Correction: On William Schabas and Richard Goldstone

UN Watch’s recent briefing listed international law scholar William Schabas among those who had hailed Richard Goldstone as a saint after his UN report, only to turn on him when he retracted it.

In response, Professor Schabas states as follows: “I have never turned on my good friend Richard Goldstone, ‘with a vengeance’ or otherwise.” We have corrected the briefing and regret the error.

Indeed, a closer examination shows the  following. After the Goldstone Report was published, Schabas proclaimed that Goldstone “had better be on next year’s Nobel short list.” Schabas also shared his belief, on the same occasion, that Goldstone’s act of condemning alleged Israeli war crimes was performed “as a Jew.” “The world should be thankful that we have people like Richard Goldstone,” said Schabas.

However, when Goldstone retracted the core charge of the report, Schabas was among the first to respond, adopting a different tone toward his friend. He now accused Goldstone of being “certainly more indulgent towards Israel.”

Yet it’s clear that this pales in comparison to the actions of Roger Cohen and Richard Falk.

After the report  came out, Roger Cohen, in an article accusing Israel of acting from an “annihilation psychosis”  and a “perpetual state of exceptionalism,” lauded Goldstone as “a measured man” who, unlike Israel, knows how to deal with reality.

When Goldstone retracted, Cohen wrote a scathing piece which began thus:

We have a new verb, “to Goldstone.” Its meaning: To make a finding, and then partially retract it for uncertain motive.

He ended his article in the same tone:

To “Goldstone”: (Colloq.) To sow confusion, hide a secret, create havoc.

Richard Falk, the UN Human Rights Council’s permanent investigator on alleged Israeli violations  (who is so pro-Hamas that even the PA tried to remove him),  initially praised Goldstone as a “person of integrity,” “political balance,” and “an eminent jurist.”

After Goldstone retracted the main thrust of his report, first in the Washington Post and then in the New York Times, Falk suddenly accused “the new Richard Goldstone” of having “recast himself as the self-appointed guardian of Israel’s world reputation”; of “his seemingly opportunistic change of heart” and “wobbly change of position”; and said that Goldstone “abandons any pretense of judicious respect for either the legal duties of those with power or the legal rights of those in vulnerable circumstances.”

In a blog post entitled “Goldstone’s Folly: Disappointing and Perverse,” Falk referred to a “Goldstone hasbara effort to divert and distort,” “a stunning display of bad faith,” and of “shameless abandon.”

“The sad saga of Richard Goldstone’s descent from pinnacles of respect and trust to this shabby role as legal gladiator recklessly jousting on behalf of Israel is as unbecoming as it is unpersuasive,” wrote Falk.

UN Watch