|Gaza's media center, November 2012 [Image Source]|
This Ongoing War..
23 December '12..
Here's the AP report of a widely publicized assault (the Jerusalem Post called it "a scathing attack") on Israel's moral standing made three days ago by the New York-based Human Rights Watch organization.
Group: Israel broke law by targeting media in Gaza
JERUSALEM (AP) — Human Rights Watch says Israeli army attacks on journalists and media facilities in the Gaza Strip during last month’s military operation violated the laws of war. Two Palestinian cameramen were killed and at least 10 media personnel were wounded in the offensive, which was launched after weeks of rocket attacks on Israel. The Israeli government says each of the targets was a legitimate military objective. A statement released Thursday by the New York-based rights group says it found no indications that these targets were valid military objectives. Sarah Leah Whitson, the Mideast director at HRW, says that “just because Israel says a journalist was a fighter or a TV station was a command center does not make it so.” The Israeli military had no immediate comment on the report. [Source]
As director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division and the person leveling these charges [full text here], Sarah Leah Whitson lays serious claim to the description about her on the HRW site: she's a general expert on "Middle East and North Africa issues", though - like the organization itself - she has not been free of controversy. (We will not dwell here on the serious allegations made against her; they are adequately detailed in her Wikipedia entry and in some trenchant, well-argued critiques published by NGO-Monitor this week and in January 2012.)
For all the impressive human rights work it does, HRW has some exceedingly bitter critics. In a major and very critical op ed in the New York Times, Robert L. Bernstein, the man who created HRW, wrote this about the organization he brought into existence:
As the founder of Human Rights Watch, its active chairman for 20 years and now founding chairman emeritus, I must do something that I never anticipated: I must publicly join the group’s critics. Human Rights Watch had as its original mission to pry open closed societies, advocate basic freedoms and support dissenters. But recently it has been issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state... Human Rights Watch has lost critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields. [more]
Sarah Leah Whitson was HRW's key Middle East person when Bernstein wrote those words.
Bernstein then proceeded, in that 2009 essay, to make some prophetic references to HRW allegations about Israel engaging in illegal forms of warfare: