Thursday, April 29, 2010

Goldstone: the UN Human Rights Council is 'hopeless'

The New Republic is running a thorough account of the internal row over Israel at Human Rights Watch, which culminated in founder Robert Bernstein accusing the organisation of being anti-Israel in the New York Times last October.

Most of it has been covered before - and is totally damning. But it included one particularly interesting paragraph, new to me at least:

Bernstein also raised some of his concerns with then-HRW board member Richard Goldstone, who would go on to write the U.N.’s much-maligned report on the Gaza war. There are few more reviled figures in Israel right now than Goldstone, but even he sympathized with Bernstein on certain points, such as the politicized nature of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which, after being created in 2006, had directed its first nine condemnations at Israel.

In March 2008, barely a year before he accepted UNHRC’s mandate to investigate the Gaza war, he told Bernstein that he thought the body’s performance had been hopeless and expressed ambivalence as to whether HRW should continue appearing before it. He also agreed with Bernstein that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s increasingly aggressive anti-Israel rhetoric, in combination with his threatening policies, was an issue worthy of HRW’s attention. Goldstone pushed Roth to address it, but to no avail.

If this is true (and I guess we only have Bernstein's word for it), it significantly strengthens the case of those who claim that Judge Goldstone was acting totally cynically, abandoning his true positions on Israel (and according to this, the UN Human Rights Council) in order to advance his own career.

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