Goldstone Debunks The Goldstone Report
The infamous Goldstone Report issued by the United Nations Human Rights Council, that condemned Israel for intentionally targeting Palestinian civilians during the Gaza war, has a new and surprising critic -- Richard Goldstone, himself.
"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," Goldstone says in a mea culpa in the Washington Post. "If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document."
He goes on to explain:
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.
It is an astonishing about-face -- as much for Goldstone's new conclusions, as for his attempts to rationalize an utterly dishonest and biased endeavor that has caused irreparable harm to the reputation of the Middle East's only Western democracy.
Goldstone now has the audacity to blame Israel for refusing to cooperate in its own defamation, suggesting that the original report's wrong conclusions were the result of a lack of cooperation by Israel. He fails to note that the UNHRC investigation was tainted from the very beginning by virtue of being a product of the UNHRC. This is a body that includes Libya among its members and routinely ignores the world's greatest human rights violators, such as Zimbabwe, North Korea or Syria, while focusing most of its attention on Israel. The UNHRC is a corrupted, amoral organization whose overriding aim is perversely to target democracies where human rights are generally respected -- so how was Israel supposed to cooperate with the investigation, knowing this bias?
Goldstone's remark that their "fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion" is demonstrably false. Even while the Gaza war was taking place, journalists and military officials constantly complained that Hamas terrorists were as a rule firing from civilian areas and indeed, wearing civilian clothes.
This was nothing new -- Hamas tactics of using their family, neighbors and even children as human shields to attempt to prevent an IDF counterattack was not only a longstanding tradition: it demonstrated that Hamas commanders knew what Goldstone claims his fact-finders couldn't find any evidence of, that Israel would not intentionally target civilians in a conflict.
Not only did Hamas understand this -- they took full advantage of the IDF's willingness to increase the risk to its own soldiers in order to prevent civilian deaths.
Goldstone writes that "the purpose of these investigations, as I have always said, is to ensure accountability for improper actions, not to second-guess, with the benefit of hindsight, commanders making difficult battlefield decisions." In that case, the investigation has accomplished the exact opposite of its intent. Israelis were put under a microscope that no other military fighting terrorism has had to deal with. Hamas, meanwhile, has never backed away from terror tactics of killing Israeli civilians while using their own Palestinian civilians as cannon fodder, much less investigated its own conduct.
The United Nations needs to bury the Goldstone report and issue a retraction and a formal apology to Israel. And that needs to happen now.