[This is the second part of an analysis of the Goldstone Report and his recent 'retraction.' Part I of Goldstone is here ]
Richard Goldstone’s report was not an isolated error. It was a weapon in a propaganda arsenal that has been used to make an organization of fascist racist gangsters seem like a legitimate actor, to make genocide into a noble goal and deliberate murder of children into an honorable tactic. Goldstone knew very well that there could never be “evenhandedness” between the Hamas and Israel,just as it would be preposterous for a judge to be “evenhanded” between the rapist, the victim and police who arrested the perpetrator. It was not a one-time betrayal. It was, as I wrote, a stab in the back that keeps on stabbing.
Senior UN officials were eloquent about the impact of the report:
Senior UN diplomats note, meanwhile, that one consequence of the Goldstone inquiry is that Hamas… has become a quasi-official actor in the UN arena.”
This is a bit worse than exonerating Nazi Germany, for example, which always had the legitimacy of statehood. But that was only the beginning of the damage. Israel, which had withdrawn totally from Gaza and was only protecting its citizens from senseless attacks by fascist racist gangsters, was somehow converted into the villain of the “narrative,” and the Hamas criminals became the “good guys.” The Goldstone Report was used as the centerpiece of a campaign of demonization probably unequaled since Kristallnacht, a campaign against Jews, not necessarily against Israel. Around the world frenzied crowds screamed “Jews to the gas” and Israelis were reviled as “war criminals.”
There are those who claim that the Goldstone report limited Israel’s ability to defend itself against Hamas, since future military actions would be judged as “war crimes.” The impact of the report was much greater. Goldstone helped to legitimize Hamas, to turn them into respectable actors. His report did more than protect their criminal them against punishment for criminal acts. He helped them achieve their strategic goals. Suppose that Goldstone was the defense attorney of a rapist. A minor legal talent would content himself with exonerating his client. An evil genius of Goldstone’s caliber would prove that rapists are justified, that rape is “legitimate resistance” against “feminine aggression,” that men have a “right” to rape, and that police deliberately target innocent rapists, which is unconstitutional and violates their “rights.”
You probably are shocked. You believe that that the Hamas are not to be compared with the Nazis or rapists. Your shock is a measure of Goldstone’s achievement and the achievement of the pro-Hamas spin campaign, of which Goldstone’s report was a big part. In fact, the Hamas are no better than the Nazis and not much different. Like the Nazis, the Hamas have no compunctions about using rocket warfare to target civilians. Like the Nazis, they are quite frank about their goal of destroying the Jews, whom they portray as the root of “evils” such as the French revolution, but the public has been conditioned to think of the Hamas as just another “resistance” group, thanks in large part to Goldstone and his report.
Richard Goldstone was more or less silent through all this campaign. He did not protest when the U.N. moved to accept his report. He was unmoved by the protests of Israel advocates. He ignored evidence that the IDF took every precaution against harming civilians; he quashed the massive evidence that the Hamas had deliberately used its own people as human shields. After nearly two years, when his report was almost a dead issue, its fantasies forgotten, Goldstone revived interest in it with his own “apology.”
If Judge Goldstone had written a report claiming the Jews had really stabbed Germany in the back, justifying the Nazi persecutions, and the report was used by Propaganda Minister Goebbels to justify Nazi war crimes, Goldstone could hardly repair the damage with an Op-Ed in the Washington Post, certainly not a mealy-mouthed and ambiguous statement such as the one he made. Like rapists, the Hamas hold the view that violence against women and children is somehow “justified” for whatever reason and that those who want to stop them are evil. Unlike rapists, the Hamas have somehow made the world come around to this opinion.
We still await the Utopian future in which a Goldstone of the perverts wins the same sort of respectability for pedophiles as our own Richard Goldstone has won for the Hamas. Meanwhile, for some strange reason, most people still usually abhor perverts who murder kids, but they find much to admire if the perverts are Hamas members.
Why is the Goldstone article unsatisfactory even as a “retraction?” At least, we could hope for full and frank disclosure and self-criticism in a repentant Goldstone, but that is not the case. It would not undo the damage he has done, but at least it would allow one to respect his integrity His article is an example of two-faced cheap lawyer rhetoric. He blames his own errors and lies on others, especially Israel. He wrote:
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 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.
Really? Only a Goldstone or a Goebbels could make such a statement. Goldstone asserts that at the time he didn’t know enough. Evidently he had not read and could not read the Hamas Charter, first published about 1988. He did not know that the Hamas had been targeting civilians even though the hundreds of their rockets had already fallen on civilian targets and killed civilians. He never heard of the IDF code of ethics, published many years ago. Goldstone wants to convince us that he had no knowledge of IDF procedures to protect against civilian casualties. He did not know at the time that combat in built-up areas can be hazardous especially when the enemy uses its civilian as human shields. Goldstone would have us believe that two years ago he had no way of knowing that Israel was different in any way from the Hamas, justifying his “evenhanded” treatment of them. In Goldstone’s court all are equal. A real case of “blind justice.” The murderers, the rapists and the perverts have the same rights and privileges as their victims according to Goldstone, and he could have no way of knowing that a rapist is less trustworthy than his victim.
