The Corner

Goldstone’s Fellow Commissioners Say They Have Nothing to Retract

Following Richard Goldstone’s recent retraction of the central finding of his infamous report, the other three members of his U.N. committee have clearly been depressed. The committee chair had gotten all of the glory from the U.N.’s anti-Israel bloc for producing the blood libel that Israel had deliberately set out to murder Palestinian civilians, not responded to years of Palestinian terrorist attacks on its own civilian population. Their names were rarely, if ever, mentioned. The retraction threatened to wipe them completely from the history books. So in another newspaper yesterday, they demanded the recognition they feel they so richly deserve.

Christine Chinkin, Desmond Travers, and Hina Jilani published an article in the Guardian in which they reiterate their enthusiasm for their libelous conclusions and complain: “We regret the personal attacks and the extraordinary pressure placed on members of the fact-finding mission since we began our work in May 2009. This campaign has been clearly aimed at undermining the integrity of the report and its authors.” Indeed, the “integrity” of both the report and its authors is exactly what is in issue.

The lack of integrity of the report itself was apparent from the start. The mandate of the so-called investigators was set by the Human Rights Council after it had decided Israel was guilty. In its words: “The Human Rights Council … decides to dispatch an urgent, independent international fact-finding mission … to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law by the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian people.” No self-respecting lawyer or professional of any kind would have taken a job defined in such a one-sided way. But these people were different, because each of them was as biased as their U.N. masters.

The “integrity” of Christine Chinkin, a law professor at the London School of Economics, was not difficult to discern. On January 11, 2009, in the midst of the Gaza war, Chinkin signed a letter to The Times newspaper which stated: “Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is not self-defence — it’s a war crime.”

Allegedly, the purpose of the Goldstone mission was to investigate whether war crimes had been committed. No democratic state governed by the rule of law would ever have appointed Christine Chinkin to a Gaza war-crimes inquiry after she had signed that letter. No lawyer being considered for a position on such an inquiry, with the slightest concern about integrity, would ever have taken the job. But then Chinkin’s lack of integrity is precisely why she was selected.

The Times letter she signed also stated: “The rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas deplorable as they are, do not, in terms of scale and effect amount to an armed attack entitling Israel to rely on self-defence. … Israel’s actions amount to aggression, not self-defence.” At the time of this statement, Israeli civilians had endured 12,000 mortar and rocket attacks over the eight years prior to the Gaza operation. This hired-gun, prepared to manufacture rules for fighting back invented only for the Jewish state, lacks far more than integrity. Her words are a catalyst for more of the same. On April 7, 2011, Hamas terrorists fired a mortar from Gaza into a school bus, grievously injuring a schoolboy who happened to be the only child on the bus. If 12,000 mortars and rockets were not enough to justify acts of self-defense, then, on Chinkin’s twisted logic, the targeting of Jewish schoolchildren by an organization publicly dedicated to genocide against the Jewish people would not entitle Israel to self-defense today either. One shudders to think how many dead and mutilated Jewish children would be enough for Christine Chinkin.

Travers and Jilani were similarly selected only because they had declared Israel guilty before they began their “fact-finding mission.” On March 16, 2009, both Travers and Jilani (and Goldstone) signed an open letter addressed to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council ambassadors calling for the very inquiry to which they were then appointed. The letter demanded the mission on the grounds that they were “shocked” by actions in Gaza, that “gross violations of the laws of war,” “gross violations of international humanitarian law,” “targeting of civilians,” and “crimes perpetuated against civilians” had been committed, and that the criminals “responsible … should be held to account.”

Travers’s “integrity” has been on display ever since. #more#In February 2, 2010, a verbatim transcript was published of an interview Travers gave to the pro-Palestinian rag Middle East Monitor. (Muslim Brotherhood enthusiast Tariq Ramadan is their “honorary adviser.”) It includes the following Travers statement: “Do you realise now that there is a very fervid Rabbinate in the military? For the first time ever the Rabbis travelled with the combat troops and this is a new and troubling development. It is also reported that the Rabbis in the Israeli Defence Forces have on occasion challenged the authority of military commanders. This must surely be a development that has negative consequences for good order and respect for authority in the Israeli army.” Of course, it is only troubling if it’s a bad thing to give an army moral guidance and support — as chaplains embedded with the American armed forces do. Or perhaps Travers really means that there is a problem specifically with Jewish spiritual leaders.

It is hardly surprising that this former Goldstone sidekick went on to analogize Israelis to Nazis, claiming elsewhere in the interview: “Gaza has now come into the history books in the same way as … Dresden, Stalingrad. Gaza is a gulag … closed-off from food, water, air.”

As for Jilani’s “integrity” and qualifications for judging Israel’s self-defense needs, they were evident long before Gaza. She was quoted in The Jurist in 2005 as stating: “Israel is depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights using security as an excuse.” Jilani’s pro-Arab bias cuts a broad swath. She was a member of the U.N.’s notorious 2005 international fact-finding commission on Darfur, Sudan. That commission maintained that the atrocities in Darfur did not constitute an ethnic or racially driven conflict, even though it was perpetrated by Arab militias against non-Arab African tribal victims. Hundreds of thousands raped and murdered, 2.5 million displaced — but no genocide, according to Jilani and company. Their moral blindness was exposed last July when the International Criminal Court decided to proceed on the charge of genocide against Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, because “there are reasonable grounds to believe him responsible for … genocide by killing, genocide by causing serious bodily or mental harm and genocide by deliberately inflicting on each target group conditions of life calculated to bring about the group’s physical destruction.”

Chinkin, Travers, and Jilani are rightly worried about their reputations, just as Richard Goldstone was. Their integrity is in ruins, their faulty moral compasses exposed. But they have no one to blame but themselves.

— Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, director of the Touro College Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, and the editor of

Anne Bayefsky — Professor A.F. Bayefsky, B.A., M.A., LL.B., M.Litt. (Oxon.), is a Professor at York University, Toronto, Canada, and a Barrister and Solicitor, Ontario Bar. She is also an Adjunct Professor at ...


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