Where now for the Goldstone report?

John Dugard writes:

In an op-ed in the Washington Post Richard Goldstone, former South African Constitutional Court judge and Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, expresses misgivings about the central finding of the UN Human Rights Council Fact Finding Mission Report on the Gaza Conflict of 2008-9 (named after its chairman, “the Goldstone report”) that Israel’s indiscriminate attacks on civilians were intentional.

The op-ed makes strange reading.

It states that the Goldstone report would have been a different document “had I known then what I know now” but fails to disclose any information that seriously challenges the findings of the Goldstone Report.

It claims that investigations published by the Israeli military and recognised by a follow-up UN Committee Report chaired by Judge Mary McGowan Davis, which appeared in March, “indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy”, but the McGowan Davis report contains absolutely no such “indication” and instead seriously questions Israel’s investigations, finding them to be lacking in impartiality, promptness and transparency.

Goldstone expresses “confidence” that the officer responsible for perhaps the most serious atrocity of Operation Cast Lead (Israel’s codename for its assault on Gaza) — the killing of 29 members of the al-Samouni family — will be properly punished by Israel despite the fact that the McGowan Davis report provides a critical assessment of Israel’s handling of the investigation into this killing.

Finally he claims that the McGowan Davis report finds that Israel has carried out investigations “to a significant degree”, but in fact this report paints a very different picture of Israel’s investigations of 400 incidents which have resulted in two convictions, one for theft of a credit card, resulting in a sentence of seven months imprisonment and another for using a Palestinian child as a human shield which resulted in a suspended sentence of three months!

In short, there are no new facts which exonerate Israel and which could possibly have led Goldstone to change his mind. What made him change his mind therefore remains a closely guarded secret.

The Associated Press reports:

South African jurist Richard Goldstone said Tuesday that he did not plan to seek nullification of his highly critical U.N. report on Israel’s 2008-2009 offensive in the Gaza Strip and asserted that claims to the contrary by Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai were false.

The 2009 Goldstone report initially concluded that both Israel and Hamas had committed potential war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during three weeks of fighting. The findings that Israeli forces had intentionally fired at Palestinian civilians triggered outrage in Israel and a personal campaign against Goldstone, who is Jewish.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Goldstone said that Yishai had called him on Monday to thank him for an op-ed piece published Friday in The Washington Post in which the judge wrote that new information had come to light that made him rethink his central conclusions.

Goldstone said, however, that he never discussed the report with Yishai in the telephone conversation. Israeli leaders have called for the report to be retracted since it was issued in 2009.

“There was absolutely no discussion about the Goldstone report on the call,” the jurist said in a telephone interview from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

Goldstone said he thanked Yishai for calling and “stated that my concern was to work for truth, justice and human rights.”

Goldstone did confirm that Yishai had invited him to visit Israel and that he had accepted but would be unable to travel to the Jewish state until July.

“I ended the conversation by expressing my love for Israel,” Goldstone said, adding that Yishai spoke in Hebrew which was translated for the judge.

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2 thoughts on “Where now for the Goldstone report?

  1. delia ruhe

    It’s as if it were Goldstone’s intention to return the report to the centre of public debate. And today, by the look of things, those who have actually studied the report are starting to put out articles. What a contrast to all the knee-jerk stuff (from both pro and anti sides) I’ve been seeing over the past week!

    “Herewith is our challenge: to hold on to the truth that what Israel has done to the Palestinians is wrong and indefensible; to hold on to the truth that Israel’s refusal, backed by the U.S., to respect international law and the considered opinion of humankind is the sole obstacle to putting an end, finally, to their suffering. We can reach our goal if we hold on to the truth. . .” That’s what Phil Weiss (Mondoweiss) wrote today.

  2. delia ruhe

    This from an article at The Forward:

    Avrom Krengel, chairman of the South African Zionist Federation, who aggressively critiqued Goldstone’s report at the meeting with him last May, said: “It’s interesting with Goldstone. He’s not an assimilated Jew. He very much regards himself as, and wants to be, part of the community. That always came into play. He’s not a Finkelstein or Chomsky.”

    Krengel’s reference was to the American public intellectuals Norman Finkelstein and linguist Noam Chomsky, who, he claimed, invoke their Jewishness “in order to use it as a weapon of credibility, to criticize and attack Israel.” . . . .

    “Your request that countries prosecute Israeli soldiers under universal jurisdiction principles will prevent thousands of Jews from visiting their parents and grandparents in certain countries and force their absence from family celebrations,” Krengel told Goldstone in his formal statement.


    This Krengel is really a piece of work. First, has anyone ever heard Chomsky invoke his Jewishness to lend credibility to his political critique? Has Finkelstein used his Jewishness as “a weapon,” or would it be more accurate to say that has Finkelstein’s Jewishness is being used here as a weapon against him?

    Secondly, is it somehow in keeping with South African Zionist principles and ethics that the illegal and immoral slaughter of 1400 Palestinians, including 350 children, should go unanswered so that the slaughterers can attend “family celebrations”?

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