Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors

Richard Goldstone’s Regret: What It Could Mean for Israel, Palestine, and Us

Richard Goldstone, author of the now famous/infamous report on the 2008/2009 war between Israel and Hamas, has expressed regret about the document he submitted to the United Nations.   In an op-ed published in the Washington Post, Goldstone wrote, “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.”

While one can certainly respect the integrity of publicly acknowledging errors, the real lessons to be learned here are about what it means to respond with too much too soon and also with too little too late. Unfortunately, neither side of the debate which continues to swirl around the Goldstone Report, nor Mr. Goldstone himself, seems prepared to do just that.


In the wake of Goldstone’s recent comments, Hamas’ renewed calls for the “implementation of the Goldstone Report,” fall somewhere between absurd and offensive. The report which Hamas wants implemented calls for Hamas to conduct transparent inquiries into their own behavior, most specifically the ongoing purposeful targeting of Israeli civilians – a central Hamas tactic!

In fact, the absence of any such inquiry is among those facts noted most by Goldstone as being a major source of his regret regarding the report which bears his name. While standing by the claim that both sides could have done more in this regard, he points out that Israel has done much and Hamas has done nothing.

Hamas clearly does not want the report implemented except insofar as it takes their side – precisely the opposite of Goldstone’s stated purpose in producing the report. Those in Israel who are simply calling for the wholesale retraction of the report are not much better – at least not in terms of learning those lessons which could avoid the publicity fiasco which the report became for Israel.


Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon, refusing to acknowledge any partial truths or lessons for Israel to learn, simply called for the U.N. to “retract” the report. And in Washington, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren said that in light of Goldstone’s recent comments, “the report must be utterly discredited”.

While neither comment is hypocritical in the way that the Hamas comments were, both speakers are guilty of throwing the baby out with the bathwater in ways that short-sighted and unwise. Rather than excoriate Goldstone and his work, this is a moment when Israeli leaders should take pride in doing what their enemies did not, commit to responding with even greater transparency in the future, and mobilize around the creation of a narrative that takes appropriate advantage of Goldstone’s most recent comments.


Israelis can play the unfairly targeted victim, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and vindication, or they can insist that the world now take note of the profound disparity between the behaviors of the two sides in the conflict, regardless of the side toward which one may feel greater sympathy — precisely as Goldstone now says he should have done. The latter choice would be a major turning point in how the conflict is presented – not as good vs. evil, but as better vs. worse – an approach which demands new levels of moral accountability from Hamas no matter what one thinks about the correctness of their cause.

Perhaps such partial accountability is not as viscerally satisfying, but it is more likely to bring Hamas either to some greater level of decency, or at least increased isolation from the military support which enables its ongoing war against Israel.


Judge Goldstone also has lessons to learn and they extend beyond expressing regret over the shape and substance of his report. His laudable intentions and vital insights about the importance of transparent inquiry notwithstanding, his report assumed too much about what was possible to accomplish and severely underestimated the damage done when speaking a truth independent of any concern for the context in which it would be received.

There is much from which both Hamas and Israel can learn in the original report. But in issuing it as he did, by presuming that each side would respond in any way equally to the challenges which the report put to their respective armies/governments, Mr. Goldstone was guilty of dangerous naïveté. Like Israeli President and long-time crusader for peace, Shimon Peres, I believe that Goldstone owes the State of Israel an apology. But whether he apologizes or not, is not the primary issue.


The primary issue is that there are lessons here for all parties to learn. One hopes that instead of exploiting past missteps by others, each of them will ask what more they can do to address those they made themselves. By no means are they all equally egregious, but they are the ones most within the grasp of each party to correct. Justice Goldstone has begun that process. Let’s hope that in doing so, he set a new precedent.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Vick
  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    You neglected to mention that Goldstone still stands by most of the report. Israel is still accused of war crimes. He’s only talking about a small part of the report.

    Israel, the war criminal nation, is still an anchor around the neck of the US. It is still a parasite on us. Those of us who love the USA need to realize that.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment romanscapegoat

    in order to make profit in this world…there must be an enemy…all evil is one and leads to one destination..peace between the jews and palestinians would cause money to be lost…war is a sure certainty to make profit…peace and harmony between people will cause those who have power to lose the power they have gained…it doesn’t benefit those in power in any way to have peace among its people…acts of evil will always give power and wealth…acts of love will cause loss of power and wealth…this is why obama will never be able to protect the 98%of americans from the wealthy who control the politicians in the white house, and all media..THE MEDIA IN AMERICA IS CONTROLLED BY THE WEALTHY AND WILL ALWAYS SHOW OBAMA AS WEAK AND A USELESS…AMERICANS MUST NOT WAKE FROM THE COMA THAT TELEVISION AND THE MEDIA HAVE STRATEGLY FOOLED THOSE, WHO ARE TO AFRIAD TO THINK OUTSIDE THE LIES THEY HAVE BEEN TAUGHT, ALL YOUR LIFES…GOD BLESS AMERICA???

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment romanscapegoat

    2012 is when the “space aliens” will let there-selves known to the world that their leader owns, Lucifer is their leader…pyramids all over the world were made in honor of Lucifer giving technology to certain races of people…just as the “space aliens have giving technology to certain governments today…a small group of Jews control America and the world and walk with Lucifer… the Jews are put in charge of the world as they walk away from god and into Lucifer’s heart…the space aliens told ancient Indians the world would end in 2012 and begin again with Lucifer in command…my words are god

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    Ok here’s the real info, such as is available. Roger Cohen’s article today tells us a lot of what we need to know about what happened to poor Goldstone.

    Goldstone, a Jew who takes his Jewishness seriously, has been pilloried by Israel. He fell afoul, as perhaps no other, of the siege mentality of a nation controlling the lives of millions of Palestinians but unsure what to do with them or with the world’s growing disavowal of this corrosive dominion that humiliates its victims and eats into the soul of its masters.

    The charges cascaded: He was a “self-hating Jew,” a hypocrite, a traitor. For Alan Dershowitz he was “despicable.” For Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, Goldstone was up there with the Iranian nuclear program and Hamas rockets as one of Israel’s “three major strategic challenges.”


    Israel is celebrating what it calls a vindication. It is preparing to welcome Goldstone. It is demanding nullification of the report, even though Goldstone is only one of its four authors. Meanwhile the facts remain: the 1,400 plus Palestinian dead, the 13 Israelis killed, the devastation, the Hamas rockets — and the need for credible investigation of what all evidence suggests were large-scale, indiscriminate, unlawful Israeli attacks in Gaza, as well as Hamas’ crimes against civilians.

    Read the column. You’ll get more knowledge about the Middle East from one Cohen column than from twenty Hirschfield columns.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Alice Azzouzi

    Why don’t you go over there and visit GAZA …

    I have been to both places and can’t believe that intelligent people would even think of treating any human being the way Israel treats the Palestine. The Goldstone report is just the crust of what really happened and continued to happen every day with continue bombing and killing.

    It just like that town the Jews were sent to live in Poland.

    How can a people who gone through what the Jews have to inflict such destruction on another people.

    I have been reading the scripture preparing for Holy week and I cried what God has said to the Jews and they continue to kill and torture Palestinians

  • Tania

    Israel has no Humanity.They are killing the Palestinian’s without reasons…

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