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The Debate that Changed Goldstone's Mind?

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shira Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 04:48 AM
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The Debate that Changed Goldstone's Mind?
Just four days before Justice Richard Goldstone's shocking admission that his controversial report on Israeli war crimes committed during the 2008-2009 Gaza war was flawed, I participated in a panel debate with him at Stanford Law School. During the debate, Goldstone repeated one of his standard talking points -- that none of the factual accounts in his report had been challenged. But then, under pressure from a line of argument, he backed off and acknowleged, perhaps for the first time, that some of the facts in the Goldstone Report were in dispute. And he suggested that his report might have been different had his fact-finding mission had access to Israeli evidence.

Four days later, Goldstone published his mea culpa op-ed in the Washington Post -- an admission of fault he had reportedly been unwilling to make in a draft op-ed submitted to the New York Times less than a week before the debate. In the Post article, Goldstone wrote, "If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document." But he went further still, acknowledging that his report was wrong to allege that Israel had deliberately targeted civilians.

I can only speculate about Goldstone's discomfort at having his professional work challenged in such sharp terms -- and whether the debate in some way precipitated his admission of fault. But the criticism was deserved. The Goldstone Report asserted that the Gaza war was an Israeli assault on the "people of Gaza as a whole ... aimed at punishing the Gaza population for its resilience." Choosing to focus on 36 specific incidents involving alleged Israeli wrongdoing, the report gave Hamas a free pass for most of its war crimes while concluding that Israel's campaign "was a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability."

Peter Berkowitz and I represented the side challenging the Goldstone Report against Palestinian panelists Noura Erakat and Victor Kattan. Goldstone participated as a "discussant," speaking for 10 minutes at the beginning and end of the debate, but he kept a stone face during the two-hour back-and-forth.

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shira Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 05:01 AM
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1. Goldstone to face libel suit
Judge Richard Goldstone is expected to stand trial for libel following his retraction of his Operation Cast Lead report, in which he accused Israel of war crimes.

Knesset Member Danny Danon (Likud), currently in the United States, has enlisted the help of a number of Jewish-American attorneys who agreed to file a lawsuit against the South African judge at no charge.

A petition will be filed with a New York District Court next week, in which the plaintiffs will demand a formal apology and a symbolic financial compensation for the State of Israel. A second lawsuit may be filed in an Israeli court if Goldstone arrives in Israel.,7340,L-4053408,
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