Five years later: Operation Cast Lead and the Goldstone Report, revisited

On the night of November 4, 2008, Israeli troops crossed into the Gaza Strip near the town of Kissufim and targeted a tunnel that Hamas terrorists were planning to use to capture Israeli soldiers positioned on the border fence some 250 meters away from the border and directly adjacent to an IDF border outpost, not unlike the one they used to seize soldier Gilad Shalit a few years back. Intelligence had established that Hamas operatives had been specifically trained for a planned abduction, and that they planned to activate the tunnel in a few days.

Hamas gunmen were waiting there for them; they had anticipated the possible discovery of the tunnel by the IDF and had thus had the entrances to both ends manned and heavily booby trapped. In the firefight that followed, six Israeli soldiers were injured, two of them seriously. Two Hamas gunman were killed, and several injured, and they then let fly with a volley of mortars at Israel. An Israeli air strike then killed five more Hamas fighters. In response, Hamas launched 35 rockets into southern Israel, one reaching the city of Ashkelon.

A six month lull/cease-fire had been established in June 2008 between Israel and Hamas that was brokered by Egypt, and the IDF spokesperson made clear that the operation was not an attempt to abrogate the cease fire:

“This was a pinpoint operation intended to prevent an immediate threat,” the Israeli military said in a statement. “There is no intention to disrupt the cease-fire, rather the purpose of the operation was to remove an immediate and dangerous threat posted by the Hamas terror organization.”

The tunnel skirmish of November 4, 2008 was then met by Hamas in the launching of some 193 rockets and mortars in November, and some 290 between December 1 and December 24, every one of them a war crime.

The Hamas regime, upping the ante, now demanded the following terms for a renewal of the lull/cease-fire, which lapsed on December 18: a complete opening of all border crossings, an opening of the Rafah border with Egypt, and a ban on all IDF activity in Gaza. Hamas was thus now demanding a removal of all the restrictive measures and “IDF activity” that the terrorist actions they had previously committed, and were currently committing, had made absolutely necessary.

On December 24 Hamas launched “Operation Oil Stain” to the accompaniment of a 60 rocket and mortar volley. On December 25 Israeli Prime Minister Olmert said: “I am telling them now, it may be the last minute. I’m telling them stop it. We are stronger.” This was met with an attack of 5 rocket and 14 mortar attacks, and the next day there were 12 more. All efforts to constrain or contain the attacks being ineffective, on December 27 Israel commenced Operation Cast Lead, a three-week sustained military strike on Hamas’ terror infrastructure and rocket launching sites in an effort to thwart future attacks.

Noam Chomsky, Andrew Sullivan, Norman Finkelstein, Richard Falk, and others have all charged Israel with responsibility for deliberately breaking the ceasefire that led to the Cast Lead operation,  have pointed to Hamas’ willingness to renew the ceasefire, and have cast doubt on whether the Israeli response was thus really legitimate self-defense. The Goldstone Report, too, makes clear its view of Israel’s responsibility for the escalation of rocket attacks in the weeks following the tunnel incident, attributing it to Israel’s “preventive measures,” the closing of border crossings, and the harsh privations inflicted by Israel’s “closure regime” of Gaza,  whose horrors are elaborately inventoried for the benefit of the reader, while Hamas’ rocket and mortar attacks, along with their attempt to kidnap another Israeli soldier, are barely mentioned in passing.

But such spurious claims are belied by the facts. The Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report: “Hamas and the Terrorist Threat from the Gaza Strip: The Main Findings of the Goldstone Report Versus the Factual Findings published in March 2010 (pp.82-83), found that the decision by Hamas to violate the lull/ceasefire long predated the November 4 tunnel incident:

“Hamas’ unilateral decision to the end lull and the escalation it initiated played a major role in the events which ultimately led to Operation Cast Lead. On September 18, the Hamas leadership met to discuss whether or not to extend it. Opinions in the Gaza Strip leadership of Hamas were divided, while the Damascus leadership, headed by Khaled Mashaal, chief of the political bureau in Damascus, decided to bring it to an end in an attempt to achieve a new lull with better conditions for Hamas. The decision was made knowing that it would lead to an escalation. The leadership, however, assumed Hamas would be able to control and contain it. Hamas was joined it its decision to end the lull by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the other Palestinian terrorist organizations.

