Since Richard Goldstone announced his team Gaza report with great fanfare, he has been ubiquitous, popping up everywhere on radio and TV, and writing articles with great frequency – a global star.
While listening to an internet broadcast of him answering questions on a telephone hook-up with 50-100 U.S. Rabbis (you can find it on the internet), it struck me how pompous, ponderous and utterly sure of himself he is. Although distortions, inaccuracies and weaknesses of the report and its compilers have been pointed out repeatedly, they count for nothing against Goldstone’s supreme self-confidence. And the damage that his distorted report has done to Israel in the hands of the usual Israel-haters, is just water off Goldstone’s back.
Fortunately, Leo Rosten in The Joys of Yiddish has relevant insights to the problem. This is what he has to say …
Mench (Mensh) From German, Mensch “person”
1. A human being. “After all, he is a mensh, not an animal” … (that first definition is fairly broad and non-specific, let’s not go that far.)
2. An upright, honorable, decent person. “Come on, act like a mensh!”
3. Someone of consequence; someone to admire and emulate; someone of noble character. “Now there is a real mensh!”
It is hard to convey the special sense of respect, dignity, approbation, that can be conveyed by calling someone “a real mensh!”
As a child, I often heard it said: “The finest thing you can say about a man is that he is a mensh! Jewish children often hear the admonition: “Behave like a mensh!” or “Be a mensh!” This use of the word is uniquely Yiddish in its overtones.
The most withering comment one might make on someone’s character or conduct is: “He is not (did not act like) a mensh.”
To be a mensh has nothing to do with success, wealth, status. A judge can be a zhlob; a millionaire can be a momzer; a professor can be a shlemiel, a doctor a klutz, a lawyer a bulvon. The key to being “a real mensh” is nothing less than – character: rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous. Many a poor man, many an ignorant man, is a mensh.”
Well put, Leo Rosten… and with shades of a Lloyd Bentsen put down of Dan Quayle ….
“Richard Goldstone, you’re no Mensh!
… Wouldn’t a placard saying just that be a nice touch at one of his no-doubt numerous upcoming performances.. not for Goldstone’s benefit, but for others to ponder.
A good article by a former Justice Minister of Israel, showing the deficiencies of the Goldstone process.