Foreign Policy Blogs

The Continuing Attack on Richard Goldstone


The Middle East Channel at Foreign Policy has an interesting story on Israel’s escalating attacks on South African judge Richard Goldstone, written by Foreign Affairs senior editor Sasha Polakow-Suransky. Goldstone was the leader of a UN report on Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, which accused Israel and Hamas of war crimes during the January 2009 clash in Gaza.

Last week, several government officials in Israel drew attention to Goldstone’s role in several cases in South Africa during apartheid. These accusations highlight some black spots on Judge Goldstone’s professional career. However, a little research into the Israel-South Africa relationship reveals that South Africa received a vast amount of military material from Israel, despite a UN arms embargo and repeated assertions to the contrary by Israeli officials (including current president Benjamin Netanyahu).

Food for thought:

– 1977, November: UN Security Council passes arms embargo against South Africa.

– 1977, December: South Africa imports $370 worth of military equipment from Israel.

– 1982: South African Defense Force Chief Constand Viljoen takes a tour of Israel’s offensive in Lebanon while Israeli military advisers visit South Africa’s fight against Angolan and Cuban forces in Angola.

– 1986: Benjamin Netanyahu, then Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, gives a speech condemning Arab states for exporting oil and other material goods to the apartheid regime in South Africa while denying reports that Israel was violating the UN arms embargo.

– 1987: Sanctions against South Africa imposed in Israel.

– 1988: Weapons sales to the apartheid regime exceed $1.5bn as Israel attempts to conclude existing arms contracts.

If Israeli officials would like to continue their defamation campaign against Judge Goldstone and his report by highlighting his past deeds during apartheid, they might also take a look back at their own relationship with the South African regime.

For further reading, see here and here.