators seem to realise that key Goldstone reports on political violence in South Africa are as fatally flawed as the Gaza report which has drawn such widespread condemnation.In his critique of Judge Richard Goldstone’s recent report on conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza strip, Rabbi Warren Goldstein notes that ‘law is a very powerful weapon to give respectability’ to political agendas. The underlying objective of the United Nations (UN) as regards Gaza was to delegitimise Israel and build up Hamas, says Goldstein. Whether wittingly or otherwise, the Goldstone report promoted that agenda by:

- accepting the untested allegations of Hamas officials as established fact,

- ignoring relevant testimony about Israeli self-defence and efforts to limit casualties,

- overlooking the declared aim of Hamas to destroy Israel, and

then rushing to impute the worst of actions and intentions to Israel. As Goldstein writes: ‘[The report] looks like law, but it is not. It is just politics.

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