Foreign Policy Blogs

L’Affaire Goldstone

I’m not usually the biggest fan of NY Times Roger Cohen’s articles. It’s not that I question his intelligence or thoughtfulness. I just think that he rides his “hobby horse” of Israel’s intransigence a little too hard in light of its legitimate security challenges, and doesn’t seem to expend nearly the same energy taking the Palestinians to task for their own obstinacy.

However, I couldn’t really find fault with his recent critique of Goldstone’s recent about-face in an op-ed piece published by the Washington Post on April 1. In the article, Goldstone asserts that new findings by a follow-up UN report would have changed his conclusion in his own highly controversial UN report, in which he stated that Israel engaged in a “deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population.”
Goldstone contends in his column that Israeli investigations that were “recognized” in the report, which was chaired by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis, “indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.”

However, Cohen questions this claim, noting that the McGowan Davis report asserts that “[t]here is no indication that Israel has opened investigations into the actions of those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw Operation Cast Lead.” Cohen also cites the McGowan Davis report’s conclusion that the Israel military has not sufficiently justified its “design and implementation of the Gaza operations” or its “objectives and targets.” I haven’t read any of the McGowan Davis report, so I am assuming that the quotes by Cohen are not taken out of context and accurately reflect the authors’ message. But based on Cohen’s citations, this does not sound like a report that is convinced of the fairness of Israel’s policy toward Gazan civilians.

Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has attempted to have the Goldstone report stricken from the UN “record”, and pro-Israeli network of lobbyists and organizations have understandably launched campaigns to trumpet Goldstone’s new message. However, based on early returns it seems clear that the Israeli government and its supporters, try as they might, will not be able to negate the public relations damage that the Goldstone report inflicted.

 

Author

Zev Wexler

Zev Wexler is an associate at the law firm of Vinson & Elkins LLP, where he represents investment managers. In 2009, he took a sabbatical year and volunteered as a strategic consultant in Malawi for Millennium Promise, a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. Zev is a board member of American Jewish Committee's ACCESS young leadership program, and serves on the Committee's International Relations Commission. Zev is also a board member of the Microfinance Club of New York. Prior to working at Vinson & Elkins LLP, Zev worked at the law firm of Skadden, Arps, and at the asset manager BlackRock Financial Management. He received a BA in Public Policy from Princeton University and a JD from New York University School of Law, and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). Zev currently lives in New York.

Great Decisions Discussion group