One might have been forgiven for thinking it was an April Fool's joke. At the very least, the author of an oped published in the Washington Post last Friday - former South African Supreme Court Justice Richard Goldstone - sure looked foolish as he all but acknowledged being incredibly naïve and irresponsible when he authored a harshly critical report for the United Nations Human Rights Council after Israel's 2008-2009 war with Hamas in Gaza.
It seems the lead author of the Goldstone Report has experienced a severe case of second thoughts or buyer's remorse. Presumably, that is due at least in part to a belated appreciation of the immense damage caused by his misbegotten handiwork. As the jurist put it in his essay, "If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document." He is not the only one who is reconsidering - or should be - what they are about.
Unfortunately, as in the case of the Goldstone Report, in most instances where buyer's remorse is setting in, there is really no excuse for the actions to be taken in the first place. Consider several examples:
Let's start with Justice Goldstone's opus. In it, he assailed the Israel Defense Forces for engaging in "potential war crimes" and "possibly crimes against humanity" by purposefully attacking non-combatants. In so doing, his report established a moral equivalency for the Jewish State with the terrorists of Hamas and contributed mightily to international efforts to stigmatize and delegitimize Israel. Yet, Goldstone now acknowledges, based on subsequent investigations conducted by others (including the Israeli government), that "civilians were not intentionally targeted [by Israel] as a matter of policy."
Welcome as this vindication of Israel is, it cannot undo the immense damage done by charges made eighteen months ago, when there was ample reason not to tar the Israelis with the same brush as Hamas. Justice Goldstone now avers, "That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying - its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets." There is, however, no excuse for him not knowing and affirming at the time that Israel had adopted a wholly different approach. No amount of remorseful op.ed. articles will obscure that reality, or mitigate the damage done by his moral equivalence.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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