Sunday, October 11, 2009

Goldstone: Curioser and Curioser

Richard Goldstone has given an interview to The Forward, in which he tries to back a bit away from what he has done:
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 these
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.”
Does 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"?

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.


Salvia said...

I think you've nailed it. Goldstone is a deer in headlights. He took this job to boost his own ego, with a high profile international investigation. He appears to genuinely not understand the international anti-Israel climate, and his role in contributing to this. His initial response to criticism was to defend his work, because he truly could not comprehend how misguided he had been. Now it appears, after a long overdue education, he is beginning to back away.

I was reading an article somewhere that the Jewish community in South Africa have practically excommunicated him.

The question we should start asking is, how does Goldstone do teshuvah?

Joe in Australia said...

I don't think he is stupid, and I don't believe he was malicious. I think he was simply seduced by the idea of being an investigator for the UN and having his finger on the pulse of history. Once he accepted the position he was constrained by his mandate and the views of his colleagues - the conclusions of the report were already written. It's a shame that such an eminent jurist will be associated with it, but it serves him right.

Anonymous said...

I don't think he is stupid.

I DO think he was malicious.

Personal acceptance by UN diplomats and officials led to this report.

Goldstone's fear is paramount. Either he tell the truth, exonerating Israel from these ridiculous charges and be demolished as a "zionist" in the UN or blame Israel and gain acceptance as "one of the good Jews."

In the eyes of most of the world, a good Jew is one who advocates the complete censure, boycott or destruction of Israel.


Empress Trudy said...

Yes, Goldstone is no fool. He underestimated the efforts of people around the world to fact check his work. He assumed that everyone would bow down to his claims of Jewish perfidy. He over estimated what the aura of being from South Africa would lend him. After all SA's former Minister of Intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils is just as 'Jewish' as Goldstone and he openly advocates Jewish genocide.

Anonymous said...

Judge Goldstone cannot possibly have participated in the authoring of this report without deliberate intent to cause damage.

Setting aside the decidedly anti-Israel statements in the report, the extremely different treatment of testimony for or against Israel, the publicly televised hearings, the use of hearsay "evidence" the reliance on witnesses who were plainly unreliable, and the insistence on not recusing a stridently anti-Israel person whose mind was already made up before the investigation began, one burning fact still stands out. Goldstone is supposed to be an expert on international humanitarian law, and at any rate, he is not a novice. But in a number of places, the report grossly - and, it is clear, deliberately - misstates or badly mis-applies points of law. There can be no excuse at all for this. Examples:

It is plain from these examples that the authors of the report attempted to pack the report with purported violations of humanitarian law without regard for the truthfulness of their claims or the legal validity of their legal citations. As an experienced jurist, Goldstone cannot have failed to note these distortions, assuming that he did not create them himself.


Anonymous said...

Is anyone else beginning to wonder if Goldstone has even read all of the report? I cannot imagine that he wrote all of it himself -- it must have been a team effort. I have not heard anything from him defending anything specific in the report, just generalities. It is starting to look to me like he does not even know about a lot of its contents.

David E. Sigeti

Bryan said...

As my father always said, if you're going to put your name on something, you have to own it, good or bad.

It would be interesting to hear it from his mouth, however, that the majority of a report that bears his name is unknown to him. Regardless, all of its problems belong to him, because he was in charge of the committee that created it, and all criticisms of the report's methods should be directed at him, because he was ultimately responsible for its quality.

Anonymous said...

David S. / Bryan Z. -

I thought about the possibility that he was an ignorant idiot who failed to read his own report. I don't buy it, however.

Large documents written by committees are typically written in sections, with different members (and/or their staffs) writing different sections. Each section is reviewed by the whole committee (and also by members' staffs), and issues are formally redlined and fixed. If the authoring process is managed competently, all changes are tracked through a rigorous change-control process, and all issues are noted in minutes, redlined and tracked, and not cleared until the fixes are approved by the reviewers.

At the end, there is a final start-to-finish review and sign-off by all members, since everyone involved is signing their name to the thing. Surely, Goldstone would not have been such an idiot as to sign his name to this incredibly explosive report without reading it at all; and surely, any unbiased judge who read just part of this report would have detected the incredible gymnastics that it performs in order to tar Israel while barely touching Hamas - and would have become suspicious about the rest of the document, and read it.

As a high-level judge, Goldstone is supposed to have the focus and stamina to wade through massive quantities of legal(ish) documentation, subjecting it to legal analysis. If he doesn't have this ability, then he should not be involved with the law at all.

No, Goldstone knew EXACTLY what was in this report, and - being the legal expert on the panel - is likely the person who drafted the incredibly contorted legalistic language that I mentioned previously.

Goldstone is directly at fault. He knows it.


Bryan said...

Zvi -

Truthfully my understanding of writing 500-odd page reports is rather limited: if the Goldstone Report was constructed as you describe, then there is no way that Goldstone can play the fool.

On another point, I completely missed this line the first time I read this post: "And I wouldn’t consider it in any way embarrassing if many of the allegations turn out to be disproved." He doesn't? Because personally, if I were in charge of a *fact*-finding mission (not an *accusation*-finding mission), I would be pretty embarrassed if the "facts" I came up with were complete and utter untruths. It's shocking how his interviewer didn't even bother to address that. The blame doesn't stop with Goldstone and his farce of a condemnation, but it continues with every poor journalist who accepts his stories without bothering to ask him why his report would be full of holes in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Oops, I think that the first version of this comment got lost. Apologies if there is a double posting.

I am moving to Yaacov's latest posting ( for comments on the question of whether or not Goldstone read the report.

David E. Sigeti