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Right Turn
Posted at 10:15 AM ET, 04/06/2011

Reactions to Goldstone recantation speak volumes

Richard Goldstone’s stunning recantation of his war crimes accusation against the Jewish state has reverberated through the Jewish community here and in Israel. The U.S. reaction was mild; the British was worse, explicitly refusing to call for the revocation of the report. (You can understand why Israel doesn’t consider European countries to be honest peace brokers.)

The legitimately pro-Israel groups were delighted by the retraction of Goldstone’s libel. David Harris of the American Jewish Committee told the Jerusalem Post:

“Judge Goldstone should apologize to the State of Israel for the accusations of intentionally targeting civilians, which he now admits were unfounded. He should present his updated conclusions to the UN Human Rights Council, as well as to the General Assembly, which endorsed the skewed report, and press for its rejection.”

On the accusations that Israel refused to cooperate with the Goldstone Commission Harris said, “Judge Goldstone may continue to believe that Israel did not cooperate, but he knows Israel gave him reports and also opened its own investigations. Judge Goldstone knows deep in his soul that he and his team chose to ignore or selectively excerpt the Israeli evidence.”

Harris continued to assert, however, despite that Goldstone’s current “admissions” two years later, the report caused irreversible damage to Israel. “The Goldstone report essentially gave impunity to Hamas for its ongoing war crimes.”

“Some may appreciate Judge Goldstone’s candor, but the UN report he authored already has become a tool in the arsenal of those who demonize Israel,” said Harris.

“Regrettably, during the past two years Goldstone himself has contributed greatly to the broad smear against Israel by disseminating his report’s unfounded allegations in numerous interviews and articles. We hope he will defend his new thinking with the same vigor he employed to promote his earlier report.”

The Anti-Defamation League voiced similar sentiments.

But not J Street, mind you. No, this is the only Jewish group that tried to rescue Goldstone’s reputation from the trash heap of history. (J Street helped pen Goldstone’s defense and brought him around Capitol Hill to peddle what we now know are lies). The statement reads:

J Street welcomes Judge Richard Goldstone’s op-ed in The Washington Post this weekend and his conclusion, based on evidence from Israel’s investigations into allegations of misconduct in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, that “civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.” This was one of the most serious charges against Israel contained in the Goldstone Report.

While J Street never took a position supporting or opposing the Goldstone Report, we did second calls by prominent Israelis such as Dan Meridor and former attorney general Menahem Mazuz for Israel to launch its own credible, independent investigation, as it had in the past. The Israel Defense Forces did in fact launch internal investigations into some of the charges related to Operation Cast Lead that were in the report and some that were not.

We share Judge Goldstone’s belief that Israel deserves credit from the international community for launching these investigations and further that Hamas should be strongly condemned for its failure to address the charges against it in any way. We hope Israel will vigorously pursue and complete the inquiries it has begun and that it will do so in an open and public way.

As Judge Goldstone emphasizes, and as we noted last February, his report would have been far better and more balanced had the government of Israel chosen to cooperate – a conclusion that is emerging as conventional wisdom in Israel today. Israeli commentator Nahum Barnea begins a recent column asserting, “It was a mistake to boycott the Goldstone commission,” while Brig. Gen. (res.) Zvika Fogel, the Southern Command’s fire center commander during Operation Cast Lead, writes in Yisrael Hayom that, “We should have cooperated with the commission of inquiry.”

We further urged at the time that the report’s critics should refrain from personal attacks on Judge Goldstone or on the human rights advocates who brought the violations to light. The judge’s column in The Washington Post confirms our sense of respect for him as a person and a jurist who should never have been so viciously attacked on a personal level by his opponents.

Our hope moving forward is that all parties will take steps to avoid any escalation of tension or renewed conflict between Gaza and Israel and to ensure the safety and well-being of the residents of southern Israel and of Gaza. To that end, we call in particular for an end to rocket fire against Israeli civilians.

