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From Adv Charles M. Abelsohn
February 12, 2015
Dear Judge Mary McGowan Davis,
I refer to the courteous appeal to you by Mr Maurice Ostroff in his open letter to you published in the Times of Israel on February 10, 2015, and wish to associate myself with his appeal to you to ensure full disclosure of all the evidence submitted to your Commission.
Like Mr Ostroff, I, too, am an Israeli citizen directly affected by the Commission. I am directly affected because I belong to that exclusive club of about 8,000,000 persons including the aged with their walkers, young parents with their babies, animal lovers with their dogs and cats who, every now and again have between 15 to 45 seconds to reach bomb shelters as missiles are aimed at us. This exclusive club is comprised only of Israelis.
Like Mr Ostroff, I, too, am an Israeli citizen directly affected by the Commission. I am directly affected because I belong to that exclusive club of about 8,000,000 persons who for the past decade have had about 15,000 rockets and mortars aimed at me and us, all civilians while being denied the right of self-defense. This exclusive club is comprised only of Israelis.
Like Mr Ostroff, I, too, am an Israeli citizen directly affected by the Commission. I am directly affected because I belong to that exclusive club of about 8,000,000 persons who have found an international body to already have determined my and our guilt and an international Commission officially mandated only to announce my and our sentence. This exclusive club is comprised only of Israelis.
Like Mr Ostroff, I, too, am an Israeli citizen directly affected by the Commission. I am directly affected because I belong to that exclusive club of about 8,000,000 persons whose fate will be decreed by testimony unheard, evidence unlistened, witnesses unknown, experts concealed, sources of information undisclosed and submissions unrevealed. This exclusive club is comprised only of Israelis.
In a normal unbiased sane society, these rockets and mortars deliberately aimed at Israel`s civilian population would be recognized for what they are: war crimes to be condemned, and, if objective standards of justice prevailed, the perpetrators pursued in an applicable international court of law well before self-defense even became an imperative necessity.
Mr Ostroff pointed out that not only is the public deprived of information about the witnesses and the evidence they provided, the public is left unaware of the existence of the vast body of credible submissions which the Commission has received including several cogent, authoritative submissions listed by Mr Ostroff. In his published article “B’Tselem’s casualty figures based largely on phone interviews” he drew attention to the absolute unreliability of casualty figures that are supplied to OCHA-OPT
Hence Mr Ostroff`s appeal to you to ensure full disclosure of all the evidence submitted so that
“justice is not only done, but is manifestly and undoubtedly seen to be done”.
Judge, I believe that failure to publish and disclose the identity of experts, information, evidence, submissions and testimony received in the course of your Commission’s inquiries is very serious indeed and in fact may be crucial in determining the ultimate fate of your Commission’s report.
In his statement on his resignation, as published in The Guardian on 3rd February 2015, Professor Schabas wrote “My views on Israel and Palestine …were well known and very public”. Since Professor Shabas` views are indeed widely known and his statements critical of Israel and its leaders on public record, this statement in itself is probably sufficient to dismiss the eventual report of the Commission as prejudiced and biased.
But Professor Schabas went further. He wrote that “the commission had largely finished gathering evidence and had begun writing the report”.
Judge, I respectfully submit that without disclosing the experts consulted and the evidence and testimony on which the report is based and findings made, the report will be deemed to be irretrievably prejudiced and damaged beyond repair.
There are many who believe that the report, as admitted by Professor Schabas himself, has largely been written and that the resignation of Professor Schabas will simply permit a change to the name of the report from the Schabas Report to the Davis Report without any material change to the substance, contents or findings.
Without publishing evidence and testimony, this unique situation is not merely a theoretical “seeing that justice is being done” situation, which by itself of crucial importance, but will determine whether the report is based and findings are made on actual and reliable evidence and testimony.
Without publishing evidence and testimony, there is no possibility of ascertaining the extent, if any, to which such evidence and testimony were subjected to vigorous questioning and examination during the course of the Commissions` inquiries, an honest and impartial review of submissions received, the reliability of the sources of information and the identity and validity of reports of experts consulted or rejected by the Commission.
Without publishing evidence and testimony, your Commission`s findings will be regarded by fair-minded and impartial observers as a prejudiced and biased report based on the untested submissions of subjective NGOs, unknown witnesses, unsupported by the evidence of experts of repute and credibility, to an unknown extent written by the now discredited Professor Shabas and unacceptable by any objective standard.
Judge Davis, the decision is yours whether the Commissions Report will, after publication, continue to be referred to as the Schabas Report or, due to your openness to share with the public, your willingness to listen, your agreement to disclose, your revealing of the identity of your experts and the sharpness and incisiveness of your questioning, as the Davis Report.
This letter is being publicized as will the response I hope to receive from you.
Adv Charles M. Abelsohn