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Human Rights Watch's Credibility:

Responding to an NGO Monitor Report accusing Human Rights Watch of anti-Israel bias (a topic that has been covered here before), HRW's Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson replies, "It's hard to comprehend how NGO Monitor thinks that merely devoting an alleged 9% of Human Rights Watch's energies in the Middle East to Israel constitutes a disproportionate focus." Maybe because no objective observer thinks that in a region populated with such human rights stalwarts as Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Hamas-controlled Gaza, Hezbollah-controlled South Lebanon, and Libya, Israel is responsible for anything approaching 9% of the human rights abuses in the region, whatever one thinks of its policies regarding the Palestinian territories.

I can see the argument that a disproportionate focus on Israel is appropriate, because Israel should be held to higher standards as a liberal democracy, and because liberal democracies are far more likely to be responsive to groups like Human Rights Watch than are countries like Saudi Arabia. Instead, Whitson claims that the disproportionate focus isn't disproportionate to begin with, and indeed it's incomprehensible that anyone might think otherwise, which is another nail in HRW's credibility coffin.

Whitson adds: "Israel today is the only country committing collective punishment by blockade because it is the only country that, directly and through its pressure on Egypt, is blocking all borders of a territory in order to squeeze its civilian population." So if Israel and Egypt close the border to Hamas-controlled Gaza, only Israel is engaging in "collective punishment." And Israel is doing so "to squeeze" the "civilian population," not because Hamas has been importing rockets (which it then uses to attack Israeli civilians) and other weaponry through whatever holes it can find in the borders, and meanwhile attacking Israeli border positions whenever they are opened for humanitarian purposes.

Hoosier:
On emight add that the phrase "and through its pressure on Egypt" negates the phrase "today is the only country."
5.16.2008 10:22am
A.W. (mail):
Well, that last paragraph seals it on the bias issue... And its really a double bigotry that doesn't get talked about. Call it the "soft bigotry of lowered expectations"--when Isrealis committ a war crime, they are all shocked and horrified, but when a palestinian does, they are are like, "well, what do you expect?"

The fact is our unwillingness to expect palestinians to behave like civilized people in turns gives them an incentive to be ever more brutal. You want to know why this goes on and on, liberals? Look in the mirror: you share at least some of the blame.
5.16.2008 10:30am
Brian Mac:

Whitson claims that the disproportionate focus isn't disproportionate to begin with

So she considers their coverage proportionate, but she doesn't say with respect to what. She could be accounting for the higher standards expected from a liberal democracy, and the likely effect of their lobbying (which you mentioned), rather than purely the statistical distribution of "abuses" in the region. So it's not necessarily a ridiculous statement.

And there is somewhat of an irony in NGO Monitor accusing another NGO of political bias...
5.16.2008 10:32am
Humble Law Student (mail):
Interesting. This past semester I studied the Israeli use of cluster weapons in the 2006 war. During my research, I was startled by the methodological and factual problems that permeated the two primary HRW reports on the conflict. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of time and effort to uncover the multitude of problems and errors with HRW's reports, so I understand why HRW's indefensible bias is not so widely recognized.
5.16.2008 10:35am
Rickm:
David,

Now you're going to have to attack the credibility of every other human rights organization--because, by and large, there is a consensus among human rights organizations about Israel's atrocities against the Palestinians.

Maybe you can start with B'Tselem?
5.16.2008 10:38am
Iolo:
I can see the argument that a disproportionate focus on Israel is appropriate, because Israel should be held to higher standards as a liberal democracy, and because liberal democracies are far more likely to be responsive to groups like Human Rights Watch than are countries like Saudi Arabia.

It is a waste of resources to focus on liberal democracies, because their internal mechanisms (free press, opposition groups, etc.) will publicize abuses, plus their publics care about such abuses and have ways to make the government stop doing them. All this drives liberal democracies to moderate their behavior without HRW intervention. HRW needs to focus on regimes that don't have any internal forces that can make their governments stop abusing human rights.

