JTA reported on Wednesday that the Obama administration would quash action on the Goldstone report, which found both Hamas and Israel guilty of war crimes during warfare in Gaza.
- Richard Goldstone
However, later on Wednesday, JTA reported thatÂ another White House source said that an official “misspoke” when he said the Obama administration would not allow the Goldstone report recommendations on Israel’s conduct to reach the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Here is an excerpt from the JTA update:
A top White House official told Jewish organizational leaders in an off-the-record phone call Wednesday that the U.S. strategy was to “quickly” bring the reportÂ — commissioned by the U.N. Human Rights Council and carried out by former South African Judge Richard GoldstoneÂ — to its “natural conclusion” within the Human Rights Council and not to allow it to go further, Jewish participants in the call told JTA.
Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman, called JTA later to say the official “misspoke” and that administration policy on the Goldstone report remains as articulated last week by Susan Rice, the U.N. ambassador.
Rice described the UNHRC mandate as “unbalanced, one sided and basically unacceptable. We have very serious concerns about many of the recommendations in the report. We will expect and believe that the appropriate venue for this report to be considered is the Human Rights Council and that is our strong view.”
She did not mention what the United States would do were the report to be referred to the ICC.
Israel has denounced the findings of the Goldstone report, noting that the U.N. Human Rights Council has repeatedly singled out Israel — and no other country in the world — for condemnation.
The Obama administration now apparently has taken a similar view. According to JTA, the U.S. position is that the Goldstone report “was flawed from its conception because the [United Nations] mandate presumed a priori that Israel had violated war crimes and that the mandate ignored Hamas’ role in prompting the war through its rocket fire into Israel.”
Writing about Goldstone in the current edition of the Forward, Claudia Braude explores what motivated the distinguished South African jurist to take up the controversial Gaza war investigation.
Goldstone, who was the chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, “is proud of his Jewish identity and links it firmly to his human rights concerns. A president emeritus of World ORT, an international Jewish vocational training organization that maintains some of its biggest projects in Israel, he also serves on the Hebrew University of Jersulem’s board of governors,” writes Braude.
Characterizing the struggle for human rights as “a secular religion of our time,” Goldstone once described the existence of the State of Israel as its Jewish embodiment. “This struggle for human rights has been in the most profound existential sense very much the struggle for ourselves — for our own Jewish destiny. For the creation of the State of Israel,” he said.
“I’ve been involved with Israel since I can remember,” Goldstone told the Forward. “My mother was very active in the women’s Zionist movement.” His daughter, Nicole, lived in Israel.
Although Goldstone’s credentials as a Jewish supporter of Israel cannot be easily impeached, the report on Gaza that bears his name will continue to stir debate. Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, is leading the charge to rebut
the portions of the report that take Israel to task, writing that “the UN report is not about justice. Rather, it is the latest initiative designed to delegitimize Israel and deny its right to self-defense.Â The UN report not only endangers Israel. It bestows virtual immunity on terrorists and ties the hands of any nation to protect itself.” — Mordecai Specktor