Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and War Crimes - The Washington Post
In Friday's Washington Post Judge Richard Goldstone withdrew the most damning charge of his report on the Gaza War. In that report he accused Israel of intentionally targeting civilians. In the Post he writes: "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." I believed this to be the case then. I never doubted the IDF's integrity or the State of Israel's ethics. The Goldstone report was deeply flawed in large part because its investigation was deeply flawed. "In the end, asking Hamas to investigate may have been a mistaken enterprise." But alas the feathers have been scattered to the winds and Goldstone's belated recognition will not be able to stuff them back into the pillow. Harmful words have been set free, free to create damaging and damning impressions. His words enshrined in the U.N. report have stained Israel. Still I believe as Goldstone concludes. "Simply put, the laws of armed conflict apply no less to non-state actors such as Hamas than they do to national armies. Ensuring that non-state actors respect these principles, and are investigated when they fail to do so, is one of the most significant challenges facing the law of armed conflict. Only if all parties to armed conflicts are held to these standards will we be able to protect civilians who, through no choice of their own, are caught up in war." But the problem remains. Goldstone failed to recognize this challenge when it mattered most. Or perhaps he naively believed that he could singlehandedly overcome this challenge. His failure to do so when it truly mattered has left a stain that no opinion peace can erase.