Needless to say, HRW is not focusing on Israel because they think it should be held to some high standard, they are focusing on Israel because HRW is dominated by Leftists who detest Israel.
5.16.2008 10:39am
Hoosier:
This "higher standards for a liberal democracy" approach is a non-starter. The basis of the idea of "human rights" is universality. These are rights that one has based on one's membership in the human race. Not based upon the government under which one happens to live. Either the rules bind all governments equally, or they are not universal rules, and thus not human rights.

We expect better from liberal democracies. And we get better. Israel's record is better than that of any of its neighbors. HRW proclaims itself to be a watcher of human rights. Are Arabs living under Arab rule less human? Less covered by 'universal laws'?

Or is this a case of intellectual smuggling? The idea is certainly prominent in academia that abuses don't 'count' as much if they are committed by people who look like the victims. Is this HRW's planted axiom.

(Oh. And I get to be the first to say: Hey, Prof. Bernstein, this is not a post about law, blah-blah-blah . . .!)
5.16.2008 10:40am
David M. Nieporent (www):
because, by and large, there is a consensus among human rights organizations about Israel's atrocities against the Palestinians.
What a shock; for about 2000 years, there have been "consensuses" about the evils of Jews.
5.16.2008 10:40am
RainerK:
So let me get this straight, if I can.
- Israel is responsible because it is pressuring Egypt.
- Egypt is not responsible because it is merely responding to pressure from Israel.

What's wrong with that? Sounds like normal post-modern logic to me.

HRW forgot to mention that the US is responsible because it supports Israel. That would make Israel not responsible, wouldn't it?
Oh, my head can't take that. Too complicated.
5.16.2008 10:44am
Anderson (mail):
It is a waste of resources to focus on liberal democracies, because their internal mechanisms (free press, opposition groups, etc.) will publicize abuses, plus their publics care about such abuses and have ways to make the government stop doing them.

Which is why Guantanamo is closed, laws prohibiting the CIA from using torture have been enacted, and war crimes indictments have been lodged against a dozen administration officials?

--Oh, wait: maybe liberal democracies *like* abuses, when the "right" people are being abused. Like terrorists, or Palestinians ....

In any event, exactly how DB thinks that constant Hillaryesque whinging does Israel any good is a mystery. Evidently it makes him feel better however. Whinge away, sir.
5.16.2008 10:50am
Brian Mac:

It is a waste of resources to focus on liberal democracies, because their internal mechanisms (free press, opposition groups, etc.) will publicize abuses, plus their publics care about such abuses and have ways to make the government stop doing them. All this drives liberal democracies to moderate their behavior without HRW intervention. HRW needs to focus on regimes that don't have any internal forces that can make their governments stop abusing human rights.

Interesting first point. Although in periods of war, it's not hard to imagine those internal mechanisms not striking the right balance between human rights and security. Moreover, even outside of war, a country's population are always going to be biased towards their own needs at the expense of other nations'. So outside lobby groups can play a useful role. I half agree with the second point, in that they should focus more on undemocratic regimes, but I'm pretty skeptical that they'll get much results.


This "higher standards for a liberal democracy" approach is a non-starter. The basis of the idea of "human rights" is universality. These are rights that one has based on one's membership in the human race. Not based upon the government under which one happens to live. Either the rules bind all governments equally, or they are not universal rules, and thus not human rights.

But it's higher standards as a descriptive expectation, not a normative one. Nobody's arguing that the Palestinians don't hold the same universal rights as Westerners solely by virtue of living under the government they do, just that it's not a plausible expectation that they'll be granted them.
5.16.2008 10:50am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Brian Mac, I considered your explanation, and rejected it because Ms. Whitson said that she couldn't even comprehend how anyone could believe that HRW's coverage was disproportionate. If she had a more subtle rationale, it would at least be easily comprehensible to her.