Finally, we urge the United States, Israel and the Palestinians to focus now on achieving a two-state solution so that we reduce the chances of future conflicts entailing civilian casualties, alleged human rights violations and investigative reports.

Notice: “This was one of the most serious charges against Israel contained in the Goldstone Report...” So in J Street’s eyes, more charges, serious ones, still exist that have not been debunked. Let me say, no pro-Israel group out there took that line. I’d be curious which of the other Goldstone claims are bogus. Is J Street sticking with Goldstone on his outrageous claim that Hamas doesn’t hide among civilians? Alan Dershowitz’s masterful takedown of Goldstone’s report stated: “The report’s ‘findings’ that Hamas fighters do not wear civilian clothes in order to hide among the civilians and that they do not store weapons in mosques or use human shields tells us more about the composition and bias of those who wrote the report than it does about the truth of these conclusions.” Dershowitz observed the evidence, to the contrary, is “ overwhelming, indisputable, and widely accepted by all people of good will.” Well, that excludes a lot of people, you know.

J Street then repeats another Goldstone lie: “As Judge Goldstone emphasizes, and as we noted last February, his report would have been far better and more balanced had the government of Israel chosen to cooperate – a conclusion that is emerging as conventional wisdom in Israel today.” As a preliminary matter, there is no consensus in Israel for allowing obviously biased and inept “investigators” to enjoy the patina of respectability, but I guess J Street has its finger on Israel’s pulse. Oops, actually not; the “pro-peace” left is moribund in Israel; its ragtag band of former activists now operate its demonization campaign against Israel in cushy NGO offices.

More important, Dershowitz found that Goldstone did have evidence that confirmed that Israel did NOT target Palestinian civilians (e.g. IDF operating procedure, the testimony of the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Col. Richard Kemp.) Dershowitz summed up the issue of available evidence:

The basic flaw of the Goldstone Report is that, without a scintilla of evidence, the biased commissioners concluded that the Israeli military action in Gaza was motivated not by the defense of its citizens but rather by desire to murder Palestinian civilians. Based on that unproven, untrue and biased conclusion, the commission was then able to ignore massive evidence, much of it self-proving and easily available on the internet, that the Israeli Army took considerable steps to reduce civilian casualties, while engaged in military action designed to prevent the murder of its own civilians.

Continuing through J Street’s statement, I must admit that only J Street would have the nerve to try the moral equivalence gambit, dragging in the “safety and well-being of the residents of southern Israel” after Goldstone in essence now has affirmed that they are in peril because Hamas terrorists hide in their midst. As always, every incident is an excuse to to hawk the “peace process,” but no incident is appropriate enough to raise the Palestinians’ refusal to attend.

So when does J Street expunge its own guilt in helping spread Goldstone’s lies? A suggestion: Bring Goldstone back to Capitol Hill to share his newfound clarity with the U.S. Congress.

But wait. It turns out that Goldstone isn’t quite ready to undo the damage he has caused. The Jerusalem Post reports:

South African jurist Richard Goldstone said Tuesday that he did not plan to seek nullification of his highly critical U.N. report on Israel’s 2008-2009 offensive in the Gaza Strip and asserted that claims to the contrary by Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai were false.

Even though he had promised to right his wrong, he’s not going to. He says: “As appears from the Washington Post article, information subsequent to publication of the report did meet with the view that one correction should be made with regard to intentionality on the part of Israel. . . . Further information as a result of domestic investigations could lead to further reconsideration, but as presently advised I have no reason to believe any part of the report needs to be reconsidered at this time.”

Hmm.

Then again, it seems it just isn’t convenient for Goldstone to complete his confession:

Danny Gillerman, a former Israeli ambassador to the U.N. who also participated in the phone call, quoted Goldstone as saying he was ready to take steps to change the status of the report, but first wanted to “wait for the dust to settle” following his op-ed article in the Post.

The dust to settle?

By  |  10:15 AM ET, 04/06/2011

Categories:  Israel, American Jews

 
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