Rabbi Hecht
Rabbi HechtIsrael news photo: Rabbi Hecht

A rabbi’s protest sign at Yale University stunned Judge Richard Goldstone, who was visibly affected by the poster comparing his report on the war in Gaza with the Dreyfus Affair and the anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The Goldstone report, authorized by the United Nations, accuses Israel of committing war crimes in the operation against Gaza terrorists last year.

Rabbi Shmully Hecht, advisor to Eliezer, the Jewish society at Yale University, confronted Goldstone last week when he delivered an address on campus. After Rabbi Hecht and supporters held up the sign in the back of the conference room and Judge Goldstone appeared to be flustered, a Yale official interrupted the speech and said, “You have made your point. Take it down now.”

At a reception following Goldstone’s remarks, Rabbi Hecht said he asked the retired South African judge, "Do you firmly believe the Israeli government has a policy of targeting civilians?... I feel sorry for you.”

Rabbi Hecht then asked Goldstone what he will say when evidence shows that "the report was a sham.” Goldstone answered, “Should that occur, I will rejoice.”

The rabbi said he would relate the reply to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and that when the day comes that Goldstone will rejoice, “I will hug you and embrace you and you will be welcomed back to the Jewish nation, your nation.”

Rabbi Hecht concluded by saying that he “shook his hand, and he looked me in the eye like a troubled Jew.”

Israel's response

On Friday, Israel sent its written response  to the Goldstone report to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, rejecting its claims of war crimes committed by Israel. Defense Minister Ehud Barak last week wrote the United Nations that the IDF "operates in a moral and accurate manner even under impossible conditions.” Barak added, “The Goldstone Report is a distorted, false and biased report.”

Israel 46-page response stated, “Israel’s system for investigating alleged violations of the Law of Armed Conflict is comparable to the systems adopted by other democratic nations, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and Canada. Israel has demonstrated its ability and its commitment to pursue serious criminal charges to uphold the Law of Armed Conflict, a commitment which has been confirmed by outside observers and foreign legal systems. 


“The IDF to date has launched investigations of 150 separate incidents arising from the Gaza Operation. A number of these were opened at the IDF’s own initiative. Others were opened in response to complaints and reports from Palestinian civilians, local and international non-governmental organizations, and U.N. and media reports.”

The Cabinet will decide this week whether it will set up an independent commission to investigate the charges in the report. Knesset Memebr Zev Bielski, former head of the Jewish Agency and now a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, said that an independent probe would jeopardize future IDF counterterrorist operations because it would divulge sensitive information.

The Goldstone report mentioned in passing that Hamas may have been guilty of war crimes by attacking civilians, a charge Hamas has denied despite its attacking southern Israel with more than 12,000 missiles and mortar shells since 2000.

Human Rights Watch, which has a long record of condemning Israel’s defense against terrorists, last week issued an unusual condemnation of Hamas. It flatly stated that "Hamas' claim that rockets were intended to hit Israeli military targets and only accidentally harmed civilians is belied by the facts. Civilians were the target, deliberately targeting civilians is a war crime."