RickM, I'd certainly expect B'tselem to spend 100% of its time on investigating Israel's human rights record. Otherwise, I'm not going to get sidetracked into a debate over B'tselem.
5.16.2008 10:53am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Is there anything Saudi money can't buy?
They got our State Department. But that wasn't much of a contest.
5.16.2008 10:59am
darelf:
I'm not sure whether I'm better served by this further insight into the madness that is "human rights organizations". Or Anderson's response.

At the very least it helps me understand why it is useless to engage certain people in dialogue on specific issues. The root of the problem is much deeper than "I hate Israel". It has to do with a warped world view that has led to that.

I'm sure their warped view of the world is somehow Bush's fault, though.
5.16.2008 11:00am
Rickm:
darelf-

Well that's certainly a conveniently and intellectually lazy way of jettisoning all the human rights organization's documentations of Israeli atrocities.
5.16.2008 11:02am
PLR:
Well that's certainly a conveniently and intellectually lazy way of jettisoning all the human rights organization's documentations of Israeli atrocities.

Yes, it is not reprehensible behavior by government against civilians that is noteworthy. It is the relative amount of publicity given to different offenders that is noteworthy.

For some.
5.16.2008 11:15am
The Unbeliever:
Well that's certainly a conveniently and intellectually lazy way of jettisoning all the human rights organization's documentations of Israeli atrocities.
Just like focusing on the limited (and internally prosecuted) cases in the US is a convenient and intellectually lazy way to ignore the relative barbarity of the rest of the world?
5.16.2008 11:20am
John87 (mail):
Unfortunately I think the term "human rights" is fast becoming another meaningless phrase. It used to refer to the most basic and fundamental rights of all people, but now professional "ethicists" and liberal organizations slap the "human rights" label on things such as healthcare, access to birth control, and livable housing. It has basically gone from a term that described personal freedom to one that describes a welfare state. Not that all of those things aren't woth aspiring to, but to call them "human rights" that should be provided for without any effort by the recipient is a stretch considering someone else has to work to produce all these things.

This is not exactly to the point that DB made, but it is in a way because DB is pointing out how "human rights" has become a politicized term. People on the left try to add weight to their political preferences by declaring them "human rights." In reality, it just dilutes the meaning of the word.
5.16.2008 11:26am
Iolo:
Which is why Guantanamo is closed, laws prohibiting the CIA from using torture have been enacted, and war crimes indictments have been lodged against a dozen administration officials?

Perhaps the Left's most feverish dreams of Bush and Cheney doing the perp walk will not be realized, but undoubtedly Gitmo will be closed (never mind that this does not solve the problem of what to do with detainees) and the "rights" of terrorists and guerrillas will be respected to a far greater degree than they deserve. The US military already has lawyers constantly looking over its shoulder, routinely requests legal opinions before it makes attacks, and tries its own soldiers for decisions made in the heat of battle. Can anyone imagine such insanity would be occurring if the US was not a liberal democracy?
5.16.2008 11:40am
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
"Well that's certainly a conveniently and intellectually lazy way of jettisoning all the human rights organization's documentations of Israeli atrocities."

I have very seldom seen any evidence of Israeli atrocities in recent years. Generally, the purported atrocities have been more or less self-evident hoaxes (from the "Jenin massacre" through Al-Durah) or based on facially improper understandings of international law (disproportionate force). That is completely consistent with noting that HRW and other self-important human rights groups are prejudiced and biased against Israel.

The best description of what's going on that I've found is the analysis Richard Landes has put together over at theaugeanstables.com. His analysis is thorough and informative.

HGB
5.16.2008 11:44am
Guest101:
Selective prosecution may be a legal defense in some instances, but it surely is not a moral one. I'm not sure how the fact that HRW devotes "only" 91% of its Middle East resources to work in other countries mitigates Israel's culpability for its own abuses.
5.16.2008 11:50am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Guest.
Missed again. Either you missed the point, or you missed in your attempt to change the subject.

The point is HRW's lack of balance, and, by extension, the lack of balance of other entities who claim to be concerned about human rights--as long as such concern inconveniences democracies and makes things easier for tyrants.

