Yom Kippur has evidently come early this year for Richard Goldstone.
couldn’t quite bring himself, in his Friday article “Reconsidering the Goldstone
Report on Israel and War Crimes,” to write, “I have sinned, forgive
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But the astounding piece in The Washington Post
by the Jewish
justice, who presided over the Goldstone Report that accused Israel of war
crimes and possible crimes against humanity in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead,
represents nothing less than an apology to Israel.
“If I had known then
what I know now,” he writes in the first extraordinary paragraph of his mea
culpa, “the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.”
dramatic the about-face. And how terrible that it was necessitated.
tragic, that is, that Goldstone so misplaced his moral compass in the first
place as to have produced a report that has caused such irreversible damage to
Israel’s good name. Tragic least of all forthe utterly discredited Goldstone himself, and most of all for our unfairly
besmirched armed forces and the country they were putting their lives on the
line to honorably defend against a ruthless, murderous, terrorist government in
The “if I had know then what I know now” defense Goldstone invokes
to try to justify his perfidy is typically flimsy, of
Sanctimonious even now, Goldstone complains about Israel’s “lack
of cooperation with our investigation.” But as he knows full well, Israel could
not possibly have formally cooperated with his inquiry, which had been
constructed by the obsessively anti-Israel UN Human Rights Council with the
precise intention of blackening Israel’s name, legitimizing its enemies and
curtailing its capacity to defend itself in future conflicts – such as the one
Israel may have to fight quite soon if the current upsurge in Hamas rocket fire
To have formally subjected itself to examination by his
committee and the institutionally biased UN Human Rights Council that had formed
it – a bias which Goldstone now acknowledges in his article – would merely have
given his work greater purported credibility.
Notwithstanding that absent
formal cooperation, however, the truth about what happened in Gaza in December
2008 and January 2009 – the truth that Goldstone now disingenuously claims to
have discovered only after he filed his malicious indictment of the IDF and of
Israel – was readily available to him at the time.
Israel did informally
make the necessary information available to his committee in the shape of
detailed reports on what had unfolded. And open sources, honestly evaluated,
left no doubt that Hamas was the provocateur, that Hamas was deliberately
placing Palestinians in harm’s way, that Hamas was lying about the proportion of
combatants among the Gaza dead. Open sources also left no doubt that the IDF –
far from deliberately targeting civilians; the bitter accusation at the heart of
Goldstone’s report – was doing more than most any military force has ever done
to minimize civilian deaths, even as it sought to destroy the terrorist
infrastructure and pick out the terrorists who had been firing relentlessly into
Israel’s residential areas.
Only now, 18 months after he submitted his
incendiary accusations against Israel, has Goldstone brought himself to
acknowledge what a fair-minded investigation would have established from the
start – that the IDF emphatically did not seek to kill civilians in Gaza. As he
puts it in the simple phrase that should reverberate inside every foreign
parliament and every human rights organization that rushed to demonize Israel:
“Civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of
Risibly, Goldstone asserts that his report’s “allegations of
intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians
in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw
any other reasonable conclusion.”
In truth, the only reasonable
conclusion that an honest investigation could possibly have drawn – given the
evidence available, given the Hamas track record and given the IDF’s moral
tradition – was that Israel had not intentionally killed Palestinian civilians.
But, again, his was no honest investigation.
“reconsideration” will not garner a thousandth of the publicity or have a
thousandth of the impact that his original, baseless accusations against Israel
drew. Governments – including, to what should be their abiding shame,
self-styled friends of Israel in Europe and beyond who failed to vote against
this report – will not rush to deliver the apology they owe our government and
They will not rush to recalibrate their
They will not now rush to issue statements expressing their
confidence in Israel’s capacity to properly investigate allegations of misdoings
by its military, even though the man who had previously given cover for their
criticisms has now reversed himself and penned an article endorsing Israel’s
processes for self-investigation.
The statesmen and the NGOs that savaged
us, using the Goldstone Report as their “proof,” will not now, prompted by
Goldstone’s reversal, ratchet up their criticisms of Hamas. They will not now
express their outrage at the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to exploit the
Goldstone Report to harm Israel – a key milestone on the PA’s road toward
international recognition for a unilateral declaration of statehood.
will not now demand that PA leader Mahmoud Abbas abandon his current effort to
negotiate “unity” with Hamas, a terrorist group avowedly working for the
destruction of Israel and, as Goldstone now writes, “purposefully and
indiscriminately” targeting Israel’s civilians.
They should, but they
will not. They have moved on now.
Israel’s guilt has long-since been
“established.” And no matter that the man who certified it has belatedly
internalized the gravity of the big lie he helped facilitate.
pitifully, will the media organizations that so hyped the baseless allegations
of Israeli war crimes now allocate similar broadcast-topping coverage and front
page space to Goldstone’s belated exoneration of Israel. It will be a surprise,
indeed, if we see the world’s most resonant newspapers following Goldstone’s
lead and penning texts acknowledging that their reports and their analyses and
their expert opinion pieces were wide of the mark.
And we had best not
hold our breath, either, for Israel’s own internal critics – including certain
widely cited newspapers and so-called watchdog groups that amplified the
allegations of deliberate killings of civilians, and that so often seem to want
to believe the very worst about Israel in the face of all reasonable evidence to
the contrary – to emulate the judge’s shift.
The hollow Goldstone now
writes that “I had hoped that our inquiry into all aspects of the Gaza conflict
would begin a new era of evenhandedness at the UN Human Rights Council, whose
history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted.”
Given that “history of
bias” at the council, one can only wonder, yet again, why Goldstone consented to
do its dirty work for it, to such devastating effect.
investigation has had a toxic effect everywhere on the second battlefield – in
diplomatic and legal forums, in the media, on university campuses, in global
public discourse. He poisoned Israel’s name.
And on the real battlefield,
he gave succor to our enemies, encouraging them to believe that they could kill
us not with mere impunity, but with active international empathy and
He alleged that we were an immoral enemy, and thus he put all of
our lives at greater risk.
An apology just isn’t good enough. The very
least he owes Israel is to work unstintingly from now on to try to undo the
damage he has caused.
Yom Kippur came early this year for Richard
Goldstone. His show of penitence has come far too late.
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