Is Human Rights Watch Losing its Moral Compass and Caving in to the Israeli Lobby?

Surely if Human Rights Watch did not exist most of us would want to see it quickly created and would want to join in that effort ourselves. Its work since its founding 29 years ago, as Helsinki Watch, has been generally exemplary given the conditions it sometimes finds in the 70 countries it operates in.

Yet its research, hypotheses, findings, interpretations, reports and recommendations are not infallible and, in fairness, HRW has never claimed that they are.

Its August 29, 2007 128-page Report entitled “Civilians Under Assault: Hezbollah’s Rocket Attacks on Israel in the 2006 War” is a case in point. This Report raises serious questions concerning HRW’s recent drift afield from its original mandate and whether it is becoming a captive of those who house and financially support the human rights organization.

For some perspective, HRW’s most recent Report is not the first it has issued on the subject of resistance to Israeli occupation and aggression over the past few years that has raised concerns within the academic and international legal community.

One need only consult the Mideast section of HRW’s website recently to learn that it is consistently critical of the Palestinian society in sundry ways ranging from domestic violence to various resistance activities against the illegal Israeli occupation which increasingly smoothers every aspect of Palestinian life.

Unfortunately, a deep imbalance, both in the number of reports being issued against the occupiers and the occupied, in terms of the failure to hold accountable the side committing the far greater abuses of human rights which is Israel has become the HRW’s modus operandi in Israel-Palestine as well as in Lebanon.

Last fall, in its press release “Civilians Must Not Be Used to Shield Homes against Military Attacks,” HRW lambasted Palestinian resistance groups for inviting their civilian neighbors to surround homes that have been targeted for air strikes by the Israeli military. HRW barely mentioned that 1,500 Palestinians had been made homeless from house demolitions in the preceding few months and that more than 105 houses had been destroyed from the air. Increasingly, HRW denounces Palestinian attempts at non-violent and collective action to halt Israeli attacks. HRW appears to mold principles, standards and rules of international law to achieve a political objective.

In its press release accompanying its “Findings of Fact and Conclusion of Law” HRW treats the recent appeal to Palestinians to exercise their right to protect their neighbors, and to act in solidarity with non-violent resistance to occupation, as no different from the dozens of known violations committed by the Israeli army of abducting Palestinian civilians as human shields to protect its troops.

Women volunteering to surround a mosque become the equivalent of the notorious incident in January 2003 when 21-year-old Samer Sharif was handcuffed to the hood of an army Jeep and driven towards stone-throwing youngsters in Nablus as Israeli soldiers fired their guns from behind his head.

HRW prefers to highlight a supposed violation of international law by the Palestinians — their choice to act as “human shields” — and to demand that the practice end immediately, while minimizing the very real and continuing violation of international law committed by Israel in undertaking punitive house demolitions against Palestinian families. They do the same with respect to Hezbollah.

In language that would have made George Orwell shudder, Human Rights Watch ignored the continuing violation of the Palestinians’ right to security and argued instead: “There is no excuse for calling [Palestinian] civilians to the scene of a planned [Israeli] attack… knowingly asking civilians to stand in harm’s way is unlawful.” With due respect, this approach is seriously flawed. There is no supporting morality or law for this position. Citizens, Palestinian, Lebanese and worldwide have every right, indeed duty, to project their property and livelihood by peaceful means. HRW knows better.

As Nazareth-based British journalist Jonathon Cook correctly notes , “This (HRW) reading of international law is wrong, if not Kafkaesque. Popular and peaceful resistance to the oppressive policies of occupying powers and autocratic rulers, in India and South Africa for example, has always been, by its very nature, a risky venture in which civilians are liable to be killed or injured. Responsibility for those deaths must fall on those doing the oppressing, not those resisting, particularly when they are employing non-violent means. On HRW’s interpretation, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela would be war criminals.”

In fairness it must be noted that one HRW Report does urge the Israeli government to ensure that the army investigates the reasons for the shelling that killed the 19 Palestinian inhabitants of Beit Hanoun.

Yet, after four decades of reporting on Israel’s occupation of the Palestine, HRW has covered most of Israel’s many categories of human rights abuses and so now increasingly ignores them.

HRW appears to have Human Rights and international law monitoring fatigue when it comes to Israel. For example, despite thousands of violations of Palestinian rights at Israeli check points every day, they are ignored by HRW in favor of one report every few years.

HRW under Pressure from the Israel Lobby?

HRW has acted as an advocate with an Israeli brief against the Lebanese Resistance. As a Human rights organization it should base its judgment of whether the Resistance violated International Law by examining the facts and then applying the relevant legal principles. In failing to do this HRW violated its mandate in this case and instead argued Israel’s case while shedding its own neutrality.
–J. Benoit, PhD.

One explanation being offered in America, among human rights and pro-peace, pro-Arab and pro-Muslim groups as well as by Americans seeking to change US policy toward the Middle East is that Human Rights Watch has caved to intimidations by pro-Israeli members of Congress and the AIPAC led US Israeli Lobby. It is no secret that an increasing number of Zionist warnings and threats have targeted HRW and that some of its personnel and supporters have been advised that HRW would be destroyed if it did not balance its criticism of Israel with “equal criticism” of Hezbollah. There has also been an increase since 2002, of efforts by some Zionist organizations in the US, such as the Anti-Defamation League, and the American Jewish Committee have been instructing their members not to contribute to HRW until further notice.

In addition, some HRW researchers have long complained of pressure by Israeli officials and threats that HRW would be expelled from Israel if its reports were not “more balanced.”