Nobody was talking about mitigating anything, although you probably think that pointing out something didn't actually happen--Jenin--is "mitigating". Lots of luck with that.
5.16.2008 11:56am
JB:
This time I think Bernstein has it right. He's not nitpicking or taking anything out of context--HRW does tend to ignore the abuses of other regimes.

The world may not be better, but it will be more honest, when we take off the rose-colored glasses and admit that democracies can be as violent and abusive as any other form of government. It was democracies, or at least countries which freely voted in governments with power, who colonized the world and drew these boundaries to begin with.

"Democratic Peace Theory" and all the associated hagiography of elections are complete crocks. Israel should not be held to a higher standard than Egypt, nor should Egypt be held to a lower one. Just as dictators can act humanely, electorates can be barbaric.
5.16.2008 12:01pm
Guest101:
Richard,
What, exactly, is the point of complaining about lack of "balance" in HRW's work if not to make some kind of tu quoque argument minimizing HRW's legitimate criticisms of Israeli policy? Why should anyone care how much time and effort HRW devotes to one country vs. another, so long as it is pursuing its mandate in the expenditure of those resources? If you want to argue that HRW is off-base on the merits of the specific claims it makes regarding Israel's purported abuses, fine, but I just don't see why we should care what relative amount of effort HRW devotes to Israel vs. the rest of the Middle East, particularly when, as Whitson notes, the Israel expenditure is hardly overwhelming.
5.16.2008 12:02pm
orly (mail):
John87 said:

["Human rights"] has basically gone from a term that described personal freedom to one that describes a welfare state.


Amen to that.
5.16.2008 12:05pm
anon252 (mail):
Guest: Much of the work of human rights organizations relies on the credibility of the reporting and analysis of those organizations.

If an organization's leaders manifest an obvious bias against a country--for example, Israel but not Egypt is responsible for closing Gaza, and Israel is only doing it out of spite--the credibility of the organization's reports and analysis is then in question. The original post links to a prior post in which various media organizations, but not HRW, found obvious evidence of military activity in a town in Lebanon targeted by Israel. This begins to look less like an honest error.
5.16.2008 12:12pm
Oren:
Nice one DB, "not going to get sidetracked by B'Tselem". So HRW has an anti-Israel bias excepting that they are saying most of the things Israelis say about themselves. Classic.
5.16.2008 12:15pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Boy, there is nothing more annoying than a commentator who either intentionally misquotes what I wrote, or is too lazy or careless to quote accurately. I wrote "I'm not going to get sidetracked into a debate over B'tselem." I'll be happy to discuss B'tselem in comments if I ever post about that organization.
5.16.2008 12:21pm
BobDoyle (mail):
Wow! Who'd have ever imagined that Egypt is just a puppet state of the Zionists! I guess it's not just the U. S. government that is controlled by the world-wide Jewish conspiracy.
5.16.2008 12:21pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
DavidB lists 10 other countries they should be investigating as well. Israel makes 11. Doesn't that makes 9% proportionate rather than dispropriationate? If we add others 9% might turn out to be slightly disproportionate but complaining about whether the appropriate resource split is 8% or 8% really sounds like pointless whining.
5.16.2008 12:28pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
That should be 8% or 9%.
5.16.2008 12:30pm
Brian Mac:

DavidB lists 10 other countries they should be investigating as well. Israel makes 11. Doesn't that makes 9% proportionate rather than dispropriationate? If we add others 9% might turn out to be slightly disproportionate but complaining about whether the appropriate resource split is 8% or 8% really sounds like pointless whining.

I think the point was that they're not all equally abusive.
5.16.2008 12:33pm
Paul Milligan (mail) (www):
Gee, I wonder why Hamas et al lob rockets into ISRAEL, attack ISRAEL, etc, and not Egypt, who is ALSO blocking not only their border, but their easiest and most direct route to MUSLIM lands ?

