Sunday, April 3, 2011

Goldstone Sort of Recants

Richard Goldstone now admits that the worst parts about the report that bears his name weren't true. Above all, the absolutely infuriating accusation which stood at the center of the report, that Israel purposefully and intentionally harmed civilians. Well, actually, no, he says.

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.
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.
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.

Does the judge now have to give back the various prizes he got for his attacks against Israel?


Barry Meislin said...

And the reactions are pouring in fast and furious:

Here's the surprising response from the chin-stroking humanists from Gaza:

And Richard Silverstein (still crusading to make the world a better place) wastes no time either:

(No doubt this lovely person speaks for many truth seekers out there.)

Even CNN buries the news on its "Middle East" page.... But what's this?!! Good news from the Zionist entity? On CNN??:

Clearly, something very sinister is afoot.

NormanF said...

Ya'acov, this is not repentance.

Its insincere repentance and there is no obligation to understand how to repair the harm done.

Goldstone's mea culpa is only exceeded by his sheer chutzpah.

If he defamed you and then said he was sorry, would you take him at his word?

I think not.

The damage inflicted upon Israel by his "blood libel" is done and that bell cannot now be unrung and in his op-ed he still shows no comprehension of what he did.

That he wrote a half-hearted apology only compounds the original offense and does not really set the record straight.

The man should be ashamed of himself!

Anonymous said...

The guy is a Zionist agent, sent to discredit the human rights council once and for all.

Well played, Richard!

Anonymous said...

I suppose Goldstone will give back his prizes when Erdogan gives back his Qaddafi Human Rights award.

As a retraction, the op-ed is rather deficient. Sufficient information was available to indicate more cautious and reasonable conclusions. Notwithstanding Aluf Benn's editorial, the Reports double standards in handling statements by governing officals and witnesses suggest that no amount of cooperation would have helped.

While it's true that Goldstone seems to be accepting Hamas's new figures for the number of dead combatants, he adds that they might have a reason to inflate them. He never admits that they might have had a reason to inflate the civilian casaulty figures. It's also hilarious how many times Goldstone mentions 'Hamas' in the op-ed.

Btw, EoZ found a statement from an NGO, concerned with the protection of other NGOs, that one Gazan died last month from a Qassam that fell short.


Anonymous said...

Are we allowed any schadenfreude that this came out while the Mondoweiss crowd is out promoting their book on how great the Goldstone Report is?


Barry Meislin said...

Save your schadnfreude.

The scumbag's retraction is not going to change anything.

Avigdor said...

You guys and gals are acting far too downtrodden with regards to what is a really tremendous and unexpected development. This is a gift that needs to be exploited for all its worth, not downplayed by the very community that needs it most.

This goes for Yaacov, too, and I hope he's listening. Let our enemies play defense for a few weeks. Haven't we had enough? We have a real diplomatic earthquake coming our way. The Lebanon War, the Gaza War, the Flotilla fiasco, the Goldstone Commission, the Settlement fight... all of them put together pale in comparison to the storm gathering in September.

Its use it or lose it. Get your heads in the game.

Yaacov said...

I'm listening, Victor, I'm listening. It's the very large numbers of people who will be against us no matter what that aren't listening. Over at Mondowiess it took them all of three seconds to conclude that Goldstone is no longer an Azzajew, now he's a regular Jew to be hated for his old Zionist connections.

Anyway, why do you think the world will change in September, pray tell? I doubt it will.

Avigdor said...

You've read the Horovitz article in Jpost, right? And Ethan Bronner's almost word for word copy and paste version in the NYTimes?

Truth be told, I'm cautiously pessimistic that Israel's diplomatic corps will pull the country's chestnuts out of this fire alone. I guess we'll have to see what Netanyahu pulls out of his hat mid-May before the US Congress (and not in Israel or Europe), which should tell you where Israeli diplomats think the battle must be won.

But in any case, even with Congress behind us, I think it's going to take a serious revolt on the part of American Jews to force Obama's hand, which will be no small feat. If you've been following the news, you know he's apparently considering Samantha Powers for Sec. of State, meaning she's back in his inner circle, with all the consequences for Israel that this entails.

Don't underestimate the force of momentum in driving events. The PA was slowly, quietly pushing through a referral of Israel to the ICC all through 2011 and literally days after this story with Goldstone broke, there was to be a renewed media push by all their supporters to get this back in the news (mondoweiss even wrote a book for the occasion).

Referring Israel to the ICC over the Goldstone Report was a main plank in the delegitimization and isolation campaign that the Palestinians were counting on for supporting their statehood resolution in September. This knocks that lever out of their hands, which is why they're scrambling to pretend, all of a sudden, that Goldstone does not matter. Whether we concede that point to them on a silver platter is our choice.

