Richard Goldstone in UN Human Rights Council
Richard Goldstone during a session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, Sept. 29, 2009. Photo by AP
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Richard Goldstone is a noble man. How humble and professional a man can be, when he publishes a text whose main message is that he has changed his position. This is a person with enough self-confidence to allow him to examine a situation again on the basis of new data. Goldstone is a model to be emulated of a culture of discourse which is strange to us, which is opposite to our fundamental psychological mindset.

He published an article in The Washington Post entitled "Reconsidering the Goldstone report on Israel and war crimes." Why the "reconsideration"? Because the final report of the UN panel, comprising independent experts, which continued its investigation following the recommendations of the Goldstone Report, found that Israel had examined "400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza," while Hamas "has not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel." The committee also concluded "that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy" by Israel.

Goldstone published his reconsidered views following new data that entered the equation - mostly thanks to the report he authored. They were included late because Israel did not cooperate when the investigation for the report was being undertaken. The new data helped create a new picture, a more precise one, of the situation in Gaza in the winter of 2008-2009. When it became possible to discuss the implications of the new data, Goldstone wrote his article in the Post.

Except that "reconsideration" is a strange concept in the culture of Israeli discourse. It is therefore interpreted in "Israeli" parlance as: "I was wrong." Why "I was wrong"? Because reality here does not allow "reconsideration." "Reconsideration" requires the delay of judgment, waiting. In order to "reconsider" one needs to assume that there is a possibility of changing one's stance, that there is a possibility for error. In other words, in order to "reconsider," a person needs to have some doubt about himself.

But the situation in this country does not allow for doubt: That is perceived to be weakness, an admission of guilt, a questioning of our very existence. It is also seen as a waste of time. In Israel we believe in being certain, vociferous, unequivocal. And that is a fundamentally insecure belief: An inadequate person holds on to the little that he has. And that grasp is always forceful, aggressive.

Israel's reaction to the publication of the "reconsideration" is identical to Israel's response to the "previous consideration" - the original Goldstone report: hysteria. This is a response based on that same fundamental psychological state of "victimhood and aggression." And it is formulated thus: Once more it has been proven that we have been victimized, and once more we shall respond with a heavy hand. For the Israeli there are now two "Goldstones": the bad-guy Goldstone, and Goldstone the pushover, the one who accused us and then changed his mind.

Paradoxically, Goldstone who accused us is more respected than Goldstone who does not accuse us. The reason for this is simple: Goldstone the accuser is power, while Goldstone who does not accuse is weakness. The power we granted to Goldstone the accuser we translated in real time into investigative reports about him sentencing people to death. Now that he has changed his mind, we are upset about empowering him, and our main goal is to transform him into "pathetic."

But Goldstone is not pathetic. Goldstone is a humble and professional person. Humility and professionalism are the two main qualities missing in Israel, which is why they provoke such victimized aggression among us. "Only an ass does not alter his opinion," Moshe Dayan once said. In this tale, Goldstone is not the ass.