Israel critics pledge their backing for Goldstone

Anglo-Jewish groups which are strongly critical of Israel are planning a public show of support for the Goldstone Report on Israel’s action in Gaza.

Independent Jewish Voices and Jews for Justice for Palestinians are among a number of organisations who intend to place an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Gordon Brown in The Times.

Noting that “British Jews do not speak with one voice”, they welcome the Goldstone Report and condemn what they call the “vilification” of Judge Richard Goldstone.

He is described as “an internationally acclaimed jurist who has made a substantial contribution worldwide to the development and maintenance of international humanitarian law”.

They are also at odds with one of the major criticisms of the report, saying that Goldstone “does not in any way deny Israel its right to legitimate self-defence”.

The signatories believe that “Israel cannot afford, nor should it wish, to exempt itself from the scrutiny of the international community on these matters.

“We consider that it is the attempt to do so, rather than the Goldstone Report, that is damaging Israel.”

Prof Jacqueline Rose, one of those behind the proposed advert, said: “One of the impulses for this was the headline in the JC about Gordon Brown mending fences with the Jewish community over the government’s failure to vote on the Goldstone Report at the United Nations. The article really did give the impression that the Anglo-Jewish community was hostile to the report.

“A number of us felt that while that was true of the people speaking in the article — the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council — there were many Jews who felt the opposite, that they should be supporting the report and that’s why we are taking a full page in The Times.

“We hope the letter will be seen and people will communicate to the government that there is diversity of opinion on this and people on both sides have strong feelings.

“We hope this will be picked up by a wide swathe of Jewish opinion not affiliated to any group, who would be pleased to see a statement of this kind.”

But Jonathan Hoffman, co-vice chair of the Zionist Federation, said: “The Goldstone Report was created by a biased mandate and its composition was not even-handed.

“The 12,000 missiles and Kassam rockets fired at Israelis for eight years prior to the action in Gaza get hardly a mention and there is no mention of Israel’s right to self-defence.

“Those who support Goldstone are publicity-seekers who share the same view as Iran, Libya and Zimbabwe.”

A letter from JfJfP executive Richard Kuper, on behalf of both organisations, has been sent to everyone who signed previous similar advertisements, appealing for £25 a head to help offset the £8,500 cost of the advertisement in The Times.

    Last updated: 4:42pm, November 26 2009