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Richard Goldstone Reconsiders the Goldstone Report

Shocker!

Well, no. Not really. Almost a year ago I stated in a comment that “based on some of his comments thus far, I don’t believe we’ve heard Goldstone’s final word on the report that bears his name…” and sure enough, that off the cuff prediction came true. In an opinion piece that appeared in the Washington Post on Friday, April 1st (not an April fool’s joke), Goldstone stated:

We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.

How so? Goldstone continues:

The 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. While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.

Goldstone blames the discrepancy between what really happened during Operation Cast Lead and the conclusions of the Goldstone Report on Israel’s decision not to cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission:

Although the Israeli evidence that has emerged since publication of our report doesn’t negate the tragic loss of civilian life, I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes… Israel’s lack of cooperation with our investigation meant that we were not able to corroborate how many Gazans killed were civilians and how many were combatants.

I can’t say that I disagree with him. In this day and age of rapid and unfettered communication, trying to remain opaque, except for matters of absolute national security, is a policy that will always backfire and is an exercise in futility. The message that the world received is that Israel had something to hide. And yet, as Goldstone noted the findings of the UN committee of independent experts, chaired by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis which stated that “Israel has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza” while “the de facto authorities (i.e., Hamas) have not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.” The implication here is that Hamas’s alleged war crimes in Gaza have now come under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court because no domestic investigation, or even the pretense of an investigation, has taken place. But don’t hold your breath waiting for that.

Goldstone concluded that “In the end, asking Hamas to investigate may have been a mistaken enterprise. So, too, the Human Rights Council should condemn the inexcusable and cold-blooded recent slaughter of a young Israeli couple and three of their small children in their beds.”

Obviously, this has set the world of punditry aflutter. The man who was once the darling of the “critical of Israel” crowd is now being reviled. His motivations are being called into question and every word of his “reconsideration” is being analyzed for hidden meanings. I’m sure that in the coming days and weeks we will hear more from Goldstone, but for me his words are crystal clear: The findings of the report merit reconsideration in light of new facts, and those new facts demonstrate that there was no intentional Israeli policy to target civilians.

I mean, duh!

Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. The IDF is one of the best, most powerfully equipped armies in the world. If the IDF’s intent was to target civilians, the death count would have been much, much higher. In fact, quite the opposite seems to be true. Remember the ridicule that greeted Col. Richard Kemp, Former Commander British Forces in Afghanistan, when he declared that “…the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in the combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.” Not so ridiculous now, eh? But people will spin this however they like. Some spin will be reasonable, some will be quasi-retarded (what else did you expect from Richard Silverstein who used this post to make his blog’s first reference to the massacre of members of the Fogel family in Itamar. This man has no shame.) and others will be flat out hateful and anti-Semitic, claiming that Goldstone caved to Jewish communal pressure, or payoffs. But don’t start celebrating yet. Goldstone may have called into question the issue of intentionality, but he has yet to weigh in on other aspects of the report, ie the alleged use of human shields and the perceived disproportionality of Israel’s response to Hamas’s rocket fire.

In any case, like I said, we’ll see how this plays out in the future. I am reserving a more detailed analysis for a later date, or maybe for the Middle to pipe in given how much he’s written in the past about Goldstone. Well we’ve written a lot about the report, but he’s written the most…

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Publisher at Jewlicious
Founder of Jewlicious? Publisher? Man I hate titles. I coined the name Jewlicious and I slave over the site. I live in Jerusalem and I need to get some breakfast.
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10 Comments

  1. josh

    4/3/2011 at 4:22 pm

    There is nothing new here. We knew then what he only realizes now.

  2. themiddle

    4/3/2011 at 10:29 pm

    Sorry not to participate. Busy.

