April 7: More on Judge Richard Goldstone and his reversal

I was appalled (but not surprised) at the British government’s almost disappointed reaction to Judge Richard Goldstone’s op-ed.

Sir, – I was appalled (but not surprised) at the British government’s almost disappointed reaction to Judge Richard Goldstone’s op-ed (“Britain opposes call to retract Goldstone Report,” April 6).
But I can understand the Foreign Office’s embarrassment, having throughout uncritically supported the report while half-heartedly denouncing or, at best, minimizing the rocket attacks by Hamas emanating from Gaza.
Clearly Foreign Secretary William Hague prefers not to notice Goldstone’s admission (and he should know) that the default posture of the United Nations Human Rights Council is anti-Israel.
Sir, – Now that Judge Goldstone has – what, regretted? retracted? repudiated? – that eponymous anti-Israel screed, maybe he expects God can forgive him for the incredible ammunition he generously bestowed on the many enemies of Israel and Jews throughout the world.
I really think his new statement will not help Israel’s case – it will only be interpreted to be the result of incredible pressure placed upon him by those notorious evildoers, the Jews, or that his ethnic loyalty has reasserted itself.
I doubt that he will expend as much effort and energy to spread his current doubts about his report as his colleagues will naturally marshall to defend his original stand.
Perhaps Goldstone will be relieved to learn that there will now be trained “population liaison officers” accompanying our already hamstrung troops to make sure they comply with international humanitarian standards (“IDF opens second course to train population liaison officers,” April 4). So precious time will be expended in dithering rather than speedily undertaking whatever action is needed.
Sir, – Beyond making sure that none of us gets too excited about Judge Goldstone’s recent “retraction,” Kenneth Roth (“Not so fast,” Comment & Features, April 4) shows how deep and even pathological is his – and by extension, Human Rights Watch’s – anti-Israel bias.
Not only does this self-proclaimed champion of human rights not even give grudging credit to Israel’s partial exoneration by Goldstone himself, he rejects, belittles and even questions the very intention of any and all IDF investigations into the Gaza campaign and alleged actions of Israeli soldiers against civilians.
Even more incredible, though, is that all Roth can say about Hamas is that it has “done nothing to investigate its war crimes.”
Such blatant bias against Israel and even passive favoritism toward Hamas removes any legitimacy HRW may have as any kind of a human right organization, and the government and IDF should treat HRW the same way it did the original Goldstone Commission – no cooperation and no information sharing – since sooner or later, everything we provide is used against us.
GERSHON HARRIS Hatzor Haglilit
Sir, – Kenneth Roth totally distorts Judge Richard Goldstone’s courageous contrition.
Roth and other obsessive anti- Israel activists have good reason to be worried about Goldstone’s belated criticism of the report that bears his name. Indeed, Roth and HRW created the Goldstone Report and are responsible for the moral damage. They lobbied intensively for this biased UN “fact-finding” mission, and Goldstone was their favored candidate.
The resulting 500-page report simply copied the invented allegations of Israeli “war crimes” published by HRW and other discredited NGOs that exploit the language of human rights.
A repudiation of the Goldstone report is a major blow to the “halo effect” that has protected NGO superpowers such as HRW and similar organizations from moral accountability.
The writer is managing editor of NGO Monitor Sir, – Prof. Avi Bell (“Richard Goldstone’s legacy,” Comment & Features, April 4) asserts that a recent panel discussion at Stanford Law School on Operation Cast Lead and the Goldstone Report “was not designed for enlightenment” and insinuates that the event was somehow biased because a student organization that is critical of Israel’s policies was one of the co-sponsors.
As moderator of the program, I deeply regret these comments.
Although Prof. Bell expresses criticism of the format of the event, he and the other participants were given an opportunity to comment on the program’s format, and the student organizers in fact adjusted the format in response to suggestions from the participants, including Prof.
Bell. The event, which was organized by the International Law Society, was co-sponsored by a club called Students Confronting Apartheid by Israel – but also by the Jewish Law Students Association and the Muslim Student Awareness Network.
Other groups on campus, including the Stanford Israel Alliance, were invited to take part as well.
Apart from Justice Goldstone himself, who offered introductory remarks, two of the participants in the program were critical of the Goldstone Report, and two were supportive. Each participant was given 15 minutes, with no limitation on the substance of their remarks and no interruption.
The time allotted to participants included five minutes each for rebuttals. The was to focus substantively on the contested legal issues raised by the report, rather than to have participants make ad hominem attacks or score political points.
The debate about Cast Lead and the Goldstone Report has understandably generated passionate feelings on both sides.
Perhaps some believe that shouting and name-calling is the best way to carry out that debate, and that the “winner” will be the person who shouts the loudest. At Stanford Law School, an institution dedicated to teaching and learning, our goal instead was to provide a forum for reasoned and balanced discussion of the substantive issues.
It is unfortunate that Prof. Bell seems to think an event in which equal time is given to the participants – even those who disagree with him – represents a flawed approach to exploring a controversial topic.
We will continue to keep trying to teach, and to provide a forum for scholarly discussion, even as others shout.
Stanford, California
The writer is senior lecturer in law and director of the Stanford Program in International and Comparative Law
Sir, – David Horovitz’s characteristically incisive comments on the timing of Judge Richard Goldstone’s belated mea culpa (“Goldstone, the belated penitent,” Comment, April 3) may have missed a point.
The recent Torah portion, Tazria, describes the affliction identified as “tsara’at,” a disease that Seforno, among many other sages, identifies not as leprosy but as Divine punishment for the willful transgression of certain Biblical commandments, most notably the sin of engaging in slander.
During the period of affliction, the afflicted were required to live in isolation from the community and to call out to passers-by “unclean, unclean” as a reminder of the injury caused by the slander and as a prayer for forgiveness.
Who knows? Maybe Judge Goldstone’s choice of this time to recant his vilification of Israel was deliberate, a sign of his intention to seek absolution by dedicating himself to mitigating the grievous harm engendered by his lamentable report? I hope so!