This was published this evening on YNET, republished here with the author’s permission. KGS
UPDATE: Dr.Gerstenfeld’s Goldstone article received a number of reactions at Ynet, asking to explain some things with a few more words. The TT now publishes a slightly extended version of the one published last night.
SHOULD JUDGE GOLDSTONE BE EXONERATED?
By Manfred Gerstenfeld
That Israel pursues apartheid policies is “a particularly pernicious and enduring canard.” This is a quote from Judge Richard Goldstone in an article in the New York Times titled “Israel and the Apartheid Slander” published at the end of October.1 He added: it is “important to separate legitimate criticism of Israel from assaults that aim to isolate, demonize and delegitimize it.” Goldstone attacked those who call Israel an apartheid state and gave many arguments why such accusations are false.
This was a rather unexpected statement from a jurist who headed a malicious United Nations Human Rights Council inquiry. Goldstone received applause for his recent article, even from some who had heavily criticized him before.2 It is convenient for Israel that Goldstone suddenly appears as its defender on an important issue. This is the more helpful as he is a South African who is familiar with what apartheid means.
Goldstone has also retracted some of the accusations against Israel in his UNHRC report in an op-ed in the Washington Post in April this year.1 There he wrote that “if I knew then what I know now the report would have been different.” In this article he said that due to Israel’s investigations and a subsequent United Nations Committee Report it was now clear that Israel did not target civilians intentionally.
In this article he however also made a number of statements which show his bizarre views of Hamas, a terrorist organization with genocidal intentions. One was that he had hoped that now Israel was investigating what his report said were serious war crimes Hamas would do the same. Another absurd statement was: “As a minimum I hoped that in the face of a clear finding that its members were committing serious war crimes, Hamas would curtail its attacks. Sadly that has not been the case.
Should we in view of these two articles exonerate Goldstone for having headed an investigation, which plays a major role in the defamation, demonization and delegitimization of Israel? There is a simple way to understand why forgiving Goldstone now would be a major mistake. One should read the recently published book titled: “The Goldstone Report “Reconsidered;” A Critical Analysis.2 It is edited by Gerald Steinberg and Anne Herzberg of NGO Monitor.
In one of the book’s essays former Canadian Justice Minster Irwin Cotler calls the Goldstone mission: “Tainted to the Core.” Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz titles his 50 page essay “The Case against the Goldstone Report; A Study in evidentiary Bias.” American jurist Trevor Norwitz, who is on first name basis with Goldstone, puts many questions to him about “Your procedurally flawed investigation,”and so on.
It would be positive if Goldstein wrote more pro-Israeli articles in important papers. These however cannot offset the immoral behavior of his commission. What is needed is a full-fledged apology. In essence it could read as follows:
“I want to present my apologies to Israel for the Goldstone Report. I should not have accepted the assignment from the UNHRC. I knew that former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson had refused to accept the UNHRC mandate as it was biased. I should have known that the composition of the commission I headed was a partisan one. I should have in particular understood that Christine Chinkin should not have been a member as she had already expressed her opinion that Israel had committed war crimes. I want to ask her and the other members of the commission to apologize as well.
“I knew from my lengthy experience that the commission should not have relied on hearsay and anonymous accusations as evidence. The claims against our commission that we did not investigate critical facts are justified. The way we legitimized the terror organization Hamas is even more unforgivable than many other examples of our carelessness, misjudgments and mistakes.
“I was a coward in largely avoiding public discussions after the report was published. I have destroyed my own reputation of fairness with the Goldstone report. Far more severe is the irreparable harm I have caused to the State and people of Israel, the cause of justice, the principles and the profession of international humanitarian law and to democracy in general.”
Only once Goldstone writes such an apology we can be sure that he has truly repented. At the same time we should continue to reiterate that the harm he has done cannot be undone. Until now he has only thrown piece meal a few morsels to Israel as a minor compensation for major damage.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld has published 20 books. Several of these address anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism.
1.) Richard J. Goldstone, “Israel and the Apartheid Slander”, The New York Times, 31 October 2011.
2.) Gerald M. Steinberg, “Giving credit where credit is due”, The Jerusalem Post, 1 November 2011.
3.) Richard Goldstone, “Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes,” The Washington Post, 2 April 2011.
4.) Gerald M. Steinberg, Anne Herzberg (ed.) The Goldstone Report “Reconsidered”: A Critical Analysis, , (Jerusalem: NGO Monitor, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 2011).