WSJ – Mr. Goldstone Recants

Now the U.N. author says he didn’t have the facts when he accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza.

Regrets, Richard Goldstone has a few, if you can believe it. The principal author of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s notorious “fact-finding mission” report on the Gaza war of 2008-09 now concedes he didn’t have enough facts when he equated Israel with Hamas in deliberately targeting innocents.

The South African jurist delivered his mea culpa in a Washington Post op-ed that is astonishing for its self-justifying apologetics. In his September 2009 report, Mr. Goldstone and his U.N. comrades took 575 pages to denounce Israel for “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population,” and that Israeli soldiers should be held criminally liable for prosecution in international courts. Hamas endorsed the report and the Financial Times praised it as “balanced” and “damning” in regard to Israel.

Now, Mr. Goldstone says, “If I had known then what I know now,” his report “would have been a different document.” What revelations have since come his way?

Well, it turns out that Israel didn’t deliberately target innocents, and that its military and courts are doing a thorough and conscientious job of investigating cases in which civilians in Gaza were accidentally killed. Oh, and he now regrets that “that there has been no effort by Hamas in Gaza” to investigate its own acts of terror in aiming hundreds of missiles at Israeli cities.

We would welcome this apologia if we didn’t think a jurist of Mr. Goldstone’s stature should have known the difference between a democracy like Israel with a history of investigating its own failings under the rule of law, and a self-avowed terrorist state like the one Hamas runs in Gaza. “Hundreds more rockets and mortar rounds have been directed at civilian targets in southern Israel,” Mr. Goldstone now concedes in stating the obvious, which at least proves he wants to retain a shred of his former reputation.

As our friends at the New York Sun note, Mr. Goldstone should now have the decency to retire from public life.