Goldstone, Alone

Here's his self-defense from the Jerusalem Post this morning. Read the whole thing. I find it completely convincing just as I believe its publication in the Jerusalem Post is yet another reminder of the preciousness of Israeli democracy - unique in its region. Money quotes:

I believed strongly that our mission should have been allowed to visit Sderot and other parts of southern Israel that have been at the receiving end of unlawful attacks by many thousands of rockets and mortars fired at civilian targets by Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza. We were prevented from doing so by, what I believe, was a misguided decision by the Israeli government.

In Gaza, I was surprised and shocked by the destruction and misery there. I had not expected it. I did not anticipate that the IDF would have targeted civilians and civilian objects. I did not anticipate seeing the vast destruction of the economic infrastructure of Gaza including its agricultural lands, industrial factories, water supply and sanitation works. These are not military targets. I have not heard or read any government justification for this destruction.

Of course the children of Sderot and the children of Gaza have the same rights to protection under international law and that is why, notwithstanding the decision of the government of Israel, we took whatever steps were open to us to obtain information from victims and experts in southern Israel about the effects on their lives of sustained rocket and mortar attacks over a period of years. It was on the strength of those investigations that we held those attacks to constitute serious war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.

The laws of war are the laws of war. It is not a defense of Israel to say that others have committed similar crimes. Under the Bush administration, the Geneva Conventions were held in contempt by the highest officials of the US government. Either we abide by these laws in the defense of civilization, or we become unwitting partners in the destruction of that civilization. The notion of collective punishment, of deterrence by civilian attrition and suffering, is as repugnant as assuming that every prisoner seized in the chaos of war is "the worst of the worst" and torturing them.

This is not easy against a ruthless, asymmetric enemy, whose war crimes are a first rather than a last resort. But it is necessary. It is necessary.