Richard Goldstone’s astonishing article in The Washington Post saying he is now rescinding his charge in the UN report that Israel deliberately targeted civilians in the Gaza war is both gratifying and distressing.
It is important that the author of the report now recognizes, as anyone who knows the history of Israeli military operations already knew, that targeting of civilians runs against everything the Israel Defense Forces stands for. Also significant is the clear distinction he makes between Israel's conduct in investigating accusations and the absence of any such investigations by Hamas.
Whether Goldstone's admission is a case of “better late than never,” or one of “too little too late” is a matter of judgment. What is so distressing is the fact that Goldstone rushed to judgment in the first instance as to Israel's alleged intention to target civilians without any convincing evidence. Had he concluded that in light of Israel’s lack of cooperation the Commission could not determine whether or not there was intentionality that would have been one thing. Instead, his specious conclusion caused Israel untold damage in the international community and played a key role in fostering the campaigns of delegitimization of Israel.
This is a sad story in many ways. A story of the continuing bias of the United Nations against Israel, a story of the unwillingness of the international community to take seriously the extremism and violence of Hamas, and a story of how a renowned jurist and member of the Jewish community allowed himself to be used by enemies of the Jewish state.
If there are any positives that can come out of this debacle it would be if good people around the world will now begin to comprehend and acknowledge the fundamental difference between democratic Israel and the extremists who seek Israel’s destruction.