Saturday, January 23, 2010

Israel Set to Present Its Goldstone Rebuttal

Ha'aretz has the report that Israel is preparing to issue its rebuttal to the UN. I noted several weeks back that we should expect that some of Judge Goldstone's allegations would turn out to be inaccurate, not because of any malfeasance on his part, but simply because (for better or for worse) Israel did not cooperate with his investigation, meaning that much potentially exculpatory evidence was withheld from him. It looks like the report Israel is going to issue will include much of this evidence.

Whether or not we should ultimately judge this process as a serious one or not depends on what happens yet. It is almost undoubtedly true that some of the Goldstone allegations will turn out to be relatively conclusively wrong. It is also almost undoubtedly true that some of the Goldstone allegations which Israel will be contesting in its report will still have legs. What we would hope to see, then, is Judge Goldstone (and the relevant UN bodies) taking precisely that stance -- withdrawing certain claims, and digging in on others. It doesn't have to be debasing; he could say something like the following:
"Based on the evidence presented in this report, I am satisfied that the events that transpired on X date in Y location were within the bounds of accepted military practice. We regret that it could not be included in our findings, but this evidence was not made available to the commission at the time of its report, despite our efforts to secure Israel's cooperation. We reiterate our disappointment that Israel did not participate in our inquiry; as this example indicates, their non-participation unfortunately barred the committee from ascertaining the fullest, most accurate account possible of the events in question."

I'm not sure whether Judge Goldstone will react to this -- I continue to believe there were at least some admirable qualities undergirding why he took on this mission, but there is no doubt he feels burned by the response and I suspect he believes a substantial amount of his international credibility now rests on defending his report to the death. This is his legacy, for better or for worse, and he will not be remembered well if his legacy is "that report which he later admitted wildly exaggerated Israel's culpability for war crimes" (by pro-Israel loyalists for issuing the report, by anti-Israel partisans for admitting its shortcomings). I guess we'll see. As for the relevant UN bodies, well, them I have no hope for, because for them this was never about fairness or human rights to begin with -- there is no reason to suspect they'll change that now.


ModernityBlog said...

[Off topic, but I am sure you will appreciate the significance of this issue]

A British blogger has been intimidated by the police. The Reverend Stephen Sizer didn’t like comments and criticism made on the Seismic Shock blog, so got the police to physically intimidate the blogger, to take down that mild criticism.

This is a clear freedom of speech issue, the police should not be used to intimidate bloggers.

I urge you to publicise this issue and support Seismic Shock, as “I too am Seismic Shock”

For more information see


David Schraub said...

I saw this, and it creeped me the hell out. It's times like this where I wish I knew British law better -- it feels like a malicious prosecution to me from my (American) vantage point.

N. Friedman said...


I do not know Goldstone's motives. I do note that his manner of accepting evidence is rather strange. I would think, were he had no ability to interview Israeli officials for his report and no ability to get near to determining the motives of the Israeli leadership that an honest investigator would shy away from grandiose opinions.

Given that he did not do that and given that his entire point of view - having heard him discuss the matter at length - about investigating Israel is similar to that of the worst elements of those who hate Israel, it is difficult to take his conclusions all that seriously.