Richard Goldstone, Hanging Judge

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Yediot has just published a report detailing Richard Goldstone's career as an apartheid-era judge in South Africa. Goldstone is the author, of course, of a UN report excoriating Israel for alleged war crimes in Gaza. It turns out that this hero of the anti-Israel left (that branch of the left that equates Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories to the policies of white South Africa) sentenced twenty-eight blacks to hang for criminal offenses. To be fair, Yediot's reporting doesn't find that these defendants weren't guilty, and hanging was the law of the land. What is strange is that Goldstone sometimes appeared to embrace his role as punisher of blacks a bit more enthusiastically than might have been necessary:

Even when it came to far less serious offenses, Goldstone sided through and through with the racist policies of the Apartheid regime. Among other things, he approved the whipping of four blacks found guilty of violence, while he acquitted four police officers who had broken into a white woman's house on suspicions that she was conducting sexual relations with a black man - something considered then in South Africa as a serious crime.
 
In another incident, Goldstone sentenced two young black men merely for being in possession of a video tape showing a speech given by one of the senior officials in Nelson Mandela's party.

The most serious charge leveled against Goldstone -- one of the most serious, anyway -- is that he is a man without a moral compass, who did what he did at the UN because he wants to be remembered as an avatar of human rights, and he knew that one way to become a favorite of the human rights community would be to lead the charge against that community's most favored target. This new report suggests not only that Goldstone is at best intermittently principled, but that he knew his old hanging-judge record would one day catch up with him.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/05/richard-goldstone-hanging-judge/56391/