Last Friday, Richard Goldstone published a self serving mea culpa on the op-ed page of the Washington Post:
We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.
The final report by the U.N. committee of independent experts — chaired by former New York judge Mary McGowan Davis — that followed up on the recommendations of the Goldstone Report has found that “Israel has dedicated significant resources to investigate over 400 allegations of operational misconduct in Gaza” while “the de facto authorities (i.e., Hamas) have not conducted any investigations into the launching of rocket and mortar attacks against Israel.”
Our report found evidence of potential war crimes and “possibly crimes against humanity” by both Israel and Hamas. That the crimes allegedly committed by Hamas were intentional goes without saying — its rockets were purposefully and indiscriminately aimed at civilian targets.
The allegations of intentionality by Israel were based on the deaths of and injuries to civilians in situations where our fact-finding mission had no evidence on which to draw any other reasonable conclusion. While the investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.
[Richard Landes, courtesy of Fabian Pascal who blogs at the excellent The PostWest, has an extensive collection of links and commentary to Goldstone's recantation: Goldstone recants… sort of. Read the whole thing.]
Any fair minded person would have to believe that Richard Goldstone, a man who professes a deep appreciation for the law and a firmly rational judicial mind and temperament, could only have allowed himself to be used by those who hate his people out of some complex internal calculation. Surely, Goldstone sees himself as a humble man desiring only to do good; he wishes to find justice for the Palestinians, and by his own words, and those of his supporters (see J Street's pronouncements on the Goldstone Report) has a desire to protect Israel from its own immoral excesses. To hear such people protest their moral purity is akin to appreciating the righteous anger of the Prophets of the Old Testament. If only Israel repented and changed its evil ways, Goldstone would be vindicated and his conscious desires gratified.
Yet there is something much darker in a man turning on his own and everything he claims to stand for. The Goldstone Report was a kangaroo court out of Alice in Wonderland: "Sentence first - verdict afterwards." As noted at Understanding the Goldstone report:
The Commission openly denies a presumption of innocence to the Israelis accused of crimes (while honoring Hamas’ presumed innocence) and acknowledges that it made accusations of crimes without proof that would stand up in court.
[For additional links and discussion of Richard Goldstone's recantation, see Richard Goldstone: Chief Kangaroo; there are many additional places to find out more; suffice to say that the evidence suggests that the presumption of Israeli perfidy and Palestinian innocence was the bedrock of the Commission and no amount of facts were allowed to interfere with this preconception.]
With the proviso that I do not know Richard Goldstone and everyone has their own variant of ubiquitous psychodynamics, the understanding of those who hate their own families (and ethnic groups are essentially extended families) contain some common elements.
Freud believed that the Oedipal Complex was universal. Later Psychoanalysts enlarged our understanding of childhood development to include many other important elements but what is often overlooked in our sanitized versions of childhood and its vicissitudes in the public sphere is that childhood conflicts concern the most intense of emotions. To become an adult who is capable of love, work, and play requires taming murderous hatreds and violent wishes. Love and fear eventually civilize most of us but the vestiges of our early love and hate remain in the timeless unconscious.
The personality has its first crystallization during the Oedipal Phase (4-7 years old.) During that period of time the young child must renounce his primary attachment to his mother and his murderous rivalry with his father because he loves and fears his father and mother and wants to preserve his relationship with both. However, the resolution of the Oedipal Complex does not mean that all murderous and rivalrous feelings disappear; they simply remain hidden in the unconscious, with the needed object(s) protected by love and fear. Ultimately, the child knows that expressing hatred toward the father means that there can be retribution. It is safer to bury the Oedipal competition.
When the youngster reaches early adolescence, the upsurge in hormones and the developmental pressures forward reawaken old feelings and passions. Whenever there is a developmental move forward into the unknown there is always a reactive regressive pull back to the familiar early experiences, with the additional fillip that the early experiences have become softened and idealized in the unconscious. The pull is back to a primary relationship with the all powerful and all giving mother of infancy, but since such fantasies are unacceptable to the maturing mind (and any pull back to the mother stirs up Oedipal feelings for a second go round, typically in much more hidden form) the young adolescent must translate his inchoate feelings into acceptable forms. This is also the time when many young people are discovering politics and ideology. Left wing ideologies champion the rights of the oppressed (and what adolescent is not oppressed?) and hold out the promise of a Utopian world in which there is no lack of gratification or deprivation. There is no competition (Oedipal rivalry finally vanquished!) and morality is clear and unconflicted. Oppressors are evil and victims are innocent, often some variant of "Nobel Savages." This is ideal for conflicted youngsters who can not bear to work through their Oedipal conflicts a second time and find comfort in hiding their feelings under the rubric of an ideology that brings them social capital even as the internal emotional IED's are defused.
Now we can see that the young idealistic Leftist can use his ideology to protect himself from awareness of his unconscious murderous feelings. Further, he can, in our current disturbed world, receive approbation by expressing his murderous rage toward acceptable outlets. Further, as an unconscious bonus, the evil ones toward whom the hatred is expressed are rather thinly disguised stand-ins for the father. After all, who is "the Man" if not the father?
Many, perhaps most, idealistic young people enter the adult world, confront their disappointments with reality, and as they begin the difficult task of taking care of themselves and supporting themselves temper their Utopian anger as they recapitulate the resolution of the Oedipal Complex. Now it is the greater world, including "the Man", who is understood as made up of people who are merely human, with all our foibles, and the young adult can move forward vowing to do a better job than his or her parents and their generation.
Far too many Westerners never have to abandon adolescence. In Academia and government especially, work can often be a sinecure where there is little of the trouble that those who have to work at less secure vocations face. By being protected from the vicissitudes of life, there is no need to temper one's insistence on Utopia with the demands of reality. One can imagine (insist!) that war should never be necessary and when it is (only in a Nobel cause, as in Libya) it can be measured and proportionate at all times, that Westerners can be expected to adhere to impossibly high standards of conduct while their victims are held to no particular standards at all.
For these fortunate few, there are multiple rewards, monetary and moral, to maintaining the purity of Utopian youth. From their elevated stance above the maddening crowd, they can imagine themselves champions of a pure love for mankind, unadulterated by the compromises that reality forces upon the rest of us, all the while feeling free to express the hatred that their love ennobles. Their virtue is unassailable and their righteous anger a pure and noble passion.
In this way they select themselves as useful idiots for a new generation of mass murderers and madmen, destroying their paternal revenants in an eternally recurrent, irresolvable, passion play.