South African Judge Richard Goldstone did a great deal of damage to Israel by lending his name to a bias United Nations commission that put forth a litany of slanders aimed at Israel last year. But the reaction to that UN effort to delegitimize Israel’s right to self-defense against Gaza-based terrorists sobered him up and he publicly recanted his support for the report that bore his name earlier this year. That was a bitter blow to the left that had been happy to use him as a shield against charges of anti-Semitism and he was widely accused of having given in to pressure from a Jewish community that had lambasted him for his actions.
Even the most earnest apology couldn’t have undone all the harm his UN report filled with false accusations of war crimes had done. But, to his credit, Goldstone is using the notoriety that he has to make up for his past lapses. In today’s New York Times Goldstone is able to use his standing, as a South African to shoot down the pernicious slander that Israel is an apartheid state.
Goldstone was prompted to write the piece as a way to denounce the so-called Russell Tribunal on Palestine which will be meeting in Cape Town this week to determine whether Israel is guilty of apartheid. He writes of it:
It is not a “tribunal.” The “evidence” is going to be one-sided and the members of the “jury” are critics whose harsh views of Israel are well known.
Of course that was also an apt description of his own Goldstone Commission with the one difference being that the Russell Tribunal is not chaired by a well-known Jew who was supposed to be a supporter of Israel.
That said, it must be admitted that Goldstone does an excellent job punching holes in the claim that Israel is a racist society where Arabs are treated as legal inferiors as was the case in apartheid-era South Africa. As he rightly states, Israel itself is a democracy with full minority rights that does not bear the slightest resemble to the old South Africa. While the West Bank is not quite the same thing, as he points out, the security measures that Palestinians find oppressive are not racist impositions but the natural result of terrorist attacks. Israel has a right to defend its citizens and until the Palestinians are ready to make peace, they are going to have to live with the byproducts of their war against the Jews.
The use of the term apartheid to describe Israel is, as Goldstone rightly points out, a slander that retards the chances of peace rather than advancing them.
While friends of Israel may see this piece and others he may write as acts of repentance, it must be acknowledged that Judge Goldstone occupies a unique niche in the world. Having once betrayed his people in an unscrupulous attack on Israel, he now finds himself in a position where his defense of the Jewish state may be given a hearing that is denied to others. Let’s hope he continues to take advantage of this opportunity.