“Why Didn’t You Tell Me U.N. Council Declared Israel Guilty From the Start? Why Did You Humiliate Me?”
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 witnesses.
Given the floor 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, 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.
Sitting on the dais, Goldstone was visibly shaken by Dr. Siderer’s challenge and scrambled for a copy of her speech. His subsequent response to the plenary ignored 7 of her questions, and inadequately responded to the 8th. See full text and video below.
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).