12 April 2011

Judge Goldstone: the man or the role?

Several widely diverse discussions of Judge Richard Goldstone's personality were already published in the media, and there will surely be more. The aftershock of the WaPo article Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes caused an about turn change of attitude re Judge Goldstone to both supporters and denigrators of Israel. Most of the former welcome his change of position on Goldstone Report and grudgingly acknowledged the judge's honesty. Most of the latter swiftly produced the expected repartee "a Jew and a Zionist", the fact that suited them perfectly earlier, when Judge Goldstone's views were to their liking.

I am reading now an article Setting the record straight on Goldstone by Maurice Ostroff, one of the e-space activists I hold in high esteem. I am in agreement with his statement that:

It is also disappointing to observe the disproportionate amount of conjecture about, and attacks on, Goldstone the man, compared with the paucity of discussion about the actual content of the report and the faulty methodology used in preparing it.
I also cannot disagree with the following:
Those who claim that Goldstone retracted his report in the Washington Post article, or expressed regret at having been responsible for it, have obviously not read the op-ed. The only regret he expressed was that the fact finding mission did not originally have evidence, which has since come to light, explaining the circumstances that led his mission to conclude that civilians in Gaza were targeted by the IDF. This information, he wrote, would probably have influenced the findings about intent and war crimes.
However, Mr Ostroff stops at this point, for some reason passing over an important conclusion: that by retracting the atrocious accusation of intentional killings of civilians, Judge Goldstone effectively discarded the most harmful and libelous part of the report that dwarfed the rest of it.

And strangely, after complaining about paucity of discussions about the report contents, the article itself is dedicated mostly to proof that Judge Goldstone is a reasonable and consistent man, who loves both Jews and Israel, is fair and objective and is not afraid to change his opinion when new facts fall in his possession.

And this is where Mr Ostroff falls in the same trap: discussing the man (where his personality is absolutely irrelevant) instead of the role he played in the Goldstone Report. I think that I could list the salient points of the Goldstone affair:
  1. Judge Goldstone has led a group of prejudiced anti-Israeli committee members in preparation of a report that caused uncounted harm to the State of Israel. Conclusions of the report already served and will serve for a long time as fodder for unbridled anti-Israeli (and, via the usual chain of degeneration, anti-Semitic) propaganda.
  2. The above mentioned retraction by Judge Goldstone, while exonerating IDF and Israel of the severest war crime and giving us all a warm and fuzzy feeling, is hardly having any effect on anti-Zionist public that, as it's already mentioned, discarded the retraction as obtained under Zionist pressure in the best case, or as another Zionist trick by a Jew lawyer in the worst case.
This is the long and the short of it. As for the Judge himself: he may be the best person in the world, a superb lawyer and judge, a great husband, father and grandfather, a thoroughly likeable man and a much desired partner in bridge. All this is irrelevant. History uses very rough brushstrokes, and most of us don't care whether King Herod was a connoisseur of poetry and/or sports or whether Alexander the Great was a considerate father to his offspring. We do remember each of them for something else. Judge Goldstone's role in the creation of the Goldstone Report is the only one that is relevant, and, tragically or not, it puts his name in a list of most reviled Jews in our history.

Too bad.

Cross-posted on Yourish.com


Dick Stanley said...

There's probably more significance than has so far been acknowledged that the judge's column in the WaPo was published on April Fool's Day.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Oops. Never noticed the date, me.