If you were them, think of how you'd be comforting your fellow strategists - it's blow over, the Israelis don't have the will to carry it forward, the Europeans will ignore it, the Americans don't matter and are too busy with other problems.

It's not just you. Every pro-Israel blogger is out there bemoaning that the damage is done and nothing will ever reverse it. Forget the damage! The damage is history. We don't need to leverage Goldstone's retraction to redress the past - that's for historians - we need it to make an impact in the present and future.

Rolling back the EU's year old (?) adoption of the Goldstone Report, which the European Jewish Congress is now attempting, is a great effort, not because it was a historic injustice for the EU to adopt the document, but for the inertia it can build to immunize EU states to Palestinian hyperbolics and increased political cooperation with Israel.

Just months ago we were discussing how Livni, Barak and IDF commanders were afraid to step foot in Europe! Israeli leaders were threatened with ARREST in civilized countries! That's over now. We need to press the advantage, not let it slip away.

Avigdor said...

We need to stop playing defense all the time, crying about our sad lot and all the anti-semites who are out to get us, hoping that the few honest souls out there will echo back. If each of the pro-Israel bloggers picked one target, isolated it, and went after it with some tangible goal in mind, we'd be in much better shape than just serving as news aggregators for Jewish/Israeli happenings.

How is it that Mondoweiss is able to set the agenda with each post, to put forward a consistent vision that ties into a "big-tent" political platform, but we can't.

Why can't all the pro-Israel bloggers decide that the aspect of Goldstone's report which he did not condemn, the indictment of Hamas for obvious violations of war crimes and crimes against humanity SHOULD go forward at the UN, and be passed on to the ICC for criminal prosecution of the entire Hamas military and political leadership and bureaucracy.

And if the Arabs ignore and oppose this, all the better. Let THEM play defense and design stalling tactics to avoid the long arm of international law. Let THEM denounce and disown the very international institutions which they now manipulate at will.

Let THEM deal with the consequences of isolation and delegitimization. Let's focus on an issue and take it forward on a political level with practical consequences. Let's think strategically.

What would it do to Hamas to face international legal opprobrium, charges of war crimes, international warrants? The organization will shut itself off from the outside world. How can the PA push through a Palestine resolution when half the country it wishes to rule is under the control of a government indicted for war crimes?

Can one blogger do it? No. But I guarantee you, that if you and Elder of Zion and Israel Matzav and Israeli Cool were to hammer at it for a week, and Goldberg picked it up, and the lawyers at Volokh started making noise, and NGO Monitor jumped on board and the AJC sent a memo to the Jewish Telegraph Agency, which printed an article that was picked up by the Forward, who sent it on to the Wall Street Journal editorial page...

Israeli diplomats are human beings like the rest of us. If they feel grassroots energy pushing them forward maybe they'll be a bit more creative, more energetic, more bold when they wake up in the morning. I can tell you little old me is two email addresses away from passing on ideas to the Deputy Foreign Minister.

This is what Goldstone's retraction gives us, a change of momentum. Let's not waste it.

Avigdor said...

Anyway, why do you think the world will change in September, pray tell? I doubt it will.

I'm trusting the Palestinians at their word, and at their remarkable success at quietly generating diplomatic breakthroughs in the recent past, under Israel's nose. These people are competent, they have political direction from European elitists and Washington insiders.

We also have to consider unanticipated forced and unforced Israeli errors between now and September, like that 20 ship flotilla coming in late May.

Planning for the worst is not a terrible habit to get into. If they can be broken in September, that will pull us through the 2012 presidential elections in the US, after which the Palestinians may be facing a very different occupant in the white house, and will be forced to either moderate their positions and begin to negotiate in good faith, or stall with ever decreasing political support.

The last six months in Israel advocacy were a vacation. The next six are going to be some of the most crucial in years.

Avigdor said...

For anyone interested, I've published something more comprehensive than the jumble of comments posted above:

It was my intent that it be of interest to anyone in the pro-Israel blogosphere.


Anonymous said...

Hi Victor, I would like to see three main planks:

1) I would like to see an aggressive campaign to sue for libel each and every single person who parrotted these lies. I would in particular like to see the state back each one of the soldiers who were investigated sue. Bury the media and churnalists in libel cases. Every single time. Agree to settle only for prominent retraction.

2) I would also like to see an IDF soldier or politician call the bluff of the anti-Israelis and defy an "arrest warrant". In the UK bringing spurious cases is a crime. Israel should be pushing it. It should be pushing the solicitors and barristers who bring these spurious claims to be disbarred.

Thats for starters. Bring more aggressive cases against Hizbollah for war crimes. Sue banks that launder their money.

At the moment these people can lie with impunity. Up the cost of lying and you'll see the message start to muddle.

As for internationalising the conflict... It was always international.


Barry Meislin said...


You deserve a lot of credit.

But you're delusional. (You have lots of company, though, don't worry.)