The report also documents Mahmoud Abbas’ unsuccessful attempts to dissuade Hamas from violating the lull/ceasefire:

“Mahmoud Abbas’ referred to his attempts to persuade Hamas to extend the lull in a speech he gave at the opening ceremony of the Fatah Revolutionary Council meeting (October 2009). He said that one week or ten days prior to the launch of Operation Cast Lead (i.e., December 17, 2008), he had called two Hamas activists, Ghazi Hamad and Ahmed Youssef, informing them of the coming Israeli attack. He added that all they had to do to avoid it was to extend the lull. When they did not respond, he said, he ordered Sa’eb Erekat to contact the Hamas leadership in Damascus. After they, too, did not agree, Mahmoud Abbas contacted the president of Syria and asked him to convince the Hamas leadership to extend the lull (Palestinian TV, October 16, 2009), to no avail.”

On November 8, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida said to Al-Jazeera TV: “the lull is coming to an end and we will not renew that lull.” Khaled Mashaal, chief of the Hamas political bureau, said to Al Quds TV on December 14: “The lull was set for six months and it is ending on December 19. After December 19, the lull will come to an end and will not be renewed.”

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said to Al-Aqsa TV on December 17: “The lull will end on December 18, and I believe that it should not be renewed between the Palestinian factions and the Zionist occupation. And in light of this assessment of the lull and our consultations with the Palestinian factions, all of the Palestinians, both our people in the West Bank and Gaza, do not wish to extend this lull, which the Zionist occupier has converted to his benefit.”

This was echoed by Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades spokesman Abu Obeida on the same day, who also (again) announced on the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades website that the lull would not be renewed.

It thus can no longer be denied: Hamas wanted war, provoked war, and got war. Hamas’ total culpability for the Gaza War, their abrogation of the lull, and their refusal to renew it for their lunatic view that their continued terrorist aggression would somehow yield them better terms (spelled out by them before the Nov. 4 incident), is thus beyond serious dispute. Like Hezbollah in 2006, they grievously miscalculated Israel’s response.


Following the cessation of hostilities in January 2009, the UN Human Rights Council issued UN Human Rights Council Resolution S-9/1. The UNHRC, as is well known, is paneled by representatives of the world’s most gruesome dictatorships and worst human rights abusers (Iran, Cuba, Sudan, Saudi Arabia) and its activities are almost solely dedicated to the passing of anti-Israeli resolutions. Indeed, the UNHRC carries a standing resolution to castigate Israel in every session, while studiously steering clear of other chronic human-rights abusers like Iran, Syria, and countless others. In 2008, a year in which Hamas fired some 3,000 rockets and mortars at Israel, the UNHRC passed some six resolutions against Israel (as well as six the previous year) and not one single one against Hamas.

As the late Senator Moynihan put it, it was a case of “the lunatics taking over the asylum.” Yet, even by the standards of its usual despot-friendly activities,  the inflammatory ferocity of anti-Israel bias and hostility contained in Res. S-9/1 was remarkable. The resolution’s mandate focused solely on investigating the “grave violations of human rights,” the “deliberate targeting of civilians” and “acts of aggression committed by the occupying power, Israel, against the Palestinian people.” It contained not a single mention of any “crimes” or “aggression” by Hamas. As far as the UNHRC was concerned, Israel’s Gaza incursion was a brutal, murderous, and wholly unprovoked attack on a peaceful territory just minding its own business.

In typical UNHRC fashion, Res. S-9/1 had thus prejudged Israel’s guilt and criminality before even attempting to ascertain the facts. Many states, including the European Union, Canada, Japan, and Switzerland, refused to support the resolution. Even Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and an outspoken critic of Israel, explained her refusal to serve as Head of the Mission: “I am afraid the resolution is not balanced because it focuses on what Israel did without calling for an investigation on the launch of the rockets by Hamas. This is unfortunately a practice by the council: adopting resolutions guided not by human rights but by politics. This is very regrettable.” The mandate was eventually accepted by South African jurist Richard Goldstone.

