Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

« Previous Post | Opinion L.A. Home | Next Post »

The conversation: Can Goldstone's flip-flop change the way the world views Israel?

Goldstone It was the op-ed article read around the world. On Friday -- and on April Fool's Day, of all days -- Richard Goldstone wrote a piece for the Washington Post denouncing the central claims made in his 2009 Goldstone Report, which concluded Israel had committed war crimes that resulted in the deaths of  innocent Palestinian civilians. Here's a cross-section of the reaction:

Goldstone owes us a better explanation

Acknowledging one's mistakes is generally considered a virtue. But is it really that easy? The original report contained 575 pages of damning details — attacks on mosques, hospitals, apartment buildings, refugee shelters. The fact-finding mission made three trips to the region over four months, conducted 188 interviews, reviewed 300 reports, solicited testimony and held public hearings. In case after case, the final report alleged that Palestinian civilians were targeted by Israel in violation of a host of international laws. But now the chairman of the panel says … never mind? […]

The charges leveled by the Goldstone report were extremely tough — tough enough to help reframe the Israeli-Palestinian debate around the world. If any of them were wrong, then Goldstone owes the world a detailed explanation so that the truth can be revealed.

--Los Angeles Times editorial

The U.N. should formally retract the Goldstone report

Israeli leaders have complained for years that the U.N. is biased against the Jewish state, that it judges almost every action of Israel through a Palestinian prism.

And now … evidence. Not just a disastrously wrong report. But evidence that the entire enterprise was skewed against Israel from the start.

That should surprise no one. Israel has hardly been blameless in the decades of Middle East strife, but the U.N. human rights panel has overlooked slaughter and genocide in places around the world and focused almost exclusively, year after year, on Israel's alleged misdeeds. The human rights panel once elevated Libya to leadership and coddled the worst human rights abusers around the globe, including Iran and Sudan. […]

The U.N. should formally retract the Goldstone report. But it can't stop there. The U.N. needs to acknowledge that it has not been an honest broker in the Middle East. It needs to acknowledge that its human rights panel continues to be an embarrassment that greatly undermines the standing of the world body.

-- Chicago Tribune editorial

You cannot undo slander

Goldstone claims to be moved now by evidence that Israel has investigated more than 400 claims of misconduct against its armed forces whereas Hamas has done nothing to police itself. Rubbish. The aforementioned 10-year-old could have predicted that.

No, apparently, Goldstone's conscience troubled him. While that's progress for him, the retraction cannot possibly correct his shameful contribution to lies, slander and the moral perversion of the so-called "international community."

--Mona Charen, uexpress via Yahoo!

Debunking the report won't influence anti-Israel activists

Of course, there's no reason to think a withdrawal of the report will change the mind of the most vehement anti-Israel activists, who cling to it delusionally even after it's been debunked, universally condemned, and recanted by its author. Even if Goldstone does make the request, at least one of the members of his “fact-finding” mission in Gaza seems prepared to fight Goldstone on the issue.

--Alana Goodman, Commentary

Goldstone’s report and his reputation are the poison gas with which the whole Israeli-Palestinian dispute has been made rancid

Goldstone's report and his reputation (a drastically scrubbed-up reputation if you haven't researched his years as an apartheid judge) have since September 2009 become the poison gas with which the whole Israeli-Palestinian dispute has been made rancid and fiendishly immune to facts, let alone to the truth.

The lopsidedness of the voting in international institutions speaks neither to the alleged depravity of Israel nor to the justice of the immoveable ultimata made by the Abbas regime. It reflects a widespread contempt in the world for the Jews—for their intrinsic peoplehood and their achievements, embodied in the State of Israel, in modern nation-building and daring renewal. Believe me: I do not gloat. Still, the comparison between pluralistic Zion and the deteriorating state of just about each and every Arab society, now on display in rancor and in blood, could have, should have evoked some identification with Israel’s cause. It will not, and not least because the very structure of global power is based in and has been routinized by illegitimate authority. It is gangster dictators who decide what will fly in the United Nations.

--Martin Peretz, The New Republic

Goldstone's second thoughts only matter to those who have consistently defended an indefensible war

The jubilation over Goldstone's minor edit is also misplaced because the strong opposition felt in most quarters to the Gaza onslaught had nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not the killings of civilians were intentional but that they took place at all.  Even if it could be proven that the United Nations school was destroyed by accident, what difference would it make?  It was destroyed. Would Israel exonerate Hamas if it, by accident, hit an Israeli hospital when its target was a nearby army base. It is a distinction without a difference and only the morally bankrupt would point to it with pride.

Furthermore, opponents of the Gaza war were outraged by Israel's actions in Gaza right from the start not following publication of the Goldstone report. The outrage was produced  when it became clear that Israel was not exercising its legitimate right to defend itself against rocket fire from Gaza by targeting the people launching the missiles but by targeting the whole Gazan population.

-- MJ Rosenberg, Al Jazeera


How to save Detroit

Why it's important to remember the Triangle fire

Protecting L.A.'s artistic identity

Critiquing Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya

Evaluating Gen. Petraeus' assessment of the war in Afghanistan

--Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: Few recent events in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been as controversial as the release of the Goldstone report, a U.N.-sponsored study prepared by South African former judge and U.N. prosecutor Richard Goldstone, shown here in 2009, in the aftermath of Israel's three-week-long assault on the Gaza Strip in 2008-09. Credit: Salvatore Di Nolfi / EPA


Comments () | Archives (13)

The comments to this entry are closed.


