Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Richard Goldstone retracts major portions of UN Goldstone Report...

His turnabout is simultaneously welcomed and derided by Jennifer Rubin,

Even in confessional mode, Richard Goldstone blames the victim — Israel brought this all on itself by not giving him information. In all his glorious ignorance he therefore had no qualms about accusing Israel of war crimes. You see, he had no choice.

Shmuley Boteach,

It took the judge 2 years to conclude that asking a terrorist organization to report its own atrocities wasn't the brightest idea. [...] Goldstone only condemned Israel as a regime that directs missiles intentionally at children because he did not have enough information to establish otherwise. And yet, just a few lines later Goldstone writes that the UN Humans Rights Council, which commissioned his report, has a “history of bias against Israel [that] cannot be doubted.”

So even Goldstone admits that Israel was being asked to cooperate with an investigation commissioned by an authority inherently prejudiced against it, which explains why it rightly refused to participate.

Martin Peretz,

Israel apparently will try to get the General Assembly to recant its endorsement of the Goldstone verdict on the Jewish crimes in Gaza. After all, the judge himself has recanted. Es vet helfn vi a toit’n bankes, my mother used to say: “It will help like hot suction cups will help a dead man.” Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic made the point early on after the judge confessed to his sins: “a blood libel, hard to retract once it’s been broadcast around the world.” Maybe Washington, which voted against the report, will take the leadership role on this. The president, the secretary of state, and the American ambassador to the U.N. have, it bears remembering, argued that our presence at the Human Rights Council can make a difference. Will Obama even try? It would mean, of course, that another one of his exemplary lessons in creative engagement will collapse.

And one lonely appreciative voice in The Guardian, Carlo Strenger,

Israel was faced with terrible choices, and only superficial moralists can argue that Israel could have done nothing. Faced with an enemy devoid of restraint, the question was where to draw the line. I believe humanitarian considerations could and should have played a greater role in limiting the extent of death and human suffering inflicted on Gaza's civilian population.

But there is a world of a difference in having to choose between terrible options and the Goldstone report's original accusation that Israel intentionally targeted civilians.

Goldstone's retraction is therefore immensely important. While it is legitimate to criticise Israeli policies, Hamas's systematic targeting of Israeli civilians and Israel's attempt to neutralise Hamas's military infrastructure simply belong to different moral universes: Israel tries to defend itself within the framework of international law – Hamas cynically exploits suffering for its own purposes.

Me, that report never passed my smell test in the first place, when it came out. Progressiv­e critics of Israel are lost inside a vast morality inversion. Qualified kudos to Goldstone for snapping out of it, to some limited extent. If certain sitting members of the UN's Human Rights Council

were in Israel's shoes and suffering what the Israelis suffer, there wouldn't be so much as a wet spot left of the Palestinia­ns by now. I will listen to All Things Considered's next pro-terrorist human interest weeper with even more disgust than usual, after this.