Goldstone’s Crocodile Tears – by Alan M. Dershowitz


Richard Goldstone, the primary author of the infamous Goldstone Report, is now trying to distance himself from the way in which the report is being used to single out Israel for condemnation.  Most recently he criticized the United Nations Council on Human Rights, which commissioned the report, for the contents of its referral to the Security Counsel.  This is what he said:  “The draft resolution saddens me as it includes only allegations against Israel.  There is not a single phrase condemning Hamas as we have done in the report.”

Goldstone, as usual, is trying to have it both ways.  The truth is that the report itself barely criticizes Hamas.  Indeed, the summary—which was intended as a press release—is replete with condemnations against Israel but never once criticizes Hamas.  Instead it gently criticizes “Palestinian armed groups,” as if to suggest that these were vigilante grass root killers who were not sponsored by and doing the work of Hamas.  The text of the report devotes infinitely more space to condemning Israel than it does to condemning Hamas or even “Palestinian armed groups.”  It is not surprising, therefore, that the resolution of the UN Council, which is intended to briefly summarize the report, would focus its attention on condemning Israel.  Goldstone, who is a savvy and experienced international diplomat, had to realize this when he signed onto the report.  The crocodile tears he is now shedding, in claiming that the resolution “saddens” him, is simply another example of him talking out of two sides of his mouth.

Goldstone did the same thing when he told the Jewish Daily Forward, “that his group had not conducted “an investigation,” but rather a “fact-finding mission” based largely on the limited “material we had.”  Since this “material” was cherry-picked by Hamas guides and spokesmen, Goldstone acknowledged that “if this was a court of law, there would have been nothing proven.”  He emphasized to the Forward that the report was no more than “a road map” for real investigators and that it contained no actual “evidence,” of wrongdoing by Israel.

That is certainly not what the report itself says.  The report repeatedly accuses Israel of war crimes and other violations of international law.  It concludes that Israel “violated” the law and that these violations “constitute a grave breach.”  It does not qualify its accusations the way Goldstone now seems to—at least when talking to Jewish audiences.

In his recent press offensive, Richard Goldstone complained that many of his critics have not read the report, have not responded to its conclusions, and are resorting to attacks on the credibility of those who are responsible for producing it.  In an interview, not surprisingly, with Al Jazeera, Goldstone said the following: “I have yet to hear from the Obama Administration what the flaws in the report that they have identified are, I would be happy to respond to them if and when I know what they are.”  He continued “I have no doubt, many of the critics—the overwhelming majority of critics—have not read the report, and, you know what proves that, I think, is that the level of criticism does not go to the substance of the report.”

This of course misses the point.  Many of the most severe critics have studied the report in detail and have focused on specific errors.  As far as I know, Goldstone has not responded to any of these substantive criticisms.  Moreover, there is a good reason why there has been so much focus on Goldstone himself and others on his commission, as well as on the source of the report, namely the UN Council on Human Rights.  First, as to Goldstone: The only reason anyone has given any credence to yet another report of the obviously biased Human Rights Council is because Goldstone was its chairman.  As the Associated Press reported recently, Israel tends to ignore reports of the Human Rights Council, “which includes many Arab and Muslim countries [and] is hopelessly biased against Israel.”  It continues, “But Goldstone’s credentials as a former war crimes prosecutor…, his Jewish faith and his close ties to Israel have made it hard for Israel to ignore his findings.”  Goldstone obviously understood that he was putting his personal credibility behind this deeply flawed report.  His credibility has suffered a fatal blow as the result of his association with such bigotry.  It is not surprising, therefore, that critics are questioning his motives.

If Goldstone wants a debate on the merits and demerits of his report, I am ready and willing to debate him.  I await his reply.

