Following a Washington Post op-ed published Friday by Judge Richard Goldstone refuting allegations that Israel had a policy of targeting civilians during Operation Cast Lead, American Jewish organizations have called on Goldstone to retract his report.
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) issued a statement calling on Goldstone to formally ask the UN Human Rights Council to revise and update his commission’s 2009 report on Israel’s campaign against Hamas in Gaza in a way that aligns its conclusions with his new thinking on what transpired.
“The Washington Post is not the place for Judge Goldstone to recant the biased and damaging UN report he wrote on the Gaza conflict,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris.
“Judge Goldstone should apologize to the State of Israel for the accusations of intentionally targeting civilians, which he now admits were unfounded. He should present his updated conclusions to the UN Human Rights Council, as well as to the General Assembly, which endorsed the skewed report, and press for its rejection.”
On the accusations that Israel refused to cooperate with the Goldstone Commission Harris said, “Judge Goldstone may continue to believe that Israel did not cooperate, but he knows Israel gave him reports and also opened its own investigations. Judge Goldstone knows deep in his soul that he and his team chose to ignore or selectively excerpt the Israeli evidence.”
Harris continued to assert, however, despite that Goldstone's current "admissions" two years later, the report caused irreversible damage to Israel. “The Goldstone report essentially gave impunity to Hamas for its ongoing war crimes.”
“Some may appreciate Judge Goldstone’s candor, but the UN report he authored already has become a tool in the arsenal of those who demonize Israel,” said Harris.
“Regrettably, during the past two years Goldstone himself has contributed greatly to the broad smear against Israel by disseminating his report’s unfounded allegations in numerous interviews and articles. We hope he will defend his new thinking with the same vigor he employed to promote his earlier report.”
Abraham H. Foxman, the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also issued a statement saying, "Richard Goldstone’s article in The Washington Post saying he is now rescinding his charge in the UN report that Israel deliberately targeted civilians in the Gaza war is both gratifying and distressing."
"Whether Goldstone's admission is a case of 'better late than never,' or one of 'too little too late' is a matter of judgment. What is so distressing is the fact that Goldstone rushed to judgment in the first instance as to Israel's alleged intention to target civilians without any convincing evidence."
Added Foxman, "It is important that the author of the report now recognizes, as anyone who knows the history of Israeli military operations already knew, that targeting of civilians runs against everything the Israel Defense Forces stands for. Also significant is the clear distinction he makes between Israel's conduct in investigating accusations and the absence of any such investigations by Hamas."
Yet, the ADL national director concluded that, "This is a sad story in many ways. A story of the continuing bias of the United Nations against Israel, a story of the unwillingness of the international community to take seriously the extremism and violence of Hamas, and a story of how a renowned jurist and member of the Jewish community allowed himself to be used by enemies of the Jewish state."
"If there are any positives that can come out of this debacle it would be if good people around the world will now begin to comprehend and acknowledge the fundamental difference between democratic Israel and the extremists who seek Israel’s destruction."