Mortimer B. Zuckerman
April 14, 2011
Goldstone's report had been the most important contributor to the demonization campaign waged against Israel in recent years
Seismic events shake the world. The turmoil in the Arab world has taken attention from one shock that has yet to play itself out. Let's call it The Goldstone Fault. Its consequences have been as grievous as a 7.0 earthquake.
In the aftermath of
Now, sensationally, Goldstone has himself disavowed the most critical charge of his report. In an op-ed in the
Goldstone acknowledges that he and his colleagues didn't really have solid evidence when they wrote that Israel had deliberately targeted civilians. He now says that any civilian deaths were inadvertent in the usual fog of war.
Deliberately killing civilians is a war crime, but it is different if civilians are killed during a legitimate operation against a legitimate military target. Tragic though it always is, this "collateral damage" is accepted as an unavoidable reality of armed conflict. The parallel in the civil law definition of crime is that there must be two components: actus reus, that is, the act itself; and mens rea, the intent to commit the act. Goldstone has now concluded that there was no such criminal intent to kill civilians as he originally charged. In effect, then, the core of his earlier indictment has collapsed. Furthermore, the
The judge's first error -- blunder would not be unfair -- was to accept loaded terms of reference from the
Nothing there about the rocket attacks by
This was a war that never would have happened if thousands of rockets and mortar shells, an estimated 12,000 of them, had not been launched at the state of Israel from
In the perennial rush to condemn Israel, it was largely overlooked that Israel unilaterally ended its occupation in
Many of the rockets that continued to rain on Israel barely missed schools, hospitals, and civilian apartment complexes. As the rockets increased in frequency, without any international rebuke or even appeal to the terrorists, what was Israel to do? It warned and warned, and when it received no response except more rockets, it began a military operation. No democracy could allow an enemy whose charter calls for its destruction to fire rockets at its children without any military response. Even then Sen.
What's more, the Goldstone Report basically ignored the fact that
How could an army with such a policy be accused of deliberately killing civilians, as the Goldstone Report on
What of the attacks on mosques that were alleged? The militarization of mosques has been a practice used across the
Using mosques for their war was only one of many ruses by
The list goes on and on. Yet the Goldstone Report did not blame
The report discounted the testimony of the former commander of British forces in
All true and verifiable. Yet the U.N. report placed no responsibility on
Paradoxically, during the conflict, the IDF processed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into
The Goldstone Report, in effect, rescinded
Yes, now Goldstone has withdrawn his central concern and stated that Israel did not intentionally harm civilians, but his original report nourished a campaign to delegitimize the state of Israel and label it as a war criminal. The mission relied on heavily partisan and highly selective information supplied by anti-Israel groups such as
What Goldstone accomplished was to persuade much of the world that Israel would purposely kill civilians. Now he acknowledges that Israel has looked into every charge of war crimes, all 400 or so of them, incident by incident; punishment was issued in those few (three) that went outside the rules of war as set by Israel which adhered to a morality in battle that the Western world respects.
The 21st century is trying to cope with a new form of warfare in which terrorist groups launch attacks against "enemy" civilians from behind the shield of "friendly" civilians. To distinguish combatants from noncombatants is a tremendously difficult challenge in this kind of war, particularly when
Asymmetrical world wars in which terrorists and insurgents deliberately conceal themselves among civilians are the story of 21st-century armed struggle. There are no easy answers to resolve the moral dilemmas they pose.
Let's remember that civil law holds murderers who hide behind human shields responsible for the deaths of those human shields. When the police accidentally kill a hostage held by a criminal, it is the hostage-taker, not the police officer, who is guilty of homicide. That is the appropriate analogy for what went on in
Nobody can expect Goldstone's newly found contrition to change the Muslim world's position on the IDF and Israel. It should, however, influence public opinion-makers in civilized countries that have increasingly fallen under the influence of the anti-Israel poison that has been trickling in from the "human rights" groups and other radical left-wing and fringe groups that accord no "human rights" to Jews. They joined forces with radical Islamic groups and sought to delegitimize the nation of Israel and undermine its just right to defend itself against a terror that continues even after Israel had evacuated every centimeter of occupied territory in
The Goldstone Report became the most important contributor to the demonization campaign waged against Israel in recent years. Quite simply, he was duped. Only now does he praise unequivocally the investigations carried out by the IDF. The Goldstone Report was the equivalent of a modern-day Dreyfus trial for the state of Israel. It was a disguised effort to undermine the legitimacy of the state of Israel as the home of the Jewish people.
Goldstone has recanted his false accusation of wrongdoing by Israel. His admission, properly reported, should push back the tide of anti-Israel propaganda based on his conclusions. Will it? The original accusations may live on, but his admission of error should never be forgotten.
Richard Goldstone Recants His Report Attacking Israel is republished with permission of STRATFOR.
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