A Letter to Richard Goldstone

Dear Richard,

I just wanted to drop you a line and see if you're feeling well these days. I have to admit, I've been a little bit worried about you.

Like many people who help the media place a disproportionate amount of focus on the Arab-Israeli Conflict, I read with great interest your now-infamous U.N. report on the Gaza Conflict of 2009. Now, I know EVERYBODY'S A CRITIC, but I must say, when your report came out a year-and-a-half ago, I did find it a little on the spicy side. I mean, we've done a lot with transistors these days, the capacity to beam images of Hamas rockets being fired indiscriminately out of dense population centers led me to think that maybe things aren't so cut and dry when it comes to asymmetrical warfare. But, since you're the judge, I figured perhaps you had some kind of deliberative fifth gear that rest of us partial plebeians weren't born with.

So you led this fact-finding mission and you authored your report, which was (not surprisingly) praised by U.N. as well as by the majority of the world that already happened to believe that the Israeli army deliberately targets Palestinian civilians. I wish the story ended there and not that one can or should link your extremely significant and heavily publicized report to other events, but the public consciousness about Gaza grew and grew and Israel, perhaps thinking (and not unwarrantedly) that the world did not fully grasp the essence of its conflict with Hamas, acted too obstinately with its blockade and limited imports to Gaza with an almost villainous panache. Next thing we knew, there were ships loaded with aid (and some armed troublemakers too) en route to Gaza, begetting more senseless violence (with some more misappropriated blame). Then came serious strains between Israel and Turkey, the formerly moderating force in the Middle East, followed by more dangerous Israeli isolation, and now a near-resuscitation of hostilities in the form of rockets and mortars from Gaza and targeted assassinations from Israel.

So imagine my surprise when--on April Fool's Day no less!--I encountered your op-ed in the Washington Post essentially reneging your report's entire conclusion about the Israeli army's disregard for civilian life in Gaza! Dick, I know that hindsight is 20/20, but you're giving conspiracy theorist mills a hell of a lot of grist here.

I know Israel acts very improperly sometimes, their extending presence in the West Bank is an affront to the ideals of rational governance and neighborly consideration, members of the Netanyahu administration are veritable caricatures of bulls in the china shops of diplomacy, and that there are still issues of misconduct out of Gaza 2009 to be reckoned with, but make up your mind already. Either it's the worst of humanity or the fog of war. Don't you understand that discourse about this conflict has no place for nuance and reappraisal?

Anyway, please write back when you're able. And, should you manage to not change your mind again, I'd be grateful. I can't start stressing out about Gaza again. It's April and my baseball team is already deep in the cellar; I'm pretty sure I'm still going be disappointed about it eighteen months from now.