Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another Goldstone Interview--The Blinders Are Still On

Judge Richard Goldstone has been interviewed by the New Statesman. Here are some excerpts:
Some who criticised your support for Nato now cheer the Gaza report. What about accusations that it was biased against Israel?

The original mandate was biased, but the president of the Human Rights Council agreed with me to change it. As with Rwanda and Yugosla via, we investigated all sides.
But that is exactly the point--it was the president of the Council, and not the Council itself, that arbitrarily changed the mandate . The change was informal and never brought to a vote. The Report was later endorsed by the Council in regards to Israel with no mention of Hamas--as even Goldstone admitted at the time:
This draft resolution saddens me as it includes only allegations against Isreal. There is not a single phrase condemning Hamas as we have done in the report. I hope that the council can modify the text. [emphasis added]
Just how many times does Goldstone think he can retroactively fix what is obviously broke?
Were you apprehensive taking it on?
Of course! The Middle East is not the easiest part of the world, but I assumed, perhaps naively, that because of the even-handed mandate, Israel would co-operate. Obviously I was really saddened when they refused.
In view of the decidedly uneven-handed endorsement of the Report, it is obvious that Israel understands the UN Human Rights Council much better than Goldstone does--or should Israel rely on Goldstone to go back and ask the UNHRC to make changes every time its anti-Israel bias shows itself?
You've been described as a friend of Israel, a Zionist. Is that accurate? 
I'm certainly a friend of Israel. I don't mind being called a Zionist; it depends on the definition.
Perhaps that's why you weren't criticised to begin with. Then the floodgates opened . . . 
There has definitely been a consistent effort to attack the messenger rather than read the report. Clearly, personal attacks have been unpleasant for me, and unpleasant for my family.
Apparently, Goldstone is not nearly as enthusiastic in being labeled a Zionist as his defenders are to apply that label to him. How often do you read a description of Goldstone that does not describe him as a Zionist?

More interesting is Goldstone's mis-statement of the facts.

In addition to a website that is dedicated solely to rebutting the claims of the report--Understanding the Goldstone Report--there is plenty of material out there on the web that deals directly with the content of the report head-on:
And they all have something in common: Judge Richard Goldstone has failed to respond to their criticisms of the content of the Goldstone Report.
How has the new era of accountability for war crimes changed the landscape? 
Impunity, generally speaking, has come to an end - I don't think there's any person today accused of committing international crimes who can feel happy travelling. That in itself, if not a complete success, must act as a deterrent.
Has anyone heard of any leader of Hamas or Hizbollah who has changed their travel plans recently? More to the point is Goldstone's apparent endorsement of universal jurisdiction, which in its arbitrary application amounts to little more than vigilante justice.
There are still furious debates about the Kosovo intervention. What's your assessment? 
I chaired the International Commission on Kosovo. We came to a unanimous conclusion -
I suppose an oxymoron - that the Nato intervention was illegal but legitimate. Russia tried to get the Security Council to condemn the Kosovo intervention but lost by 12 votes to three. It was an after-the-fact acceptance of what happened. That led to the Canadian inquiry, which developed into the "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine, which has in turn become soft law.
An interesting admission on the part of Judge Goldstone, It is a pity the same kind of considerations cannot be applied to Israel's Operation Cast Lead--legitimacy and the responsibility to protect one's civilians from attack.

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