The Goldstone Report resulted from a United Nations commission of inquiry into Cast Lead, the 2008/2009 Israeli military operation in Gaza which was undertaken in response to unremitting, large-scale rocket attacks against civilians in southern Israel by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups…over 10,000 rockets were fired into Israel prior to Cast Lead and there were no indications whatsoever that the barrage would stop unless Israel responded militarily. The commission of inquiry was chaired by Richard Goldstone, a judge from South Africa.
The September 2009 report accused Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity and said its armed forces purposely targeted civilians in Gaza. It was used by innumerable governments, individuals and organizations to demonize, villify, slander and delegitimize Israel, including human rights groups and non-government organizations that should have known better and the United Nations itself. Without question, Israel has paid a very high price in the court of public opinion all around the world for the reports conclusions and continues to do so to the present day. Trouble is, the report was fatally flawed from the very beginning because its terms of reference were unbalanced and heavily slanted against Israel (the United Nations Human Rights Council which commissioned and issued it has long been consumed by an anti-Semitic and anti-Israel animus) and its findings were preordained from the start. Israel has spent the past year and a half since it came out protesting its innocence and disavowing Goldstone’s conclusions to no avail.
Until last Friday that is. Miracle of miracles, Goldstone retracted his report in a piece he published in the Washington Post and said the conclusions he drew about Israel’s actions in Cast Lead were wrong, false and without merit. He said that Israel did not purposely target civilians as a matter of policy nor did it commit war crimes or crimes against humanity. It exonerated Israel on all the accusations and was a complete reversal of the findings he came up with in his report.
The question now is, what will he actually do about it? Perhaps some of the enormous damage he caused can be mitigated and repaired if he trumpets his retraction to all and sundry and really does work hard to get the United Nations to nullify the report. Let’s hope he follows through. His report had deep and far reaching consequences for Israel and its the least he can do.
Goldstone got it completely wrong the first time. We can only hope that he has the courage, strength of character, energy and humility to do the decent thing and get it right this time around.