To the Al-Jazeera commentator: Hamas has never mistakenly bombed a school while trying to bomb a military base. Hamas are cowards who purposely try to only bomb civilian targets. Your organization (and you yourself) paraded the initial report as absolute proof and empirical evidence; now you do not have the integrity to admit you based your rationale on lies and instead turn to more hate. Reports and facts mean nothing to you; you are consumed only by bitterness and loathing. You are irrelevant except for the missiles you launch and bombs you set.

As for the Goldstone report itself, the world can see the UN's biases and willful errors. There is no excuse. Israel did not start this last war; they defended themselves against cowards who hide behind women and children, who fire missiles from schoolyards and starve their own people and blame Israel and a global Jewish conspiracy. Hamas is an organization who cheered and celebrated the recent knife murders of a family, including a 3 month old child stabbed 21 times. This is what Israel was, and is, defending itself against.

Monsters like Hamas should not be allowed to exist.

trust no one

Truly illuminating to see the Al Jazeera commenter saying 'intent doesn't matter'. He defends societies that glorify dying by encouraging teenagers to strap bombs to themselves and blow themselves to pieces or to sneak into a home and slit the throats of a sleeping family.

Talk about moral bankruptcy.

You truly have to be depraved to defend those actions, and yet that's what the Arab media does.


Yeah, now people will see the Israelis as manipulative, self-interested charlatans with no regard for anyone but themselves. OK, no change there for the fourth most hated country on earth.

Tom Birchfield

"Israel In Big Trouble"

Well, no matter how Israel tries to "SPIN WAR CRIMES" it still ends up "CRIMINAL! I am disgusted with what Israel has done in GAZA! Killing over 1400 innocent men, women, and children using "EXCESSIVE FORCE! The world has seen the AP Photos, and nothing Israel does is going to change that, including Goldstone changing his report as much as he wants will change the facts, and bring back the dead!

..."Israel is in "BIG TROUBLE!


It was a disasterous UN decision in the first place to appoint the infamous apartheid judge,goldstone, to write the 'isrli' war crimes report in the first place.

Clearly goldstone's retraction of his own reprot is backfiring by worldwide condemenation of his shameful behavior.

goldstone's anomalous behavior proves once againg that: once a jew always jew-regardless of the seven thousand Palestinian refugees in Gaza that were injuried or murdered by the brabbaric jewish war on Gaza in 2008/9 including the 1400 Palestinian men,women,children and infants that jews murdered in full day light in front of the whole world.


It is time to set the record straight now that Judge Goldstone has back peddled on his U.N. report. Jews have never committed a crime or engaged in any illegal or terrorist act in the entire history of mankind. Every Jew that has ever walked the planet is the salt of the earth and is not guilty of anything.


Can one of the Israeli bashers explain what they would expect the US to do if missiles were fired at the US from Mexico or Canada? Would they expect the US to go to the UN and ask that the attacks stop? Or, would they want the US government to send in the military to stop it? When the bad guys hide behind civilians, is there an expectation that the troops will do nothing but allow itself to get shot at? In the US, people get all bent out of shape at illegal immigration. What would the public response be if instead of humans coming across the border looking for work, we had missiles targeting civilians?

Mitchell Young

"Can one of the Israeli bashers explain what they would expect the US to do if missiles were fired at the US from Mexico or Canada?"

How about if one of those encouraged the illegal entry of millions of their citizens into our country, lowering working class wages, impacting public services, getting huge transfer payments in the form of 'free education' and 'free lunches' ? What if they got subsidized housing for their US-born but still Mexican (dual) citizen children, making a mockery of our on citizen's obvious desire to stabilize the country's population and channeling resources from our own children to theirs. I'll bet we'd be pretty upset, or maybe not.

Bob Johnson

Wow, I was wondering what kind of inhuman scum would actually defend Muslim terrorist animals who run around and blow themselves up because they have yet to enter the 21st (or even the sixth) century, but now I know. Thanks, "Johnz" :)


Just doin' my job, Bob, since you and most Americans don't have the cajones to call Israel on its 60+ years history of war crimes and violations of international law. Guess you forgot that Israel has had it's terrorists too, they were called the Irgun and Lehi. Two of those terrorist organizations' leaders were even elected as Prime Ministers of Israel.


Nothing will change the truth. Israel has become a racist Apartheid state that is not only destroying itself but also slowely bringing the ME into the brink of a nuclear war. Unless we wake up here in America, we will be drowning with this morally and ethically corrupt regime and will be financially ruined.

Scott Mollett

Israel smizrael, big deal. Until the 5th column of tratior jews are flushed from the US media, banks, and politics we will get more of the same.

The jew banker/media mafia is ruining the USA with the help of almost all US jews. The avg jews defence of their mafia is the real reason all jews get in trouble for this mafias crimes.

Snap out of it jews. the Wall St jews are criminals and not someone you should look up to let alone defend. Stop defending them or get ready to reap the worldwind. Again.

Michael J. Jordan

No one does more damage to Israel's international image than UNRWA, the UN refugee agency for Palestinians: http://jordanink.wordpress.com/2006/03/15/unmasking-unrwa-its-role-more-vital-than-ever-can-unrwa-stay-out-of-politics/



In Case You Missed It...



Recent Posts
Reading Supreme Court tea leaves on 'Obamacare' |  March 27, 2012, 5:47 pm »
Candidates go PG-13 on the press |  March 27, 2012, 5:45 am »
Santorum's faulty premise on healthcare reform |  March 26, 2012, 5:20 pm »


About the Bloggers
The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

In Case You Missed It...