Maybe it's because they KNOW what would happen if they tried that crap with Egypt ? Thye found out recently when they tore down a section of the Egyptian fence - Egypt told them flat out 'If you ever do this again, we will have troops lined up to meet you, and they will mow you down where you stand.

GO figure.

The fact is most 'human rights' organizations, from the UN HRC, to Amnesty International, to HRW, etc, are mere organs of the far left, the socialists, and the anarchists. They exist primarily for one reason - to harrass and harangue Western democracies ( is that two reasons ? ).

I read recently that one of them, I forget which, claimed that by not having totally open borders, by not INVITING Mexicans to come here for free health care, housing, college, shelter, etc, the United States is 'violating the human rights' of Mexicans. They went beyond talking even about 'illegals' ( which they now call 'paper-work deficient workers' or such ), and complained that we dont' ACTIVELY SEEK OUT an increased flow of the destitute across our borders.
5.16.2008 12:34pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
DavidB lists 10 other countries they should be investigating as well. Israel makes 11. Doesn't that makes 9% proportionate rather than dispropriationate?
Uh, no. The whole point is that the measure of proportionality is in relation to the amount of human rights abuse, not to the number of countries.
5.16.2008 12:36pm
PLR:
This time I think Bernstein has it right. He's not nitpicking or taking anything out of context—HRW does tend to ignore the abuses of other regimes.

Really?

http://www.hrw.org/

Hmm. A perusal of today's front page shows Israel mentioned exactly once, in a click-through about Gaza on the right side.

Obviously somebody at HRW has seen this thread, and they're covering their tracks.
5.16.2008 12:39pm
ichthyophagous (mail):
Not being a liberal democracy can help a country escape human rights citations. If citizens are afraid to protest, there will not be so many protests and therefore not so many retaliatory human rights violations. Also, instances of retaliation will be less often reported outside. This must explain a lot of the human rights discrepancies reported between between Israel and other Middle Eastern countries.
5.16.2008 12:44pm
Eric Rasmusen (mail) (www):

Whitson adds: "Israel today is the only country committing collective punishment by blockade because it is the only country that, directly and through its pressure on Egypt, is blocking all borders of a territory in order to squeeze its civilian population."



I thought Arab countries had been boycotting Israel for years. Wikipedia says


Arab boycotts of Zionist institutions and Jewish businesses began before Israel's founding as a state. An official boycott was adopted by the Arab League almost immediately after 1948, but is not fully implemented in practice.


Should someone point this out to Whitson? I wonder what he has to say about such things as the boycott of apartheid South Africa?
5.16.2008 12:47pm
Soodonim (mail):
Bernstein, will you ever stop whining about how Israel has it so tough? The 9% focus on Israel makes sense, not because of population or some unquantifiable level of human rights abuses, but because Israel's unique situation. Israel has novel human rights issues for the region such as the blockade of Palestinian areas ostensibly part of Israel and settlement issues. But hey, if it is easier to whine about human rights groups bias against Israel than to actually think critically about the situation, go ahead and do that.
5.16.2008 12:56pm
Nathan_M (mail):
I don't understand the premise that HRW should investigate countries in direct proportion to the amount of human rights abuses that occur in them.

I can't think of any other situation where anyone behaves like this. For example, Greenpeace doesn't campaign where environmental abuses are the worst; it presumably considers that as one factor along with how much public interest in can raise in a problem and how much good it can do. Is there any organization that spends its resources only with regard to the total amount of the problem it is trying to address, and with no other considerations?

Human Rights Watch's mission statement is:


We stand with victims and activists to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom, to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime, and to bring offenders to justice. We investigate and expose human rights violations and hold abusers accountable. We challenge governments and those who hold power to end abusive practices and respect international human rights law. We enlist the public and the international community to support the cause of human rights for all.

I could understand this criticism a bit more if they were exclusively dedicated to exposing human rights abuses, but they're not.

If HRW followed this advice, I imagine it would redeploy the vast majority of its resources to places like North Korea and Myanmar, where there are human rights abuses occurring on a larger scale than anywhere in the middle east, and it is incredibly difficult to report on them because of their governments. I have a hard time seeing how that would advance global human rights.
5.16.2008 1:04pm
Vermando (mail) (www):
I think that Nathan_M has a good point. There is also the factor that Israel's freedom both allows it to be investigated and gives hope that coverage will accomplish change - you can devote all the resources you want to covering Saudi Arabia or Iran, but you're ultimately just going to be writing articles from Dubai because they're going to kick you out of the country and laugh at your recommendations.

That said, one has to acknowledge anti-Israeli bias in some sectors of human rights reporting, just as one has to acknowledge pro-Israeli bias in other sectors of society - It is odd the feelings that that country engenders, as its constant and seemingly reappearance on blogs like this one shows.
5.16.2008 1:16pm
Oren:
Boy, there is nothing more annoying than a commentator who either intentionally misquotes what I wrote, or is too lazy or careless to quote accurately. I wrote "I'm not going to get sidetracked into a debate over B'tselem." I'll be happy to discuss B'tselem in comments if I ever post about that organization.
So you really don't think it's relevant here that HRW is not far out of line with B'Tselem? They are 100% relevant to the current discussion because they entirely undercut the notion that the particularly criticisms made by HRW are motivated by anti-Israel bias.

There a difference between getting into a debate over B'Tselem and recognizing their manifest relevance to the instant debate.
5.16.2008 1:22pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I don't understand the premise that HRW should investigate countries in direct proportion to the amount of human rights abuses that occur in them.
That premise may or may not be correct, and if Whitson had made an argument like Nathan M.'s instead of feigning horror that anyone could possibly believe that HRW focuses disproportionately on Israel (and, in an additional quote I didn't add, mocking NGO Watch besides), that would not have drawn a comment from me.

And btw, war itself results in "inhumane treatment during wartime"; war is not humane. I've noted before that "human rights" organizations traffic in pacifism, at least with regard to Western powers.
5.16.2008 1:30pm
frankcross (mail):
Well, devoting 9% to criticizing Israel might well be disproportionately high. As far as I can see, though, NGO Monitor is 0% critical of Israel, and that might be a little low. But I don't think that destroys its credibility, it pretty much comes down to the evidence.
5.16.2008 1:31pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
To discuss the relevance of wheter B'tselem and HRW being in agreement would require a discussion of whether B'tselem has its own ideological baggage or is simply a neutral human rights organization. The fact that B'tselem is an Israeli organization speaks no more to its ideological neutrality than the fact that ANSWER or the Minutemen are American organizations speaks to their ideological neutrality on questions of American policy.
5.16.2008 1:33pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
Here is a solution - everybody send more money to all the human rights organizations in Arab countries, Israel, Gaza and the Palestinian authority and around the world so that they can put more time and money into ferreting out all the human rights abuses. I mean the "too much/not enough" debate is kind of a luxury don't you think folks? When bad shxt happens or risks happening to people let's call people/states on it. More resources on this, more resources on this, more resources on this. Otherwise we are twiddling thumbs tut tutting towards the apocalypse.
Best,
Ben
5.16.2008 1:34pm
Adam J:
I'm confused, what is disproportionate about 9%? Why on earth does HRW have to distribute its resources evenly according to which nation is committing the most abuses? That's not the most effective policing tactic, instead HRW should be putting its resources where they are likely to achieve the most to end human rights abuses. A democratic government is particularly vulnerable to criticism on human rights abuses, since these governments are far more accountable to their citizens. Thus, it makes perfect sense to target Israel, it puts political pressure on the government to clean up its act... whereas if they targetted North Korea or other dictatorships any accountability has to come externally from pressure generated by other countries- and we all know how effective that typically is.
5.16.2008 1:36pm
Rickm:
Shorter David Bernstein:

Sure I can't find a reputable human rights organization that disagrees with all the other reputable human rights organizations indictment of Israel's human rights record, but thats not going to stop me from saying that they all hate Israel.
5.16.2008 1:41pm
Jiminy (mail):
Maybe the HRW complains more about Israel because that country gets a lot more money and credibility than the other abusive nations. So we should hold that country to a higher standard of human rights.

Similar to the Chinese hypocrisy - they are good enough to manufacture our retail goods, but we shouldn't bother them about human rights violations.

HRW complains because Israelites (and those who send them money) might listen and take the words to heart, whereas the other abusive countries exist as autocracies and policy is not a democratic institution; so HRW would bang their collective heads against the Egyptian/Syrian/etc wall trying to alter that policy.

Seems simple to me and does not impact the aura of credibility.
5.16.2008 1:42pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):

Well, devoting 9% to criticizing Israel might well be disproportionately high. As far as I can see, though, NGO Monitor is 0% critical of Israel, and that might be a little low.
Heh! That's a good one.
5.16.2008 1:51pm
Lior:
It is certainly the case that Israel has been putting pressure on Egypt to close off its border with the Gaza strip, allowing Israel to vet everything that enters there (with the hope of limiting the smuggling of arms). It is thus not completely honest to argue that, even with the Israeli blockade, Gaza still has outside access through Egypt.

I certainly think the Israeli-Egyptian blockade is legitimate, given the hostile nature of the government of Gaza. For example, it cannot be said that Israel is committing a "human rights abuse" when it stops the transport of fuel into Gaza after Gazan troops attack the fuel terminal.
5.16.2008 1:54pm
SenatorX (mail):
I couldn't care less about the Palestinians. Everyone but the anti-Semites and appeasers acknowledges that their suffering exists because it's beneficial to their anti-Semitic masters. Israel wants to live and to have peace, they want death and war. Yet they cry a river and act victim over everything. My only complaint is that Israel isn't harsh enough. Their morality is used against them as a weakness. They should treat their enemies like like they are treated. They should set a date and say any rocket attacks after this date will be responded to with total war, and then do it.
5.16.2008 1:58pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
NGO Monitor is not a human rights organization, it is what it's name suggests. Why should one expect it to be critical of Israel? As far as I know, Frank Cross is 0% critical of Israel, also.

RickM, we have a disagreement about what is "reputable," but just keep asserting your opinion as if it's truth from heaven. Rather than rely on the "reputation' of a group, it's in any event far more useful to look at what they actually write. When Amnesty says that bridges and roads are not legitimate military targets, when HRW claims that it couldn't find evidence of Hezbollah in a town when even Robert Fisk could, and so forth, I don't need to know whether Amnesty or HRW are considered reputable to know they are full of **** in these particular instances.
5.16.2008 1:59pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
It is certainly the case that Israel has been putting pressure on Egypt to close off its border with the Gaza strip.
Egypt has no interest in allowing free movement of weaponry and people between Sinai and Gaza. It uses Israeli "pressure" as an excuse to do precisely what it wants to do out of self-interest.
5.16.2008 2:04pm
Oren:
To discuss the relevance of wheter B'tselem and HRW being in agreement would require a discussion of whether B'tselem has its own ideological baggage or is simply a neutral human rights organization.
Another nice parry! It's good to know Yale Law School still teaches old-school rhetoric (in the most positive sense -- effective debate).

The "ideological baggage" (which I assume is code for "doves") of B'Tselem, is, however, irrelevant because I'm not citing their agreement to suport the conclusion that HRW is correct, I'm citing their agreement to debunk the theory that HRW's conclusions are the product of anti-Israel bias. Whatever BT's faults (and I'm sure they are many), certainly being anti-Israel is not among them.

