At Brandeis, Goldstone defends UN war crimes report
Justice Richard Goldstone, at a Brandeis University forum, defended the UN report on war crimes committed by Israel and Hamas in the Gaza war. It was the first time he has publicly discussed the report with a high-level Israeli official.
Justice Richard Goldstone, in his first public discussion with a high-level Israeli official regarding his controversial UN report on war crimes during Israel's invasion of Gaza last year, hardly came out reeling.Skip to next paragraph
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He began the forum at Brandeis University by confessing a concern about anti-Israel bias in the UN Human Rights Council, and even said the original mandate of his fact-finding mission was unbalanced (until he refocused it to include a look at Hamas attacks), and he repeatedly asserted his belief that Israel should be able to defend itself.
“I’ve publicly stated on many occasions,” he said, “that Israel has the right under international law not only to protect its citizens from rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, but it has a clear duty to do so.”
Since a UN fact-finding mission issued the report more than a month ago accusing both Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes in the Gaza invasion last winter – in which some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed – the media have been abuzz with both vitriol and praise for the document.
Israeli officials have called the report biased, insulting, and even an legitimization of terrorism. On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution calling on President Barack Obama to “oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration” of the document.
But two days later, the UN General Assembly voted to endorse it.
The Brandeis forum, in which Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the UN, presented Israel’s opposition to the report and Goldstone defended it, drew a crowd of several hundred. With police scattered throughout the premises, a moderator called for calm and civility in the audience, and the crowd complied. There were only some silent demonstrators.
The question for the UN fact-finding mission, Goldstone said, was whether the manner in which Israel defended itself was in accord with humanitarian law. “Let me turn now to the substance,” he said in a soft voice, and described the “Dahiya doctrine.” That principle was established after Israeli forces destroyed a Beirut neighborhood in 2006; a military chief suggested the same be done with every village that fires upon Israel – that is, that Israel respond to attacks with "disproportionate force."