May 6th, 2009
by NGO Monitor Staff Dear Editor,
Kobi Ben-Simhon’s insightful assessment of the campaign to free Gilad Shalit, (‘Lost Cause’ , 24 April) overlooked an important contributing factor in the failure to yet bring Shalit home.
As Shalit’s basic rights continue to be denied, the virtual silence of human rights NGOs on the issue is striking. As reported by NGO Monitor, international groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have made only fleeting references to Shalit’s fate and usually then only in the context of condemning Israel for ‘war crimes’ or ‘collective punishment.’ Similarly, Israeli NGOs such as B’tselem, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Gisha and Association for Civil Rights in Israel have utterly failed to engage in a concerted campaign for Shalit’s release.
Had these organizations, who claim human rights as their guiding principle, added their voice to the campaign, the effect could only have been positive, particularly during the final days of the Olmert government. Their failure to do so reveals a highly selective definition of human rights based upon political agenda rather than humanitarian values.