Jonathan Freedland on Goldstone

Illustration by Peter Till

Jonathan Freeland on Goldstone here.

2 Responses to “Jonathan Freedland on Goldstone”

  1. Brian Robinson Says:

    Is it likely that Judge Goldstone would have asked his original fellow Mission members, Prof Christine Chinkin, Ms Hina Jilani and Colonel Desmond Travers, to sign the Washington Post op-ed, or to issue an agreed statement from all of them? It seems to me unlikely that Goldstone would have acted on his own. In view of reports that “two of the three other members of the mission disagree with their former chairman’s change of heart. Hina Jilani, who served on a similar fact-finding mission on Darfur, said that nothing changed the substance of the original report … ” (Guardian editorial today ) it would seem that if he did ask them, they refused.

  2. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    When we look at this whole situation, I believe that we need to examine not what Judge Richard Goldstone and/or his fellow rapporteurs now say (or indeed what they said then) but what they knew or should have known back then.

    They were commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). This is a body which, since its inception as the UN Human Rights Commission, has been dominated by states with less than impeccable records on human rights. Further, many of them have an ideological opposition to the very existence of Israel, a fact which the Freedland article documents clearly. Indeed, at one time, the Council was chaired by, of all states, Gaddafi’s Libya.

    All this Goldstone ought to have known. As I have commented elsewhere, he was strong-minded enough to have survived, as a jurist, apartheid South Africa and been appointed to the post-apartheid Supreme Court and to have taken part in the Truth and Reconciliation process. It is not enough for him now to argue that he insisted that the brief he was given included an investigation of Hamas and not just Israel, as originally stated. If he was unable to see that the original brief (and possibly his fellow investigators?) fore-closed what he was supposed to conclude, then that is a mark against him. If he did see this, why did he still agree?

    Further, if he was aware of these pressures, well, there was an honourable tradition and precedent he could have followed: British Royal Commissions have often produced Minority Reports, and these have, on occasions, proved of more lasting importance than the main, or Majority, Report. One such was the Royal Commission on Poverty, reporting in 1908 or so, in which the Minority by, inter alia, the Webbs (Beatrice and Sidney) had far greater effect on social welfare policy in the UK than the Majority report.

    The conclusion is, thus, to say the least, uncomfortable. Either Richard Goldstone knew and ignored the proclivities of those commissioning him, and went ahead anyway, reaching the conclusions he (or they) did, and only now giving in to pressure to reconsider. Or, he was unaware of these proclivities, and that, either way, makes him naive.

    Neither conclusion is comfortable: for him or for us.

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