Badger's Reviews > The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict

The Goldstone Report by Adam Horowitz
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's review
Jan 25, 2012

did not like it

The Goldstone Report is a work of fiction . This book should have been a fair and unbiased fact-finding exercise conducted by a world-renowned judge and his three 'expert' colleagues. The four authors of the report have displayed shocking bias in their determination to paint Israel as the criminal and the real criminals as the victims. From the very start it was plain that this was what the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) wanted.

The mandate handed to Goldstone by the UNHRC was deeply flawed and one-sided by his own admission: it read in part: '...strongly condemning the on-going Israeli military operation which has resulted in massive violations of the human rights of the Palestine people and systematic destruction of Palestinian infrastructure.' You don't need to be a genius to know where this is going. This is BEFORE the mission was assembled. Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson was originally asked to head it up but rightly refused on the grounds that it was not only biased but that the Council made a practice of '...adopting resolutions guided not by human rights but by politics. This is very regrettable.'

The mission was tainted from the outset. Mission member Christine Chinkin, LSE professor and barrister with the Matrix Chambers, should have recused herself at the outset on the grounds that she had previously signed an open letter to the London Times entitled 'Israel's Bombardment of Gaza is not Self-Defence - It Is a War Crime.' Of course she didn't recuse herself. The other three, including Goldstone himself, had displayed their attitude by writing open letters elsewhere that showed similar bias. The team must have been chosen on the basis of their hostility to Israel.

I haven't space or time to go into the dozens of examples of this anti-Israel bias, but believe me, there are many. At least Goldstone, forced into a half-hearted retraction after all the damage had been done, has seen his reputation shredded. He refuses now to engage in public debate on his report.

The way the UNHRC behaved was truly shameful. What makes me so angry is the damage this has done to Israel, because although a mountain of literature has grown from those who have subsequently exposed the incompetence, flawed methodology, bigotry and plain lies (yes LIES!) contained in the Report, the effects of its publication have been so profound, they will probably never be fully redressed. After all, aren't first impressions the most important?

I will say something about impressions though. The report states several times that on the basis of evidence it received it finds that Israel did deliberately target Palestinian civilians. i.e. that Israel committed mass murder. That evidence was given in the presence of Hamas fighters and/or their accomplices, never in camera. Some time earlier Hamas gunmen had entered a Gaza hospital and executed on the spot 12 Palestinians the gunmen said had been 'collaborators.' So those witnesses for the prosecution were acutely aware of what would happen if they did not recount the Hamas version. Not only that, but for reasons Goldstone has never adequately explained, he insisted that the mission's hearings be conducted live on TV! Was he mad? Or was he malign? Either way, those witness statements were obviously delivered under duress. And much independent evidence to the contrary, freely available then as now on the Web and elsewhere, was simply ignored. Those first impressions will linger in the memory of all viewers who at the time were unaware of what I have recounted.

Since mass murder was the accusation levelled at Israel, allow me to reproduce what Colonel Richard Kemp CBE, commander of British Forces in Afghanistan in 2003, told the United Nations Human Rights Council on October 16, 2009:

‘Mr President, based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

‘Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of its civilian population.

‘Hamas, like Hezballah, are expert at driving the media agenda. Both will always have people ready to give interviews condemning Israeli forces for war crimes. They are adept at staging and distorting incidents.

‘The IDF faces a challenge that we British do not have to face to the same extent. It is the automatic, Pavlovian presumption by many in the international media and human rights groups, that the IDF are in the wrong, that they are abusing human rights.

‘The truth is the IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping over 2 million leaflets, and making over 100,000 phone calls. Nany missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were aborted to prevent civilian casualties. During the conflict the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. To deliver aid virtually into your enemy’s hands, is to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF took on those risks.

‘Despite all of this, of course innocent civilians were killed. War is chaos and full of mistakes. There have been mistakes by the British, American and other forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes.

‘More than anything, the civilian casualties were a consequence of Hamas’ way of fighting. Hamas deliberately tried to sacrifice their own civilians.

‘Mr President, Israel had no choice apart from defending its own people, to stop Hamas from attacking them with rockets.

‘And I say this again: the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.’

But the Goldstone mission did not consider Col Kemp had anything of substance to contribute to the inquiry and refused to allow him to testify. Because what he had to say ran counter to what the mission wanted, a bloodthirsty criminalised IDF that deliberately targeted innocent civilians.

As the Holocaust recedes from living memory so does antisemism continue its crawl from the pit. And this report belongs in a museum of antisemitism, alongside the Protocols, Mein Kampf and back numbers of Der Sturmer.

I am not a Jew, just a rather unremarkable Englishman, baffled and incensed by the unprecedented and unjustified demonisation of Israel that has continued for more than sixty years.
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