As I noted in my previous post on this controversy, I find it a bit curious that strident defenders of Israeli foreign policy take a harder line on Richard Goldstone’s apartheid-era conduct than does Nelson Mandela and the leadership of the African National Congress. It’s almost enough to make you think that some of these attacks on Goldstone are offered in bad faith, and are more motivated by dislike for his conclusions about Israeli conduct during the Gaza war than genuine concern about his past conduct.
Chait returns fire:
This is a good example of the general phenomenon I'm talking about. Begin with the characterization "strident defenders of Israeli foreign policy." I'm certainly more strident than Yglesias. But I (hesitantly) opposed the Gaza incursion. I blame Netanyahu, not the Obama administration, for the recent Israel-U.S. blow-up. Goldberg made his name authoring a book critical of Israel's occupation, wrote a long op-ed blasting Aipac, and so on. Goldberg and I do find Israel distinctly more sympathetic than Hamas. Yglesias would probably object to somebody who painted the United States as no better than al Qaeda. That wouldn't make him a "strident defender of American foreign policy." At best Yglesias has picked an imprecise description, and at worst he's outright misleading his readers.
Jonathan's basic position:
Accusations of bad faith are both impossible to disprove and an effective tactic for avoiding the substance of the issue. As I've said before, the important question is the truth of Goldstone's findings. He did report evidence of Israeli war crimes in Gaza. He also made a lot of shaky or hard-to-justify claims. Part of the controversy around Goldstone has dipped into questions of his character -- supporters paint him as a fearless truth-teller, critics as a man who molds himself to the ideology of whatever institution he's attached to. I think his Apartheid history has some relevance to this small but non-trivial question.
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