Monday, October 26th, 2009
Israeli ambassador Michael Oren may have brushed off J Street, which invited the new envoy to speak at their first national conference this week, but a lower-level official found time to talk to a group that takes even more critical positions when it comes to Israeli policy.
Rabbis for Human Rights-North America requested – and got – a meeting at the embassy on Monday. Their topic: the Goldstone report on human rights violations during this year’s Gaza war- a UN report most pro-Israel leaders say was hopelessly biased against Israel.
RHR has a different perspective. Their message to Galit Baram, counselor for public and academic affairs: Israel should investigate the allegations in the controversial UN report.
“We don’t necessary endorse everything in the Goldstone report, but we see a moral and legal responsibility to have an independent investigation,” said Steven Gerber, the RHR executive director. “They’ve done this before, and those kinds of investigations have served them well.”
Gerber said the group requested the meeting because “we wanted to be sure the Israeli government knows where we are coming from. We understand and respect Israel’s desire to protect their citizens – and they put up with a lot during seven years, with missiles raining down on southern Israel. But these allegations have been raised not only by the Goldstone report, but by international human rights groups and Israeli groups.
How did the Israeli diplomat respond?
“It was a good meeting,” Gerber said. “She shared with us the position of the Israeli government, and some of what’s going on the Israeli press. There is a real debate there about the best way to move forward on this.”
I’m guessing that means nobody’s views changed, but the RHR folks seemed happy to get a hearing.