His accompanying panel members were picked from the pastures of the internationalist left, long green with Israel haters, and indeed, the pre-investigation statements of the panel members bear this out. One, international law professor Christine Chinkin, had put her signature on an open letter in the London Times asserting that Israel’s action was “aggression, not self-defense,” was “contrary to international humanitarian and human rights law,” and that “the rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas do not amount to an armed attack entitling Israel to self-defense.” In an interview, a second member, retired Irish Colonel Desmond Travers, compared Israel’s actions in Gaza to the bombings of Guernica, Dresden, and Stalingrad. Among other wild statements, he accused the Israelis of targeting innocent civilians, called Gaza “an Israeli Gulag, the only Gulag in the Western hemisphere” and accused Israeli soldiers of murdering Irish soldiers in Lebanon, a statement with no basis in fact.

In any other venue than the corrupt UNHRC, these statements would have completely disqualified both Chinkin and Travers from participating in this inquiry. The final member, Pakistani human rights lawyer Hina Jilani had, along with Goldstone and Travers, co-signed a public letter to Secretary Ban Ki-moon calling for an investigation into “allegations of serious violations of the laws of war in the latest Gaza conflict.” Needless to say, neither Goldstone, Travers, nor Jilani had ever called for an investigation into the “serious violations of the laws of war” concerning Hamas’s rocket attacks on Israel over the last several years.

The mandate of the Goldstone mission, and its members had thus both publicly betrayed their complete lack of impartiality and had pre-judged the issues and Israel’s guilt before the investigation had even begun. The outcome of the investigation would hardly be a mystery, and this biased predisposition determined the methodology of the whole inquiry: to find the facts that fit the skewed, virulently anti-Israel narrative of the mission’s mandate, and to disregard those that did not.

This indeed is borne out in the report, which makes but a token effort to admonish Hamas, and spends over ninety-percent of its efforts castigating Israel in the most extreme and unbalanced terms, often on matters of tangential relevance to the mission’s mandate . For example, in one of the sillier sections of the report, entitled, “Repression of Dissent in Israel, the Right of Access to Information, and Treatment of Human Rights Defenders,” the Goldstone mission finds that  “individuals and groups, viewed as sources of criticism of Israel’s military operations were subjected to repression or attempted repression by the Government of Israel.” And what, pray tell, did this “repression” consist of? Well,

“Amidst a high level of support for the Israeli military operations in Gaza from the Israeli Jewish population, there were also widespread protests against the military operations inside Israel. Hundreds of thousands — mainly, but not exclusively, Palestinian citizens of Israel — protested. While in the main, the protests were permitted to take place, there were occasions when, reportedly, protesters had difficulty in obtaining permits — particularly in areas populated mainly by Palestinian Israelis.

So there you have it. In a report charged with investigating and documenting alleged war crimes and violations of international law, “reportedly” making for “difficulty in obtaining permits” for public protesters were thus purported to be  among Israel’s instruments in its “repression of dissent.”

(It is ironic, to say the least, that these words in the Goldstone Report were being written at the very time that members of Iran’s Green Movement were risking life and limb in the streets of Tehran and elsewhere to protest Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s rigged election in the face of the regime’s savage brutality, and where the injustices suffered by the aggrieved there were notably more severe than just a delayed permit to protest.)

The interviews of the report, conducted under the intimidating and watchful eye of Hamas, found the facts that the panel wished to find: Israel had committed human rights abuses and war crimes. Even though the mission acknowledged that “it was faced with a certain reluctance by the persons it interviewed in Gaza to discuss the activities of the armed groups [Hamas],” nonetheless, the mission completely ignored the obvious implications of this dilemma and the distorting effect of it on the veracity of their testimony, and resolves virtually every issue in dispute in favor of the versions of the Hamas-furnished witnesses, and either ignores or subjects to withering skepticism any evidence to the contrary.

The laws of warfare include questions of distinction and proportionality. Distinction requires all combatants to wear uniforms or other dress that distinguishes them from civilians. The Goldstone report mostly ignores Hamas’ complete abrogation of this principle and trivializes the difficulties faced by the Israelis in combating them among densely populated areas. Hamas’ deliberate use of civilians for shielding purposes, booby trapping homes, and their use of mosques, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure for military purposes are similarly downplayed or subject to skepticism.

Questions of proportionality, whether the use of force in an engagement was excessive or not, and whether civilian deaths and damage to infrastructure was avoidable or not, hinge critically on matters of context. Data and testimony from soldiers and commanders involved in the engagement, and how and why certain battlefield decisions and actions were taken, are crucial to the rendering of judgment on matters of the use of excessive force and negligence, not to mention the questions of intentionality needed to determine a war crime. Needless to say, the Goldstone mission had no Israeli testimony to factor into their judgments, and this troubled them not at all.

