One benefit of the print edition of The Post (meaning the paper thing that’s dropped on your doorstep and not the “online print edition”) is that when you thumb through, you spot gems you would never have otherwise seen. A case in point: today: Robert Bernstein, the former head of Human Rights Watch (who has blown the cover on its anti-Israel agenda) writes a letter to the editor:

Richard Goldstone’s retraction cut the ground from under war-crime charges against Israel by Human Rights Watch. Although I founded Human Rights Watch and was its chairman for most of its existence, I have openly criticized it because its Gaza reports were seriously flawed. Judge Goldstone now concurs. I hope this puts the matter to rest and that Human Rights Watch makes every effort to undo the harm caused by its flawed reports. It’s time to heal and to create an atmosphere conducive to peace negotiations in the Arab-Israel conflict.

But of course, HRW has no such intention.

Gerald Steinberg, the head of NGO Monitor, the Israel-based watchdog group that tracks NGO activity, described the situation to the Jerusalem Post:

NGO Monitor also issued a statement slamming NGO’s who contributed and “orchestrated” the conclusions of the Goldstone report, asserting that the “Goldstone Report, published under the auspices of the UN Human Rights Council in September 2009, has been used to justify a widespread campaign of demonizing Israel with false accusations of ‘war crimes’ and demands for BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions).” According to NGO Monitor President Professor Gerald Steinberg, “with Goldstone’s admission that ‘our fact-finding mission had no evidence’ and that ‘civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy,’ the politicized NGOs that supplied these allegations have been exposed again as biased and lacking credibility.” “Goldstone was misled by an orchestrated campaign led by powerful NGOs, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International, B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, Adalah, Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and Al Haq. As NGO Monitor demonstrated when the report was released, the so-called ‘evidence’ provided by these groups was at the core of the political war against Israel. Goldstone was taken in by crude manipulation. Steinberg especially attacked HRW who he said, “has been at the forefront of demonization and distortions since the infamous 2001 Durban conference, and used its influence to promote Goldstone, who was on HRW’s board. The leaders of this organization’s Middle East division have a long history of involvement in hard-core anti-Israel advocacy. This immoral behavior led HRW’s founder, Robert Bernstein, to denounce his own organization, presaging Richard Goldstone’s reconsideration.” He further added that “Israeli NGOs funded by European governments and the New Israel Fund have also played a central role in advancing the one-sided agenda of repressive regimes at the UN Human Rights Council. They have continued to lobby at the US Congress, European Parliament, and the Knesset. Goldstone’s Washington Post article has exposed these campaigns as nothing more than anti-Israel propaganda.”

HRW hasn’t renounced the Goldstone report. To the contrary, HRW’s Kenneth Roth claims that “Goldstone has not retreated from the report’s allegation that Israel engaged in large-scale attacks in violation of the laws of war.” Okay, so the targeting-civilians-making-Israelis-war-criminals part Goldstone got wrong, HRW concedes. But now the target shifts to Israel’s “refusal to date to conduct credible investigations into the serious violations of the laws of war that it committed in Gaza.” But didn’t Goldstone say that it was those very investigations that caused him to reverse his position? You see the game here — lie after lie is tossed out; when one is exposed, another is thrown out to take its place.

Why is this important? It’s key to Israel’s defense against the delegitimizers. It is not Israel that should be delegitimized, but the fleet of phony human rights groups and their enablers such as J Street who use the gloss of “human rights” to conduct a bad-faith campaign of attack on Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself. They simply are not legitimate, unbiased human rights groups. The Goldstone episode, if nothing else, makes that abundantly clear.

Israel is fighting for its survival not only on the battlefield but in the court of public opinion. For those who believe truth matters, it is important to point out the untruths and agenda of Israel’s attackers. Those who shrink from acknowledging the falsity of the attacks on Israel either have common aims with the phony human rights groups or have lost the capacity to make moral distinctions. The latter is a much bigger problem for elite intellectuals, and goes well beyond the topic of Israel.