Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Admin. Presses Case Against Goldstone Report

And continued speculation on why Goldstone changed his mind

Print Email
U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice last year at the Security Council.(Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

Yesterday, in the U.N. Security Council, Ambassador Susan Rice called on the international body to sever all connection. “As we made clear when the Goldstone Report was first presented, we did not see evidence that the Israeli government intentionally targeted civilians,” she argued. “Justice Goldstone has now reached the same conclusion. He also concluded that Hamas has ‘done nothing … .’” She was referring, of course, to the op-ed Goldstone published two weeks ago in which he concluded that as far as Israel was concerned, “civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy” (that Hamas deliberately targeted Israeli civilians, he added, “goes without saying”).

The Obama administration deserves major props. Now, it calls on the U.N. “to end, once and for all, its actions in relation to the Goldstone Report.” Moreover, during the report’s formation—as we learn from cables made public by WikiLeaks—the administration, at the time in its earliest months (one cable is dated May 4, 2009), went to great lengths first to oppose the report altogether and then to try to shape and allow Israel to shape it, despite Israel’s refusal to cooperate with the fact-finding mission.

Meanwhile, earlier this week (and perhaps partly in response to allegations that it has not given Goldstone’s about-face enough play), the New York Times explored what may have led Goldstone to change his mind.

So, what did? (For a take far less generous to both Goldstone and Israel, consult David Shulman on the New York Review of Books Website.) In addition to what Goldstone cites in the op-ed (Israeli probes into individual instances of IDF malconduct) and the elephant in the room (the ostracizing that Goldstone, a South African Jewish Zionist, has faced within the Jewish community since the report’s publication), the paper intriguingly suggests that Goldstone was disappointed that the Report did not have the practical effects, of putting the Gaza conflict behind the two sides and moving the peace process forward, that he had desired—effects that his work two decades ago in post-apartheid South Africa had in fact achieved.

When Mr. Goldstone was asked to investigate the three-week Gaza war, which started in late 2008, he was told by many friends of Israel that he was stepping into a trap. There had never been a United Nations Human Rights Council investigation into possible war crimes in Chechnya or Sri Lanka, but there had been multiple ones into Israel’s actions.

Mr. Goldstone persuaded the council’s president to agree that the mandate would not be limited to Israel. He believed that both Israel and Hamas could be prodded to change their ways.

As he said in an interview with the newspaper The Forward: “I was driven particularly because I thought the outcome might, in a small way, assist the peace process. I really thought I was one person who could achieve an evenhanded mission.”

You could argue—I have—that it was naïve to the point of just plain dumb of Goldstone to expect Hamas, an avowed terrorist organization whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction, to take seriously a fact-finding mission’s conclusions that it may have committed war crimes. But it turns out that is exactly what Goldstone was counting on. He strikes me as a genuinely tragic figure, though, obviously, his is far from the biggest tragedy stemming from Operation Cast Lead.

U.S.: Shelve Goldstone Report [Ynet]
Special Relationship [Foreign Policy]
Past Holds Clue to Goldstone’s Shift on Gaza War [NYT]
Related: Tough Call on Goldstone Retraction [Public Editor’s Journal]
Goldstone’s Retreat? [NYRB]
Earlier: Goldstone Retracts Israeli War Crimes Claim
Fooled By Hamas, Shame on You

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

Jehudah Ben-Israel says:

Not directly related, but of much interest:


Abbas: Obama led me on

In unusually blunt remarks to Newsweek, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas lashes out at US president over his handling of peace process with Israel, attitude to Egypt’s Mubarak

Harsh criticism: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says Barack Obama led him on, slamming the American president’s handling of the peace process in unusually blunt remarks.

Talking to Newsweek, the Palestinian leader said that President Obama was the one to suggest a full Israeli settlement freeze in the West BAnk, but later failed to pressure officials in Jerusalem to maintain the construction moratorium.

The full article:,7340,L-4060435,00.html


So, Obama, but also Abbas, agreed that Jews, only because they are Jewish, must be prevented from residing in certain places on earth.

This is by definition a form of racism, anti-Jewish racism at that.

The Palestinian Authority is used to it. It has laws prohibiting the sale of real estate to Jews, an act that is punishable by death. Sadly, many Arabs in the disputed territories found their death as a result.

But here we hear for the first time that Obama has conspired with the leader of the Authority with such laws on the book to prevent Jews from moving into certain villages, towns and even city neighborhoods.

In Washington, DC this practice, formally, has disappeared half a century ago.

Mr. Obama is eager to re-introduce it in Jerusalem, DC (Jerusalem, David’s City), the Jewish people’s capital for the past more than 3,000 years.

This is the face of Abbas, and this is the face of Obama!!

And, sadly, some Jews in America still support him… Shame on you!

Binyamin in O says:

Do you really believe anyone still believes the right-wing twaddle, Mr. Ben-Isreal? What the Palestinians, and Obama, and I opposes is not that the settlers are Jews, but that they are colonists who seek the subjugation of the Palestinians, if not their out right expulsion. BTW, the PA has long stated that law abiding Jews (that is, abiding by Palestinian law) will be welcome in the new Palestine.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Admin. Presses Case Against Goldstone Report

And continued speculation on why Goldstone changed his mind

More on Tablet:

Blum’s Day

By Yale University Press (Sponsored) — Sociologist Pierre Birnbaum says it’s time Léon Blum—French Socialist, Zionist, wartime hero, and prime minister—got his due