Over the last few years it has been difficult to figure out whether champions of the Goldstone Report actually believed their blood libel. Some fanatics are so far gone they truly believe Israel is an apartheid regime engaged in ethnic cleansing. For them, accepting Goldstone’s fabrications would not result in a moment’s cognitive dissonance.
And then there are the anti-Israel activists who have an Orwellian swagger. They demonstrate fidelity to the Palestinian cause by forcing themselves to swallow increasingly absurd propaganda. That the Israelis have checkpoints in the West Bank or a blockade on Gaza is something that anyone can know. It takes a true believer to insist that the checkpoints were deployed to cause harm to pregnant women, or that the blockade is a plot designed to flood the Gaza Strip with poisoned drugs. For the faithful, repeating Goldstone’s wild-eyed accusations is to make a joyful noise.
There are undoubtedly more cynical partisans who clearly understood the miscarriage of justice represented by the Report, but who paid it lip service because it advanced their anti-Israel agendas. They didn’t necessarily care much about the Report’s content. Its mere existence, and the anti-Israel demonization it triggered, was a useful weapon against Israel. If they had to pretend the fictions were credible, so be it. If they didn’t have to defend them, so much the better.
Where many anti-Israel foreign policy experts ended up on that spectrum is an open question.
In corners of the community there was certainly an air of smug satisfaction and an expectation that—fair or not—the Israelis would have no choice but to take the Goldstone Report as writ. Geopolitical and diplomatic maneuvers could then be made as if the Israelis really had committed war crimes, for which they needed to pay either in territorial concessions or in diplomatic capital. Having been targeted by a frantic international lynch mob, Israel could now be coerced into paying protection money.
And so Professor Marc Lynch of George Washington University urged President Obama to blackmail Netanyahu since “protect[ing] Israel from Goldstone should not be free.” Decency might have recommended siding with the Middle East’s most robust democracy against the UN’s despots and bigots, but not when there were agendas to be pushed. Lynch was, sad to say, not alone.
Then Samantha Power came to Israel and chastised the Israelis for resisting a document they knew—and now Goldstone admits—was fundamentally false. As Haaretz reports:
The Americans were interested to hear whether Israel had decided on whether to set up a committee to investigate Operation Cast Lead. Power asked about Israeli public opinion on this issue. Power did not hide her criticism of Israel’s handling of the Goldstone report; she asked whether Israel’s thinking on the issue was “strategic or tactical.” “Is the correct strategy fighting Goldstone on all fronts?” she asked.
In retrospect it’s the condescension that’s particularly charming, as if the Israelis ought to have realized that fighting against smears and libels on their merits was pointless. Israel was simultaneously to go along with the international community as it singled out the Jewish State—asking for a fair judgment was beside the point—and to play along with the fiction that it could be appeased with concessions.