Richard Goldstone – Unforgiveable
By Avi Benlolo, President and CEO, Canada
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies
April 2, 2011
So the infamous Richard Goldstone is “reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes.” In an opinion piece published in the Washington Post on April Fools Day[i], the retired justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa and former Chief prosecutor of the U.N. International Criminal Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda and Chair of the U.N. fact-finding mission on the Gaza war, finally admitted that maybe he was not entirely right.
Of course, he does not readily admit he was wrong or that the anti-Israel report is his fault. He states, “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….If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document”.
Really? An alien landing in Gaza on a fact-finding mission about the war could have ascertained that Israel was justly responding to a death cult (Hamas) with a stated objective of destroying the Jewish state and killing its citizens. Having no background about Israel, its democratic nature of tolerance, justice and human rights, the alien would have surmised within minutes that Israel had every right to defend itself against thousands of rockets landing on its cities and townships.
And Goldstone should know better than to blame the victim – Israel – for not cooperating with his fact-finding mission. How could Israel cooperate with the notorious U.N. Human Rights Council and its predecessor (Human Rights Commission) when 80% of its country censures are against Israel[ii]? How could Israel trust the HRC? Again, Goldstone pretends the outcome would have been different, even while he writes, “I insisted on changing the original mandate adopted by the Human Rights Council, which was skewed against Israel”.
But what I find most gulling about Goldstone’s charge of Israel’s non-cooperation is that in an age of youtube, social networking, media reports, on-line eye-witness accounts, and the (ancient!) telephone, Goldstone could have collected all the information he needed, with or without the government of Israel. Needless to say, I doubt the substance of the report would have changed - accusing Israel (and Hamas) of “potential war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity” was a foregone conclusion.
No one expects more from Hamas[iii]. Yet, Goldstone sounds surprised that unlike Israel, Hamas is not conducting an internal review regarding accusations of war crimes[iv]. But the damage to Israel’s reputation is done. Goldstone gets the blame for aiding and abetting the assault on Israel by the United Nations and its agencies like the Human Rights Council.
Perhaps Goldstone had little choice but to come clean given the atrocities in Libya, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and the like. Will the UN retract the Goldstone Report? Its highly doubtful. Today, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded, “the fact that Goldstone changed his mind must lead to the shelving of the report once and for all”.
David Horovitz of the Jerusalem Post sums it up appropriately: “Unfortunately, Goldstone’s “reconsideration” will not garner a thousandth of the publicity or have a thousandth of the impact that his original, baseless accusations against Israel drew. Governments – including, to what should be their abiding shame, self-styled friends of Israel in Europe and beyond who failed to vote against this report – will not rush to deliver the apology they owe our government and our soldiers. They will not rush to recalibrate their policies”[v].
Since the Gaza war, the Goldstone Report provided further ammunition to those who foment boycott, sanction and divestment campaigns against Israel; promote campus insurgencies like “Israeli Apartheid Week”; and march against the democracy on city streets on labour day and gay-pride parades.
And, here we are in Canada and everywhere else in the Diaspora. We have been left to counter the offensive and mitigate the damage caused by Goldstone et al.
Richard Goldstone’s “reconsideration” is too little too late. Speaking for myself, I will always remember him as someone who could have stood up against a genocidal group of thugs, bigots and terrorists. Instead, he stood up against his very own people, who by the way, while imperfect; fight daily to maintain the only free nation in the Middle East. In the end, the only one discredited on April Fools Day is Goldstone himself. History will remember.
[iii] Goldstone writes, “That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying — its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets”.
[iv] Goldstone: “In the end, asking Hamas to investigate may have been a mistaken enterprise”.