Analysis: How propaganda swayed my friend
I have known George Bathurst-Norman most of my professional career, at Bar and Bench. It pains me to read what a judicial ass he has made of himself. George is usually a safe pair of hands, and the last judge of whom one expected this.
In his case it is perfectly true to say that "some of his best friends are Jewish". Aloof and patrician in manner, he is a mildly eccentric but liberal judge who has no prejudice normally.
Yet this was a truly vile summing-up. It reads like an anti-Israel diatribe at a student union debate from some spotty left-wing undergraduate who has gained his information and world outlook exclusively from the Guardian.
All the usual vicious and simplistic canards appear. Israeli pilots deserve arrest if found in the UK as war criminals; Goldstone is a heroic judge whom the Jews therefore condemn as self hating; the boarding of the flotilla was an act of aggression which killed nine innocent civilians; Rachel Corrie was coldly murdered; hospitals and the UN Headquarters were deliberately targeted in Operation Cast Lead; the US and UK governments are shameful for arming Israel; it is like the Nazis.
However, the CPS - which prosecuted this case abysmally - undoubtedly also deserve major blame. They facilitated these acquittals by lamely accepting as agreed evidence in the trial that Israel was guilty of war crimes in Gaza, and giving the so-called defence "expert witnesses" a free pass.
The judge's prejudices, disguised as a neutral direction of law, are in turn a green light to all future ideologically-motivated vandals. He has done grave disservice to the rule of law.
It is like telling animal rights protesters they are free to smash up laboratories (or even those who work there) if they decide animals were mistreated.
There is no possibility of "declaring a mistrial". Recent comments to this effect are misconceived. A jury acquittal is sacrosanct. It cannot normally be appealed by anyone.
The only resort is to the recently established Office of Judicial Complaints. He may hopefully be rapped over the knuckles, but trust me when I say that George won't care.
The much greater worry for me is to see how we have lost naive but well-meaning people - like George - to the incessant and insidious torrent of mendacious Palestinian propaganda.