Israel wants the United Nations to retract the 2009 Goldstone Report which accused it of war crimes now that its author has rescinded the principal allegation that Israel intentionally targeted Palestinian civilians during Operation Cast Lead.
In a column published late Friday by the Washington Post, Judge Richard Goldstone acknowledged his report got it wrong, but said that was due to Israel's refusal to cooperate with his investigators.
"We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report," he wrote. "If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document."
It "goes without saying" that Hamas deliberately and indiscriminately fired rockets at Israeli civilians, he wrote. Palestinian leaders, from Fatah to Hamas, are downplaying Goldstone's retraction, saying he was forced into it, or that it doesn't change anything.
A retraction in a newspaper column is welcome, but does little to erase the enormous harm done to Israel's reputation. The columns "will not garner a thousandth of the publicity or have a thousandth of the impact that his original, baseless accusations against Israel drew," wrote Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief David Horovitz. "Governments – including, to what should be their abiding shame, self-styled friends of Israel in Europe and beyond who failed to vote against this report – will not rush to deliver the apology they owe our government and our soldiers."
Even in contrition, Goldstone still misrepresents what happened, Horovitz wrote. Information contradicting his findings was available from open sources, including reports issued publicly by Israel. The Israeli military, Horovitz added, "was doing more than most any military force has ever done to minimize civilian deaths, even as it sought to destroy the terrorist infrastructure and pick out the terrorists who had been firing relentlessly into Israel's residential areas."
In the U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., urged Congress to embrace the report's findings and "use this report as a resource to understand a critical part of the world and to grasp fully the devastating human costs of the status quo."
Ellison was among 36 representatives who voted against a House resolution condemning the report. Both the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) issued statements thanking those who stood by the Goldstone report.
"In the interest of seeking the truth of what took place, it is imperative that we support the three dozen members who opposed this extremely biased resolution and the two dozen who voted 'present' rather than supporting it," MPAC Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati said at the time.