Indeed, in every incident, the mission does not even ask witnesses if Hamas gunmen were nearby, and thus, in the absence of any Israeli testimony, assumes a deliberate, murderous intent on the part of the Israelis to every civilian death. On every issue where civilians were killed in the crossfire and hospitals and other property damaged, the mission finds Israel guilty of pursuing a “deliberate policy” of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.”

To read the report, you would think that the Israelis found no time to fight armed Hamas gunmen and instead just went hunting around for innocent civilians to kill and houses, water-plants, and hospitals to destroy. It does not even place the conflict in the context of Hamas’ rejection of Israel’s right to exist, as the Hamas charter calling for Israel’s annihilation is never mentioned, and thus Israel’s actions are attributable not to self-defense, but, rather, are “part of a broader context, and are deeply rooted in the many years of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory,” and “while the Israeli Government has sought to portray its operations as essentially a response to rocket attacks in the exercise of its right to self-defense, the Mission considers the plan to have been directed, at least in part, at a different target: the people of Gaza as a whole.”

For example, when considering a blatant admission by Hamas leader Fathi Hammad  about Hamas’ practice of human shielding which stated:

“The Palestinian people has developed its [methods] of death seeking. For the Palestinian people, death became an industry, at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the mujahideen excel and the children excel. Accordingly, [Hamas] created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the mujahideen, against the Zionist bombing machine.”

The Report responded with unwonted skepticism:

“Although the Mission finds this statement morally repugnant, it does not consider it to constitute evidence that Hamas forced Palestinian civilians to shield military objectives against attack. The Government of Israel has not identified any such cases.”

And as for the practice of Hamas in publicly praising terrorists killed by the IDF as “martyrs,” and publishing their pictures, well, that is no proof they did anything wrong. Said the report:

 “Often, when persons . . . are killed by actions of the Israeli armed forces , political and/or armed groups ‘adopt’ them as ‘martyrs’ placing their photographs on their websites and commending their contribution to resisting occupation. This does not mean that those persons killed were involved in resistance activities in any way.”

While thus dismissing any evidence of human shielding by Hamas,  the mission similarly would not entertain any consideration of “collateral damage” by the IDF; all Gazan civilian casualties were the result of planned, deliberate attacks. Said the report:

“The Israeli armed forces . . . have a very significant capacity for precision strikes by a variety of methods, including aerial and ground launches. Taking into account the ability to plan, the means to execute plans with the most developed technology available, and statements by the Israeli military that almost no errors occurred, the Mission finds that the incidents and patterns of events considered in the report are the result of deliberate planning and policy decisions.”

(Nonetheless, the Goldstone mission does make a concession or two toward even handedness. This is reflected in the Report’s reluctant conclusion, following an extensive consideration over possible motives for Hamas’ rocket attacks, that “there is significant evidence to suggest that one of the primary purposes of [Hamas’] rocket and mortar attacks is to spread terror amongst the Israeli civilian population.”)

The bias of mind that informs the Report was further illustrated by the mission’s rejection of the expert testimony of British Colonel Richard Kemp, a veteran of Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia, who testified that

“during Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli army did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare. Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population.”

But Goldstone rejected Colonel Kemp’s testimony because “the Report did not deal with the issues he raised regarding the problems of conducting military operations in civilian areas.”

Huh? Excuse me? If “the Report” did not deal with “the problems of conducting military operations in civilian areas” then what, pray tell, did “The Report” deal with?! (Duh!)

The habit of disregarding inconvenient evidence was also on display concerning the fire that struck the Al-Quds hospital. The Israelis referred to an article in Newsweek that supported its version that Hamas gunmen had commandeered the building: “Talal Safadi, …had said that resistance fighters were firing from all around the hospital.” He said of Hamas: “They failed to win the battle.” Goldstone dismissed the “journalistic gloss” of the article and said: “the comments attributed to Mr. Safadi can mean either that people were inside the hospital firing or were in positions outside but near the hospital. The journalist did not clarify precisely what was meant.”

