Richard Goldstone, the South African judge tasked by the UN Human Rights Council with an inquiry and report on the Israel-Gaza Operation Cast Lead, got it wrong when he said Israel had committed war crimes. Well, we knew that. It wasn't Israel using civilians as human shields and storing weapons in mosques and hospitals. But now Goldstone has admitted it. Good, but too late. We know, and so must he, that the UN Human Rights Council is not an impartial body, and that it is quite relaxed about slaughter and attempted genocide in some places (Darfur), but has a standing order to condemn Israel at all times. The Goldstone report has given legitimacy to the Jew-hating we see especially on the Western left, to political persecution of elected Israeli politicians, who cannot now safely visit the UK without fear of arrest, and arguably to the disgraceful moves for a total academic boycott of Israel. So it is welcome to hear that Goldstone has admitted he was wrong. He says:
"the allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion. While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized by the UN committee's report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy."
Surely if you don't have contrary evidence, your conclusion ought to be that you don't really know what happened, rather than that a war crime has been committed because you don't have clear evidence that it has not?
Doubtless there will be a banner headline in the Guardian and lengthy, probing interviews in TV studios across the land. Anyone? Anyone? (sound of tumbleweed)