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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Times of London rips Goldstone, the man

As some of you know already, I've been involved with a group of bloggers in setting up a website to respond to the Goldstone Report. To date, we have limited our attacks to the report and its mandate, and have not attacked Goldstone's icon status as a 'human rights investigator.' In light of this article (also here) in Sunday's Times of London, perhaps it is time to rethink that strategy.
Goldstone’s behaviour will not surprise those who have followed his career. As a student in South Africa he took the anti-apartheid side and many expected him to do the same as a lawyer, for a small cadre of liberal lawyers were crucial to the defence of the regime’s political opponents. Instead, Goldstone kept his head down and avoided annoying the apartheid government, devoting himself to commercial cases. Then, as the political situation changed, so did Goldstone. Entrusted by President de Klerk with a commission to investigate the causes of violence, Goldstone turned up damning evidence against the apartheid regime but refused to investigate the ANC’s armed wing.

When the ANC won its first election Goldstone was given a seat in the Constitutional Court. Heedless of the fact that the doctrine of collective guilt has been the basis of anti-Semitic campaigns down the ages, Goldstone urged all whites to apologise for their collective guilt. The court showed itself extremely deferential to the new ANC government so that when millions of voters (mainly from minorities supporting the opposition) were excluded from the franchise by a technical change in ID documents, the court took the government’s side.

Goldstone’s fame as an icon of political correctness led to his appointment as prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Goldstone was a man in a hurry. “They told me at the UN in New York: if we did not have an indictment out by November 1994 we wouldn’t get money that year for 1995,” Goldstone admitted. “There was only one person against whom we had evidence. He wasn’t an appropriate first person to indict ... but if we didn’t do it we would not have got the budget.”

Indeed, it was so inappropriate that the judges in the Hague passed a motion severely censuring Goldstone. When Goldstone left the tribunal only one confession had been recorded and one trial completed.


Throughout his career, Goldstone has been accused of cutting corners because of ambition, and critics say his Gaza commission has set a new low. That a Jewish judge, barred from entering Israel for accepting a commission biased against the state, should write a report based largely on interviews with Hamas which panders to anti-Zionist (even anti-Semitic) opinion seems unbeatable.

Perhaps the best way to understand the Israeli (and Jewish) rage against Goldstone is to put the situation in comparative perspective. Imagine that in 1936 a judge from the British Commonwealth had accepted a commission from the Anglo-German Friendship Society to examine possible human rights violations suffered by the Sudeten Germans. On the face of it this would be unobjectionable. What, after all, could be wrong with Anglo-German Friendship? Like the UN human rights council, it sounds fair. And of course there were some human rights violations to talk about. But the fact is that the friendship society was full of Nazi sympathisers and anyone who accepted its commission would know in advance that they were providing propaganda material for Hitler to help him justify his ultimate invasion of Czechoslovakia — on which he was already decided.
Usually, you attack the messenger when you have no response to the message. But any objective observer can see that we have already ripped the message to shreds, and we have only influenced pockets of opinion here and there. Perhaps the time has come to attack the messenger as well.

Read the whole thing (also here).


At 8:51 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The messenger in this case is a person without principle much less than any moral or ethical standards. No person who had them would have agreed to head the UNHRC committee in the first place.

Its worth noting in passing that Mary Robinson, no friend of Israel, found the UNHRC's mandate so repellent, she refused to head it. Yet for some reason known only to himself Goldstone signed on.

So yes, we have earned the right to attack the messenger as well as the message.


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