Ever since the US based, but increasingly international, Israel lobby intensified its campaign to intimidate HRW in the late 1990s, which action increased following the IOF 2002 assault on the Palestinian camp at Jenin, Palestine, HRW appeared to increasingly follow a pattern of erroneously interpreting international law such as to refuse the Palestinians the right to resist the aggression and occupation and to protect homes from attack. HRW wrongly labels these civilians “human shields” even while admitting that most of the homes are not legitimate military targets. Along with this trend, HRW has remained mute about the common practice in Israel of building weapons factories and army bases inside or next to Arab communities, thereby forcing Israeli civilians to become human shields for the army. HRW has continued its disturbing trend during the 2006 July War when it again skewed legal standards to blame the victims rather than the aggressors.

As Cook has argued in recently, HRW goes soft on Israel because “constant press releases denouncing Israel would provoke accusations, as they do already, that Israel is being singled out — and with it, the implication that anti-Semitism lies behind the special treatment.”

HRW’s annual budget now exceeds $ 25 million. Its employee’s number more than 240 with 70% of its budget estimated to be provided by Jewish contributors. Its landlord at 350 Fifth Avenue in New York City are Zionists and it is increasingly apparent to some observers that HRW too often follows the expectations of the Israel lobby and sometimes rejects equity and justice to buy peace for itself.

Adding to the pressure on HRW are frequent warnings from Members of the US Congress including Tom Lantos, Elliot Cohen, Shelly Berkeley, Adriana Ros-Lehtinen, Gary Ackerman, among others, including AIPAC, who keep a close eye on HRW while more than once threatening to audit, investigate, and shut them down.

Observations on Human Rights Watch’s August 27, 2006 Report entitled ” Civilians Under Assault: Hezbollah’s Rocket Attacks on Israel in the 2006 War:

“The timing of the release of the Report led many observers to believe HRW “was spreading false publicity against Lebanon and weakening the national spirit.” One official Lebanese Judicial report on August 30, 2007 accused HRW of attempting to “prevent the resistance from protecting its country against Israeli assaults and violating Lebanon’s sovereignty.”

The following comment argues that HRW has taken the same skewed approach to Israeli actions in Lebanon during the 2006 July war, as it has increasingly done in Palestine.

HRW’s view of the law and the facts with respect to the Lebanese Resistance’s right of self defense during the July 2006 War

Most lawyers, if their case is quite weak on the facts, may, when preparing to argue their clients case in Court, stress to the Court and especially the Jurors, the heavy and solemn weight and technical aspects of applicable legal principles, standards and rules. They will sometimes tell the jurors that their own personal feelings and intuition do not count and must not interfere with what the law, in the opinion of the advocate, requires. It is an approach crafted to achieve the desired result and which is sometimes based on legal fictions and misleading technicalities.

If the law is against their client’s case the lawyer would likely zealously argue the facts in their clients favor.

It is submitted that HRW, in the Report under review, argues technical aspects and certain selected international legal principles it views in Israel’s favor. It chose this lawyerly approach because the facts of the July 2006 War overwhelmingly and incontrovertibly support Lebanon, the Lebanese Resistance and the civilian victims in Lebanon rather than Israel’s actions.

Some examples:

Throughout its Report, HRW explains and tries to excuse its lack of prohibitive evidence by blaming Israeli censorship:

“Citing national security concerns, Israeli military authorities limited the amount of information publicly available (to HRW) about various aspects of the war, including certain information on where Hezbollah rockets landed during the conflict. These restrictions limited our ability to fully investigate the pattern of Hezbollah attacks”

“We also encountered restrictions on information concerning certain industrial targets. For example, Kobi Bachar, chief of police for the Zvulon district north of Haifa, said, ‘Hezbollah was trying to hit the petrochemical plants in our area. We had hits within the factories, but because of censorship, I do not know if I am allowed to give you that information. In the end he did not provide it.'”

“July 19, Human Rights Watch researchers visiting Haifa’s Rambam Hospital met an IDF soldier being treated for an injury sustained when a rocket hit an air force base just outside the city. He said that the IDF had instructed him not to speak to the press, and in fact the news media never, to our knowledge, reported that rocket attack. A physician at Rambam who said he treated the soldier also told us that the IDF had prevented that particular rocket strike from being publicized.”

HRW complained in its Report that “Israeli censors did not allow HRW researchers permission to report missile hits at IDF bases and/or strategic facilities , or the location of those facilities”.

The fact that the Israeli military did not make it easy for Human Rights Watch to gather evidence they were seeking, or apparently hoping for, does not justify HRW filling in evidentiary gaps or imagine evidence based on intuition and then use that speculation to issue an international indictment against Lebanon and its resistance. HRW admitted that Hezbollah’s claims that its rockets had hit military targets inside Israel more often than the media was reporting were true based on its own findings.

HRW fails to sufficiently acknowledge or weigh the fact that in the north of Palestine, fixed military facilities, such as IDF bases, are located next to or in the midst of civilian settlements, i.e., the IDF’s frequent use of human shields. For example it is well known that the IDF northern command headquarters is located near the city center of Safed — also that the Israeli navy has a major training base on the Haifa waterfront, next to a major hospital and a neighborhood of low-rise apartment buildings.

Moreover, in many cases the IDF fired artillery into Lebanon from locations quite near to residential communities, such as the border villages of Zarit and Arab al-Aramshe. These artillery emplacements constitute military objects; in some of its wartime communiqués, Hezbollah announced that it had directed its rockets at such artillery positions inside Israel.

One of HRW’s most egregious conclusions and misstatements of international law is the following:

“Hezbollah’s attacks in violation of the laws of war, when combined with such statements indicating criminal intent, is strong evidence that some Hezbollah members and commanders were responsible for war crimes.”

HRW concludes there was a violation of international law and then finds criminal intent by joining certain use of puffing or verbal psychological warfare tactics by Hezbollah in press releases including threats to Israeli military authorities’ regarding possible attacks on certain areas if Israel did not stop its carpet bombing of Lebanon.

In concluding that these elements somehow “renders Hezbollah members and commanders responsible for war crimes” is not an accurate reading of international customary law or treaty law. Words in this context and on the facts HRW offer do not establish criminal intent

As Hezbollah leaders have stated, especially in its experience with Israel and in asymmetrical warfare theatres, psychological warfare is increasingly important in dealing with Israel military and political leaders. Israel certainly thought so when it dropped scores of thousands of threatening leaflets, sent threatening text messages to Lebanese phones, broke into TV and radio broadcasts and generally tried to gain military advantage by unnerving its opponents.

Moreover, Hezbollah threats had the effect of sending ten of thousands of civilians out of harms way. That was one of their objectives. By contrast, Israel warned civilians to leave and then bombed them as they fled. This occurred at Marwahin on July 15, at Aitaroun on July 16, on a minibus in the Bekaa Valley on August 10th and on more than one dozen other occasions.

Did not the Lebanese Resistance have a right to use psychological tactics and increase pressure on Israeli authorities to end their attacks by suggesting it had surprises and intended to match the level of response to Israeli attacks?

The psychological tactics used by Israel and Hezbollah during the July War were not illegal under international law.

That there are problems with the enforcement of International law is well known. Also there are some issues that need the attention of an International Conference on Revisions of The Laws of Armed Conflict. One subject that requires attention and discussion is the one raised during the July War by Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Sayed Hasan Nasrallah expressed thus:

“As long as the enemy undertakes its aggression without limits or red lines, we will respond without limits or red lines.”

This statement mirrors international practice. Should it be codified by convention? Does it accurately reflect international customary law?

Certainly the history of warfare reveals that virtually every army has used retaliation, sometimes massively. Dresden, Coventry, Berlin come to mind.

Were there errors in firing rockets by Hezbollah? Certainly. The Lebanese Resistance readily admits this.

Should HRW’s claim that Hezbollah purposely targeted civilian be credited? Not based on the evidence it tenders.

HRW ignored Israeli use of Human Shields

HRW also ignores a plethora of credible reports that Israel used Palestinian Arabs as human shields in the areas north of Haifa by placing arms depots, military vehicles, mobile launchers, and bases near and inside Arab neighborhoods while providing only the Jewish neighborhoods with adequate bomb shelters.

The record of military actions during the July War suggests that Hezbollah may well have known exactly where Israeli military installations were placed and monitored the movement and placement of Israeli mobile positions and launchers before it fired rockets. HRW admits this possibility but avoids the conclusion that Hezbollah had the right to target Lebanon-bound rockets from Israel as long as the military necessity outweighed risk to civilians.

HRW also condemns Hezbollah for firing on Kiryal Shmona but omits mention of the real possibility that Israel did have mobile military sites in that and more than 20 other locations where civilians were nearby.

HRW offers no proof that Hezbollah purposely targeted civilians. It leaves to one footnote the mention that Hezbollah urged civilians to leave the area of the Israeli bases and move south out of danger and that Sayed Nasrallah pleaded for residents to move south and away from Israel positions, declaring that “your blood is our blood.”

HRW seeks to excuse its lack of proof that Hezbollah targeted civilian areas and to avoid its duty to provide compelling evidence by stating that Israeli base locations are classified. This remarkably weak excuse for not meeting its burden of proof could be applied to any unsubstantiated assertion. Most war criminals classify their crimes.

If HRW is not able or willing to provide maps showing the position of Israeli bases in relation to targeting by Hezbollah it should withdraw its unsupported accusation.

The Donald Rumsfeld paradigm?

One of HRW’s main arguments is that “Hezbollah’s means of attack relied on unguided weapons that had no capacity to hit military targets with any precision. It repeatedly bombarded cities, towns, and villages without any apparent effort to distinguish between civilians and military objectives. In doing so, Hezbollah, as a party to an armed conflict governed by international humanitarian law, violated fundamental prohibitions against deliberate and indiscriminate attacks against civilians.”

Does this mean there were no legitimate targets? Did HRW later learn what the targets were?

HRW reports that, “In some of those cases, we could find no evidence there had been a legitimate military target in the vicinity at the time of the attack, suggesting it was a deliberate attack on civilians.”

Suggestions are insufficient when accusing someone of war crimes. Again, HRW’s suggestion is not proof of war crimes. Its suspicions do not meet its required burden of proof or the legal standard to accuse Lebanon’s resistance of war crimes.

Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is the lowest legal standard to be applied, for such a serious charge as war crimes. Under international law no one should be charged, as HRW does, with being a war crime unless there is overwhelming and irrefutable evidence. HRW fails to produce it and fails to meet its burden of proof.

Regarding not being able to find evidence, HRW adopts former US Defense Secretly Donald Rumsfelds edict that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Rumsfeld was wrong and so is HRW. Absence of evidence is just that, absence of evidence. It is a neutral fact of independence significance and does not convict Hezbollah of War Crimes but rather it suggests the contrary.

That there was no apparent a legitimate military target on the date of HRW ‘research’ means just that. But that alone is not probative evidence that there was no legitimate military target at the time Hezbollah fired its weapon.

HRW concludes, “The justness of the cause does not affect the international humanitarian law analysis.” HRW’s New York lawyers are wrong if they truly believe this conclusion which defies basic common sense, morality and international customary law. Does HRW believe that there exists moral, political, or legal parity between someone who tries to kill another and the response of the victim attempting to stop the continuing life endangering attacks? The Lebanese Resistance had the international legal right and duty to protect Lebanon. By returning fire in an effort to encourage the aggressors to stop their carpet bombing of Lebanon their defensive action were not on the same moral level as the aggressors. Neither domestic laws virtually every neither country nor international customary law equates the acts of aggressors with the defensive acts of the victim. In doing so, HRW errs. International customary law incorporates international morality.

HRW charges that Hezbollah “repeatedly bombarded cities, towns, and villages without any apparent effort to distinguish between civilians and military objectives.” What probative, relevant, and material evidence does HRW have concerning the actual firings logs of Hezbollah, and what a particular target was at the time of firing and whether or not Hezbollah acted “without any apparent effort to distinguish between civilians and military objectives?”

HRW builds it case on language such as “In some of those cases, we could find no evidence there had been a legitimate military target in the vicinity at the time of the attack, suggesting it was a deliberate attack on civilians.”

Even Israeli military leaders have frequently expressed the surprise they experienced by Hezbollah’s prowess, tactics, and battlefield intelligence regarding Israeli positions. The fact that Hezbollah chooses for its own tactical reasons not to share all that it knew about Israeli targets during the July War with HRW (and Israel) does not prove war crimes. This is based damage that, according to examination by HRW, did not reveal a definite military target.

By way of Recommendations following its Findings of Facts and Conclusions of Law, HRW calls on the government of Lebanon to interdict the delivery of rockets to Hezbollah and implies it should disarm the Lebanese Resistance. This HRW demand constitutes interference in the internal affairs of Lebanon. It is for the Lebanese government, not Israel or HRW to decide how its country defends itself.

Finally, the timing of the HRW Report appears politically calculated to achieve maximum publicity for HRW given the great interest in Hezbollah. Within the next few days HRW will issue its report on Israel’s activity in the July war.

Given the sensitive, even tense atmosphere in Lebanon/Palestine of which HRW is well aware, it would have been preferable for HRW to issue one comprehensive Report containing all its findings and not single out just one side

The timing of the release of the Report led many observers to believe HRW “was spreading false publicity against Lebanon and weakening the national spirit.” One official Lebanese Judicial report charged accused HRW of attempting to “prevent the resistance from protecting its country against Israeli assaults and violating Lebanon’s sovereignty.”

HRW’s recent use of harsh, narrow, legalistic judgments on the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance suggests that it has been willing to trim its sails under pressure from the Israeli lobby and as a consequence it may have lost its moral compass and betrayed its mandate.

The international community needs the work of human rights organizations on behalf of victims of human rights abuses. Hopefully Human Rights watch will reexamine its recent work and draw the correct conclusions.

Franklin Lamb is author of the recently released book Syria’s Endangered Heritage: An International Responsibility to Preserve and Protect. He is currently based in Beirut and Damascus and reachable at Read other articles by Franklin.

19 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. sk said on September 3rd, 2007 at 6:09am #

    Human Rights Watch also provides, free of charge, “hard-nosed, honest evaluation” of Israeli occupation practices (just imagine Kenneth Roth writing something comparable in an Indonesian newspaper after it had invaded East Timor).

  2. jaime said on September 3rd, 2007 at 8:52am #

    The fact of the matter IS that Hezbollah initiated an attack against Israel in 2006, and fired thousands of missiles randomly at civilian areas. These missiles were filled with metal scraps and ball-bearings intended to cause maximum harm wherever they landed.

    Hezbollah terrorized their own by using Lebanese civilian areas to launch their attacks. That’s a major atrocity too. For HRW not to acknowledge these simple facts would have made it entirely irrelevant.

  3. david johnson said on September 3rd, 2007 at 9:12am #

    It is true that Hezbollah captured (not kidnapped) two soldiers which was playing by the rules of the last 22 years….”tit for tat and let’s exchange prisoners” both sides did it and new the program…

    But this time the US and Israel decided they needed to destroy Hezbollah once and for all………..

    That is why Israel’s response was disproportionte, indiscriminant, and constituted a frenzy of racist, hatred, and criminal carpet bombing against the civilian population of Lebanon.

    The Zionist lobby has been targeting Human Rights Watch for many years. This is no excuse for shading the facts and accusing Hezbollah of war crimes to appease the Lobby unless it can be proved. HRW did not prove their case but cowered to the Israel lobby.
    They can do better!

  4. J Olson said on September 3rd, 2007 at 10:57am #

    With only two posts listed so far once again the ugly accusation of anti-semite has already been used. With regard to last year’s conflict Lebonon Hezbollah capture a couple of soldiers. Israel has been kidnaping Lebonese, Palestinians and just about anyone they please for the last 40 years with impunity. Israel’s response to the taking of these soldiers was to begin bombing Lebonon and invade the country. It was only after Israel began killing Lebonese civilians that Hezbollah started firing their rockets, of which were incredibly inaccurate.

    The Jewish Lobby controls Middle East policy in D.C. They control the message being put out on American mainstream media. Between the end of Sept and the beginning of Dec. there will be six major studio film releases dealing the Iraq war and Arabs. Everyone of these films has a biased point of view that is blatantly anti-Islamic. Even the L.A. Times is on record admitting that Hollywood is controled by Jews. Wake up and smell the coffee. A single group of people demand that the entire world designates the events of WWII (1939-1945) as the most horrific thing that has ever happened to anyone in the entire history of mankind. Please. 10-12 million Chinese civilians were slaughter by the Japanese during the same war and you hardly hear a word about that atrocity. The Irish, Camboadians, Africans, Native Americans, and Armenians have all suffered their own Holocausts, yet they are not given the same weight as the events of WWII. Many of these Holocausts lasted far longer than WWII, yet that doesn’t even register on the ricter scale.
    Two months ago Israel gave the U.N. E.U. and US. a deadline of 18 months to nuke Iran or they will. The clock is ticking. A recent poll in Haaretz showed that 74% of all Israelis favor the U.S. nuking Iran. No kidding, why go to the expense when you can get the U.S. to do your dirty work for you. Talk about playing right into a stereotype.
    Israel is an illegitimate country. The General Council voted for partitioning Palestine in 1947. Their vote is not binding. The Security Council never voted on the partion. It is the U.N. Security Council’s vote that is binding. Israel has never adhered to the borders that were mandated. They have a 59 year history of violating international law and countless U.N. resolutions. Israel is a rogue country that should be shunned by all countries, especially those that profess to be democratic. Israel beging a democracy is one of the best Kafkaesque lies that the Western public has been sold. It is a country that was borne out of a European colonialist and ethnic superiority philosophy that isn’t any different than South Africa. It is time for the apartheid wall to come down and for Palestine to be restored to the Palestinian people. Sorry, but using a book of religious fables as grounds for establishing ownership to real-estate just isn’t acceptable, especially when the book being used was authored by the very people who are using it to establish their case. That is called biased, but then everything with regard to the Palestinians and the Middle East has been biased against the indiginous peoples since the end of WWI.

  5. jaime said on September 3rd, 2007 at 7:29pm #

    Naked antisemitism AGAIN right here in the struggle for peace and social justice.


    At least the Nazis and white supremacists are are more honest about their Joooo hatred.

    Something the management here can be proud of….

  6. Hue Longer said on September 3rd, 2007 at 8:34pm #

    Intersting tactic you choose Jaime, you get called out for obviously using the anti-semite ruse, so you do it louder. I before gave you some hints if you wanted to be a better disinfo artist….why didn’t you listen?

  7. jaime said on September 3rd, 2007 at 8:57pm #

    It’s classic Jew hatred that’s why. It gets repeated, so what I asserted gets repeated too. The above is all hateful bullshit.

    Israel was ratified as a legitimate country by the UN. However Jew haters both right and left and radical Islamic try to hold Israel up to a different standard than then every other country in the world.

    It’s all about demonizing and dehumanizing and delegitimizing if they can get away with it. But these lies are as clear as beer piss.

    Hollywood for years was substantially run by Jews, but that’s no longer the case. Many of the largest corporations are now multinationals. And not necessarily Jewish owned.

    The so called deadline to nuke Iran is utter bullshit. Entirely made up.

    The “Jewish Lobby” doesn’t control US foreign policy.

    Israel’s nothing like South Africa used to be. The lies don’t become real just because they’ve been repeated. But maybe it’s because this place is friendly to those sentiments that they have a home here.

  8. Sludge said on September 4th, 2007 at 1:40am #

    The author doesn’t dignify his readers by providing the sources of his assertions. This is always a bad sign – whether or not we accept his polemic depends either on ignorance combined with credulity, or on the spare time we have for fact-checking.

    Dissident Voice, on a topic as fraught as the Israel/Palestinian conflict can’t you do better than this?

    J Olson, for god’s sake get some help for your sick antisemitism.

  9. Stephen said on September 4th, 2007 at 8:53am #

    J Olsen- you deny anti-Semitism has anything to do with your stance or that of the article but you can’t ground your position without recourse to anti-Semitic stereotypes and arguments. You state quite openly that you believe the Jewish lobby to control US foreign policy and US media. Later you skew way off topic to spread your own brand of Holocaust denial. Whilst your arguments are entirely predicatble, tedious, unoriginal and ultimately false they are undeniably racist.

    Hue- You accuse Jaime of raising the issue of anti-Semitism as a ‘tactic’ and a ‘ruse’. This itself is proof of anti-Semitism; at root what you’re saying is that Jews raise the issue of anti-Semitsm dishonestly in order to further their own ends.

    Why do you believe that when the issue of racism directed against Jews is raised there is no need to take it seriously?

    Do you respond with the same flipancy and insensitivity when other ethnic minorities complain of racism? If I was accused of racism I’d be falling over myself trying to explain to the person/people I had offended that this was not the case. Further to that I’d act on what I’d been told and be much more careful in my use of language so as to avoid a repetition of an unintended offence. I certainly wouldn’t counter the accusation with the suggestion that the other person was simply using the accusation of racism as a tactic.

    Have you ever studied anti-Semitsm? Do you know the many ways in which racism has historically been directed at Jews? Are you familiar with the manifold derogatory and false anti-Semitic stereotypes?

    A classic anti-Semitic stereotype is of the deceitful Jew lying in order to further his own ends. You can’t say that raising the issue of anti-Semitsm is a ‘ruse’ or a ‘tactic’ without relying to this very old racist stereotype.

    On the subject of Hezbollah and whether they commited war crimes- I had an intersting conversation with a professor who specialises in international humanitarian law this Saturday. His view is that it is crystal clear that some of Hezbollah’s actions during last summer’s war violated the principles of international humanitarian law; the first principle of which is to distinguish between military and non-military objectives. Using weapons, such as unguided missiles, which are incapable of making this distinction is a war crime. This same professor also believes that Israeli settlements are also very clearly illegal under international law, so I think its fair to say that his views are to be considered as reliable and not simply a partisan favouring of one side over the other.

    That Hezbollah has commited war crimes has nothing to do with whether Israel may have also commited war crimes. It is not correct to say that if Israel has commited war crimes then Hezbollah a priori cannot have also done so. Naturally, this also applies in the opposite direction. Denying this very obvious point is evidence of either poor or biased thinking.

    Of far more concern is the fact that the left are queueing up to offer support to genocidal, racist, homophobic and misogynist organisations. Can anyone explain why organisations of this nature are ordinarily shunned by the left except in the case where they are fighting against Jews, or against perceived ‘Jewish’ interests?

  10. hp said on September 4th, 2007 at 12:09pm #

    Jaime, then why did Israel help South Africa develop and test nuclear weapons?
    Just because this disappeared off the radar screen, as everything does when our “special friend” is concerned, it doesn’t mean this did not happen.
    Not only developing and possessing nukes but aiding and abetting its apartheid cousin in doing so. Very impressive and very typical of the phony- baloney democracy.

  11. jaime said on September 4th, 2007 at 12:54pm #

    Documentation please? Where did they test these nuclear weapons? In your pants?

  12. heike said on September 4th, 2007 at 1:36pm #

    Although not surprising for contributions to “Dissident Voice,” it is worth mentioning that this one is one-sided. It suggests that the pressures on HRW only come from the “Israel lobby.” What about the pro-Arab lobby? Is it a figment of someone’s imagination? Go review the vociferous campaign waged by people such as Norman Finkelstein against HRW, including Der Sturmer-type cartoons against Kenneth Roth from the Great Latuff (showing Roth accepting $$ from some Jewish-stereotype bankers), and exhortations to his acolytes to engage in letter-writing campaigns to get them to change their tune (and you know what, he was successful! They backed down! )
    “Human Rights Watch Must Retract its Shameful Press Release”

  13. sk said on September 4th, 2007 at 5:37pm #

    Here are the missing Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East. Here’s some info on the curious “incident” of 22 September 1979.

    South Africa and Israel were close allies as racist, outlaw states during the 4 decades of Apartheid. During an official visit by Prime Minister of South Africa, John Vorster–an ardent fan of Hitler during WWII–to Israel in 1976, an official South African government publication stated that “Israel and South Africa have one thing above all else in common: they are both situated in a predominantly hostile world inhabited by dark peoples.”

  14. Max Shields said on September 4th, 2007 at 7:13pm #

    I don’t think HRW has been substantially unfair in its attempt to bear witness to the atrocities in the 2006 Israel/Lebanon war.

    That said, only a rabid zionist could deny the massive disproportionality with which Israel has metted out its relentless attacks against Palistinians and Lebonese civilians.

    Hezbollah’s actions pale in comparison. No one denies that there were crimes committed, but a full hearing of the situation, the context that this war took place makes the case irrefutably against Israel, a state who went after another in the name (pretext) of retribution for the capture of 2 soldiers.

    I don’t see HRW has the exclusive word on criminality. The UN, Amnesty and others together weighed in and gave a persuasive argument for Israeli war crimes.

  15. brian said on September 4th, 2007 at 7:34pm #

    The zionists are out in force, as usual. Trying to convince the world that all jews are wonderful, and anyone who accuses them of media political control or racism are , well racists!

    But lets take a look at the zionists own self comments. What are they really like:

    Quotes from Zionists

    There are some pretty choice quotes from shockingly honest Zionists. You can find them in places like here and here. A few samples (emphasis in red; if you wonder about my continuing concerns about the Zionist Empire, see 12 to 16; 11 is so accurate a statement of Israeli negotiating procedure it is almost funny):

    1. “We came here to a country that was populated by Arabs and we are building here a Hebrew, a Jewish state; instead of the Arab villages, Jewish villages were established. You even do not know the names of those villages, and I do not blame you because these villages no longer exist. There is not a single Jewish settlement that was not established in the place of a former Arab Village.” – Moshe Dyan, March 19, 1969, speech at the Technion in Haifa, quoted in Ha’aretz, April 4, 1969.

    2. “Among ourselves, it must be clear that there is no place in the country for both peoples together. With the Arabs we shall not achieve our aim of being an independent people in this country. The only solution is Eretz-Israel, at least the west part of Eretz-Israel, without Arabs . . . And there is no other way but to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighbouring countries. Transfer all of them, not one village or tribe should remain . . .” –Joseph Weitz, entry in his diary for 1940 (quoted in his article: ‘A solution to the Refugee Problem: An Israeli State with a small Arab Minority’, published in Davar, 29 September, 1967.

    3. “I gathered all of the Jewish mukhtars, who have contact with Arabs in different villages and asked them to whisper in the ears of some Arabs that a great Jewish reinforcement has arrived in Galilée and that it is going to burn all of the villages of the Huleh. They should suggest to these Arabs, as their friends, to escape while there is still time . . . The tactic reached its goal completely. The building of the police station at Halsa fell into our hands without a shot. The wide areas were cleaned . . .” – Yigal Allon, Ha Sepher Ha Palmach, Vol. 2, p. 268, 1948.

    4. “…as uncontrolled panic spread through all Arab quarters, the Israelis brought up jeeps with loudspeakers which broadcast recorded ‘horror sounds’. These included shrieks, wails and anguished moans of Arab women, the wail of sirens and the clang of fire-alarm bells, interrupted by a sepulchral voice calling out in Arabic: ‘Save your souls, all ye faithful: The Jews are using poison gas and atomic weapons. Run for your lives in the name of Allah’.” – Leo Heiman, Israeli Army Reserve Officer who fought in 1948. Marine Corps Gazette, June 1964.

    5. “Because we took the land this gives us the image of being bad, of being aggressive. The Jews always considered that the land belonged to them, but in fact it belonged to the Arabs. I would go further: I would say the original source of this conflict lies with Israel, with the Jews – and you can quote me.” – Yehoshofat Harkabi, former Israeli Chief of Military Intelligence, in ‘Peace Won’t be a Plane Ticket to Cairo,’ International Armed Forces Journal, October 1973, p.30.

    6. “It is unacceptable that nations made up of people who have only just come down from the trees should take themselves for world leaders . . . How can such primitive beings have an opinion of their own?” – Yitzhak Shamir, in reference to the black African nations who voted in support of the 1975 U.N. resolution, which denounced Zionism as a form of racism, in Yediot Ahronot, November 14, 1975.

    7. “The thesis that the danger of genocide was hanging over us in June 1967 and that Israel was fighting for its physical existence is only bluff, which was born and developed after the war.” – Israeli General Matityahu Peled, Ha’aretz, 19 March 1972.

    8. “Let us not today fling accusations at the murderers. Who are we that we should argue against their hatred? For eight years now they sit in their refugee camps in Gaza, and before their very eyes, we turn into our homestead the land and the villages in which they and their forefathers have lived.” – Moshe Dyan, 1953, quoted by Uri Avneri in Israel without Zionists, p. 134.

    9. “I don’t understand your optimism. Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country.” – David Ben Gurion, 1956, quoted by Nahum Goldmann in The Jewish Paradox, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1978, p.99.

    10. “We take the land first and the law comes after.” – Mr. Palmon, Arab affairs adviser to the Mayor of Jerusalem, quoted in The Guardian, 26 April 1972.

    11. “We must define our position and lay down basic principles for a settlement. Our demands should be moderate and balanced, and appear to be reasonable. But in fact they must involve such conditions as to ensure that the enemy rejects them. Then we should manoeuvre and allow him to define his own position, and reject a settlement on the basis of a compromise solution. We should then publish his demands as embodying unreasonable extremism.” – General Yehoshafat Harkabi, Ma’ariv, 2 November 1973.

    12. “To maintain the status quo will not do. We have to set up a dynamic state bent upon expansion.” – David Ben Gurion, Rebirth and Destiny of Israel, The Philosophical Press, New York, 1954, p. 419.

    13. “During the last 100 years our people have been in a process of building up the country and the nation, of expansion, of getting additional Jews and additional settlements in order to expand the borders here. Let no Jew say that the process has ended. Let no Jew say that we are near the end of the road.” – Moshe Dyan, Ma’ariv, 7 July 1968.

    14. “Palestine is a territory whose chief geographical feature is this: that the river Jordan does not delineate its frontier but flows through its centre.” – Vladimir Jabotinsky, at the 16th Zionist Congress (1929), quoted by Desmond Stewart in The Middle East: Temple of Janus, p.304.

    15. “Take the American Declaration of Independence for instance. It contains no mention of the territorial limits. We are not obliged to state the limits of our State.” – Ben Gurion’s diary, 14 May 1948, quoted by Michael Bar Zohar in The Armed Prophet, p.133.

    16. “The Achilles heel of the Arab coalition is the Lebanon. Muslim supremacy in this country is artificial and can easily be overthrown. A Christian State ought to be set up there, with its southern frontier on the river Litani. We would sign a treaty of alliance with this State. Thus when we have broken the strength of the Arab Legion and bombed Amman, we could wipe out Transjordan; after that Syria would fall. And if Egypt still dared to make war on us, we would bomb Port Said, Alexandria and Cairo. We should thus end the war and would have but paid to Egypt, Assyria and Chaldea on behalf of our ancestors.” – Ben Gurion’s Diary, 21 May 1948, quoted by Michael Bar Zohar in The Armed Prophet, p.139.

    17. “I shall not be ashamed to confess that if I had the power, as I have the will, I would select a score of efficient young men – intelligent, decent, devoted to our ideal and burning with the desire to help redeem Jews – and I would send them to the countries where Jews are absorbed in sinful self-satisfaction. The task of these young men would be to disguise themselves as non-Jews, and plague Jews with anti-Semitic slogans such as ‘Bloody Jew’, ‘Jews go to Palestine’ and similar intimacies. I can vouch that the results in terms of a considerable immigration to Israel from these countries would be ten thousand times larger than the results brought by thousands of emissaries who have been preaching for decades to deaf ears.” – Davar, 1952, Editor Sharan, quoted by Alfred Lilienthal in The Other Side of the Coin, Devin-Adair, New York, p.47.

    18. “We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz Israel . . . Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours.” – Rafael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces – Gad Becker, Yediot Ahronot 13 April 1983, New York Times 14 April 1983.

    19. “We must do everything to ensure they (the Palestinian refugees) never do return.” – David Ben-Gurion, in his diary, 18 July 1948, quoted in Michael Bar Zohar’s Ben-Gurion: the Armed Prophet, Prentice-Hall, 1967, p. 157.

    20. “We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, What is to be done with the Palestinian population?’ Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said ‘Drive them out!'” – Yitzhak Rabin, leaked censored version of Rabin memoirs, published in the New York Times, 23 October 1979.

    21. “There are some who believe that the non-Jewish population, even in a high percentage, within our borders will be more effectively under our surveillance; and there are some who believe the contrary, i.e., that it is easier to carry out surveillance over the activities of a neighbor than over those of a tenant. [I] tend to support the latter view and have an additional argument: . . . the need to sustain the character of the state which will henceforth be Jewish . . . with a non-Jewish minority limited to 15 percent. I had already reached this fundamental position as early as 1940 [and] it is entered in my diary.” – Joseph Weitz, head of the Jewish Agency’s Colonization Department. From Israel: an Apartheid State by Uri Davis, p.5.

    22. “Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours . . . Everything we don’t grab will go to them.” – Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of militants from the Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.

    23. “Spirit the penniless population across the frontier by denying it employment . . . Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.” – Theodore Herzl, founder of the World Zionist Organization, speaking of the Arabs of Palestine, Complete Diaries, June 12, 1895 entry.

    24. “We will establish ourselves in Palestine whether you like it or not . . .You can hasten our arrival or you can equally retard it. It is however better for you to help us so as to avoid our constructive powers being turned into a destructive power which will overthrow the world.” – Chaim Weizmann, in Judische Rundschau, No. 4, 1920.

    25. “The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they want more.” – Ehud Barak, current Israeli Minister of Defense, in the Jerusalem Post, Aug. 30, 2000.

    26. “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.” – Rabbi Yaacov Perrin, Feb. 27, 1994 in N.Y. Times, Feb. 28, 1994, p. 1.

    27. “I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel.” – mega-political donor, mostly to the Democratic Party, Haim Saban explaining how to make your political donations go further in NYT, September 5, 2004.

  16. Hue Longer said on September 4th, 2007 at 11:05pm #

    Stephen said on September 4th, 2007 at 8:53 am #

    “Hue- You accuse Jaime of raising the issue of anti-Semitism as a ‘tactic’ and a ‘ruse’. This itself is proof of anti-Semitism; at root what you’re saying is that Jews raise the issue of anti-Semitsm dishonestly in order to further their own ends”.

    You are deluded by your own beliefs (is there a Jewish stereotype in that portion of my statement that makes you ticklish?) if you think pointing out Jaime’s MO is proof of my being anti-Semitic. Can you spot any hypocrisy or selective judgment in your words?

    “Why do you believe that when the issue of racism directed against Jews is raised there is no need to take it seriously”?

    Can you apply your understanding and use of “racism” to any other than those confronting Zionism?

    “Do you respond with the same flipancy and insensitivity when other ethnic minorities complain of racism? If I was accused of racism I’d be falling over myself trying to explain to the person/people I had offended that this was not the case. Further to that I’d act on what I’d been told and be much more careful in my use of language so as to avoid a repetition of an unintended offence. I certainly wouldn’t counter the accusation with the suggestion that the other person was simply using the accusation of racism as a tactic”.

    I find your bastardizing of the word, “racism” to be very insulting, offensive, insensitive and racist.

    “Have you ever studied anti-Semitsm? Do you know the many ways in which racism has historically been directed at Jews? Are you familiar with the manifold derogatory and false anti-Semitic stereotypes”?

    Were I taught that 2+2 were 5 my entire life, it wouldn’t make it so. And suggesting that one goes to classes to learn that challenging Jaime’s tactics and ruses is racist is a frightening proposition that to a certain extent is already happening…..but it doesn’t make it rational.

    “A classic anti-Semitic stereotype is of the deceitful Jew lying in order to further his own ends. You can’t say that raising the issue of anti-Semitsm is a ‘ruse’ or a ‘tactic’ without relying to this very old racist stereotype”.

    I’ll add self loathing to earlier list (Is that racist?)

  17. J Olson said on September 5th, 2007 at 4:32pm #

    Jamie and Sludge, such vitriol and navete. Haaretz reported the story regarding Israel’d demand made to the U.N. that they have 18 months in which to bomb Iran or Israel will. the same newspaper also published a poll that showed 74% of all Israeli’s want the U.S. to bomb Iran for them. Talk about playing into a stereotype and expecting someone else to pick up the check for that one. Obviously you must get all your news from Fox.

    As far as demanding that the world give one group the Guinness World title of the Most Picked Upon People in the Entire History of Mankind, well who else is demanding such recognition? The events of WWII while tragic only lasted from 1938-1945. 10-12 million Chineses civilians were murdered by the Japanese during that same conflict, yet there is little said or written in U.S. mainstream media about that. Certainly their Holocaust wasn’t deemed important enough to force Japan into paying reparations. An Uncle of mine and his family were taken away by the Nazi’s for hiding Jews, yet their deaths are not given the same recognition or import as the people they attempted to aid. Native Americans, Africans, Irish, Cambodians, Armenians have all experienced their own Holocausts.

    With regard to Hollywood being run by Jews, a quick check of Entertainment Weekly’s issue of the 100 most powerful people in Hollywood should be enough evidence of who controls U.S. media. Overwhelming the percentage is in favor of Jews when counting the top twenty powermakers.

    Obviously some unimformed as well those who subscribe to a belief in a religous superiority spew the easy canard of anti-semitism against any who dare to speak out against Zionism. Zionism predates Communisn, Fascism, and the National Socialist Party. It is based on European coloialism and a belief in religious superiority over all other groups and peoples.

    A study of the original borders the U.N. set for Israel and how much of Palestine they now control will show any moron that the country has had expansionist goals and more than achieved then in its 59 year history. Again in the truest leagal sense the Security Council, which is the only binding vote in the U.N. never voted on the annexation and partitioning of Palestine in 1947. The U.N. General Council is the only body that voted on it. From a strictly jurisprudence standpoint that does not make Israel’s creation binding, no matter how much one wants to believe it.

    With regard to AIPAC and ADL controlling the U.S. Senate and Congress I guess Stephen Walt, John Mearsheimer, Norman Finklestein Mehrene Larudee, Illan Pappe and Benny Morris are all anti-semites not to mention self-loathing Jews. Walt and Mearshimer have just released a book on this topic and are once again being savaged as being rabid anti-semites. Foxman was interviewed on NPR the other day and that little Fascist hurled the accusation of anti-semite like Joe McCarthy did with Reds 50 years ago. This term in itself is a gross misnomer since Arabs are semites and all of those mentioned are critcizing Israel for it’s occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine. To paraphrase yourself, just because U.S. media chooses to ignore events, and issues does not mean it didn’t happen. Obviously some people still have a hard time seperating criticisim of Israel with being racist towards all Jews. One can deny Israel ‘s racist and apartheid policies, their violation of international law and ethnic cleansing, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. It only make those who espouse such beliefs ignorant sheep who goose-step to the voices of fanatics.

  18. Hue Longer said on September 6th, 2007 at 2:29am #


  19. Shabnam said on October 7th, 2007 at 3:02pm #

    Please remember the Iranian Holocaust in WWI as well.

    Although there has been wide publicity about holocaust in WWII, the Iranian (Persian) holocaust has been ignored which happened earlier in WWI during 1917-1919 which has been written by Mohammad Majd.
    As many as 8 to 10 million Persians, almost half of the population of Iran at the time, perished because of starvation and disease due to British, an occupying force, war policy during the famine of 1917-1919, making it the greatest calamity in Persia’s history. In this book, Mohammad Gholi Majd argues that Persia was the greatest victim of World War One and also the victim of possibly the worst genocide of the twentieth century. Using U.S. State Department records, as well as Persian and British sources, Majd describes and documents a veritable holocaust about which practically nothing has been written. It is the first book in Majd’s World War I trilogy.

    The Great Famine and Genocide in Persia, 1917-1919
    By Mohammad Gholi Majid