Following a Washington Post op-ed published Friday by Judge Richard Goldstone refuting allegations that Israel had a policy of targeting civilians during Operation Cast Lead, American Jewish organizations have called on Goldstone to retract his report.
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) issued a statement calling on Goldstone to formally ask the UN Human Rights Council to revise and update his commission’s 2009 report on Israel’s campaign against Hamas in Gaza in a way that aligns its conclusions with his new thinking on what transpired.
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“The Washington Post is not the place for Judge Goldstone to recant the biased and damaging UN report he wrote on the Gaza conflict,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris.
“Judge Goldstone should apologize to the State of Israel for the accusations of intentionally targeting civilians, which he now admits were unfounded. He should present his updated conclusions to the UN Human Rights Council, as well as to the General Assembly, which endorsed the skewed report, and press for its rejection.”
On the accusations that Israel refused to cooperate with the Goldstone Commission Harris said, “Judge Goldstone may continue to believe that Israel did not cooperate, but he knows Israel gave him reports and also opened its own investigations. Judge Goldstone knows deep in his soul that he and his team chose to ignore or selectively excerpt the Israeli evidence.”
Harris continued to assert, however, despite that Goldstone's current "admissions" two years later, the report caused irreversible damage to Israel. “The Goldstone report essentially gave impunity to Hamas for its ongoing war crimes.”
“Some may appreciate Judge Goldstone’s candor, but the UN report he authored already has become a tool in the arsenal of those who demonize Israel,” said Harris.
“Regrettably, during the past two years Goldstone himself has contributed greatly to the broad smear against Israel by disseminating his report’s unfounded allegations in numerous interviews and articles. We hope he will defend his new thinking with the same vigor he employed to promote his earlier report.”
Abraham H. Foxman, the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also issued a statement saying, "Richard Goldstone’s article in The Washington Post saying he is now rescinding his charge in the UN report that Israel deliberately targeted civilians in the Gaza war is both gratifying and distressing."
"Whether Goldstone's admission is a case of 'better late than never,' or one of 'too little too late' is a matter of judgment. What is so distressing is the fact that Goldstone rushed to judgment in the first instance as to Israel's alleged intention to target civilians without any convincing evidence."
Added Foxman, "It is important that the author of the report now
recognizes, as anyone who knows the history of Israeli military
operations already knew, that targeting of civilians runs against
everything the Israel Defense Forces stands for. Also significant is
the clear distinction he makes between Israel's conduct in investigating
accusations and the absence of any such investigations by Hamas."
Yet, the ADL national director concluded that, "This is a sad story in
many ways. A story of the continuing bias of the United Nations against
Israel, a story of the unwillingness of the international community to
take seriously the extremism and violence of Hamas, and a story of how a
renowned jurist and member of the Jewish community allowed himself to
be used by enemies of the Jewish state."
"If there are any positives that can come out of this debacle it would
be if good people around the world will now begin to comprehend and
acknowledge the fundamental difference between democratic Israel and the
extremists who seek Israel’s destruction."
NGO Monitor also issued a statement slamming NGO's who contributed and "orchestrated" the conclusions of the Goldstone report, asserting that the "Goldstone Report, published under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council in September 2009, has been used to justify a widespread campaign of demonizing Israel with false accusations of 'war crimes' and demands for BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions)."
According to NGO Monitor President Professor Gerald Steinberg, "with Goldstone's admission that 'our fact-finding mission had no evidence' and that 'civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy,' the politicized NGOs that supplied these allegations have been exposed again as biased and lacking credibility."
"Goldstone was misled by an orchestrated campaign led by powerful NGOs, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International, B'Tselem, Breaking the Silence, Adalah, Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and Al Haq. As NGO Monitor demonstrated when the report was released, the so-called 'evidence' provided by these groups was at the core of the political war against Israel. Goldstone was taken in by crude manipulation."
Steinberg especially attacked HRW who he said, "has been at the forefront of demonization and distortions since the infamous 2001 Durban conference, and used its influence to promote Goldstone, who was on HRW's board. The leaders of this organization's Middle East division have a long history of involvement in hard-core anti-Israel advocacy. This immoral behavior led HRW's founder, Robert Bernstein, to denounce his own organization, presaging Richard Goldstone's reconsideration."
He further added that "Israeli NGOs funded by European governments and the New Israel Fund have also played a central role in advancing the one-sided agenda of repressive regimes at the UN Human Rights Council. They have continued to lobby at the US Congress, European Parliament, and the Knesset. Goldstone's Washington Post article has exposed these campaigns as nothing more than anti-Israel propaganda."