“Why Didn’t You Tell Me U.N. Council Declared Israel Guilty From the Start? Why Did You Humiliate Me?”
|Dr. Mirela Siderer, disfigured in May 2008 by a Palestinian missile
attack on her medical clinic, testifying before the U.N.
Geneva, September 29, 2009 — The U.N. Human Rights Council plenary witnessed a dramatic face-off today when the head of its controversial “fact-finding” mission on Gaza — in which Israel was declared guilty from the start — was unexpectedly confronted by one of his own witnesses.
In a surprise appearance arranged by the Geneva human rights organization UN Watch, Dr. Mirela Siderer — an Israeli doctor who was brutally disfigured in 2008 by a rocket attack fired from Gaza into her Ashkelon medical clinic — pointedly accused Goldstone of ignoring her July oral testimony in his report, and of failing to disclose material information concerning the prior statements of the Human Rights Council and panel members declaring Israel guilty in advance. Click for video. The speech was published in full today by Canada’s National Post, and covered widely in Switzerland, Israel and worldwide.
Sitting on the dais, Goldstone was visibly shaken by Dr. Siderer’s challenge and scrambled for a copy of her speech. His response to the plenary ignored 7 of her questions, and inadequately responded to the 8th. See full text and video below. For UN Watch’s play-by-play Twitter of today’s heated debate, click here.
UN Watch Plenary Address
U.N. Human Rights Council Debate on Goldstone Report
Agenda Item 7: “Human rights situation in Palestine
and other occupied Arab territories”
Delivered by Dr. Mirela Siderer, Geneva, September 29, 2009
Click for video
My name is Dr. Mirela Siderer. I am a gynecologist living in Ashkelon, Israel.
Judge Goldstone, in July you invited me to testify. I told you my story. I am known by my patients — including many women from Gaza. For me, every human being is equal.
On May 14, 2008, my life was changed forever. I was working in my clinic. Suddenly, the building was hit by a missile, fired from Gaza. I was terribly wounded. Blood was everywhere. My patient was also wounded, and more than 100 others. Next month will be my eighth operation.
Judge Goldstone, I told you all of this, in detail. I testified in good faith. You sent me this letter, saying, “Your testimony is an essential part of the Mission’s fact-finding activities.”
But now I see your report. I have to tell you: I am shocked.
Judge Goldstone, in a 500-page report, why did you completely ignore my story? My name appears only in passing, in brackets, in a technical context.
I feel humiliated.
Why are there only two pages about Israeli victims like me, who suffered thousands of rockets over eight years?
Why did you choose to focus on the period of my country’s response, but not on that of the attacks that caused it?
Why did you not tell me that this council judged Israel guilty in advance, in its meeting of last January?
Why did you not tell me that members of your panel signed public letters judging Israel guilty in advance?
Judge Goldstone, you, too, signed such a letter, saying you were “shocked” about Gaza.
But where were you when Gaza attacked my medical clinic, in violation of international human rights and humanitarian law?
Where was this council?
Why were you all silent?
* * *
Goldstone’s Response: (video)
With regard to the statement made by Dr. Siderer, I’m clearly upset that she feels humiliated by the report. She was treated in the report in no way different to that of other victims who spoke to us. She was referred to in the report as one of the people who was injured as a result of a rocket attack on a shopping center in Southern Israel. The report also refers to the fact that the evidence of the people who gave evidence to us are available on the website of the OHCHR. It is there for anybody to see.
UN Watch Note: Dr. Siderer posed 8 simple questions. Goldstone avoided all except one, and on this was non-responsive and misleading. Dr. Siderer never said that she wasn’t “referred to,” but rather complained that her story was ignored, and that her name was mentioned only “in passing, in brackets, in a technical context;” and that this underscored how he overlooked 8 years of suffering of the rocket victims. Here is Dr. Siderer’s original testimony; here is Goldstone’s report. Search her name — it turns up but once, in passing, in par. 1640. Goldstone’ s claim that other witnesses were given similar treatment is manifestly false: see, e.g., the report’s repeated and in-depth discussion of witness Abu Askar. What is clear is that the report gives short shrift to Israeli suffering by its selective focus on the period of Israel’s response to the rocket attacks (Dec. 2008 and Jan. 2009), instead of to the attacks themselves (2001-2009).
Resource Materials on Goldstone Report
- The Goldstone Report, Sept. 15, 2009
- Israel’s Initial Response to Report of the Fact Finding Mission on Gaza, Sept. 24, 2009
- Articles and Analyses:
- Human Rights Watch, “Israel/Gaza: Cooperate With Goldstone Investigation,” April 14, 2009.
- Hillel Neuer and Marissa Cramer, “A case study in UN hypocrisy,” National Post, July 17, 2009
- Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “The Operation in Gaza — Factual and Legal Aspects“, July 29, 2009
- Yagil Henkin, “When everything is a crime“, AISS, August 13, 2009
- Irwin Cotler, “The Goldstone Mission—Tainted to the Core (Part I),” Jerusalem Post, Aug. 16, 2009
- Irwin Cotler, “The Goldstone Mission—Tainted to the Core (Part II),” Jerusalem Post, Aug. 18, 2009
- Kenneth Roth, “Don’t smear the messenger,” Jerusalem Post, August 25, 2009
- Hillel Neuer, “Ends Justify the Means?”, UN Watch blog, August 27, 2009
- Gerald Steinberg, “Isolating Israel through language of human rights,” Jerusalem Post, August 31, 2009
- NGO Monitor, “The Goldstone ‘Fact Finding’ Mission and the Role of Political NGOs,” Sept. 7, 2009
- The Economist, “Goldstone on Gaza: Opportunity missed“, September 17, 2009
- Richard Goldstone, “Justice in Gaza“, New York Times, September 17, 2009
- David Harris, “The Goldstone Report: Three Strikes and You’re Out!,” September 18, 2009
- Jonathan Halevi, “How the Goldstone Commission understanded the Hamas threat to Palestinian civilians“, ICA – Jerusalem Center, September 18, 2009
- Richard Goldstone, “Who’s being unfair?“, Jerusalem Post, September 21, 2009
- Jackson Diehl, “Israel’s Gaza Vindication“, Washington Post, September 21, 2009
- Alan Dershowitz, “The Goldstone report is a barrier to peace“, Jerusalem Post, September 22, 2009
- Jeffrey Robbins, “Geopolitics, human rights and Israel“, Boston Globe, September 23, 2009
- Michael Oren, “UN report a victory for terror“, Boston Globe, September 24, 2009
- Asa Kasher, “Operation Cast Lead and the ethics of a just war“, Azure, September, 2009
- Ehud Barak, “At the UN, terrorism pays” Wall Street Journal, September 25, 2009
UN Watch Request to Disqualify Christine Chinkin Due to Overt Bias
- UN Watch Statement at Goldstone Mission meeting with NGOs, May 7, 2009
- Reports on initial UN Watch Petition to Disqualify Christine Chinkin in Agence France Presse and Deutsche Presse Agentur, July 7, 2009
- 28-page PDF: UN Watch Legal Brief to Disqualify Christine Chinkin, August 20, 2009 (supported by 50 British and Canadian lawyers)
- Goldstone inquiry rejects ’so-called petition of UN Watch’; denies mission is quasi-judicial, August 25, 2009