The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has recently released information which casts serious doubt on the bona fides of one of the members of the Fact Finding Mission led by Judge Goldstone and which led to the production of the Report which accused Israel of directly targeting civilians and deliberately destroying civil infrastructures contrary to the rules of war.
The member in question is Colonel (ret.) Desmond Travers. As the JCPA tells us:
Travers joined the Irish Defense Forces in 1961 and retired after forty years. As the only former officer who belonged to Justice Richard Goldstone’s team, he was the senior figure responsible for the military analysis that provided the basis for condemning Israel for war crimes.
The JCPA report slams Travers’s methodology and accuses him of bias.
During the Mission’s collection of testimonies from Palestinian psychologists in the Gaza Strip, Travers asked them straight out to explain how Israeli soldiers could kill Palestinian children in front of their parents. In an interview with Middle East Monitor, on February 2, 2010, he asserted that in the past Israeli soldiers had “taken out and deliberately shot” Irish peacekeeping forces in Southern Lebanon. Both of these statements by Travers are completely false. It should be stressed that one of the most vicious and unsubstantiated conclusions in the Goldstone Report is the suggestion that Israel deliberately killed Palestinian civilians.
This is rather like the ‘when did you start beating your wife’ question which bases the question on an assumption that assumes the guilt of the defendant.
When he was asked about Hamas intimidation that affected the Mission’s inquiries, he replied that that there was “none whatsoever.” Yet the Goldstone Report itself noted in Paragraph 440 that those interviewed in Gaza appeared reluctant to speak about the presence of Palestinian armed groups because of a “fear of reprisals.” He rejects the notion that Hamas shielded its forces in the civilian population and does not accept the idea that Israel faced asymmetric warfare.
Only a craven idiot could come to the conclusion there was no Hamas intimidation or that civilians were not used as human shields or that the warfare was not asymmetric. A craven idiot or someone so biased that his place in the mission not acceptable.
The report continues:
Travers comes up with a story that the IDF had unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s) that could obtain a “thermal signature” on a Gaza house and detect that there were large numbers of people inside. Incredibly, he then suggests that with this information that certain houses were “packed with people,” the Israeli military would then deliberately order a missile strike on these populated homes. The primary technical problem with his theory is that Israel does not have UAV’s that can see though houses and pick up a thermal signature. More importantly, Israel used UAV’s to monitor that Palestinian civilians left houses that had received multiple warnings, precisely because Israel sought to minimize civilian casualties, a fact that Travers could not fathom, because of his own clear biases.
The case against Travers appears to be growing. The entire JCPA report is well worth a read. It highlights inaccuracies in data and lack of professional conduct.
The clincher :
In an interview with Harpers, published on October 29, 2009, Travers makes a sweeping generalization: “We found no evidence that mosques were used to store munitions.” He then dismissed those who suggested that was the case by saying: “Those charges reflect Western perceptions in some quarters that Islam is a violent religion.” How many mosques did Travers investigate? He admits that the Mission only checked two mosques.
Of course, Israel produced photographic proof that large amounts of weapons were stored in mosques, like the Zaytun Mosque. In a subsequent interview, Travers rejected the Israeli proof: “I do not believe the photographs.” He described the photographs as “spurious.” Travers appears to be bothered by proof that contradicts the conclusions he reaches on the basis of a very limited investigation. In early 2010, Colonel Tim Collins, a British veteran of the Iraq War, visited Gaza for BBC Newsnight (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/ 8470100 .stm, 20 January 2010) and inspected the ruins of a mosque that Israel had destroyed because it had been a weapons depot. He found that there was evidence of secondary explosions cause by explosives stored in the mosque cellar. Travers clearly did not make the effort that Collins made.
And now the punchline:
Travers most recent interview also had a disturbing additional element. When addressing the role of British officers in defending Israel’s claims, Travers suddenly adds: “Britain’s foreign policy interests in the Middle East seem to be influenced strongly by Jewish lobbyists.
So the UN chose someone who believes the Jewish lobby conspiracy theory and that a cabal of Jews is directing UK foreign policy in the same way that Channel 4 came to a similar conclusion with no evidence whatsoever.
The UN Human Rights Commission chose their four mission members very well because the UNHRC is front-loaded with countries that seek to demonise and delegitimise Israel and then to cover their tracks by choosing ostensibly impeccable mission members to do a hatchet job on Israel. When the names were first put forward Israel could see that the mission would be biased and its conclusions were foregone. But now the document is out there to add to the litany of lies, half-truths, prejudice and propaganda that passes for justified criticism of Israel.