Peres, not Goldstone, is the small man
A president who tongue-lashes a senior representative of the UN, mainly attests to his own character.
President Shimon Peres considers Richard Goldstone a "small man, devoid of any sense of justice, a technocrat with no real understanding of jurisprudence." Same to you, we used to say when we were kids. Indeed, it's amazing to see how aptly these harsh remarks describe Peres himself, a small man, devoid of any sense of justice.
A president who tongue-lashes an internationally acclaimed jurist, a senior representative of the United Nations, mainly attests to his own character. The attacks on Goldstone have devolved; they have become personal and unbridled. When they are uttered by the president, in a meeting with his esteemed Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva no less, it shows we have completely lost our way. Peres fulminated in the name of us all. This is not only a matter of personal etiquette, at which Peres normally excels. This is about the image of a country whose number-one citizen speaks so rudely against a global emissary. That is Peres' "PR mission" that everyone here is cheering.
Goldstone has already chalked up one impressive achievement: We will now think twice or even three times before sending Israeli soldiers out on another brutal attack like Operation Cast Lead. His report will echo in the ears of politicians and generals before they give the order to move out. Perhaps the brutality is not over; certainly this is not a farewell to arms, but there will be new considerations and restraint. Without our admitting it, Goldstone has become the developer of the Israel Defense Forces' new ethics code.
Israel should be grateful to him for this. Unlike the president, the IDF is taking the Goldstone report a bit more seriously: Last week the military advocate general ordered an investigation into 12 incidents in the report. After all, even based on the IDF's greatly lowballed figures, nearly one-third of those killed in Gaza were innocent civilians. Also, the IDF cannot deny bombing flour mills, chicken runs, water and sewage systems, police stations, a school and a hospital. Goldstone told us about it. The call to establish an investigative panel following the report has come only because of Goldstone. The president's sense of justice, in contrast, has not even led him to call for an investigation into incidents the IDF has admitted to.
In the contest over "whose is bigger," Peres will certainly wind up far behind in second place. Peres decried the sense of justice and understanding of jurisprudence of the former justice of South Africa's Constitutional Court, the head of the board of the Human Rights Institute of South Africa, the chief prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, a member of the committee that probed Nazi activity in Argentina and chairman of the International Independent Inquiry on Kosovo. That criticism of Goldstone comes from a man who has never opened his mouth to condemn human-rights violations in his own country brings Israeli temerity to new heights. Another sorry new record: The president has called for Goldstone to be investigated.
The sense of justice of Peres, who travels the world as an elder statesman and international man of peace, is certainly far less well-honed than Goldstone's. Goldstone has a proven track record. Peres does not. He keeps silent. He always has. Peres does not know what really happened in Gaza. Goldstone was there and interviewed close to 200 eyewitnesses. He may or may not have exaggerated a bit in his report, but Peres' silence over what happened is much more shameful.
Peres is our beautiful and misleading face. Equipped with the ability to delude, one of the founders of the settlement movement has turned into Israel's Mr. Peace. He travels the world, generating admiration for his physical stamina, scattering empty promises and slogans. He calls on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas not to resign, when he knows that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu contributed to this resignation by his rejectionist attitude. He calls on Bashar Assad to come to the negotiating table, knowing that the Syrian president is practically begging for peace. A call by the president for the prime minister to freeze settlements or respond to the Syrian challenge? Of course not. That might make someone angry. He only preaches morality to the whole world. A small man? Peres' words.