But this was nonsense. The Israelis also pointed to another account reported in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, which quoted a Palestinian named Magah al Rachmah, 25, who said: “The men of Hamas took refuge mainly in the building that houses the administrative offices of Al-Quds. They used the ambulances and forced ambulance drivers and nurses to take off their uniforms with the paramedic symbols, so that they could blend in better and elude Israeli snipers.” The newspaper similarly quotes a militant of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine saying that  “This has also been a war between Fatah and Hamas. The local humanitarian organizations, mostly controlled by the PLO, tell of dozens of executions, torture, kidnappings in the last three weeks perpetrated by Hamas.”

The Goldstone mission was thus confronted with two independent, non-Israeli sources confirming the fact that Hamas gunmen had commandeered the Al-Quds hospital for military purposes and had compelled hospital personnel to act as human shields–a blatant war crime. The mission disingenuously dismissed the first account, and completely ignored the other one, thus completely exonerating Hamas and charging the Israelis with the war crime of attacking a defenseless hospital. Such dishonesty and such biased and selective use of evidence and testimony permeate the whole report. It is a crying disgrace.

The video and photographic evidence (pp.143-173 in the ITIFC report) compiled by the IDF found that Hamas utilized some 100 mosques in Gaza during Cast Lead for weapons storage and firing. The analysis is corroborated by captured Hamas sketches of neighborhoods that show that mosques were used as sniper positions, Israeli Air Force videos showing massive secondary explosions after mosques were hit, as well as reports from IDF after action reports. IDF video and photo evidence shows weapons caches in the mosque in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City consisting of a warehouse full of rockets and mortar shells. A rocket-propelled grenade was also fired at Israel troops from the mosque.

The IDF found a mosque in Jabalya in northern Gaza that was full of weaponry including an anti-aircraft cannon. In a mosque in the Atatra neighborhood in northern Gaza City, a secret warehouse built under the podium from where the imam leads prayers, was discovered which was full of weaponry and improvised explosive devices. The IDF also discovered a bomb along a road in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip that was attached to a cable leading to a detonator in a mosque across the street, where Hamas fighters were to wait to detonate the device.

The IDF also recorded evidence and testimony attesting to Hamas operatives firing mortars at Israeli forces from a civilian rooftop, and Hamas operatives making use of civilian facilities, such as universities, for weapons development and systematically using protected civilian areas, such as schools, private homes, hospitals and mosques, for its industry of weapons smuggling, hiding and storage of rockets, explosives and ammunition, as well as the illicit harboring of combatants. They also show a weapons smuggling tunnel situated directly under a bed in a residential home. The list of documented discoveries is rather lengthy.


The Goldstone Report received the full endorsement of the nations of the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Non-Aligned Movement, the UN Human Rights Council, the European Parliament, as well as by organizations such as Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International.

Judge Goldstone himself vigorously defended the U.N. Report after its release in September of 2009.  “A culture of impunity in the region has existed for too long,” Goldstone told the U.N. Human Rights Council. Adding,

“The lack of accountability for war crimes and possible war crimes against humanity has reached a crisis point; the ongoing lack of justice is undermining any hope for a successful peace process and reinforcing an environment that fosters violence.”

In October, 2009 Goldstone spoke to a group of 150 rabbis affiliated with Taanit Tzedek (“Fast for Gaza”), an organization “devoted to awakening opposition within the Jewish religious community to the siege of Gaza and the suffering it is causing to Gaza’s 1.5 million civilians.” Responding to criticism that his Report would complicate the peace process, Goldstone intoned to the rabbis that “there can be no peace without justice,” adding,

“If you examine similar situations in which there were egregious violations of human rights followed by blanket amnesties absolving violators of liability, almost none of these amnesties held over the long term (Argentina, Chile, etc.).”  

At a debate on the Report with former Israeli diplomat Dore Gold at Brandeis University in November 2009 , Goldstone complained of the “personal and ad hominem attacks that have marked the debate on the report to date,’’ and further complained that “much of the criticism of the report was based on false premises.”

In April 2011, however, Goldstone, obviously stung by the criticism of his Report, and the damage done to his reputation (as well as a probable wariness of some of the more disreputable among those in the anti-Israel fever swamps who were then among his most vocal defenders), “reconsidered” supposedly in the light of newly-available evidence, some of the harsher conclusions of the report, such as the conclusion that Israel had targeted civilians as a matter of policy. But Goldstone nonetheless stated in his defense that,

“The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion.”