The snowball has already become an avalanche.

The Palestinians don't have to do anything.

Nothing. Zip. Nada.

They can even keep silent for the entire next six months. (Not that they will.)

The momentum is their's.

They will be given a state.

They won't accept that state; but will allow the forces of "international law" to merrily do their dirty work for them.

And Obama's view of himself as the great liberator---is to correct the injustice done to the Palestinians over the past 63 years, never mind that the Palestinians have been responsible for it.

And the article cited above is as equally delusional if its author really thinks that Obama is going to help Israel out of the jam its in.

Seeing that it's Obama who put Israel in this jam in the first place and who has been applying the screws ever since.

(As they say, one good turn deserves another...)

Bibi doesn't have a lot of options. His bluster will not convince anyone. His threats will not persuade.

If anything, he must be Churchillian. Calm, incredibly focused. Pounding out the simple message again and again:

Basically, "This is what has happened. And this is what we would like to have been able to achieve but were rejected."

Will it convince anyone in the international community? Not likely; since "positions" (such as they are) have already been established. What it must do is prepare Israelis and galvanize them to face the coming onslaught.

He must say something like:

"The peace process was never meant by Israel as a process by which it has to commit suicide."

"But this is what it has become."
"This is what we offered in 2001."
"This is what we offered in 2008."
"And this is what the Palestinians have offered us in return:
* The second intifada.
* The demand that Israel withdraw return to the May 1967 cease-fire lines, including E. Jerusalem."
* Together with the demand that Isreal allow all Palestinian refugees to return to their homes within those 1967 cease-fire lines.
* Together with the fact that they will never the Jewish character of the State of Israel.
* Together with the requirement that Israel permit the nascent state of Palestine to arm itself to the teeth.
* Together with the requirement that Israel accept that the Palestinians may break any undertaking they have made with the State of Israel.

Bibi must indicate that Israel has always been ready to negotiate but that it will not agree to commit suicide; and that that is exactly what the Palestinians demand: that Israel commit suicide.

He must quietly but determinedly make Israelis (or most of them) understand that this is the situation. So that the nation can prepare for the oncoming onslaught.

And make it clear to everyone---by stating, once again calmly, determinedly---that Israel will "not go quietly into the good night" should that time ever come.

And most importantly, he must tell them that Israel cannot depend on anyone---though there are many friends out there---for help.

(It probably would do no good to mention the current American administration by name.)

I think most Israelis do understand the dire situation. (I may, of course, be wrong).

Indeed, I may be entirely off the wall.

Still, the people must be ready. Must be prepared. Must be informed.

Or else, praying for a miracle, one may hope that the Palestinians along with their Arab brethren (and along with their European supporters) find themselves too busy trying to survive the results of their own lunacies that they just don't have time to tear Israel apart.

And one is strictly enjoined never to count on miracles.

Barry Meislin said...


"...they will never the Jewish..."

should be:

"...they will never accept the Jewish..."

Avigdor said...


You're exemplifying the self-defeating retrenchment which we must battle against. It is not yet time for the "soap-rationing" speech. Israel has friends, it has allies and resources.

But ok, let's say that I'm delusional. We will always have time to ration soap, and boil our boots for soup, Barry. How about we do what is in our power today, which is to not concede the battle before it has even been joined, to not deliver victory to our enemies, and worry about the soap tomorrow.

Just a thought.

When we're at the point of boiling boots for soup, we won't need Netanyahu to make a speech about it. And we will not be there, because we can and should win this.

This is still ours to lose, Barry.

Barry Meislin said...

I'm not talking about boiling roots.

I'm talking about accepting a potentially harsh reality and preparing for it.

(I do like beets, though. A lot.)

Avigdor said...

Barry, you sound like a good person, but I don't think I want to go to war with you.

There is a reason the Torah makes exemptions for soldiers who are going to war, and there is a reason why all the exemptions are read to the troops at one time, without pause. I don't know what your deal is, or how you got to be so downright despondent about all this, but there is nothing wrong with taking a time out from the front line.

Obviously you're free to do what you want. But you should consider what purpose your apocalypticism serves, and whether it is all that necessary, if you can't help but feel it, to share it with others.

Barry Meislin said...

Also, to clarify the following:

"(It probably would do no good to mention the current American administration by name.)"

was intended to convey that Israel can NOT and should not rely on the US and its current administration.

(BTW I also like turnips, radishes and celeriac. Especially celeriac.)

Barry Meislin said...

Well, it is certainly true that Justin Bieber is performing this month!


And so is Bryan Ferry (!!)---(Though it's probably just to tell off Eno....)

Oh, and DYLAN, DYLAN's coming (or so they say). I think it's his second coming. (Or maybe his third.) DYLAN....imagine that.

