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Goldstone attacks drive to 'demonise, isolate' Israel

    Goldstone (left) is met by a Hamas representative during his tour of Gaza after Operation Cast Lead in 2009
    Goldstone (left) is met by a Hamas representative during his tour of Gaza after Operation Cast Lead in 2009

    The judge who presided over the inquiry into Operation Cast Lead but then retracted part of his findings has criticised those who accuse Israel of being an apartheid state.

    South African judge Richard Goldstone said that the claim that Israel pursued "apartheid" policies was a "particularly pernicious and enduring canard" and one that, when employed, did "a disservice to all who hope for justice and peace".

    He said it was important to separate "legitimate criticism of Israel" from assaults that aimed to "isolate, demonise and delegitimise it".

    In an opinion piece for the New York Times, Mr Goldstone said he "knew all too well" what an apartheid system was and described it as "an unfair and inaccurate slander against Israel, calculated to retard rather than advance peace negotiations".

    He said there was no apartheid system in Israel, nor anything that came close, highlighting the fact that while black South Africans were denied rights to vote, marry whites or even use public toilets, no such separation existed in Israel.

    Although he said there was more separation between Jews and Arabs than Israelis should accept, he added: "In Israel, equal rights are the law, the aspiration and the ideal; inequities are often successfully challenged in court."

    He also said that it was it was disingenuous to use things like Israel's security wall - "built to stop unrelenting terrorist attacks" - to distort reality.

    Professor Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, said Judge Goldstone's comments this week represented "a powerful condemnation of the exploitation of the experience of the victims of South African apartheid".

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