Goldstone and the power of moral authority

by Yaniv Reich on October 25, 2009

On account of his role as principal investigator into possible war crimes committed by Israel and Hamas during Operation Cast Lead, Judge Richard Goldstone has been on the less pleasant end of a lot of senseless slander. Despite being an extremely well-respected expert on war crimes, despite being both a Jew and a solid Zionist, he has been accused of anti-Semitism, self-hatred, bias, irresponsibility, corruption, and so on. Some Israeli commentators have gone so far as to name Israel’s next war the Goldstone War because of the perception that his report undermines Israel’s right to defend itself.

Criticisms of the report have generally taken one of four forms: (1) attacking Goldstone, (2) attacking the Human Right Council, (3) grossly misrepresenting what is in the report, or (4) concluding that if Israel violated some law, then international law itself is flawed and ought to be changed. Its almost impossible not to conclude that critics have not bothered to download and read what is actually in the document. If they took the trouble to do so, they would discover such eminently reasonable conclusions such as the one that Israel should launch its own investigation into the allegations.

Short of reading the full 575-page report, watching the following video is the next best thing. Moyers asks Goldstone tough questions that echo every one of the concern that Israelis (and Americans) have voiced about the report. The most striking aspect of the exchange is, in my view, Goldstone’s absolute equanimity in the face of harsh criticism. He is massively fair and evenhanded in his comments. The essential justice of his perspective gives lie to the hysteria bandied about by those who cannot confront the substance of his findings. His composure contains the power of moral authority.

I encourage you to watch these videos, then come back here to comment:

Goldstone Interview by Bill Moyers, Part I
Goldstone Interview by Bill Moyers, Part II

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