  • Robert Bernier

    The Goldstone report never even admits that Hamas is a terrorist organization.
    The Goldstone’s report is full of statements of “fact” that defy belief and come without any evidentiary source. The report denies, contrary to numerous contemporary reports in media outlets, without citing any of the evidence, that Hamas fighters dressed in civilian dress, hid in hospital facilities and used ambulances to transport combatants and other military purposes. Last but not least : the Goldstone report never even admits that Hamas is a terrorist organization. Few Israelis or fair-minded individuals will find this mission, its report or its recommendations as having providing accountability or restoring the morality of the United Nations. More at :

  • Carterthewriter

    The law no longer seeks the truth, but tends to try to appease both parties in a dispute therefore rendering it a useles institution for justice.

  • gfw88

    Mr. Dershowitz,

    You should get him to emigrate to America; he'd be a reliable Democratic voter and then you could love him.

  • ahmadyaqeen

    Bill Moyers and Goldstone October 25 2009 – Goldstone quotes on the Bill Moyers show.

    Goldstone statements in quotes

    We looked at 36 targets in Gaza out of a possible 3000 or more, to make our investigation”

    “Israel dropped 100,000 leaflets in Rafah but were not specific”

    And what about the thousands of calls Israel made?

    “That caused panic among civilians”

    Is panic part of war

    “No it should not be”

    “Hamas does not fall under the Geneva Convention”

    “In one case a Palestinian home was being used by Hamas militants but the owner told us that he ran out to his

    back yard and yelled at them to leave. So they packed up and left”. If Israel bombed these targets that would have

    been a war crime”

    “Why punish the civilians in Gaza for what their leaders are doing”

    What were the standards of evidence?

    “Spoke to hundreds of citizens” . “We chose 36 incidents out of possible Hundreds” or thousands”.

    I was frankly nervous going into Gaza”- I was afraid of being kidnapped”. I am a Jew”.

    Since they knew you were coming you would expect some hospitality” question.

    “Why should me being Jewish deny me the right to investigate Gaza”

    Israel complains that holding them to a unfair standard when it comes to terrorists?

    “Absolutely not” Look at Kosovo and America, Afghaninstan and how they apologized when civilians were hit”.

    “I dont accept that destruction of Gazas infrastructure to fight terror against Israel”

    On Netanyahus speech at UN:

    “Lets say United States started bombing civilians when attacking ther Taliban”

    “That would be a war crime”.

    (Taliban is not attacking innocent civilians in America like they do to Sderot, Israel in general , America is in Afghanistan

    thousands of miles away from American civilians)

    UN is focusing their attack on Israel than anyone else.

    “Yes I know , I was hoping to change that”

    UN attacks Israel not Hamas.

    “I wrote the mandate for Gaza myself not the United Nations”.

    “Clearly Israels actions were meant to deal wiith rocket attacks on Israel”

    “Hamas and Israel should be punished in their own countries”

    (Israel does that routinely, Hamas and terrorists never investigate war crimes, they celebrate them

    Saddams Scud Missiles, invasion of Kuwait, rocket attacks on Israel, Hezbollah attack on Israel, terror killing children

    in Jerusalem etc.)

    Why does the world need an international court of justice?

    “Because war criminals did not face justice at home”.-“if they dont investigate themselves than they will have trouble travelling – Israel is worried”.

    (Who investigates Crimes in Iran, Gaza, West Bank, etc …Arafat stole Billions from Palestinians, Iran hangs Gays in the street)

    “Israel is afraid of the truth”.

    “I want the Israeli government to be forced to investigate themselves. They have a great justice system.”

    (Does Hamas have a great justice system?)

    What about Israels asking US to veto these findings? The US came out and stated your investigation was flawed.

    “Let them point it out”

    Your investigation undermines peace?

    “Contrary it will make a legitimate and lasting peace”.

    ( The conflict between Fatah and Hamas

  • ahmadyaqeen

    Published: October 19, 2009
    AS the founder of Human Rights Watch, its active chairman for 20 years and now founding chairman emeritus, I must do something that I never anticipated: I must publicly join the group’s critics. Human Rights Watch had as its original mission to pry open closed societies, advocate basic freedoms and support dissenters. But recently it has been issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.

    Kelly Blair

    At Human Rights Watch, we always recognized that open, democratic societies have faults and commit abuses. But we saw that they have the ability to correct them through vigorous public debate, an adversarial press and many other mechanisms that encourage reform.
    That is why we sought to draw a sharp line between the democratic and nondemocratic worlds, in an effort to create clarity in human rights. We wanted to prevent the Soviet Union and its followers from playing a moral equivalence game with the West and to encourage liberalization by drawing attention to dissidents like Andrei Sakharov, Natan Sharansky and those in the Soviet gulag — and the millions in China’s laogai, or labor camps.

    When I stepped aside in 1998, Human Rights Watch was active in 70 countries, most of them closed societies. Now the organization, with increasing frequency, casts aside its important distinction between open and closed societies.

    Nowhere is this more evident than in its work in the Middle East. The region is populated by authoritarian regimes with appalling human rights records. Yet in recent years Human Rights Watch has written far more condemnations of Israel for violations of international law than of any other country in the region.

    Israel, with a population of 7.4 million, is home to at least 80 human rights organizations, a vibrant free press, a democratically elected government, a judiciary that frequently rules against the government, a politically active academia, multiple political parties and, judging by the amount of news coverage, probably more journalists per capita than any other country in the world many of whom are there expressly to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Meanwhile, the Arab and Iranian regimes rule over some 350 million people, and most remain brutal, closed and autocratic, permitting little or no internal dissent. The plight of their citizens who would most benefit from the kind of attention a large and well-financed international human rights organization can provide is being ignored as Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division prepares report after report on Israel.

    Human Rights Watch has lost critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields. These groups are supported by the government of Iran, which has openly declared its intention not just to destroy Israel but to murder Jews everywhere. This incitement to genocide is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

    Leaders of Human Rights Watch know that Hamas and Hezbollah chose to wage war from densely populated areas, deliberately transforming neighborhoods into battlefields. They know that more and better arms are flowing into both Gaza and Lebanon and are poised to strike again. And they know that this militancy continues to deprive Palestinians of any chance for the peaceful and productive life they deserve. Yet Israel, the repeated victim of aggression, faces the brunt of Human Rights Watch’s criticism.

    The organization is expressly concerned mainly with how wars are fought, not with motivations. To be sure, even victims of aggression are bound by the laws of war and must do their utmost to minimize civilian casualties. Nevertheless, there is a difference between wrongs committed in self-defense and those perpetrated intentionally.

    But how does Human Rights Watch know that these laws have been violated? In Gaza and elsewhere where there is no access to the battlefield or to the military and political leaders who make strategic decisions, it is extremely difficult to make definitive judgments about war crimes. Reporting often relies on witnesses whose stories cannot be verified and who may testify for political advantage or because they fear retaliation from their own rulers. Significantly, Col. Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan and an expert on warfare, has said that the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza “did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”

    Only by returning to its founding mission and the spirit of humility that animated it can Human Rights Watch resurrect itself as a moral force in the Middle East and throughout the world. If it fails to do that, its credibility will be seriously undermined and its important role in the world significantly diminished.

    Robert L. Bernstein, the former president and chief executive of Random House, was the chairman of Human Rights Watch from 1978 to 1998.

  • LucyQ

    In the Hamas/PLO Charter, it specifically states that “the Holocaust was a big lie to justify the nation of Israel.”

    What Alan Dershowitz and many others don't understand is that they have to begin directly with this Charter to make any sense because to believe the Hamas/PLO Charter is to believe that every American and Russian soldier who liberated the Nazi death camps was lying.

    Alan, it's much more important for you to begin uncovering all the lies of this Charter rather than use up your precious time debating immoral people like Goldstone. You can bring down Hamas by shining neon lights on their Charter.

  • Nola Graf

    Alan Dershowitz s a tireless warrior for justice and common sense, two qualities that are very scarce in these times. He is absolutely right about Goldstone's crocodile tears. It seems quite clear why Goldstone was chosen to do this dastardly deed. The intriguing question is ; why did he agree to be a patsy for Israel's enemies? I doubt that he would agree to a debate with Mr. Dershiwitz. But if he were to pick up the glove, what a showdown this would be! I would pay to see it.

  • Jack

    I wonder how much Mr. Dershowitz got paid for this article.