So now it turn out to be Richard Goldstone–author of the notorious Goldstone report–who is politicizing his grandson’s bar mitzvah. Jewish authorities in South Africa didn’t “ban” Goldstone from the synagogue at which his grandson was being bar mitzvahed, as Goldstone and his supporters had alleged. A small group of protestors had said they would exercise their right of expression to picket Goldstone. Though they clearly had the right to do so, most Jews in South Africa and elsewhere–including me–were uncomfortable with the idea of picketing a grandfather attending his grandson’s bar mitzvah. It was Goldstone who decided not to attend and instead to publicize the matter.
The South Africa Board of Deputies have now persuaded the protestors to pick a different time and place to show their disdain for Goldstein. The matter should have been put to rest, with Goldstone quietly attending the bar mitzvah. But Goldstone won’t let it go. He has attacked the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, who was instrumental in working out a compromise where the protests would be called off and Goldstone would agree to meet with Jewish leaders. Goldstone escalated the dispute by writing a letter to the local newspaper complaining that,
“the Chief Rabbi would so brazenly politicize the occasion of my 13 year-old grandson’s bar mitzvah to engage in further personal attacks on me.”
But it was Goldstone who brazenly politicized the bar mitzvah by mischaracterizing the Chief Rabbi’s statement and using it as an excuse to continue the controversy about the bar mitzvah. The alleged “personal attack” by the Chief Rabbi consisted of a statement that every synagogue:
“should welcome in a tolerant and nonjudgmental way all who seek to enter and join in our service and pray to God.”
The Chief Rabbi also exercised his own freedom of speech to express his opinion–an entirely accurate one–that the Goldstone report:
“has unfairly done enormous damage to the reputation and safety of the State of Israel and her citizens.”
Was the Chief Rabbi obligated to remain silent about the report until the bar mitzvah is over? It would have been irresponsible of Rabbi Goldstein to say nothing in the face of the evil represented by the Goldstone report and its biased authors. Is it not enough that he curbed those who wanted to protest in front of the synagogue? It is Goldstone who is using his grandson’s bar mitzvah as a shield against legitimate criticism, just as he has used his “jewishness” as a shield against criticism of the Goldstone report.
Goldstone has not complained about another group of rabbis who have politicized his grandson’s bar mitzvah in an effort to support the Goldstone report and its mendacious conclusions. A group of rabbis, many of whom have long records of anti-Israel activism, authored a “Rabbinic letter” to Goldstone congratulating him on his grandson’s bar mitzvah and using the occasion to make virulently anti-Israel claims, including the blood libel that Israel deliberately targeted innocent Palestinian civilians without any military purpose. These ignorant rabbis, most of whom I am sure never read the 500 page report, went out of their way to “affirm” the “findings” of the Goldstone report, despite the fact that virtually every credible academic who has studied the report has found its findings to be unfounded and false.
These bigoted rabbis, who have no expertise in military matters, are prepared to contradict the military expertise of one of the world’s most experienced counter insurgency military experts, Colonel Richard Kemp, who said,
“I don’t think there has ever been a time in the history of warfare when an army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF [did] in Gaza.”
Goldstone of course refused to consider Kemp’s testimony and has characterized it as irrelevant to the report’s findings.
These “rabbis for Hamas” have no shame and no credibility. They exploit their rabbinical status to support any conclusion that undercuts self defense Israeli actions without regard to the evidence and without regard to the truth.
Not surprisingly, the worst of these rabbis (and that is saying a lot), Michael Lerner, after attempting to politicize the bar mitzvah by offering his anti-Israel synagogue for the event, has decided to honor Richard Goldstone with Tikkun Magazine’s “Ethics Award.” I guess all it takes to be honored by Tikkun is to pass Lerner’s litmus test of lying about Israel. That’s Lerner’s definition of “ethics.” There are some good people on the advisory board of Tikkun Magazine. They now have an obligation to reconsider their membership unless they wish to be associated with a rabbi who is prepared to accuse Israel, in the absence of any evidence, of deliberately setting out to murder Palestinian civilians without any military purpose.
Let Richard Goldstone enjoy his grandson’s bar mitzvah without anyone politicizing it, but let every thoughtful person study the Goldstone report and refuse to remain silent about its bias, its lies, its damage to the peace process and its dangers to Israel’s security. Richard Goldstone should not use his grandson’s bar mitzvah to selectively silence rabbis who disagree with his report, while encouraging rabbis who agree with it to use the bar mitzvah as a sword against the report’s critics and as a shield against legitimate criticism. His grandson deserves better.