Too late. The damage has been done, and no retraction now will alleviate it, not unless, perhaps, the judge spends the rest of his days trudging from TV station to TV station, from newspaper to newspaper, from campus to campus, and insists that the original reports was an abomination. I doubt he intends to do that. On the contrary, his retraction is still calibrated to harm Israel: the reason he got it wrong, he now tells us, is that Israel reused to cooperate with him; had they been honest and open he'd have written a different account. Since Israel wasn't, however, he had no choice but to write a report which even he now admits was wrong.
This is of course all wrong. There were as many flaws with the report as flies on a dung heap on a hot day (I chose this metaphor advisedly), and they were all obvious at the time.
Melaine Phillips sums up the sorry tale of the insincere recantation here. Meanwhile, in an article published the day before the judge changed his mind, Peter Berkowitz explains why the report was always harmful to the ideas of international law:
Indeed, memory of the Goldstone Report should be preserved, but not for the reasons that the editors intend. The report should serve as a potent reminder that, like other actors, international human rights lawyers and international bodies have passions and interests, biases and blind spots; they are capable of manipulating the facts and distorting the law; they often lack the expertise in military affairs that is necessary to responsibly apply international humanitarian law to the complex circumstances of asymmetric warfare; and their judgment is unconstrained by the discipline of democratic accountability and national security responsibility.One final comment, which I'm not seeing in the discussion this weekend, is that Goldstone now seems to accept that the IDF's casualty figures of combatants versus civilians were right.
The international law governing armed conflict — in Article 2 of the un Charter, Article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 17 of the Rome Statute creating the International Criminal Court — assigns to states with functioning judicial systems, which in particular means liberal democracies, the right and primary responsibility to investigate allegations of war crimes. The many and varied failings of the Goldstone Report illuminate the wisdom of this critical feature of international law.
Does the judge now have to give back the various prizes he got for his attacks against Israel?