Reason enough, one might argue, to avoid making such allegations in the first place. Goldstone’s “reconsideration” was undermined, however, by his subsequent statement to the AP that “I have no reason to believe any part of the report needs to be reconsidered at this time.” He added that “further information as a result of domestic investigations could lead to further reconsideration.”

In any event, Goldstone’s protestations ring hollow. Even a casual reading of the report betrays the wary skepticism that attends virtually every allegation against Hamas–even where the words and actions among them are sufficient to convict them–in contrast with harsh, prosecutorial manner in which Israel is found guilty of everything with which it is accused, often on the flimsiest evidence. The Mission’s rejection of Hamas leader Fathi Hammad’s blatant admission of Hamas’ human shielding, of Colonel Kemp’s testimony, and their shameful rejection of the evidence showing Hamas’ commandeering of the Al-quds hospital, as well as numerous other instances, all add up to a “deliberate policy” of hostile bias where Israel is concerned.

The Goldstone Mission had made clear from the outset that they had come to a crime scene to assess the extent of the crime, and not to impartially investigate whether the laws of war and the rules of engagement were breached in the course of a military operation. The Mission’s bias was hardly helped by the fact that two of the three accompanying panel members picked by Goldstone to head his inquiry had made statements prior to the investigation betraying their clear anti-Israel hostility.

All the same, I do not believe that Goldstone himself came into the investigation with any discernable anti-Israel agenda, or harbors any such views. The skewed, biased report, rather, was the result of the confused, divided soul of Richard Goldstone himself. Goldstone, a South African Zionist Jew with close ties to Israel, had a long, distinguished career as a judge in the post-apartheid South Africa, a Chief UN Prosecutor of war crimes in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, as well as in his distinguished work on the Independent International Commission on Kosovo. His work in all these endeavors rocked no boats, and stirred no controversy, his antagonists were either racist pro-apartheid South Africans, or Bosnian and Rwandan war criminals, and while in his efforts he had won the trust and praise from all sides of the international political spectrum, the peoples with whom he worked and moved about with were, in the main, human rights lawyers and activists, and other NGOs on the internationalist left–most of them harshly critical of Israel. At the time he was selected for the Gaza inquiry, Goldstone served as a board member of Human Rights Watch.       

Goldstone’s work on the investigation into the Gaza War thrust him front and center into the treacherous jungle of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Given his mandate, and, not least, who gave it to him, there could not be much doubt about the reason why he was selected for this particular inquiry: he was a distinguished judge and war-crimes prosecutor, ‘tis true, but, most of all, he was a Jew. And not just any Jew: a Zionist Jew with close personal ties to the Jewish state. As Gideon Levy wrote in a stirring defense of Goldstone in Haaretz: “This time, though, the messenger is propaganda-proof. No one can seriously claim that Goldstone, an active and ardent Zionist, with deep links to Israel, is an anti-Semite. It would be ridiculous.”  

Indeed, this was part of the dilemma into which Goldstone found himself thrust: between Israel on the one hand, and the human rights activist/NGO circles in which he moved and had made his home. His investigation and report could give no equivocal response: one side or another was going to be unhappy.

The final verdict on Goldstone would thus seem to consist in two possibilities. One, if he was really of the opinion that the Hamas regime were the innocent victims of Israel’s “closure regime,”  and that Israel was really the harsh, oppressive, apartheid nation whose marauding hordes were unleashed to terrorize the good people of Gaza on a whim, then the motives of his involvement in this inquiry and his authorship of the Report were consistent with the highest moral standards of human rights advocacy. Two, if he was not, then, at the very least, he knowingly allowed himself to be used by those he knew to be unfriendly to Israel for the sinister purpose of darkening and defaming the Jewish state with the most heinous crimes that any nation can stand accused: the deliberate commission of war crimes against a defenseless people. (And make no mistake about it: the Goldstone Report has become one of the sharpest swords in the anti-Israel/anti semitic armory). Goldstone’s own knowledge of Israel, and his knowledge of the nature of the Hamas regime in Gaza, would seem to preclude the first possibility, leaving us, alas, with the unhappy alternative.         

About the Author
Robert Werdine lives in Michigan City, Indiana, USA. He studied at Indiana University, Purdue University, and Christ Church College at Oxford and is self-employed. He is currently pursuing advanced degrees in education and in Middle Eastern Studies.