You interviewed Judge Richard Goldstone on your program this week on the subject of his controversial report in which he accuses Israel of war crimes. This week’s “Question of the Week” on your website is “Do you believe the Goldstone Report was fair? Was Judge Goldstone impartial?” This is my answer.
Whether Judge Goldstone was impartial or not is largely irrelevant. The mandate of the investigation was to investigate Israeli war crimes in Gaza. This puts Goldstone in the backward position of having an a priori conclusion before the investigation. An analogy can be made to the old joke about a prosecutor who asks the defendant, “When did you last beat your wife?” Since the very thing that was being investigated was already decided ahead of time, the investigation was irrelevant and the only thing remaining to do was to condemn the “guilty party” without an impartial investigation. Thus, by its very inception, the Goldstone Report was unfair. It puts all reasonable methods of gathering evidence and assigning blame on its head.
Judge Goldstone also may have misrepresented himself in his interview on your program. Goldstone’s report said virtually nothing about the cowardly Hamas practice of blending with civilians to maximize civilian casualties nor did it say very much about the eight years of targeting Israeli civilian areas with rockets and mortar shells. It did not mention Israel’s 2005 unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip handing over control of the area to the Palestinian Authority; a peaceful gesture which was answered with increased rocket and mortar attacks on civilian areas.
Judge Goldstone also misrepresented his critics on your program when he said, “What saddens me is that Jews … think that because I am a Jew, I should not investigate Israel.” Nothing can be further from the truth. One only has to pick up any Israeli newspaper any day of the year to see articles severely critical of Israel written by Jews. One only has to go to the Israel’s military or civic courts to see investigations of and judgments on Israeli policy and alleged crimes. Goldstone’s characterization of his critics is an obvious straw man. According to one of his Jewish critics, chairman of the South African Board of Governors Ze’ev Krengel, Jews from Goldstone’s home country of South Africa are open to criticism of Israel, “[b]ut it has to be within reason.” They are obviously disappointed in the report’s mandate, but they are particularly angry at Goldstone himself for taking on the job of judge of a kangaroo court and sullying the his own name.