By Letty Cottin Pogrebin
Two years after Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s three-week assault against Hamas in Gaza, we are still grappling with the fallout. Much of the public reckoning has been channeled into an acrimonious debate over the report of a four-person investigative commission appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council and headed by Judge Richard Goldstone. Regrettably, the conduct of many of Israel’s supporters in this dispute has been both indecent and profoundly un-Jewish.
From the moment the Goldstone Report was released in September 2009, its lead author has been subjected to fierce, well-orchestrated attacks by Israeli and American Jews who purport to be defending the legitimacy of the Jewish state and the safety of the Jewish people. Rather than discuss the contents of the report — which concluded that during the 2008-2009 Gaza war, Israel (as well as Hamas) may have committed war crimes — Israel’s defenders launched an all-points campaign to bury it. But their strategy was complicated from the start by an inconvenient truth: Goldstone was one of them — a Jew, and not just any Jew, an exemplary one.
Until 2003, Goldstone served on South Africa’s highest court. Before that, he had distinguished himself as chair of a commission of inquiry into violence during the final years of apartheid, as chief prosecutor of war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and as part of the team that investigated the U.N. oil-for-food scandal in Iraq.
Goldstone’s Jewish credentials were equally stellar. A proud, self-identiﬁed Zionist, he served on the board of governors of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; as chair of the advisory board of Brandeis University’s International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life; and as president of World ORT, the international Jewish educational organization. He also was a dogged investigator of Nazi war criminals in Argentina.
Obviously, it wasn’t easy to destroy Richard Goldstone. But for his report to be permanently deep-sixed, the man himself had to be thor-oughly discredited, recast not just as a naïve dupe of the human rights community but as an enemy of Israel, a Nazi in Zionist clothing, a perpetrator of “blood libel,” a self-hating Jew.
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Letty Cottin Pogrebin is a founding editor of Ms. Magazine and the author of nine books. This essay is adapted from her chapter in “The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict,” to be published January 11 by Nation Books.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.