The Report issued by Richard Goldstone on the Gaza war is the single most influential document in the arsenal of those around the world — including on campuses in the United States — who seek to demonize and delegitimize Israel. That Goldstone is Jewish gave supposed credibility to accusations against Israel, and insulated the process from claims of anti-Semitism.

The Report concluded that both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes.  Of course, no one in the world cares about Hamas committing war crimes, because that is who it is. 

But the Goldstone Report and similar allegations resulting from the Gaza war have been the basis upon which leftist groups in Europe have targeted Israeli officials for arrest, leading numerous officials to avoid countries like Britain or change travel plans at the last minute. 

There are few people who have done as much damage to Israel as Richard Goldstone.  While the report did not itself cost lives, it will cost lives because it places Israel, and Israel alone, under threat of war crimes charges in the future based upon defensive military actions when facing enemies who deliberately hide among civilians. 

It is no coincidence that Israel preemptively has released a list of hundreds of Hezbollah weapons depots and bunkers spread among civilian areas in Lebanon. Israel knows that when Hezbollah eventually unleashes its tens of thousands of missiles against Israel, the U.N. and international community will demand that Israel not attack the civilian areas from which the missiles were fired. 

This is one of the legacies of the Goldstone Report.  Allegations of war crimes simply have become a tool in the arsenal of the enemies of Israel, providing both international pressure and military advantage.

So how curious it is that Goldstone writes an update to his report in The Washington Post, which while not quite an apologizing, backtracks significantly on his prior Report.

The Goldstone op-ed truly is an amazing example of international law gone wrong; how misguided attempts at moral equivalency merely reflect on the absurdity of the anti-Israel campaign around the world.

Read the whole thing, but here are some excerpts from Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes (emphasis mine; with comments by me in brackets):

We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council [one of the most despicable and implacably anti-Israel entities in the world] that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document. 

The final report by the U.N. committee of independent experts — chaired by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis — that followed up on the recommendations of the Goldstone Report has found that “Israel has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza” while “the de facto authorities (i.e., Hamas) have not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.” [You really are an old fool; did you think even for one second that Hamas would investigate much less prosecute the deliberate firing of thousands of rockets indiscriminately into Israeli civilian areas?] ….

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. While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy….

Although the Israeli evidence that has emerged since publication of our report doesn’t negate the tragic loss of civilian life, I regret that our fact-finding mission did not have such evidence explaining the circumstances in which we said civilians in Gaza were targeted, because it probably would have influenced our findings about intentionality and war crimes. [So you made presumptions against Israel without actual evidence, and now those presumptions have become part of the public consciousness that Israel committed war crimes as a matter of policy.  Nice job.] ….

Some have suggested that it was absurd to expect Hamas, an organization that has a policy to destroy the state of Israel, to investigate what we said were serious war crimes. It was my hope, even if unrealistic, that Hamas would do so, especially if Israel conducted its own investigations. At minimum I hoped that in the face of a clear finding that its members were committing serious war crimes, Hamas would curtail its attacks. Sadly, that has not been the case. Hundreds more rockets and mortar rounds have been directed at civilian targets in southern Israel. That comparatively few Israelis have been killed by the unlawful rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza in no way minimizes the criminality. The U.N. Human Rights Council should condemn these heinous acts in the strongest terms. [You still either are hopelessly naive or deliberately deceptive; there is no chance that the HRC will act fairly in anything involving Israel.]

Richard Goldstone’s reflections do not change anything.  Goldstone’s original Report was a farce, as Alan Dershowitz and others have documented.

The damage Richard Goldstone did was enormous.  The Washington Post op-ed isn’t even a good first step at undoing the damage.

Updates: Others posting on the topic –

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