What Made Goldstone Change His Mind About the Gaza War Report?

Israeli academic suggests Goldstone decided to reconsider his report partly due to debate he attended at Stanford University, just days before he released his Washington Post column.

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A few days before Richard Goldstone wrote his column in the Washington Post expressing a certain degree of regret over what was reported in the Goldstone Report, the former jurist had attended a debate about the report at Stanford University.

According to an article published on the 'International Middle East Media Center' website (a site describing itself as a "joint Palestinian-International effort"), Goldstone sat in the audience of a debate between two lawyers who had visited Gaza as part of a National Lawyers' Guild Delegation, and two Zionist academics who represented Israel.

IDF soldiers during Operation Cast Lead.Credit: AP

Professor Abraham Bell and fellow academic Peter Berkowitz represented Israel in the debate, which took place on March 28, 2011, just days before Goldstone wrote his column in the Washington Post.

Bell, a lecturer at Bar Ilan University's Law faculty, and at that of the University of San Diego, told Haaretz on Sunday that "it appeared that Goldstone decided that it was time to try to explain himself," at the debate.

Bell said Goldstone was not meant to confront him, or Berkowitz, but after having said "what he had to say," the audience probed him with questions, forcing him to return to the stage.

According to Bell, Goldstone insisted at the debate that all the investigations showed that, thus far, the facts were as they were reported. "Later on he apologized and said there may be people who would disagree with what he said, like Professor Bell" said Bell, quoting Goldstone.

Bell told Haaretz that, in his opinion, the whole experience of the last few months – where Goldstone has heard what many people have to say about him and his report – "caught up with him."

"He tried to claim that he did not make a mistake, but after that night – it seems to me – he understood that he could not claim such a thing and be taken seriously," said Bell.

"If [Goldstone] hadn't have sat there and people hadn't have confronted him at other events, he would not have done it," said Bell, referring to the column Goldstone wrote in the April 1 edition of the Washington Post, entitled 'Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes."

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