What is to be done with Richard Goldstone?
Prior to 2009 Judge Richard Goldstone was a respected Judge, who had gained great respect in his native South Africa for his work against Apartheid, and universal approval for his UN prosecution of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. All this changed when this Jewish self-proclaimed supporter of Israel accepted the lead on a fact-finding mission of the UN Human Rights Commission into the Gaza war.
The report concluded mistakenly that Israel was guilty of deliberately targeting civilians. (We know this was a mistake, since Richard Goldstone himself admitted as much last year.) When the report was published it was seen and used as a moral stick with which to beat Israel. Goldstone was crowned hero by Palestinians and their supporters, and fool or traitor by many Jews.
Since the UNHRC report, Goldstone has written two extremely significant articles. In the Washington Post last April he agreed that Israel had not deliberately targetted civilians, and now he has written a sharp and knowledgeable rejection of the Israel/Apartheid analogy.
His behavior has led to his former supporters to call him a coward and a liar, giving way to ‘Zionist’ pressure. Others who had previously condemned his work in with UNHRC have received his words with grim satisfaction though no great enthusiasm.
Judging by responses to his last article, we are left with some key questions about the nature of repentance:
- Are there some mistakes so grievous they cannot be forgiven?
- Does a slander always remain a slander, even when retracted?
- What is the worth of a person’s word, if it is only accepted when one agrees with it?