Judge Richard Goldstone, who authored the controversial United Nations report criticizing the IDF for its conduct during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, has been removed from Hebrew University’s Board of Governors, the Jerusalem academic institution confirmed on Thursday.
While the UN-endorsed document attributed to the South African judge – the Goldstone Report – has drawn a firestorm from its critics over what they have labeled its “flawed accusations” regarding IDF “war crimes” committed during the three-week-long military operation, Hebrew University has denied that Goldstone’s removal from the board was connected to the report, and instead emphasized that his “inactivity” with the institution was reason for the change.
“[Goldstone] hasn’t been active for a decade or more,” Hebrew University spokesman Jerry Barash told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. “He hasn’t attended any board meetings, nor has he shown any interest in its operations, and those kinds of people are eventually taken off the board.”
Barash added that Goldstone was not the only honorary governor to be removed from the list but part of a group of similarly “inactive” members.
“There was a rotation – which is not unusual – of members on and off the board,” Barash said. “And [Goldstone] is among those who are off.”
A statement from the university also referred to Goldstone’s lack of activity with the institution, and said that, “the purpose of this technical act is to enlist new, active members for the board in place of those who do not play any role on behalf of the University.”
Nevertheless, Goldstone himself expressed surprise at the news, telling the London-based Jewish Chronicle that he had been “unaware” of Hebrew University’s move until the Chronicle had contacted him.
“This is the first I have heard about my position as a governor of the HU,” Goldstone was quoted as saying. “I feel confident that it is not correct and such action would not be taken without notice to me or the South African Friends of the Hebrew University.”
However, Jerusalem lawyer David Schonberg, who had initiated the request to the president of Hebrew University several months ago that Goldstone’s honorary position be re-examined, told the Post on Thursday that he was satisfied with the end result but had some misgivings at the “evasive replies” he had received as well as what he termed the “questionable procedure that seemed to have been taken,” even though it brought about the desired result of Goldstone’s removal from the board.
“In my correspondence with the university, I requested that the removal
of Goldstone be done on its merits,” Schonberg said. “But the replies
that I received stated that ‘we have no procedure for removing honorary
governors,’ ‘he has not anyway been coming to meetings of the board’
and ‘he has not got a right to vote.’
“While I welcome the university’s removal of Goldstone, I think it
would have been preferable to do this openly on the merits, rather than
attempt to construct a sort of legal-fiction, based upon his
non-attendance of meetings – which is not anyway expected of honorary
governors, who are appointed for life, and often live abroad – that has
a questionable basis, from the point of view of the university’s own
statutes and regulations.
“This, I think, of itself, tells a great deal about what has really occurred in the Goldstone matter,” Schonberg said.