I'm trying to figure out exactly what it means that Richard Goldstone, the international jurist who presided over a UN report on the Gaza war that Israel and its friends considered outrageously biased, has repudiated its central findings.
There's little doubt that's good news to the Jewish groups here that made Goldstone a new poster boy for UN hostility to the Jewish state. Clearly it hurts the credibility of pro-peace process groups - including J Street - that came to Goldstone's defense after the report was released.
Writing in the Washington Post, Goldstone said this:
Our report found evidence of potential war crimes and “possibly crimes against humanity” by both Israel and Hamas. That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying — its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets. The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion..
That's pretty dramatic stuff, and it's hard to read his words as anything but confirmation of what the Israeli government and its friends here have said from the outset.
That said, what I wonder: will the repudiation change any minds in a world that's pretty much made up its mind about Israel's handling of the whole Gaza situation? And does it make sense for Israel to launch a major campaign to get the UN Human Rights Council to rescind it, as Israeli press reports indicate the Netanyahu government will do?
Or will that just revive the issue the issue of Gaza and Israel's tough blockade in a world that has mostly moved on to focus on other international crises now – the nuclear and humanitarian crisis in Japan, the new violence in Afghanistan, the air strikes in Libya and the unrest sweeping the Arab world?
Is the best strategy for Israel to say “I told you so” and then keep quiet? Or to go on the offensive against a U.N. agency that remains deeply biased against the Jewish state?
I confess: I don't have an answer, but I think the question is worth asking.
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