Mere Goldstone

Tonight’s debate: Did Goldstone admit UN colleague Chinkin was biased?

By Hillel Neuer

In tonight’s Brandeis University debate with former Israeli ambassador Dore Gold, Judge Richard Goldstone, author of the UN report on Gaza that bears his name, conceded that, had his UN inquiry been considered “judicial,” the prior statement of his colleague Christine Chinkin concerning Israel would have been sufficiently problematic as to disqualify her.

Recall that in a joint statement published on January 11, 2009 in the Letters section of London’s Sunday Times, entitled “Israel’s Bombardment of Gaza is Not Self-Defense — It’s a War Crime,” Chinkin declared that Israel was guilty of committing acts during Operation Cast Lead that were “contrary to international humanitarian and human rights law,” and of committing “prima facie war crimes.”

Goldstone’s concession on this point echoes what he told South Africa’s Business Day in an August 2nd interview: “If it had been a judicial inquiry, that letter she’d signed would have been a ground for disqualification.”

However, in the same breath as he effectively admitted the obvious—that her impartiality was irreparably compromised—Goldstone contradicted himself by defending Chinkin’s letter as being entirely irrelevant.

First, argued Goldstone, her letter was signed also by a number of eminent international law scholars.

Second, as he argued to Congress in his failed attempt to block this week’s House denunciation of the Goldstone Report, he said that Chinkin’s letter only dealt with the “technical” issue of whether Israel enjoyed the right to self-defense under international law, and not with the specific issues bearing on the inquiry.

Third, argued Goldstone tonight, Chinkin also condemned Hamas.

All of these arguments he has made before, several of which are documented in our legal brief. (See more at Yet each is specious, misleading and without any basis in law. I believe that the jurist Goldstone knows this full well, but apparently believes that the ends (his desire to save Israel from itself) justify the means (accepting a biased colleague on his inquiry panel, just as he accepted to work under the UN Human Rights Council’s biased S/9-1 mandate that was never changed as a matter of law).

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