Until this week, the Goldstone Report was just another in a long line of anti-Israel allegations that we had to explain to a skeptical world. Sent to investigate Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, Goldstone and his UN colleagues equated Israel and Hamas in all respects. Both parties were condemned for potential “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.” Each side was accused of intentionally targeting civilians. And, in a reckless departure into fantasy land, both Israel and Hamas were called upon to investigate their alleged crimes.
This week, Richard Goldstone made a very public retraction of these key findings. He acknowledged that Israel has seriously investigated every allegation of military misconduct in Gaza. And he stated for the record that Israel did not intentionally target civilians. “If I had known then what I know now,” he wrote, “the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.”
Thank you, Judge Goldstone. But tell us, sir, exactly where does Israel go to get her reputation back?
What Goldstone now recognizes was obvious to any objective observer at the time. The broad outlines of this conflict were never in serious contention. Israel went into Gaza not to harm its civilians, but to protect her own. After over 10,000 missiles had been fired from Gaza into southern Israel, the only thing unreasonable about Israel’s response was its delay.
Moreover, the Israelis went to great lengths – as they always do – to warn civilians and protect civilian lives. Her significant humanitarian concerns aside, Israel knows that each civilian casualty will be used to discredit the Jewish State at home and abroad. This is precisely why Hamas works so hard to produce such casualties.
Meanwhile, Hamas is a terrorist organization. When Hamas fires rockets into Israeli population centers, their clear goal is to harm civilians. To Hamas, civilian casualties are not an error to be investigated but a victory to be celebrated. That’s what terrorists do.
The idea that Hamas would investigate the very attacks it ordered and celebrated must rank among the top follies of modern international law. Even Goldstone can now see that this notion was “mistaken.” Hamas has never renounced terror – not even in English. To this very day, Hamas embraces terror and seeks to justify it.
Yet while the Goldstone Report has been seriously discredited, it will live on. The core allegation of Israeli war crimes in Gaza has already entered the cannon of anti-Israel slanders along with such other well known Israeli “atrocities” as the “Jenin Massacre” (never happened), Israel’s shooting of young Mohammad Al Dura (almost certainly a hoax) Israel’s expulsion of the Palestinians (a wild exaggeration) and so on.
And even if the Goldstone Report somehow fades from prominence, “Goldstonism” is still very much alive and well.
“Goldstonism” is that defect of human morality that enabled Judge Goldstone to undertake and prosecute this dubious investigation in the first place. Goldstonism is the urge to examine every Israeli action under the most sensitive of microscopes, while viewing all provocations through the wrong end of the telescope. Goldstonism is the equation of terrorists who intentionally seek to kill civilians with the soldiers who seek to stop the terrorists. Goldstonism is the confusion of unavoidable civilian casualties with intentional terror victims. Goldstonism is the head-first plummet into the moral abyss.
So long as Goldstonism survives, the decks will forever be stacked. Israel will always be the one being scrutinized, and blamed. And let us never forget, Goldstonism is not a threat to Israel alone, but to all democracies forced to combat terror.
Those of us who stand with Israel and America have a shared interest in truth and moral clarity when it comes to our struggle against militant Islam. Goldstone’s retraction should remind us of both the righteousness of our cause, and the steep challenges we still face. With Goldstone’s retraction, we caught a break. And that sure is nice for a change. But we’d be wise not to get used to it.
David Brog is the executive director of Christians United for Israel and author of a new book, In Defense of Faith: The Judeo-Christian Idea and the Struggle for Humanity. You can follow David on Facebook by clicking here and on Twitter by clicking here.