Goldstone Admits Report Is Now Worthless

I recall having a debate on some blog or forum disputing the oft-repeated notion that Israel killed mostly Arab civilians in Gaza during Cast Lead (as well as other conflicts). Finding the average of all the casualty estimates from Israeli military and Palestinian advocacy groups (cleverly disguised as ‘human rights’ organisations), the most generous statistic to Hamas is that a little under half the casualties were non-combatants. Even though Israeli estimates are generally more accurate, I did not pursue this during the argument. My opponent, upset that he or she could no longer use a popular trope, resorted to claiming I was being cold and disrespectful towards the dead by counting them.

The lesson I learned is that you can’t really debate the Israel bashers, as the movement has become something of a cult. Honest casualty statistics have been out for years on subjects like the Second Intifada – where, as 95% of the Arab casualties were male, we can assume fewer civilians were killed on their side as opposed to Israel’s, where the gender ratio is around 60:40. Yet facts seem to have little impact.

That is why my initial joy on hearing Judge Richard Goldstone’s retraction of the report bearing his name, a popular and powerful cudgel in the Human Rights Industry’s arsenal against little Israel, was tempered by remembering the stupidity and fanaticism of Israel’s enemies. The Hamas Interior Minister in Gaza, Fathi Hamad, admitted to a UK-based Islamic newspaper last year that most of the Cast Lead casualties were Hamas affiliated combatants (to Israel’s great credit in such a difficult region, while also verifying Israeli statistics), but there was little reaction in the popular centres of opinion.

I never went for the jugular with Goldstone, like many friends of Israel did, in the wake of the Report. I believed his daughter when she claimed on Israel’s Army Radio that her father stepped up to the position to counter the expected anti-Israel bias of the panel. Goldstone, I think, was a victim of the Human Rights Industry, who probably jumped for joy that they could put a Jew on the cover of their ‘findings’. Goldstone could do little with his biased four colleagues (more on them later) and the overall Islamic and left-wing influence in the International Order.

Much of what Goldstone wrote in the Washington Post I certainly agree with. Israel did not have a policy of intentionally killing civilians, unlike Hamas. Israel is in the process of bringing those who individually broke the rules to justice. Hamas has done nothing in this regard. Furthermore, the most serious allegation facing Israel during the conflict, the question of the deaths of 29 members of the al-Simouni family, is proving to be a result of a commander’s misinterpretation of a drone image and not a deliberate war crime.

However, I am concerned about other aspects of the article. An honest discussion of the Goldstone Report should really involve discussing the environment in which it was created – as an arm of the Human Rights Council. Goldstone is still complaining about Israel’s ”lack of cooperation” with his mission, yet in the same breath acknowledges the Council’s ”history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted”. With this in mind, why would Israel want to give more legitimacy to the farce, which has been chaired by Libya, while over a third of its resolutions have been directed against the small state of Israel? Both Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon have criticised the council for singling out Israel for condemnation while completely ignoring other, far graver matters. Goldstone never addresses the indisputable fact that one of the members of his panel (our friend was really first among equals) Christine Chinkin, had gone on public record labeling Israeli actions in Gaza a “war crime” well before the panel convened. Three of the members signed a letter to the Times that was sympathetic to the Palestinian side when the conflict was still ongoing. This included Col. Desmond Travers, a former member of the armed forces of Ireland, which was led by the extremely anti-Israel Fianna Fáil regime (overthrown earlier this year). Richard Goldstone’s timidity in confronting this matter indicate to me that he still needs friends in the Human Rights Industry and International Order. Also, Israel did make crucial information available informally through publishing open reports that could easily have been taken into consideration by the panel, but were not.

Yet the most tragic aspect of all this is that the damage of the Goldstone Report has been done. The Report was given extensive media coverage and greeted with an international fanfare. All major UK papers put the subject on the front pages, with a typical headline reading ”Israel Chastised” (New York Times) or ”Israel Should Face War-Crimes Trial Over Gaza” (the notorious Robert Fisk’s Independent). Will this retraction generate similar shocking headlines? Like many matters relating to Israel, the anti-Israel lies will outlive their debunking. The only hope for Israel is an official retraction of the UN Resolution endorsing the findings of the Report, and a televised apology form Goldstone himself. I would love to see headlines like ”Israel Vindicated” across the globe, but it seems unlikely.

Rabbi Shraga Simmons, who wrote on the piece this week for Aish.com, provides some relevant Jewish wisdom on Richard Goldstone’s retraction:

A Chasidic story tells of a man who spread malicious lies about the town rabbi. Later, he began to feel remorse. He went to the rabbi and begged forgiveness, saying that he hopes to make amends. The rabbi told the man, “Take a feather pillow, cut it open, and scatter the feathers to the winds. Then report back to me.” The man did as instructed. When he returned, the rabbi said, “Now go and gather all the feathers”.

Could there be a greater metaphor for Richard Goldstone?

From the Second Intifada: Statistics verifying Israel has no policy of intentionally killing civilians are well established, if not well known.

Highlights of the Goldstone Retraction:

If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.

The major cudgel used by Israel’s enemies from the Report was the finding that Israel had deliberately targeted civilians. There is no evidence for this:

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.

Thus the most important and contentious part of the Report is bunk.

Some have charged that the process we followed did not live up to judicial standards. To be clear: Our mission was in no way a judicial or even quasi-judicial proceeding.
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About Cranky Notions
Reactionary. That fella from the Norris scandal.

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