    I’m afraid his not-quite-an-apology op-ed won’t resolve the damage he has caused. The anti-Israel people will continue to quote the report, the anti-blockade boats will keep coming, the PA is going to try to push (on the back of the world believing that Israel was guilty of war crimes in Cast Lead) for declaration of a state in the General Assembly in September and Israel’s leadership will watch these developments until it’s too late to do anything about them.

    What Goldstone did with his report was costly and will remain costly. The ugliest part of his op-ed is that he continues to blame Israel for not participating in his probe. He touches on the subject of the UNHRC and their improper actions in his op-ed, but holds Israel guilty for not participating in a UNHRC investigation. If anything, recent events in Libya (a proud leader at the UNHRC) and at the UNHRC itself which managed to vote on six anti-Israel measures a few days ago, while on the same day voting for five measures in total against five other different countries, only prove that Israel was right to avoid his tarnished probe.

    As a Jew and a Zionist, Goldstone served as the perfect shill for the UNHRC’s successful blood libel against Israel and the IDF. As he realizes now, he can’t win. He did a disservice to the truth and to Israel – particularly its soldiers who now have to fight under impossible Goldstone-influenced rules – and now he can’t go back on himself without alienating all the anti-Israel folks who were happy to support him. He’ll be a pariah everywhere, a little like Benny Morris.

    As an aside, Jewlicious ran ads for Norman Finkelstein’s last book which was all about how evil Israel was in the Gaza war. Needless to say, Goldstone was an important factor in Finkelstein’s presentations in his dog and pony show at a bunch of universities where he was invited to talk about the war and where he spoke about the report at length. He now has to eat crow.

    Not just him, by the way. A bunch of writers including Naomi Klein recently published a book about the importance of the report. Of course they discuss the report as if it’s entirely factual. Oooooops.

  3. tillkan

    4/4/2011 at 7:10 pm

    It is dumb to think the only reason Israel did not kill more civilians was out of goodness. On the contrary, Israel killed exactly as many as it could and still get away with it. Your blog is proof of this.

    • ck

      4/5/2011 at 12:20 am

      My blog is proof of this?? Oh right. I remember how during Cast Lead, every day after we’d get the casualty counts, people would run out into the streets in celebration and distribute sweets to passer by. Children would laugh, women would ululate and men would walk tall. Yup.

      • tillkan

        4/5/2011 at 6:18 pm

        I don’t even get what your response means, but there were reports of Israelis that picnicked near the attack to have fun watching it. But what I meant about your blog being proof of my point is that clearly, it is okay with you for Israel to kill about two thousand, where I doubt even you would defend them killing say four hundred thousand.

        • themiddle

          4/6/2011 at 5:54 am

          No, Tillkan, there were no Israelis picnicking nearby because throughout the war, Hamas continued to launch rockets at Israel.

        • ck

          4/6/2011 at 10:13 am

          The agreed upon number of civilian casualties was under 800 by the way. And no, it’s not ok. I would much rather no one died, civilian or combatant. I also wish 8000 missiles hadn’t rained down on civilians in Israel. Think of causality.

  4. tf

    4/5/2011 at 3:00 am

    The true barometer of Goldstone’s retraction can be measured by the attention it has recieved in the media.

    The BBC, NPR, New York Times et al went all out giving the report headlines and editorial support. This weekend not a peep on the hourly news summary or headline.

    Do a Goldstone search for the story on BBC,bbc.co.uk/sear..., you won’t find a story about the rtraction only stories of Israel’s reaction.

    • josh

      4/5/2011 at 5:49 pm

      Because like I said, there is no news here. He did not apologize and did not retract anything. This is one of the rare times when I agree 100% with middle and I have spent the last few days commenting the same on Hebrew sites that also rushed to declare, or rather make up, Goldstone’s apology and regret. This whole Israeli tabloid fest even fooled Eli Yishai into inviting Goldstone to Israel in the summer.

      One unanswered question is the NYT refusal to print the op-ed. They claim that two weeks ago they refused a non-juicy version, but maybe it was they did not like this new Goldstone awakening?

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