As Goldstone Retracts, Media Silence is Defeaning

For a media outlet which closely covered Richard Goldstone’s controversial United Nations report about Israeli conduct in “Operation Cast Lead,” the Los Angeles Times’ silence this weekend is deafening. On Friday night, Judge Richard Goldstone published an Op-Ed on the Washington Post‘s Web site, in which he essentially retracted the report’s central charge — that Israel deliberately targeted civilians during the winter 2008-09 fighting. Goldstone backtracked (albeit lamely blaming Israel for his earlier erroneous conclusions):

If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document. . . .

The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion. While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.

For example, the most serious attack the Goldstone Report focused on was the killing of some 29 members of the al-Simouni family in their home. The shelling of the home was apparently the consequence of an Israeli commander’s erroneous interpretation of a drone image, and an Israeli officer is under investigation for having ordered the attack. While the length of this investigation is frustrating, it appears that an appropriate process is underway, and I am confident that if the officer is found to have been negligent, Israel will respond accordingly. The purpose of these investigations, as I have always said, is to ensure accountability for improper actions, not to second-guess, with the benefit of hindsight, commanders making difficult battlefield decisions.  . . . .

The Israeli military’s numbers have turned out to be similar to those recently furnished by Hamas (although Hamas may have reason to inflate the number of its combatants).

As of publication time, the Los Angeles Times did not run one item about Goldstone’s major reversal in its print publication or its Web site. But it’s not that the paper is uninterested in the South African judge or his hefty document about the fighting in Gaza. To the contrary. It has in the past expressed an extreme interest in the matter.