Richard Goldstone is the chairman of the United Nations commission that issued a controversial and damaging report against Israel in 2009 that captured international headlines. Now that he has recanted (see Revisiting Gaza on the Other Views page), it’s fair to ask when the rest of the world will follow.
His article represents an astonishing about-face, a self-repudiation of the findings of the panel that he headed and that falsely and unfairly maligned the state of Israel for its conduct during the war against the terrorists of Hamas in Gaza, particularly alleged disregard of civilian deaths. Any satisfaction to be gained from his belated admission, however, is tempered by the realization that, for all his second thoughts and ex post facto hand-wringing, the damage has been done.
Because Mr. Goldstone was considered an eminent figure with a worldwide reputation for judicial acumen — and a Jew himself — his presence at the head of the panel gave it a respectability and gloss of impartiality and fairness that it manifestly did not deserve. It was cooked up as an anti-Israeli maneuver and, with Mr. Goldstone as its public face, it accomplished the goal of demonizing the state of Israel around the world.
Nor does his explanation answer questions voiced by critics disappointed by Mr. Goldstone’s role in this fiasco and outraged by the panel’s findings. Today, he describes the U.N. Human Rights Council as an agency whose “history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted.” Why then did he undertake the mission of heading this panel?
The history of this agency is no secret. It has an anti-Israeli agenda, plain and simple. Certainly the Israeli government knew it and sensibly declined to take part in any “investigation” the Geneva-based Council mandated. Yet Mr. Goldstone still seems to blame the report’s admitted shortcomings on Israel for failure to cooperate. At best, that’s naïve. At worst, disingenuous. The Israelis had reason to know better from the start, even if Mr. Goldstone did not.
Mr. Goldstone goes on to say that the main recommendation of his panel was that all sides should investigate incidents in which civilians were killed during the assault against Hamas redoubts. Did he ever believe that Hamas would do so? Of course not. For Hamas, Israeli civilians are fair game.
To read the complete editorial, visit www.miamiherald.com.