April 25th, 2010
09:16 PM ET

Judge to attend grandson's bar mitzvah after all

A South African judge who said he planned to skip his grandson's bar mitzvah because of expected protests over the judge's role in a report that was critical of Israel has now decided to attend the event, he said Sunday.

The judge, Richard Goldstone, authored a United Nations report on the 2008-2009 war in Gaza that accused both Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes.

Known as the Goldstone report, it sparked outrage in much of the Jewish world, and Goldstone - now a law professor at Georgetown University - said earlier this month that he would skip his grandson's bar mitzvah in Johannesburg out of fear his appearance would draw protests from South African Jews.

But Goldstone told CNN on Sunday that he has decided to attend the event after receiving assurances from a major South African Jewish organization that there would be no protests at the bar mitzvah if he agreed to meet with local Jewish groups.

"I am delighted to be attending this important day for my grandson and my family," Goldstone told CNN.

In an e-mail to the American Jewish publication Tikkun, Goldstone said that the South African Jewish Board of Deputies had brokered the deal with local Jewish groups.

Last week, Goldstone told CNN that he was planning to skip the event because he'd "received reports that I will likely be physically prevented from entering the synagogue."

"Imagine the effects of such protests on my 13-year-old grandson and his family," he said.

Israel rejected the findings of the 2009 Goldstone report on the Gaza conflict, which killed about 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis over three weeks during December 2008 and January 2009.

"We will not agree to a situation where the [Israeli Defense Forces] commanders and soldiers will be treated as war criminals after vigorously defending the citizens of Israel against a loathsome enemy," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response to the report in October.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called the report "distorted, false and irresponsible."

The Palestinian Authority government of Mahmoud Abbas supported the report. In February, Hamas - which rules Gaza - released a 20-page summary of steps it had taken to investigate wrongdoing during the Gaza conflict, though human rights groups rejected its claims that any rockets fired against Israeli civilians were accidental.

Goldstone is a former justice on South Africa's highest court and former chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

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Filed under: Israel • South Africa
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Michael

    sad sad sad that Mr Goldstone even had to consider canceling his trip. This puts the people criticizing him at the same level of those they despise. No wonder the middle east will not know peace.
    As a note, the disparate number of victims on each side already gives an indication of the one sided brutality during the December conflict. No need for rocket scientists to acknowledge that.

    April 25, 2010 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • AmishJew

      Amish and Jews are the same thing. They share the same genes. Amish split from Jews because they reject technology.......they are European. I am sorry to tell you that.

      Google: Amish Jew ancestry

      June 20, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Alexander

    As an attorney myself who fails to understand why Israel seems to be exempt from international law: it is wonderful to see Goldstone standing up for his heritage, religion, human rights, the truth and law. I hope he enjoys his grandson's ceremony. Kudos to him.

    April 25, 2010 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seriously?

      The issue is not that Israel wishes to be exempt from international law. The problem with Goldstone's report is that it is completely one-sided. How can you blame Israel for actions and completely disregard to horrific activities of a terrorist organization against civilians? Ever thought that Cast Lead would never have occurred if rockets weren't raining down on innocent people?

      July 7, 2010 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  3. J. G.

    I don't see what's wrong with attending a religious celebration of a relative. Judaism and the State of Israel are separate things, even though the Israeli government likes to pretend otherwise.

    April 25, 2010 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JohnpraizC

    Interpretative jurisdiction should not be an affliction on a young boy.

    April 25, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. WorldGoneMad

    "... after vigorously defending the citizens of Israel against a loathsome enemy," -Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

    "[Goldstone] has decided to attend the event after receiving assurances from a major South African Jewish organization that there would be no protests at the bar mitzvah if he agreed to meet with local Jewish groups."

    Hang on. Goldstone, a judge and a Jew, authors a UN report that documents, irrefutably, the Israeli atrocities in Gaza. And now he has to negotiate his attendance at a momentous and personal family gathering?

    Take a hard look at Israel, its military comportment, its political lobby and its propaganda machinery and then ask which were the real lessons learned from the Nazis.

    April 25, 2010 at 11:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Leer

    Judge Richard Goldstone is a decent and honest man. His report on the Israeli killing of 1400 Palestinian men, women, and children, in Gaza, was accurate and credible in citing both Israel and Hamas with acts considered to be war crimes. As a Jew, it seems that pro-zionists expected him to whitewash and distort what the world already knows to be true: Israel is, and has often been a repeat war crimes offender.

    Mr Goldstone should be a Nobel Peace Prize Winner. He is a tribute to his native country of South Africa – where the reality of war crimes is taken seriously. He is truly a just man – and a giant when compared to zionist pygmies like olmert and netanyahoo.

    April 26, 2010 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
  7. akka69

    That's what you get when secularism and politics are mixed.
    The judge was commenting a country military policy, and his family's religious practice is affected..
    This worl needs less "official" religions and more personal faith, with a WIDE separation between the political and religious spheres.

    April 26, 2010 at 1:49 am | Report abuse |
  8. Eyal Feldman

    He is a traitor to the Jewiish people. He should be allowed to attend the bar-mitzvah, but never should be comfortable around the Jewish or Israeli community. He has done major damage to Israel, you can tell by the other comments that there are plenty of Israel haters out there.

    April 26, 2010 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  9. Dan

    I'd just like to point out a few things:
    A- The Goldstone Report was almost unanimously condemned by the US Congress and President Obama himself. So if you believe it is an accurate report, you are in disagreement with the American Government (again, including Obama).
    B- Israel and Judaism are not separate. Israel is home of Jews. The Jewish People were offered a state in Uganda in the early 1900s, but rejected the idea because Israel is their homeland. A Jew is to Israel as an American is to America. Judaism is not just a religion, it is also a nationality.
    C- Goldstone is not a traitor to the Jews. He is a traitor to justice and humanity. By skewing his results and making up false accusations of war-crimes based only on Palestinian "accounts" he has made a mockery out of justice, the UN, and human rights.

    April 28, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |