HRW senior staff compare Israeli conduct to the 3.5 million dead and raped in Congo

October 23, 2009

* “You would expect groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) to have zero tolerance for anything associated with Nazism. Not so, it seems.”
* HRW current executive director Kenneth Roth: Judaism and its Bible are “primitive”
* HRW founder Robert Bernstein: “I must do something that I never anticipated; I must publicly join the group’s critics”

 

CONTENTS

1. Human Rights Watch’s founder attacks HRW for its continuous Israel-bashing
2. Letter to The New York Times
3. Update on letter
4. HRW senior staff compare Israeli conduct to the 3.5 million dead and raped in Congo
5. HRW’s PR blitz on behalf of its close friend Judge Richard Goldstone
6. “You would expect AI and HRW to have zero tolerance for anything associated with Nazism”
7. HRW executive director Kenneth Roth: Judaism and its Bible are “primitive”
8. “Rights watchdog, lost in the Mideast” (By Robert Bernstein, NY Times, Oct. 20. 2009)
9. “What ails Human Rights Watch?” (By Anne Herzberg, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 21, 2009)
10. “Those charged with preventing Nazi horrors” (By Mark Gardner, JC, Oct. 15, 2009)
11. “Robert Bernstein’s courage” (Editorial, New York Sun, Oct. 21, 2009)


HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH’S FOUNDER ATTACKS HRW FOR ITS CONTINUOUS ISRAEL-BASHING

[All notes below by Tom Gross]

This dispatch concerns the New York-based Human Rights Watch, a political lobby group masquerading as a human rights organization, and the key role it has played in promoting the Goldstone report, which threatens to put Israel on trial for crimes against humanity. The group has done this first by encouraging the creation of the Goldstone report, and then by strongly lobbying on its behalf.

This follows previous dispatches on HRW, including Israel criticizes Human Rights Watch for its fundraising from Saudi regime (Aug. 17, 2009). In that dispatch I pointed out that at the very time a genuine female Saudi human rights’ campaigner was bravely saying that “We live in the world’s largest women’s prison,” HRW was soliciting funds from persons close to the Saudi regime at a fundraising dinner in Riyadh during which it bashed Israel.

***

This first item below originally appeared last Tuesday morning on National Review Online (one of the two most read opinion websites in America) and on the website of The National Post, one of Canada’s highest circulation newspapers. I sent it to some subscribers to this list then.

***

Human Rights Watch’s founder attacks HRW for becoming Israel-demonizing organization
By Tom Gross
National Review / National Post
October 20, 2009

There is an important op-ed in today’s New York Times by Robert L. Bernstein, the founder and for 20 years the chairman of Human Rights Watch – an organization which should be one of the world’s leading human rights groups but which in recent years has become a stooge for third world dictatorships as it bashes democratic countries, and in particular Israel.

He writes:

“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.

“… Israel, with a population of 7.4 million, is home to at least 80 human rights organizations, a vibrant free press, a democratically elected government, a judiciary that frequently rules against the government, a politically active academia, multiple political parties and, judging by the amount of news coverage, probably more journalists per capita than any other country in the world – many of whom are there expressly to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Meanwhile, the Arab and Iranian regimes rule over some 350 million people, and most remain brutal, closed and autocratic, permitting little or no internal dissent. The plight of their citizens who would most benefit from the kind of attention a large and well-financed international human rights organization can provide is being ignored as Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division prepares report after report on Israel.”


[Tom Gross continues:] HRW’s influence in demonizing Israel goes beyond the NGO world. One of HRW’s directors is Judge Richard Goldstone who, according to the leading watchdog NGO Monitor, did “a cut and paste job,” using HRW’s tainted material to write a recently-released U.N. report distorting the facts and falsely accusing Israel of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES

The advisory board of NGO Monitor (of which I am a member) wrote a letter to The New York Times earlier this month which the Times declined to publish. We are resubmitting it to them today with an additional introductory sentence. Based on past experience, they are unlikely to run it, so here it is for the benefit of National Review and National Post readers:

We wholeheartedly share the concerns expressed by Robert Bernstein, the founder of Human Rights Watch (comment, New York Times, October 20, 2009) about the direction that HRW – which should have been one of the world’s leading human rights groups – has taken.

HRW was founded over 30 years ago with the admirable aim of protecting dissidents from oppressive regimes, but today its leaders have lost sight of its original ethos. Nowhere is this more so than in regard to the Middle East.

In a region dominated by regimes that violate human rights in horrendous ways, HRW has instead chosen to single out Israel for condemnation, often using highly unreliable witnesses to do so. Not only have they failed to allocate proper resources to monitoring the dictatorships that are rife throughout the region but senior HRW officials even recently went to Riyadh to raise funds from people associated with the Saudi regime, emphasizing HRW’s work demonizing Israel while doing so.

It has also been revealed that HRW’s Mideast Division Deputy Director Joe Stork made comments sympathetic to the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre of Israeli athletes, and HRW’s “Senior military analyst” for the Mideast and author of HRW’s most recent report defaming Israel, Marc Garlasco, is an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia which he referred to as “so cool”.

In order that HRW can once again fulfill the role for which it was created, we call upon HRW’s board members to institute a full independent review of the organization for which they are responsible.

Signed by NGO Monitor International Advisory Board members:

Elie Wiesel – Nobel Peace Prize winner
Prof Alan Dershowitz – Harvard University
R. James Woolsey – Former Director, CIA
Elliott Abrams – Former U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor
Tom Gross – International affairs commentator
Prof Judea Pearl – President, Daniel Pearl Foundation
Douglas Murray – Centre for Social Cohesion

 

UPDATE

The New York Times did print the above letter (which I helped draft on behalf of the group with their agreement) the following day, albeit in a slightly shortened form.

But the letter The New York Times chose to publish ahead of it, from the present chairwoman of HRW, not only misrepresented what Bernstein said but refused to confront the issues about staff conduct and HRW’s fundraising in Saudi Arabia.

Robert Bernstein’s full piece is below in the “full articles” section.

 

HRW SENIOR STAFF COMPARE ISRAELI CONDUCT TO THE 3.5 MILLION DEAD AND RAPED IN CONGO

HRW Mideast North Africa program director Sarah Leah Whitson and HRW “Emergencies Senior Researcher” Fred Abrahams both continue to make outrageous accusations comparing Israeli actions with “violations in places like Sudan and Congo”.

(At least 300,000 people have been murdered in Sudan in recent years, and 3.5 million in Congo, where systematic mass rapes also continue on a daily basis -- TG.)

Irwin Cotler, the former Canadian justice minister and attorney for Nelson Mandela (and subscriber to this email list), said last week that “HRW executive director Ken Roth writes not like a lawyer – let alone a human rights lawyer – but as a propagandist.” (Roth has recently written attacks on Israel in several major media, including The Economist.)

 

HRW’S PR BLITZ ON BEHALF OF ITS CLOSE FRIEND JUDGE RICHARD GOLDSTONE

In an article for The Jerusalem Post, lawyer Anne Herzberg writes:

HRW has been in overdrive lobbying for the one-sided, and widely criticized Goldstone report. Since Richard Goldstone’s appointment in April, HRW has launched a PR blitz releasing almost 30 statements supporting his mission and the report.

… Not coincidentally, Goldstone was a member of HRW’s board until the conflict of interest was exposed shortly after his appointment [earlier this year]. [But the close links don’t appear to have ended.] Goldstone’s September 17 New York Times op-ed so closely mirrors HRW’s September 16 press release backing his report that it appears the two collaborated on the timing and content of the piece.

It is certainly in HRW’s interest to bolster the report aside from personal connections with Goldstone – HRW is cited by Goldstone more than 36 times and the credibility of the organization is directly tied to the report’s acceptance.

Rejection of Goldstone’s substance calls into question HRW’s own findings regarding the Gaza conflict. Manufacturing PR for Goldstone also diverts attention from the growing criticism HRW has faced regarding its employment of staunch anti-Israel activists in the Mideast department and the Nazi memorabilia penchant of its “senior military expert,” Marc Garlasco (author of many harsh reports on Israel)…

(Herzberg’s full article is below. For background on the Goldstone report, please see recent past dispatches on this list.)

 

“YOU WOULD EXPECT AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL AND HRW TO HAVE ZERO TOLERANCE FOR ANYTHING ASSOCIATED WITH NAZISM. NOT SO, IT SEEMS.”

The third piece below is by Mark Gardner, originally from Scotland, and also a subscriber to this email list.

He writes:

Groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) are the guardians of society’s universal human rights, their mission anchored upon the horrors of Nazism. So you would expect them to have zero tolerance for anything associated with Nazism. Not so, it seems.

When Marc Garlasco, HRW’s “battlefield analyst”, was shown by pro-Israel lobby groups to be an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia; a wearer of Iron Cross sweatshirts; the author of a book sold by www. ironcross1939.com; and to use “flak88” [88 representing Heil* Hitler ] as his Internet pseudonym and car number plate, HRW’s first reaction was to shoot the messenger and refuse even to question Garlasco’s behaviour.

Their response was: “This accusation is demonstrably false and fits into a campaign” – the alleged campaign being one to protect Israel from HRW scrutiny. “To imply that Garlasco’s collection is evidence of Nazi sympathies”, the HRW added, “is not only absurd but an attempt to deflect attention from his deeply felt efforts to uphold the laws of war [against Israel]”.

… Meanwhile, on the Amnesty website, an Amnesty press officer blogged, “After HRW, is Amnesty International next?”

… This is part of a wider trend, visible across the spectrum of the political left and its media; the slippery slope that leads from anti-Israel antipathy to an instinctive suspicion and rejection of mainstream Jewish sensibilities…

 

HRW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR KENNETH ROTH: JUDAISM AND ITS BIBLE ARE “PRIMITIVE”

In the fourth and final piece below, The New York Sun (which is now an occasional web-only paper) editorializes:

The real service that the founding chairman of Human Rights Watch is smoking out the views of the organization’s leaders by eliciting from them a public response.

… Current chairwoman Jane Olson, and a past chairman, Jonathan Fanton [reveal] a departure from Human Rights Watch’s stated policy that it does not take sides or make judgments about whether particular wars are right or wrong, the organization’s claim that it merely calls on both sides to observe international law in conducting wars.

… Here at The New York Sun we are familiar with this pattern of eliciting, with criticism of Human Rights Watch, even more illuminating responses. Our favorite example was back in 2006, when the organization’s executive director, Kenneth Roth, responded to criticism of his group’s Israel coverage by sending us a letter accusing Judaism and its Bible of being examples of “primitive” morality.

(I attach four articles below.)

[All notes above by Tom Gross]

FULL ARTICLES

“I MUST DO SOMETHING THAT I NEVER ANTICIPATED”

Rights Watchdog, Lost in the Mideast
By Robert L. Bernstein
The New York Times
October 20, 2009

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.

At Human Rights Watch, we always recognized that open, democratic societies have faults and commit abuses. But we saw that they have the ability to correct them – through vigorous public debate, an adversarial press and many other mechanisms that encourage reform.

That is why we sought to draw a sharp line between the democratic and nondemocratic worlds, in an effort to create clarity in human rights. We wanted to prevent the Soviet Union and its followers from playing a moral equivalence game with the West and to encourage liberalization by drawing attention to dissidents like Andrei Sakharov, Natan Sharansky and those in the Soviet gulag – and the millions in China’s laogai, or labor camps.

When I stepped aside in 1998, Human Rights Watch was active in 70 countries, most of them closed societies. Now the organization, with increasing frequency, casts aside its important distinction between open and closed societies.

Nowhere is this more evident than in its work in the Middle East. The region is populated by authoritarian regimes with appalling human rights records. Yet in recent years Human Rights Watch has written far more condemnations of Israel for violations of international law than of any other country in the region.

Israel, with a population of 7.4 million, is home to at least 80 human rights organizations, a vibrant free press, a democratically elected government, a judiciary that frequently rules against the government, a politically active academia, multiple political parties and, judging by the amount of news coverage, probably more journalists per capita than any other country in the world – many of whom are there expressly to cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Meanwhile, the Arab and Iranian regimes rule over some 350 million people, and most remain brutal, closed and autocratic, permitting little or no internal dissent. The plight of their citizens who would most benefit from the kind of attention a large and well-financed international human rights organization can provide is being ignored as Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division prepares report after report on Israel.

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. These groups are supported by the government of Iran, which has openly declared its intention not just to destroy Israel but to murder Jews everywhere. This incitement to genocide is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Leaders of Human Rights Watch know that Hamas and Hezbollah chose to wage war from densely populated areas, deliberately transforming neighborhoods into battlefields. They know that more and better arms are flowing into both Gaza and Lebanon and are poised to strike again. And they know that this militancy continues to deprive Palestinians of any chance for the peaceful and productive life they deserve. Yet Israel, the repeated victim of aggression, faces the brunt of Human Rights Watch’s criticism.

The organization is expressly concerned mainly with how wars are fought, not with motivations. To be sure, even victims of aggression are bound by the laws of war and must do their utmost to minimize civilian casualties. Nevertheless, there is a difference between wrongs committed in self-defense and those perpetrated intentionally.

But how does Human Rights Watch know that these laws have been violated? In Gaza and elsewhere where there is no access to the battlefield or to the military and political leaders who make strategic decisions, it is extremely difficult to make definitive judgments about war crimes. Reporting often relies on witnesses whose stories cannot be verified and who may testify for political advantage or because they fear retaliation from their own rulers. Significantly, Col. Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan and an expert on warfare, has said that the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza “did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”

Only by returning to its founding mission and the spirit of humility that animated it can Human Rights Watch resurrect itself as a moral force in the Middle East and throughout the world. If it fails to do that, its credibility will be seriously undermined and its important role in the world significantly diminished.

(Robert L. Bernstein, the former president and chief executive of Random House, was the chairman of Human Rights Watch from 1978 to 1998.)

 

THE HRW-GOLDSTONE CONNECTION

What ails Human Rights Watch?
By Anne Herzberg
The Jerusalem Post
October 21, 2009

In The New York Times on Tuesday, Robert Bernstein, the founder and chairman of Human Rights Watch for more than 20 years, wrote that he must now “publicly join the group’s critics.” This bold step is a result of several scandals that have plagued the powerful New York-based organization this summer, as well as the dawning recognition of its one-sided agenda in the Middle East which props up authoritarian regimes and terror groups – an agenda that culminated in the adoption of the Goldstone report at the UN Human Rights Council.

Since its May 2009 Saudi fund-raising jaunt, where Mideast North Africa program director Sarah Leah Whitson boasted about taking on “pro-Israel pressure groups,” HRW has been in overdrive lobbying for the one-sided, and widely criticized Goldstone report. Since Richard Goldstone’s appointment in April, HRW has launched a PR blitz releasing almost 30 statements supporting his mission and the report.

Its staff members, in addition to Whitson, have also gained wide media coverage. These statements range from whitewashing the HRC’s biased mandate, testimonials regarding Goldstone’s character, admonitions against Israel for its refusal to cooperate with the inquiry and lobbying governments to press for a Security Council referral of Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

HRW’s September 30 release, for instance, calls the US and the EU “shameful” and scolds them for “undermining justice” by not immediately and unreservedly embracing Goldstone. A letter by HRW executive director Ken Roth, in the Economist, repeats Goldstone’s charges accusing Israel of “punitive attacks” and the “deliberate infliction of suffering on civilians.”

NOT COINCIDENTALLY, Goldstone was a member of HRW’s board until the conflict of interest was exposed shortly after his appointment. He was also a staunch defender of Ken Roth during the 2006 Second Lebanon War after Roth leveled false claims regarding Israeli operations against Hizbullah. And Goldstone’s September 17 New York Times op-ed so closely mirrors HRW’s September 16 press release backing his report that it appears the two collaborated on the timing and content of the piece.

It is certainly in HRW’s interest to bolster the report aside from personal connections with Goldstone – HRW is cited by Goldstone more than 36 times and the credibility of the organization is directly tied to the report’s acceptance.

Rejection of Goldstone’s substance calls into question HRW’s own findings regarding the Gaza conflict. Manufacturing PR for Goldstone also diverts attention from the growing criticism HRW has faced regarding its employment of staunch anti-Israel activists in the Mideast department and the Nazi memorabilia penchant of its “senior military expert,” Marc Garlasco (author of many harsh reports on Israel).

The most outrageous and untenable argument HRW officials are advancing, however, is that the US has to promote Goldstone’s discredited report so that it will have greater standing going after crimes in Darfur.

According to Whitson, “failure to demand justice for attacks on civilians in Gaza and the Negev will reveal hypocrisy in US policy. The Obama administration cannot demand accountability for serious violations in places like Sudan and Congo but let allies like Israel go free.”

HRW’s “emergencies senior researcher” Fred Abrahams made similar claims on a conference call organized by B’Tselem and the fringe group Ta’anit Tzedek (Jewish Fast for Gaza). To equate January’s Gaza confrontation aimed at eliminating rocket attacks on Israeli civilians with the genocide in Darfur, where hundreds of thousands have been murdered, and systematic mass rapes and torture are a daily horror is an affront.

As the Volokh Conspiracy’s David Bernstein commented about the immoral tenor of these claims: “[Reasonable people would not think] to analogize Israel’s action in Gaza to the wars in Congo and Sudan to begin with.” If any further proof was needed, HRW has clearly lost its moral foundations.

Perhaps HRW is trying to win over its prospective Saudi patrons who have routinely backed the Sudanese government led by ICC fugitive Omar al-Bashir. In addition to Saudi Arabia, HRW’s support of Goldstone aligns it with such human rights stalwarts as Cuba, Libya, Iran, Malaysia, Venezuela, Egypt and Hamas, which have all vigorously advocated for Goldstone’s adoption. In contrast, democratic countries like Canada, the US, Italy, Hungary and the Netherlands all refused to endorse the mission’s mandate or its findings.

HRW’s overzealous promotion of Goldstone and its siding with the world’s worst regimes are further examples of why Elie Wiesel has called for a full and complete investigation of HRW, Irwin Cotler (former Canadian justice minister and attorney for Nelson Mandela) has remarked that Ken “Roth writes not like a lawyer – let alone a human rights lawyer – but as a propagandist,” and now its own founder believes the group needs to “resurrect itself” and return to its “spirit of humility.”

HRW needs to do some serious soul searching – is it up to the challenge?

(The writer is the legal adviser of Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor and author of NGO Lawfare: Exploitation of Courts in the Arab-Israeli Conflict.)

 

THOSE CHARGED WITH PREVENTING NAZI HORRORS SHOULD NOT MAKE LIGHT OF THEM

Human rights watchers with poor visibility
Those charged with preventing Nazi horrors should not make light of them
By Mark Gardner
The (London) Jewish Chronicle
October 15, 2009

Groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) are the guardians of society’s universal human rights, their mission anchored upon the horrors of Nazism. So you would expect them to have zero tolerance for anything associated with Nazism. Not so, it seems.

When Marc Garlasco, HRW’s “battlefield analyst”, was shown by pro-Israel lobby groups to be an avid collector of Nazi memorabilia; a wearer of Iron Cross sweatshirts; the author of a book sold by www.ironcross1939.com; and to use “flak88” as his Internet pseudonym and car number plate, HRW’s first reaction was to shoot the messenger and refuse even to question Garlasco’s behaviour.

Their response was: “This accusation is demonstrably false and fits into a campaign”– the alleged campaign being one to protect Israel from HRW scrutiny. “To imply that Garlasco’s collection is evidence of Nazi sympathies”, the HRW added, “is not only absurd but an attempt to deflect attention from his deeply felt efforts to uphold the laws of war”.

HRW belatedly suspended Garlasco. The announcement is on their website, atop the earlier denunciation of his critics.

It says HRW is “looking into the matter... and an inquiry is under way. Garlasco has been temporarily suspended… with full pay pending the inquiry. This is not a disciplinary measure…”

Meanwhile, on the Amnesty website, an Amnesty press officer blogged, “After HRW, is Amnesty International next? Are we set to be outed as a hotbed of Holocaust-deniers? Will key Amnesty researchers be unmasked, shown to be furtive collectors of David Irving DVDs?”

“Rather than sinking to such scurrility,” the press officer railed, “Israel ought to confront these serious criticisms head-on”. If Israel and Hamas ever faced the International Criminal Court, its chief prosecutor would be accused of “a fetishistic interest in the leather boots worn by members of Himmler’s Waffen-SS units.”

Blogs are less formal than the sober, official statements made by actual organisations but I fear these playground-level jibes are not unrepresentative of Amnesty’s instinctive reaction to the Garlasco controversy, and diminish the right of Jews (especially those deemed to be pro-Israeli Jews) publicly to express their fears about antisemitism.

This is part of a wider trend, visible across the spectrum of the political left and its media; the slippery slope that leads from anti-Israel antipathy to an instinctive suspicion and rejection of mainstream Jewish sensibilities. As Jews, we may call this antisemitism, but it is perhaps better identified as an anti-Jewish impact of anti-Israel hostility. This is not semantics: if we want a trade unionist or a Guardian writer to change his or her ways, shouting “antisemite” is unlikely to achieve it.

It is, however, the self-declared human-rights organisations that bear the heaviest moral burden to behave decently towards Jews and treat carefully issues of antisemitism. This is the legacy of their chosen heritage. And Jews have played a prominent role in the development of the human rights movement. Indeed, if these organisations do not rapidly address and reverse the current trend, they risk betraying not only Jews, but also their own founding principles.

 

ROBERT BERNSTEIN’S COURAGE

Robert Bernstein’s courage
Editorial of The New York Sun
October 21, 2009

The real service that the founding chairman of Human Rights Watch, Robert Bernstein, provided with his article in the New York Times deploring the turn that the organization he founded has taken against Israel came less with speaking out on that topic – his views had been widely known among those who follow these matters even before they were publicly expressed – than with smoking out the views of the organization’s leaders by eliciting from them a public response.

That response came in the form of a letter to the editor in today’s Times from the organization’s current chairwoman, Jane Olson, and a past chairman, Jonathan Fanton, which included the stunning sentence, “After careful consideration, we and other members of our board stressed that democracies, too, commit serious abuses, with the United States’ ‘war on terrorism’ and Israel’s conduct in Gaza just the latest examples.”

This is a departure from Human Rights Watch’s stated policy that it does not take sides or make judgments about whether particular wars are right or wrong, the organization’s claim that it merely calls on both sides to observe international law in conducting wars. The sentence in the letter seems to be a claim not merely that there were some abuses committed as part of the war on terrorism – Abu Ghraib, for example, or waterboarding – but that the entire “war on terrorism” in and of itself was a “serious abuse.”

One wonders what, exactly, Human Rights Watch’s suggested response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 would have been. Actually, one doesn’t have to wonder: the organization issued a statement with a plea that “the United States should remain committed to a criminal justice approach – investigation, arrest, trial and punishment, with all the guarantees of a fair trial that are central to any system of respect for human rights – rather than executions or targeting noncombatants. Just as the ‘war’ on drugs or the mafia does not obviate basic criminal justice guarantees, so the war on the organization responsible for the September 11 attacks should not bypass the human-rights protection against assassination.”

Osama bin Laden, by this view, deserves not to be killed but instead to be read his Miranda rights like some shoplifter or mob bookie. By this view, too, not just a few incidents, but all of “Israel’s conduct in Gaza” – including, one wonders, its unilateral withdrawal of settlers therefrom? – deserve blanket condemnation. Actually, one doesn’t have to wonder about Gaza, either – even before Israel withdrew, Human Rights Watch issued a statement in October 2004 falsely claiming, “The Israeli government’s plan to remove troops and Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip would not end Israel’s occupation of the territory. As an occupying power, Israel will retain responsibility for the welfare of Gaza’s civilian population.”

Here at the New York Sun we are familiar with this pattern of eliciting, with criticism of Human Rights Watch, even more illuminating responses. Our favorite example was back in 2006, when the organization’s executive director, Kenneth Roth, responded to criticism of his group’s Israel coverage by sending us a letter accusing Judaism and its Bible of being examples of “primitive” morality. Messrs. Roth, Olson, and Fanton are posing as neutral human rights advocates, but what they really are is just another “peace” group with a left-wing agenda. Mr. Bernstein has done a great service – one of many in a long and distinguished career – by helping to expose that fact and given a real example of personal courage.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.