Full Reverse on Israeli 'War Crimes'; Hindsight Reveals Policy Choices Damaging to the West

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 5, 2011 | Go to article overview
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Full Reverse on Israeli 'War Crimes'; Hindsight Reveals Policy Choices Damaging to the West


One might have been forgiven for thinking it was an April Fool's joke. At the very least, the author of an Op-Ed published in The Washington Post last Friday - former South African Supreme Court Justice Richard Goldstone - sure looked foolish as he all but acknowledged being incredibly naive and irresponsible when he authored a harshly critical report for the United Nations Human Rights Council after Israel's 2008-09 war with Hamas in Gaza.

It seems the lead author of the Goldstone Report has experienced a severe case of second thoughts or buyer's remorse. Presumably, that is due at least in part to a belated appreciation of the immense damage caused by his misbegotten handiwork. As the jurist put it in his essay, If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document. He is not the only one who is reconsidering - or should be - what they are about.

Unfortunately, as in the case of the Goldstone Report, in most instances where buyer's remorse is setting in, there is really no excuse for the actions to be taken in the first place. Consider several examples:

* Let's start with Justice Goldstone's opus. In it, he assailed the Israel Defense Forces for engaging in potential war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity by purposefully attacking noncombatants. In so doing, his report established a moral equivalency for the Jewish state with the terrorists of Hamas and contributed mightily to international efforts to stigmatize and delegitimize Israel. Yet, Justice Goldstone now acknowledges, based on subsequent investigations conducted by others (including the Israeli government), that civilians were not intentionally targeted [by Israel] as a matter of policy.

Welcome as this vindication of Israel is, it cannot undo the immense damage done by charges made 18 months ago when there was ample reason not to tar the Israelis with the same brush as Hamas. Justice Goldstone now avers, That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying - its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets. There is, however, no excuse for him not knowing and affirming at the time that Israel had adopted a wholly different approach. No remorseful Op-Ed will obscure that reality, or mitigate the damage done by his moral equivalence.

* Second thoughts are much in evidence at the moment in official Washington about the Obama administration's responses to the wildfires that have been raging in recent weeks throughout North Africa and the Middle East. The original view was that these were spontaneous awakenings in which peoples long denied freedom were rising up, asserting their demand for democracy, inspired and fanned by Western-innovated social networking media. As such, they were widely seen to be causes that warranted strong U.

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Full Reverse on Israeli 'War Crimes'; Hindsight Reveals Policy Choices Damaging to the West


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