Now that I have read the definitive book on the relationship between Israel and the apartheid regime, I understand why Israel is going to such ridiculous lengths to demonize Justice Richard Goldstone. He was, as Nelson Mandela testifies, an outspoken opponent of the apartheid regime. The Israeli government was its staunch ally, even though apartheid's advocates studied under the Nazis.
This all comes out in the new Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa by Sasha Polakow-Suransky. Polakow-Suransky, a South African Jew, goes to sources no one has accessed before. He is able to do that because he is one of the "mispocha" (family). The people telling him where the bodies are buried seem to believe that he won't blow the whistle on them or on one of history's more sordid relationships. They also help him locate the documents, most never seen before, that prove his thesis.
The bottom line: Israel was one of the apartheid regime's closest friends in the world. It did not choose South Africa because it admired the apartheid regime (only on the Israeli right was there anything but contempt for it) but Israelis -- most notably, Shimon Peres -- thought it best to ignore apartheid in a world where Israel had few friends to choose from. (Prime Ministers Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin seemed resistant to Peres' pro-apartheid tilt).
And that is why Israelis and their amen lobby here are hysterical about Goldstone. It is their shame talking. Or I should say, screaming, crying, gnashing teeth and lying.
Here is an excerpt from the Economist review of the book. Read it. But, more important, read the book.
Israel is keen to discredit Richard Goldstone as punishment for his United Nations report criticising Israel's assault on Gaza last year. So its government made much hoopla of the "revelation", earlier this month, that as a judge in apartheid South Africa Mr Goldstone sentenced 28 black men to hang and four to be flogged.
Israeli officials may feel their moral sense is keener than that of Nelson Mandela, who knew the judge's record yet respected his subsequent anti-apartheid work enough to appoint him to the country's highest court. They may yet explain how being tough on black people is proof of pro-Palestinian bias. But it would be hard for them to shrug off the fact that even when South Africa faced blanket international sanctions, one country continued to supply it copiously with arms and helped it to build a nuclear bomb: Israel.