Saturday, April 02, 2011

Judge Goldstone Revisits His Report

     This is rather surprising. Judge Richard Goldstone, the South African (and Jewish) human rights jurist who issued a damning report in late 2009 against Israel in the wake of its conduct during Operation Cast Lead in December 2008-January 2009, has published a semi-retraction (certainly a serious modification, at the very least), of his original report.
     Takeaway line? "If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document."
     This Goldstone Report has become a rallying cry for the delegitimizers and demonizers of Israel, like Norman Finkelstein and Philip Weiss who have published breathless, hate-filled books or web reports based on Goldstone's original findings. (BTW, I noticed that Weiss on his scurrilous website Mondoweiss had not a word to say about Goldtone's retraction - at least not more than 24 hours since it was published in The Washington Post. [NOTE: A piece has since gone up on Mondoweiss, calling the retraction "confusing and potentially damaging." You gotta love the slavish consistency of Mondoweiss.]) Since I once referred to the Goldstone report in an approving way in one of my earlier posts, I believe it is my duty to now point out that its author has retracted the most serious allegations of intentional crimes against humanity on the part of Israel, and criticizes Hamas for failing to investigate its own alleged abuses, something Judge Goldstone readily admits Israel has credibly done.
     I still maintain that this outcome -- a one-sided report that has circulated for over a year, now repudiated by its author on a much smaller bully pulpit -- could have been avoided if the Israeli government back in 2009 had decided to submit itself to the Goldstone investigation process. But Israel self-righteously chose to shun this UN-backed judicial venue, resulting in a completely lopsided presentation of evidence.
     This is not to take away from the utter naivete of the esteemed judge. Wrote Judge Goldstone yesterday:
Some have suggested that it was absurd to expect Hamas, an organization that has a policy to destroy the state of Israel, to investigate what we said were serious war crimes. It was my hope, even if unrealistic, that Hamas would do so, especially if Israel conducted its own investigations. At minimum I hoped that in the face of a clear finding that its members were committing serious war crimes, Hamas would curtail its attacks. Sadly, that has not been the case. Hundreds more rockets and mortar rounds have been directed at civilian targets in southern Israel. That comparatively few Israelis have been killed by the unlawful rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza in no way minimizes the criminality. The U.N. Human Rights Council should condemn these heinous acts in the strongest terms.
    What a rube...
    Now of course be on the lookout for all of Israel's detractors to come up with some grand conspiratorial explanation for Goldstone's change-of-heart.

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