Goldstone evidently claims he did not hear any presentations by Israeli organizations, and he never saw films that document Hamas use of human shields. Poor Goldstone, he was fooled!! He could not possibly know that the Hamas, was so evil. When they took power, Hamas threw their Fatah rivals from rooftops. Anybody who does that can’t be all bad, right Goldstone? How could Goldstone and his team possibly have suspected that this organization is nothing at all like the boy scouts?
Goldstone also wrote:
Israel’s lack of cooperation with our investigation meant that we were not able to corroborate how many Gazans killed were civilians and how many were combatants.
But Goldstone could have verified the figures in the same way that Israeli investigators and the IDF did: By comparing the names of the supposed “civilian” casualties with the published names of Hamas operatives and seeing that many are the same, that many of the “children” were either actually adult or were 15 and 16-year-old “shebab” terrorists. Goldstone would have us believe that the IDF had better access to Gaza records than his own investigative committee and that Israel deliberately withheld hard evidence of its own innocence! Israel and pro-Israeli groups did cooperate and present Goldstone with information, which he consistently ignored or quashed, choosing to believe Hamas propaganda exclusively. What Goldstone wanted, was the right essentially to try IDF officers for war crimes. No country ever agreed to such a procedure or would agree, and Goldstone had to know that. Goldstone observes:
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.
It is not quite clear on what Goldstone based this hope. After the report was issued, he wrote and spoke about Israeli “war crimes.” He did not initiate any particular action that called for a Hamas investigation or a halt to Hamas rocket attacks. He expected quite a degree of unmotivated altruism from the Hamas gangsters. On the other hand, Goldstone has been quite content for Israel to be prosecuted relentlessly in his name, though Israel did in fact conduct investigations, whereas Hamas did not, as he now admits.
Goldstone also writes in his “retraction:”
I insisted on changing the original mandate adopted by the Human Rights Council, which was skewed against Israel.
This is reminiscent of the pleading of certain defendants at the Nurenberg tribunal, who tried to show how many Jews they had saved through their activities in organizations such as the Waffen SS and the Gestapo..
What will be the impact of the “retraction?” – The impact of Goldstone’s “retraction” will necessarily be nil compared to the damage already done by the report. Inasmuch as the weasel-worded “retraction” blames the faults of the report on Israeli non-cooperation, the usual suspects are already making the absurd claim that Israel is at fault for Goldstone’s irresponsible accusations, because Israel refused to cooperate. Of course, such “cooperation” would have helped Israel’s case about as much as the pleas of a Jew before the inquisition or the defense of a defendant in Stalinist trial.
What was the motivation? Those who ask what could possibly be Goldstone’s motive for writing his “retraction,” would do better to ask what motivated him to chair the original investigation and sign the report, thereby becoming an accessory after the fact in genocide and crimes against humanity.
When the serial murderer at last confesses, we are usually much more interested in finding out why they committed the crimes than in why they confessed.
Anti-Zionists are already blaming “Zionist pressure” for Goldstone’s retraction. If so, then the mighty Zionist conspiracy does not have much to show for its efforts in that “retraction.” Goldstone’s confusing article may be a belated attempt to ensure that he is “covered” against judgment in a lawsuit being prepared against him in the USA. He can use the “retraction” article to “prove” his attack was not malicious, to give his cheap propaganda an aura of respectable objectivity, and to write off his deliberate complicity in crimes against humanity as the sort of honest mistake anyone could make.
When we understand the original purpose of the sensational accusations of war crimes, coupled with contradictory low key admissions that the “evidence” is really not “evidence” and no crimes were investigated, then we can understand that today Goldstone can say anything he wants about the subject, even the truth. It hardly makes a difference at this point. Israel has already been branded as the villain.
In a campaign such as this, timing is everything. As in a critical software system, the right information presented too late has no value. The secret of the blood libel and the lynch mob is that almost everyone believes the sensational accusations initially, and this credibility motivates action. By the time the accusations are subjected to logic and analytic examination, the black church has already been burned, and the Jews have already been burned or expelled. Goldstone knows that people have short memories.
The Hamas resolved to perpetrate a blood libel against Israel, but the fantastic accusations and fabricated evidence of racist, blood thirsty religious fanatics and gangsters would never have been believed. Goldstone lent his name, the name of a Jew, a self-professed Zionist and a respected jurist to the fantasies about Zionist war crimes, and they were believed. After a year, people remember only that they ought to hate Israel The reason behind this feeling has long since been forgotten. Most people will not read Goldstone’s retraction or will not believe it. They have already decided that Israel is the villain.
No retraction that Goldstone could write would undo the damage of the propaganda campaign that has given formal legitimacy to the Hamas gangsters and legitimacy to the Hamas as victims. These are now facts. Thanks to Goldstone, the “heroes” of the Hamas resistance can shoot their rockets with impunity at the Israeli “war criminal” “settlers.” The Prime Minister of Great Britain referred to Gaza as a “prison camp” without causing much of a stir. Most people have long since forgotten that the information that established the facts was fabricated. The sort of toothpaste that Goldstone produced can never be put back in the tube of history.