Thursday, November 15, 2012
More than one million civilians in danger, Human Rights Watch (HRW) is nowhere in sight
14 November '12..
In 2012 alone, Palestinian terrorists in Hamas-controlled Gaza have fired at least 850 rockets and mortars on southern Israel, however you would be hard pressed to find even a syllable of condemnation of the attacks from HRW.
Although the mission statement of HRW might begin with their pledge to be "... protecting the human rights of people around the world," when it comes to the human rights of Israelis, HRW is nowhere in sight.
In the 48 hours from November 10-12, towns in southern Israel have been bombarded by over 160 rockets from Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip, who have sent over a million Israelis running for bomb shelters. That is more than three rockets an hour.
To put things in context: one million Israelis amounts to roughly 13% of the population. The American equivalent – 13% of the U.S. population – would amount to about 40 million people, or five times the population of New York City.
One Israeli resident, Moshik Levy, remarked "every time my [3 yr old] son hears a 'Code Red' [rocket siren] it takes years off my life," while another recently said "we just lie on top of our children and try to protect them with our bodies."
So, one might be forgiven for thinking that HRW would speak up to condemn the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinians on Israeli civilians for the blatant war crime and breach of international humanitarian law that it is. But nope. Nothing. Not a word.
During the most recent rocket bombardment from Gaza a few weeks ago, in which Palestinian terrorists also fired over 100 rockets at Israel in the space of several days, HRW was also nowhere in sight.
In what can only be described as Orwellian, HRW instead used that opportunity to fire a few salvos of their own – at Israel – condemning everything from 'settlements', to Israel's policy on asylum seekers and even Israel's entirely legal decision to detain Abdullatif Ghaitha, a Palestinian accused of committing offences which threatened Israel's national security.
HRW's anti-Israel bias and pathological obsession with the Jewish state -- while neglecting or whitewashing more grievous crimes committed by Arab regimes in the Middle East -- has been abundantly documented in the past.
That double standard was primarily what led HRW's founder, Robert Bernstein, to turn on the organization he create in 1978, when he stated that HRW had lost its "critical perspective." In a scathing New York Times op-ed in October 2009, Bernstein wrote that despite being the "repeated victim of aggression," Israel still faces the brunt of HRW's criticism, notwithstanding that the "region is populated by authoritarian regimes with appalling human rights records."
NGO Monitor, an independent think-tank devoted to monitoring non-government organizations (NGOs) active in the field of human rights, has noted that "[f]or the past decade, HRW has played a major role in the destruction of the moral and universal foundations of human rights and the exploitation of these principles for ideological objectives."
One need only look at a brief sample of HRW's recent track record.
In 2011, HRW appointed Shawan Jabarin to its Middle East Advisory Board. Jabarin was a senior figure in the Palestinian group PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), responsible for carrying out dozens of suicide bombings against Israeli civilians, and recognized as a terror group by over 30 countries, including the United States and the European Union.
In 2007, Jabarin was convicted by the Israeli Supreme Court of recruiting other terrorist members, and was sentenced to 24-months in jail. In its judgment, the Court described him as "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" because of his moonlighting as a director of a Palestinian human rights organization (Al Haq) by day and a senior activist in a terrorist organization (PFLP) by night.
In 2009, NGO Monitor also helped disclose how HRW held a fundraising dinner in Saudi Arabia, in which they cited their anti-Israel focus, battles with "pro-Israel pressure groups" and activities in the United Nations to solicit funds from "prominent members of Saudi society." That HRW would use the Jewish state, the sole democracy in the Middle East, as bait to elicit funding from Saudi Arabia – one of the most egregious abusers of human rights in the world – ought to speak volumes.
Further, in 2009, Sarah Leah Whitson, Director of HRW's Middle East and North Africa Division, also visited Libya, where she praised Muammar Gaddafi's son Seif al-Islam as a leading "reformer" and "just the sort of modernizer Libya needs," while in 2011 attacking Israeli President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres, and accusing Israel of "racial segregation."
This is the same Ms Whitson who went to Riyadh on a fundraising tour two years earlier.
With this record of moral inversion, HRW has not just lost its moral compass, but the anchor has been thrown overboard as well.
HRW proclaims it is dedicated to defending and protecting human rights around the world, yet when it comes to Israel, it seems Jewish blood is cheap and the human rights of Israelis just do not matter.
Arsen Ostrovsky is an international human rights lawyer and freelance journalist.
Previously a Research Fellow at the Hudson Institute and Associate Editor at EYEontheUN.org, Arsen's research and writings are focused primarily on international law and human rights, the Arab-Israeli conflict and Middle East foreign policy. Arsen has been published in many leading news publications and on-line sites around the world and is a regular contributor at Huffington Post.