Spreading the truth, post-Goldstone op-ed

By Joel Lion, NEW YORK

With Richard Goldstone himself admitting that the infamous Goldstone Report was critically flawed, this is the best opportunity we have had in two years to bring to light the misconceptions of Operation Cast Lead.

In his April 2 op-ed in The Washington Post titled “Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and War Crimes,” Goldstone rebukes the very principles linked to Israel following the report submitted under his name to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Let me make this abundantly clear: Israel abides by international law. Does that mean that Israel is perfect? No.

But as Goldstone’s op-ed states, while Hamas “rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets,” investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report that was chaired by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis, “civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy” by Israel.

Reading Goldstone’s words that Israel “has the right and obligation to defend itself and its citizens against attacks from abroad and within” and that the U.N. Human Rights Council has a “history of bias against Israel [that] cannot be doubted,” it is amazing how much he sounds like any one of us 18 months ago.

What caused Goldstone to do a 180 wasn’t a change of heart but an understanding of objective and undisputable facts. The ironically named “fact-finding mission” wasn’t interested in waiting for Israel, as a democratic country, to investigate itself. Instead, the only “facts” it found were unsubstantiated allegations against Israel. The legacy of the Goldstone Report is that in the topsy-turvy world of the United Nations, Israel is guilty until proven innocent and Hamas is innocent until proven guilty.

In October 2009, I wrote in JTA that “Goldstone does not differentiate between a democracy using force to defend its civilians and a terror organization targeting innocent civilians on purpose.” While Richard Goldstone has debunked the notion that Israel was intentionally targeting civilians, significant damage has been done.

It won’t be easy for people to accept the truth, but the steps needed are simpler than we may think.

What starts as an op-ed in The Washington Post is important momentum. Israel’s enemies were quick to use the Goldstone Report as ammunition in the fight to delegitimize the Jewish state. Now that Goldstone himself has begun to take away that weapon, we can finally win the fight armed only with truth.

This battle will take place in all forums – from the United Nations and U.S. Congress to the blogosphere and message boards. In the two years since Operation Cast Lead, the international status of Israel and the Jewish people has been tarnished by the most insidious of lies and false claims. The Goldstone Report was seen by many as the final nail they needed to build the coffin for the Jewish state, and it almost succeeded.

Israel’s enemies may need lies and propaganda to fight us, but all we need to fight back is the truth. The objective truth, whether it is in Gaza or onboard the Mavi Marmara, exonerates Israel while weakening its enemies.

In my reaction to the Goldstone Report, I wrote that “such reports not only harm nation states in the war against terror, but harm the prospects for peace in the Middle East.” For over two years, lies about Operation Cast Lead have been circulating every message board on every website, and they all lead back to one source: the Goldstone Report.

The Goldstone Report, as Prime Minister Netanyahu says, “must be shelved once and for all.” The United Nations, as a legal body, is capable of repealing or revoking past declarations. In 1991, Resolution 4686 was passed, which revoked the outrageous resolution claiming that “Zionism is racism.”

Now that the full facts have come to light, coupled with the admission from Goldstone himself that his findings were flat out wrong, the international community must condemn the Goldstone Report and send it to the ash bin of history.

It is time for Israel, the Jewish people and our friends to embark on a true “fact-finding mission.” If the Goldstone Report was the darkest moment before the dawn, let us work together to ensure that the dawn is coming.


Joel Lion is the spokesperson and consul for media affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.