Their problem is formidable: how are Israeli activists to fill their crucial role as watchdogs of human rights in Israel when the international institutions in which they invest great hope—and which quote them extensively—behave so unfairly? When the UN Human Rights Council chastises Israel more than all other nations combined, and at the same time congratulates the Sri Lankan government's bloody campaign against the Tamils, the Israeli human-rights groups face a challenge of legitimacy. They having to convince Israelis that a "human rights" agenda is more than just another political bludgeon directed against Israel.
Many of the problems with the Goldstone Report are evident: a biased mandate (even Goldstone acknowledges it did not include "Israel's right of self-defense"); flawed decisions on appointing commissioners, such as Prof. Christine Chinkin, who notoriously accused Israel of war crimes before she joined the panel; shallow examination of witnesses; overstated conclusions poorly anchored in fact; and more.
In her op-ed, Montell noted some deal-breaker flaws in the report: She wrote, "I was disturbed by the framing of Israel's military operation as part of an overall policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population for its resilience. The facts presented in the report itself would not seem to support such a far-reaching conclusion. In light of the sweeping conclusions regarding Israel, the very careful phrasing regarding Hamas abuses is particularly conspicuous. The mission did not find conclusive evidence regarding Hamas's use of mosques and civilian buildings for military purposes, nor does it criticize Hamas's firing from and shielding themselves within civilian areas." It is important to notice that these two points on which Montell disagreed with the report were fundamental moral questions crucial to the report’s conclusions—Israel's alleged targeting of Gaza civilians, and Hamas getting a virtual free pass for using those civilians as a battlefield-force multiplier.
What tripped up the night editor at the Jerusalem Post is that despite her criticisms of the Goldstone Report, Montell's primary intention in the interview was to suggest that "Israel has only itself to blame" for bringing international opprobrium on its head, by failing to conduct a proper investigation of allegations of misconduct during Operation Cast Lead. She wants a "credible, independent investigation" by Israel of what she describes as "hundreds of allegations of military misconduct." Whether one agrees or not, the argument is reasonable.
Yet in the course of promoting such an internal Israeli investigation, the op-ed says that "B'Tselem views the Goldstone report as the result of serious professional research that is genuinely concerned with promoting justice." This endorsement simply cannot coexist logically with Montell’s critique of the report—that central conclusions questioning the morality of the Israeli operation are not supported by the facts. Ordinarily, this should call into question either the motivations of the investigators or their professional capabilities. Instead, she endorses both.
Montell's confusion reflects broader consternation in the Israeli activist community with the seemingly limitless capacity of the anti-Israel agenda to usurp international discussion of human rights. Israeli human-rights NGOs, with their differing agendas and varying professional foci, all have this burden thrust upon them.