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."


Potter said...

I hope yours won't be last words because there is much still to be said- should be said.

I read the Merchant poem, then looked at the video, a brilliant sort of promo for the theater, but more; he was continuing Arna's work. I see a very beautiful Jew-Arab/ Israeli Palestinian, doesn't matter. But I wonder why he was murdered and who? It had to have been because of his work, not only who he was (well his work was who he was). I thought this could very well be the act of a fanatic settler, a Jew- that makes more sense to me. Then I have had some inkling of the depth of the anger that some Palestinians hold, the hurt that is inconsolable. This can be seen so well in "Arna's Children", ironically an attempt at repair, at making amends.

I like Gideon Levy's piece in Haaretz today: An Arab, a Jew, a human being

Potter said...

Sorry, Fred >Marchant>. Thank you for your poem.

Regarding the David Green edited version- better. It was buried off the front page in a column of opinions yesterday. I wish it was featured.

Fein- thanking him for the links too- especially the Montell. Goldstone does come out looking bad but I feel very sorry for him. He was battered. Gideon Levy very angry about his reconsideration, also said it would leave the door open for Cast Lead 2, the justification for conducting another such a war. It's okay then as long as intentions are not to harm civilians even though there is no way not to do that in such circumstances. To be fair- I think Hamas gambled on Israel having the restraint- which Hamas should not have done ( especially after the 2006 Lebanon War).

We should be talking about "deterrence" and what that means, what is allowed under that category in terms of international law and for that matter human decency. Is this kind of activity really about existential threats?Does it work? Is it worth the ultimate price? Israel is up there with Iran North Korea and Pakistan in a recent BBC poll- the world's most unpopular negatively viewed countries.)

Gene Schulman said...

Nice to hear from Leonard Fein again. Since his "American's for Peace Now" days.

Indeed, Goldstone comes out looking bad, but that's his own fault. And yes, Israel is playing that retraction for all it's worth. They need it more now as they renew their attacks in Gaza - Cast Lead II has begun in earnest. Sad, sad, sad.

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