Ad Hominem Attack on Israel – by Alan M. Dershowitz

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The definition of the ad hominem fallacy is to respond to substantive arguments solely by attacking the person who offered them.  The mirror image of this classic fallacy is to try to bolster arguments solely by praising the person who offered them.  This is what is happening with respect to the notorious Goldstone report regarding Israel’s conduct during the Gaza War.  Had Richard Goldstone, a distinguished judge and a prominent Jew, not been the author of the United Nations Human Rights Council report on Israel, it would be tossed in the trash barrel along with other one-sided and biased reports by this prejudice group which targets only Israel for human rights violations.  But those seeking to defend this indefensible report point to Goldstone’s authorship as proof that it must have credibility.  He has in effect placed his “Hechsher,” that is his religious certification of purity, on this impure report.  It is appropriate, therefore, to respond to this argument by discrediting its author and his selfish motives for granting his imprimatur to conclusions which he well knows are false, incomplete, misleading and bigoted.

Indeed Goldstone and his supporters are acknowledging to Jewish friends that he did have a motive in agreeing to head the group that issued the report.  His motive, according to his supporters, was to bring some balance to a report that without his input would have been “even worse.”  Goldstone’s daughter, Nicole, in an obviously pained interview with Haaretz said that, “Had Richard Goldstone not served as the head of the UN inquiry into the Gaza War, the accusations against Israel would have been harsher.”  She continued.  “My father took on the job, for peace, for everyone and also for Israel.”  She told the Jerusalem Post, “My dad loves Israel and it wasn’t easy for him to see and hear what happened.  I think he heard and saw things he didn’t expect to see and hear….”

The problem is not what Goldstone saw and heard.  It’s what he willfully and deliberately refused to see and hear.  He refused to watch videotapes, easily accessible on the internet, that show conclusively that Hamas terrorists routinely fired rockets from behind human shields.  He refused to credit eye witness reports published by refutable newspapers and even admissions by Hamas leaders.  He willfully refused to listen to the testimony of one of the world’s leading experts on how democratic militaries fight asymmetrical warfare against terrorists who hide behind civilians.  Here is what Colonel Richard Kemp told the media but couldn’t tell the Goldstone Commission, because they didn’t want to listen to him:

“I think Israel has very little choice other than to carry on with its military operations until it reaches the conclusion it needs which is to stop Hamas from firing rockets at its people in its territory.

“It has set out on this operation to do that and the civilian and military deaths on all sides of course are absolutely tragic. But Israel doesn’t have any choice apart from defending its own people.

“[F]rom my knowledge of the IDF and from the extent to which I have been following the current operation, I don’t think there has ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF is doing today in Gaza.

However, Hamas, the enemy they have been fighting, has been trained extensively by Iran and by Hezbollah, to fight among the people, to use the civilian population in Gaza as a human shield.

Hamas factor in the uses of the population as a major part of their defensive plan. So even though as I say, Israel, the IDF, has taken enormous steps – and I can tell you about some of those if you’re interested – to reduce civilian casualties, it is impossible, it is impossible to stop that happening when the enemy has been using civilians as a human shield.”

When asked why Kemp was not allowed to testify, this is what Goldstone shamefully said:

…there was no reliance on Col. Kemp mainly because in our Report we did not deal with the issues he raised regarding the problems of conducting military operations in civilian areas and second-guessing decisions made by soldiers and their commanding officers “in the fog of war”.

But everything the Israeli Army did was done in the course of a difficult military operation designed to stop rockets fired from civilian areas from targeting a million Israeli children, women and other civilians.  The basic flaw of the Goldstone report is that, without a scintilla of evidence, the biased commissioners concluded that the Israeli military action in Gaza was motivated not so much by the defense of its citizens but rather by desire to punish Palestinian civilians.  Based on that unproven, untrue and biased conclusion, the commission was then able to ignore massive evidence, much of it self-proving and easily available on the internet, that the Israeli army did everything it could to reduce civilians casualties, while engaged in a military action designed to prevent the murder of its own civilians.

Only a fool or a knave could ignore this massive evidence of Israeli efforts to comply with international humanitarian law.  Only a fool or a knave would fail to see that Israel has done more to reduce civilian casualties that virtually any other country fighting an equally comparable war.  Only a fool or a knave would allow his name to be attached to such a deeply flawed report.  Richard Goldstone is not a fool.

The Goldstone report should be rejected on its demerits.  The added fact that it was authored by a self-aggrandizing Jew—selected precisely because he is a Jew with aspirations to be honored by the international community—should diminish, rather than increase, its credibility.

