Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Did Goldstone Read His Own Report?

There's an interesting discussion among readers on a previous post in which I wondered about Richard Goldstone (Goldstone: Curioser and Curioser). The question is if Goldstone even read the report that bears his name, and if he understood what's written there.

I agree that it's inconceivable that he didn't read it; Zvi's description of the authoring process sounds about right. Yet we're left with the riddle of "what was he thinking?"

Here, look at this:

179. In 1994 the Palestinian Authority was established following the Oslo I Accord and in 1995 “the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip”, also known as “Oslo II,”9 detailed practical steps to be implemented by the parties in view of the negotiations on the final status of the territory. The assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by an Israeli extremist in 1995 dealt a lethal blow to the peace process. Successive Israeli Governments and the Palestinian political leadership failed to reach an agreement on the final status at the United States-sponsored Camp David summit in 2000 and during direct talks in Taba (Egypt) in 2001.
180. A second popular uprising erupted in September 2000, after the then opposition leader Ariel Sharon conducted a controversial visit to the Temple Mount/al-Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem.10 This second intifada set off an unprecedented cycle of violence. (My italics)

They're not talking about Gaza at all; it's background - and highly instructive background, too, for being so obviously tendentious. Is this what Goldstone truly believes? And if so, how so?


aiwac said...

I have another question...has anyone ever actually tried to, I dunno, prove the dogma that Rabin's assassination was the sole cause for the failure of the Peace Process?

This particular claim has been floating around both here and abroad for so long, it seems to have become an (unfounded) article of faith among the liberal chattering classes...

Anonymous said...

I would not be quick to dismiss the possibility that Goldstone did not read the report. Zvi's comments in the earlier thread sound like a good description of how such a document *should* be written. I see no reason to assume that the document was actually written that way. The committee was clearly under some time pressure and Goldstone's attitude seems to be that the committee was "just raising questions" (my language) that others should investigate. This could easily be a recipe for a sloppy process.

If all we are concerned with is establishing moral culpability for the lies and distortions in the document, then the question of whether or not Goldstone read the report is probably not very important. I agree that Goldstone would have been incredibly irresponsible if he signed the document without completely reading it and that by signing it, having read it or not, he became responsible for its contents. Nevertheless, if we are trying to understand the man and especially his somewhat strange statements since the report was released, it is worth considering the possibility that he is trying to cover up for his own incompetence as much as anything else.

David E. Sigeti

Victor said...

aiwac, I've made similar comments before. Yaacov probably remembers this, and may even find a link to the speech Rabin made before the Knesset in which he outlined the final status he envisioned with the Palestinians.

Basically, it is the Netanyahu position, and perhaps even more hawkish. Rabin wanted a demilitarized autonomous zone, Israeli control of Jerusalem and the Jordan valley, not a single "refugee", etc. He has been lionized by the left because he was killed. However, his position (his final negotiating position) was almost identical to Netanyahu.

aiwac said...

Sorry, Victor, I didn't see your comment.

You know the real tragedy?

It really feels like no amount of debunking will change that particular article of faith, or many others (A-Dura, Camp-David being entirely Israel's fault etc).

Tons of people will give Goldstone's report canonic status no matter how many holes we punch in it. Sometimes (not always), these efforts feel downright quixotic.