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Editorial

What's behind Goldstone's flip-flop?

Jurist Richard Goldstone found that Israel had intentionally targeted civilians during its 2008-09 assault on the Gaza Strip. He's now backpedaled, but his explanation that Israel gave him new data is insufficient.

April 05, 2011

On the other hand, "intentionality" is only one of the allegations in the Goldstone report. What are we to make now of all the other charges? What about the charge that Israel's military applied "disproportionate force," and that it failed to "take all feasible precautions" to avoid and minimize loss of civilian life? How about the allegations of "unlawful and wanton" destruction of property, not justified by military necessity? What about the victims denied access to ambulances and medical care? Are we to throw all of these serious charges out the window as well, or just the ones that suggest that Israel intentionally targeted civilians?

Israeli officials understandably feel both frustrated and vindicated by Goldstone's disavowal of one of his own chief findings. The report was a public relations catastrophe for Israel, and it's no surprise that Netanyahu now wants the entire document officially withdrawn. On the other side, those who agreed with the report's conclusion that the Gaza war was punitive and disproportionate are now unsure what to believe.

The charges leveled by the Goldstone report were extremely tough — tough enough to help reframe the Israeli-Palestinian debate around the world. If any of them were wrong, then Goldstone owes the world a detailed explanation so that the truth can be revealed.

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