Tellingly, in an interview with the Forward on October 2, Goldstone himself
acknowledged the tentative nature of his findings.
“Ours wasn’t an investigation, it was a fact-finding mission,” he said, sitting in his Midtown Manhattan office at Fordham University Law School, where he is currently
visiting faculty. “We made that clear.”
Goldstone defended the report’s reliance on eyewitness accounts, noting his mission had cross-checked those accounts against each other and sought corroboration from photos, satellite photos, contemporaneous reports, forensic evidence and the mission’s own inspections of the sites in question.
For all that gathered information, though, he said, “We had to do the best we could with the material we had. If this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.”
Goldstone emphasized that his conclusion that war crimes had been committed was always intended as conditional. He still hopes that independent investigations carried out by Israel and the Palestinians will use the allegations as, he said, “a useful road map.”
Sounds rather strange to me, the idea that actually, all the 575 page report is, is a useful roadmap for Israeli and Palestinian investigators to follow, as they try to figure out what it actually is they need to investigate. It's strange, first, because the report doesn't read like that; it's tone is far more strident than a diffident set of recommendations. Second, it wasn't presented in such a way, by Goldstone himself, on any of the many occasions where he has presented it or defended it. Nor is it being read that way, obviously, by anyone, whether media, diplomats or legal organizations and pundits.
It's also a strange notion indeed, that either side needs the Goldstone commission to know where it needs to look in its investiagtions - the ones Israel is having, and the ones the Palestinians aren't and won't.
The strangest part of the interview, to my mind, was this
Goldstone maintains that the burden is now on Israel to counter theseDoes the man really believe that after his report, there is any kind of Israeli investiagtion at all, that could ever balance the impact of his report? Say an Israeli investigationwas to find that his report was shot full of non-truths, inaccuracies, biased statements, and simply plain fibs: would anyone ever say to themselves: "Aha. Looks like this Goldstone group was wrong, it's a good thing the Israelis set the record right"?
findings through its own probe.
“If I was advising Israel, I would say have open investigations,” he told the Forward. “In that way, you can put an end to this. It’s in the interest of all the people of Israel that if any of our allegations are established and if they’re criminal, there should be prosecutions. And if they’re false, that should be established. And I wouldn’t consider it in any way embarrassing if many of the allegations turn out to be disproved.”
I'm beginnning to wonder if perhaps Goldstone isn't simply a babe in the woods. Though even if he is, he has caused an uncommonly large amount of damage for an innocent abroad.