(Me? Give me Suzanne Vega any day.... She came too, bless her. 'N she's coming back. Didn't see her though. (Didn't want to be disappointed. Actually, didn't want to shell out.) Besides, I was too busy being apocryphal---I mean, apoplectic---I mean apocalyptic.)

Well, let's hope you're right, Victor!

(With a smile like that, can ye be wrong?....)

Barry Meislin said...

But wait! Hold on!

Is THIS the deus ex machina that we've been so dearly waiting for?:

Let's see: Richard Goldstone against himself...the UN against itself...all those pro-Palestinian Christian groups against themselves (keeping in mind the claims, heh!, that Jesus was NOT Jewish nor did the Temple exist in Jerusalem...)

Folks, we could have a foto-finish here, yes we could!!!

(Did I mention I also have a soft spot for parsnips and parsley root?)

Carrie said...

Victor is absolutely right. It's time for Israeli diplomats to go on the offensive, and not just against Hamas. The PA are obviously not the liberal saints that our idiotic left believe them to be. Can you imagine Netanyahu announcing on Piers Morgan that the PA has a terroristic wing? Do you think any American mainstream news viewers know that? Can you imagine Bibi producing a synopsis of the last Fatah conference in which they talk of launching another violent intifadah? How about showing some anti-Semitic cartoons from the PA newspaper? How about talking about squares the PA named after terrorists who killed American citizens? It's almost too easy.

That is ALL he has to do. He can get an interview with any top newsperson in America. Tomorrow. And he speaks perfect english. This is a no brainer. If I were Bibi I would be on American TV every night, getting acquainted with and warming up to the American people.

I was happy with the way Netanyahu described Hamas during the last Piers Morgan interview, but he did not go far enough. The PA is constantly working to delegitimize Netanyahu. He can certainly do the same.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Richard Goldstone now admits that the worst parts about the report that bears his name weren't true.

This assertion itself isn't true. Goldstone only says that had he known what he knows now his report would have been different. He abundantly uses weasel words; for instance, he claims that the Simouna family massacre was "apparently" a mistake, and he wrongly claims, purporting to cite the McGowan Davis report, that the officer in charge is being investigated, while the report clearly states that as of October 2010 no decision had been made as to whether or not the officer would stand trial.

It must be noted that he doesn't recant from his conclusions in other cases he studied, like the destruction of the chicken coop which is "intentional harm to civilians" beyond any doubt.

In his op-ed, Goldstone makes a major legal blunder by claiming that "the Human Rights Council should condemn the inexcusable and cold-blooded recent slaughter of a young Israeli couple and three of their small children in their beds." This is astounding since the HRC can only condemn state actors, and at present it is not known whether the babies were killed by a Palestinian, a Thai or a Jew. Either Goldstone is not aware of that or he is anticipating the result of an unfinished investigation, pointing to a strong bias, or to the possibility that someone else penned the article for him.

In short, you misrepresent Goldstone and Goldstone misrepresents the McGowan Davis report, making some very bizarre statements (coming from a jurist) in the process. The op-ed is so flawed it has no validity whatsoever, and the Zionist gloating over it is baseless.

Avigdor said...

It scares you, doesn't it, Alberto? The "war crimes" card just slipped through your fingers. Israel doesn't target civilians. But you know who does? Your friends in Hamas do. The international community is agreed on that, now. We are going to nail your beloved murderers to the wall, Alberto. Indictments, warrants, the works. And you will defend them the whole way down, Alberto. This is how history and your children, if you have any, will remember you, as a defender of criminals and mass murderers. They will rot in the Hague like the modern incarnation of the Nazi war criminals that they are. And you will rot in the memory of humanity as their fanboy.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

I'm sorry, Emmanuel. Israel doesn't target civilians? I believe I saw somewhere an Israeli soldier shooting a blindfolded civilian in the foot. Right or wrong, Emmanuel?

And what about a Jewish terrorist by the name of David Raziel, who intentionally targetted pregnant women, children and senior citizens, and who is revered in hundreds of streets, squares and even in the name of a village?

The "war crimes" charge is in a UN document, not in a nonbinding op-ed. Also, let's not forget that the Goldstone report is actualy the work of four people. When all four agreed, this detail had relatively little importance. After Goldstone's about-face, however, it is relevant to point out that two of the other authors have utterly disavowed the op-ed and claimed that the accusations in the Goldstone Report stand. Do you get it or don't you get it, Emmanuel?

Avigdor said...

What I get is that you're panicked and terrified, Alberto, and scrambling for straws. Everything you have spent so much time building, all the hatred and passion you've spilled against Jews and Israel, is sliding through your fingers. The damn of lies has burst, Alberto. It's a new day, a new world, and your support for mass murderers, your deranged rationalizations for the use of terror and violence against innocent human beings, has no place in it.

It's very appealing, watching a promoter of hate and inhumanity squirm.