We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.
After the controversy, outrage and damage done to so many reputations (the Israeli military’s, Israeli government’s, Judge Goldstone’s and many more), not to mention hatred for Israel only inflamed by the report’s findings; it feels like much of it could have been avoided if the fact-finding mission was conducted with more transparency at the time.
I don’t know why the Israeli government didn’t co-operate further. Well, I think I do remember one point and, assuming I remember it correctly, its a fair point: co-operating with a mission which began with such apparent bias against Israel would only have legitimized that bias. What Judge Goldstone now points out, and what Israel has maintained for so long, is that where Israel has conducted its promised investigations into alleged misconduct (and found some of its officers in the wrong), Hamas has done nothing:
Indeed, our main recommendation was for each party to investigate, transparently and in good faith, the incidents referred to in our report. McGowan Davis has found that Israel has done this to a significant degree; Hamas has done nothing.
Despite this, Israel will find itself the target of more hatred, outrageous propaganda and will find itself pushed further and further while the real protagonists commit horrific crimes and launch more rockets into Israeli suburbs or kill families in their homes with almost unimaginable brutality with little or no response from bodies like the UN. No wonder Israelis are frustrated.
This anti-Israel sentiment we see in the news and hear around us is not about some form of apartheid or some sort of affront on democracy. It is an attack on a tiny minority population group living in a tiny country already surrounded by enemies intent on its destruction. The big difference is that the Israelis can fight back when bullied and its enemies don’t like that very much.