  • Proxywar

    "The definition of the ad hominem fallacy is to respond to substantive arguments solely by attacking the person who offered them."followed by this…"Had Richard Goldstone, a distinguished judge and a prominent Jew, not been the author of the United Nations Human Rights Council report on Israel, it would be tossed in the trash barrel along with other one-sided and biased reports by this prejudice group which targets only Israel for human rights violations."followed by this…"It is appropriate, therefore, to respond to this argument by discrediting its author and his selfish motives for granting his imprimatur to conclusions which he well knows are false, incomplete, misleading and bigoted." "self-aggrandizing Jew."Is not all of this an Ad hom attack? I don't agree with the glodstone report but still you are ad hom attacking here.

  • Proxywar

    I like the new formate easier on the eyes.

  • georgealbert

    We have the same issue with Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod in the Obama administration. BHO puts Jews in the lead to front for an ignorant and a-historical and anti-Jewish foreign policy. Similarly, we now may have Gates at DOD fronting for surrender to the murderous Taliban in Afghanistan, but I hope I am wrong on this. Bill Clinton did this by putting Sen Cohen from Maine at DOD so that he could drastically cut our defense budget for eight years. This is politics at its worst and it is why too many people get turned off by politics

  • Carterthewriter

    I no longer find it feasable to debate anyone because we have too many excuses prevelant to stop the debate. The only thing left is to study the facts, buy someones book and hope for the best.Commenting has even become a waste of my time.

  • Draza

    Kapo!

    Kiss the rear of the your oppressor. What do you think to gain. The last one standing?

  • AmericanExceptionalism

    Professor Dershowitz,

    As long as you continue to post in defense of Israel at this site, we will continue to hammer you on your blind, hypocritical support for the Anti-Israel Obama. What does this President have to do that will convince you that he is no friend of Israel? Do we need to see Tel Aviv in nuclear ruin by Iranian hands? Do we need to see Obama embrace Ahmadinejad and kiss him on the cheek, as if he were a respected Ally? Perhaps we need to see Obama personally hand over nuke blueprints to Hezbollah. Even then though, I suspect your allegiance to THE ONE would trump any loyalty you have to your own people.

  • USMCSniper

    Elan Journo Educates AmericanExceptionalism:

    American appeasement policy under Bush and now under Obama, teaches Palestinians that their goal of destroying Israel — and the terrorism they employ to achieve it — is legitimate and practical. The ascendance of Hamas therefore was predictable. It is by far the more consistent proponent of that murderous goal.

    Hamas openly seeks the destruction of Israel; it righteously wages a war of rocket attacks and suicide bombings against Israel. The once-dominant Fatah has also long sought Israel's destruction, but it never delivered final triumph over Israel. That failure–Hamas and many other Palestinians conclude–stems from lacking dedication to the goal. Fatah's leadership, more interested in retaining power than in advancing the people's cause, deviated from the path of war: it countenanced negotiating with and recognizing Israel.

    Who is better able to fulfill the Palestinians' wish to obliterate Israel? Fatah leaders who halfheartedly mouth a vague and withered ideal–to create a nationalist Palestinian homeland–or the ardent proponents of a deeply resonant moral ideal–to destroy the enemies of Allah? It is Hamas that can invoke a rousing moral justification for its violence. It is Hamas that, fully understanding its objective, can consistently embrace the means of accomplishing it. Compared with Fatah, the zealous murderers of Hamas stand out as being more consistent and therefore more efficacious in pursuit of the people's wish: Israel's destruction.

    America's policy of appeasement has encouraged Hamas, it has weakened a crucial ally, and it will cost us dearly. Like the Taliban, al Qaeda and Iran, Hamas marches under the banner of Islamic totalitarianism. Hamas's political ascendance is a victory for the enemies of America–and will further encourage the worst religious militants throughout the world. America must stop evading the nature of the Palestinian cause and embrace the principle of self-defense. A first step would be to urge Israel to annihilate Hamas, smash its terrorist infrastructure, execute its leaders — and for America and Israel to proclaim that all Islamic totalitarians will meet with the same fate.

  • USMCSniper

    Maybe you have nothing to say worthwhile reading or ridiculing?

  • ostap_bulba

    “'My father took on the job, for peace, for everyone and also for Israel.' She told the Jerusalem Post, 'My dad loves Israel and it wasn’t easy for him to see and hear what happened. I think he heard and saw things he didn’t expect to see and hear….'”

    This is incredible. If he was surprised by what he saw, and regrets his participation in preparing this report, it is his moral imperative to go public with his doubts. It is more likely, however, that he is fully aware of how this report and others like it damage Israel and serve to bolster the cause of Israel's mortal enemies, and that he (Goldstone) simply doesn't care. To him, far more important is his career, apparently. If, on the other hand, he is sincerely convinced that what the UN is doing here is ultimately good “for everyone and also for Israel,” then for the Jews' sake one almost wishes it WERE simple rank careerism.