Richard Goldstone, the primary author of the infamous Goldstone Report, is now trying to distance himself from the way in which the report is being used to single out Israel for condemnation. Most recently he criticized the United Nations Council on Human Rights, which commissioned the report, for the contents of its referral to the Security Counsel. This is what he said: "The draft resolution saddens me as it includes only allegations against Israel. There is not a single phrase condemning Hamas as we have done in the report."
Goldstone, as usual, is trying to have it both ways. The truth is that the report itself barely criticizes Hamas. Indeed, the summary--which was intended as a press release--is replete with condemnations against Israel but never once criticizes Hamas. Instead it gently criticizes "Palestinian armed groups," as if to suggest that these were vigilante grass root killers who were not sponsored by and doing the work of Hamas. The text of the report devotes infinitely more space to condemning Israel than it does to condemning Hamas or even "Palestinian armed groups." It is not surprising, therefore, that the resolution of the UN Council, which is intended to briefly summarize the report, would focus its attention on condemning Israel. Goldstone, who is a savvy and experienced international diplomat, had to realize this when he signed onto the report. The crocodile tears he is now shedding, in claiming that the resolution "saddens" him, is simply another example of him talking out of two sides of his mouth.
Goldstone did the same thing when he told the Jewish Daily Forward that his group had not conducted "an investigation," but rather a "fact-finding mission" based largely on the limited "material we had." Since this "material" was cherry-picked by Hamas guides and spokesmen, Goldstone acknowledged that "if this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven." He emphasized to the Forward that the report was no more than "a road map" for real investigators and that it contained no actual "evidence," of wrongdoing by Israel.
That is certainly not what the report itself says. The report repeatedly accuses Israel of war crimes and other violations of international law. It concludes that Israel "violated" the law and that these violations "constitute a grave breach." It does not qualify its accusations the way Goldstone now seems to--at least when talking to Jewish audiences.
In his recent press offensive, Richard Goldstone complained that many of his critics have not read the report, have not responded to its conclusions, and are resorting to attacks on the credibility of those who are responsible for producing it. In an interview, not surprisingly, with Al Jazeera, Goldstone said the following: "I have yet to hear from the Obama Administration what the flaws in the report that they have identified are, I would be happy to respond to them if and when I know what they are." He continued "I have no doubt, many of the critics--the overwhelming majority of critics--have not read the report, and, you know what proves that, I think, is that the level of criticism does not go to the substance of the report."
This of course misses the point. Many of the most severe critics have studied the report in detail and have focused on specific errors. As far as I know, Goldstone has not responded to any of these substantive criticisms. Moreover, there is a good reason why there has been so much focus on Goldstone himself and others on his commission, as well as on the source of the report, namely the UN Council on Human Rights. First, as to Goldstone: The only reason anyone has given any credence to yet another report of the obviously biased Human Rights Council is because Goldstone was its chairman. As the Associated Press reported recently, Israel tends to ignore reports of the Human Rights Council, "which includes many Arab and Muslim countries [and] is hopelessly biased against Israel." It continues, "But Goldstone's credentials as a former war crimes prosecutor..., his Jewish faith and his close ties to Israel have made it hard for Israel to ignore his findings." Goldstone obviously understood that he was putting his personal credibility behind this deeply flawed report. His credibility has suffered a fatal blow as the result of his association with such bigotry. It is not surprising, therefore, that critics are questioning his motives.
If Goldstone wants a debate on the merits and demerits of his report, I am ready and willing to debate him. I await his reply.