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The battered judge

The Goldstone investigation met the hardest test of impartiality: the chairman, Judge Richard Goldstone reported evidence that was unfavourable to his personal interests as a Zionist.

Paul J Balles / STAFF WRITER

Panel members of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict speaking about the report. Photo courtesy of the United Nations.

The basic issue raised by the Goldstone Report on the Cast Lead Operation by Israel against Gaza is whether the investigators followed their judicial responsibilities.


Here are some of the responsibilities of a judge (from the Code of Judicial Conduct):


  • A judge shall uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary.


  • A judge shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all the judge’s activities.


  • A judge shall perform the duties of office impartially and diligently.


Despite complaints about the report and Judge Goldstone, who chaired the fact-finding mission, there has been no impartial evidence of the investigators’ failure to meet their responsibilities.


One key definition involves impartiality” or “impartial” denoting an absence of bias or prejudice in favour of, or against, particular parties or classes of parties, as well as maintaining an open mind in considering issues that may come before the judge.


The investigation met the hardest test of impartiality: the chairman, Judge Richard Goldstone reported evidence that was unfavourable to his personal interests as a Zionist.


Before the report by Judge Goldstone was made public, Antony Lerman, writing in the Guardian reported that “despicable attacks” had been made “on human rights organisations investigating Israel’s Gaza offensive”


As most people following this saga know, Israel refused to cooperate with Judge Goldstone’s investigators. They refused to respond to letters from Human Rights Watch (HRW) and denied the Goldstone mission entry to Israel.


Furthermore, according to Lerman, Israel rubbished testimony from Gazans unless it supported Israel’s version of the offensive, and allowed the army to investigate itself.


Despite Israel’s refusal to cooperate in the HRW investigation, Israelis and Jewish organizations in America couldn’t find enough fault with Judge Goldstone.


Letters came from holocaust survivors bemoaning the facts they said Goldstone ignored: “because larger and larger rockets were arriving from Iran, and a million Israelis were threatened by these rockets.”


Twitter and Facebook entries ignored the refusal of Israel to cooperate and vented rage in non-stop temper tantrums.


It got so bad following Goldstone’s report that he was called “an enemy of the Jewish people” and could not attend his son’s bar mitzvah in South Africa.


After the story made international news, its main effect was to rally defenders of the one-sided report, and Goldstone was able to attend the bar mitzvah without Jewish protests.


Judge Goldstone’s earlier investigations into violence in South Africa, his willingness to criticise all sides led to him being dubbed “perhaps the most trusted man, certainly the most trusted member of the white establishment” in South Africa.


Writing in the Baltimore Sun, Laila El-Haddad recounts that Goldstone “published an op-ed in the Washington Post reconsidering one of the allegations in the report: that Israel intentionally targeted Palestinian civilians during the assault.”


Continuing, El-Haddad reports that “Judge Goldstone’s co-authors, Hina Jilani, Christine Chinkin and Desmond Travers, sharply disagreed with him in a statement issued in the Guardian on April 14.”


She added “they stood by the report in its entirety, saying “there is no justification for any demand or expectation for reconsideration of the report as nothing of substance has appeared that would in any way change the context, findings or conclusions…”


However, Israelis and their supporters have been celebrating Goldstone’s retraction of one bit of the original report as vociferously as the Israelis dancing on the roof of a van in New Jersey on 9/11 as the twin towers collapsed.


Unfortunately, Judge Goldstone has been battered so badly that he felt compelled to retract one aspect of his report on which the Israelis refused to cooperate.


Shame on his biased critics.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR : Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. He’s a weekly Op-Ed columnist for the GULF DAILY NEWS . Dr. Balles is also Editorial Consultant for Red House Marketing and a regular contributor to Bahrain This Month. Read Full Bio

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