The L.A. Times has a piece on Richard Goldstone, the Jewish South African jurist who has taken on what is among the most thankless jobs in the world: leading a U.N. commission to unravel allegations of Israeli war crimes during the recent Gaza campaign.
Israel generally refuses to cooperate with such efforts, regarding the U.N. human rights machinery as implacably hostile to the Jewish state. But for that very reason, the Goldstone pick is unusual: a Jew with a reputation for fairness and integrity (albeit one who came of age under South African apartheid), rather than someone with a history of harsh assaults on the Jewish state.
In typical U.N. fashion, the commission’s mandate authorizes it to examine only Israeli wrongdoing, excluding the rocket attacks on southern Israel that precipitated the invasion. Goldstone has indicated he will cast a wider net.
The inquiry was a hot potato. The United Nations resolution ordering it focused on alleged "grave violations" by Israel, but not on rocket fire by Palestinian militants. Several experts invited to serve on the U.N. Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission had refused because they considered the mandate one-sided, a U.N. official said.
Goldstone, a Jew, insisted on a balanced approach. His proposal: Talk to the victims. All the victims.
When his appointment to lead the mission was announced Friday, it was clear that he had taken the job on his terms.
"I decided to accept it because of my deep concern for peace in the Middle East and my deep concern for victims on all sides in the Middle East," he said at a news conference in Geneva.