I don't particularly buy the HRW line on Israel (I think they focus on the details that suit them) but to imply that this indicates anti-Israel bias when Israelis are saying the same things is just plain wrong. (Note: BT is perhaps also unduly focused on some details, but certainly that isn't in and of itself evidence of anti-Israel bias)
5.16.2008 2:06pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
And, fwiw, I think the "human rights" NGOs are not motivated by a specifically anti-Israel ideology, but various lef-wing ideologies that manifest themselves in hostility to Israel. Note Jimmy Carter's recent comment that any time a Western power takes military action that threatens civilians, it's engaging in terrorism.
5.16.2008 2:07pm
Oren:
Egypt has no interest in allowing free movement of weaponry and people between Sinai and Gaza. It uses Israeli "pressure" as an excuse to do precisely what it wants to do out of self-interest.
Which is a very good reason for Israel to announce that it has no problem with an immediate and unconditional opening of the Gaza-Egypt border.

If, as you claim, the Egyptians will keep it closed, then Israel scores a PR victory with no actual cost!
5.16.2008 2:07pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I wrote my last post before I saw Oren's but it works perfectly. The fact that Israeli leftists agree with European and American leftists about how awful certain Israeli policies are is hardly evidence that the criticism is the product of objective reason.
5.16.2008 2:08pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
When Hamas breached the Gaza border with Israel, many Israeli leaders did indeed suggest that Egypt open the border permanently and take responsibility for supplying Gaza's humanitarian needs. Egypt said "no way."
5.16.2008 2:10pm
Oren:
And, fwiw, I think the "human rights" NGOs are not motivated by a specifically anti-Israel ideology, but various lef-wing ideologies that manifest themselves in hostility to Israel.
A slight retreat! Quick, now that he's given an inch let's take the whole miles!

I kid, I kid. That said, it has always seemed absurd to me that leftism would somehow lead to anti-Israel bias. Maybe the two got mixed up somewhere a long the way, but I consider myself vaguely left (in the left-libertarian sense, kind of a precarious position) and I've always felt that Israel was light-years ahead of the rest of the middle east in terms of the values that I hold dear.
5.16.2008 2:11pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
To ignore, say, North Korea because it's too difficult while focusing on the easy targets, like Israel, promotes the general impression that only Israel has human rights issues.
At least, whether there is any internal effect or not, the HRWs of the world could tell us more emphatically about how things go in NK, or Myanmar, or Cuba.
Just so we'd know they actually care.
But they don't, so they don't.
5.16.2008 2:12pm
Oren:
The fact that Israeli leftists agree with European and American leftists about how awful certain Israeli policies are is hardly evidence that the criticism is the product of objective reason.
Correct, but I think it's evidence against the proposition that the criticism is motivated by anti-Israel bias.

Like I said, I don't think the human rights NGOs are objectively reasonable -- they oftentimes fail to see the forest for the trees. This is more a product of their focus than ideological stricture, IMO.
5.16.2008 2:15pm
Oren:
Richard, NK and Cuba are universally known to have zero consideration for human rights. It's unclear to me how further documentation of this fact is needed.
5.16.2008 2:17pm
samuil (mail):
That is the first time I agree with DB.
5.16.2008 2:23pm
x (mail):
Take Nathan_M and Oren together and you have the basic function of HRW and similar NGO's. They make lefties feel that they are virtuously supporting the cause de jure by doing lots of talking about human rights, documenting 'abuses' where they can observe freely, and raising public interest in countries that are already committed to open debate about government policies. But do anything about NK or Burma? That's too hard!
5.16.2008 2:33pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
When did I ever say that HRW has an anti-Israel bias that emanates from anything other than more general left-wing premises?
5.16.2008 2:35pm
tired of blogs:
Although I suspect that the reason that HRW devotes a disproportionate share of its budget to Israel follows from its belief that it is more likely to be able to influence Israel's human rights practices than those of, say, Iran, couldn't there be more practical reasons for the higher share of resources spent on Israel? Perhaps the cost of living for resident investigators relative to that in the other countries?
5.16.2008 2:43pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Oren: You're kidding. How many lefties--and not all ex-SDS lefties--make the pilgrimage to Cuba? The big noise is the Hollywood emptyheads, but I know of faith-based folks who go under the radar. I've worked with some of them.
The diff, if you have anything to be right about, is that said lefties aren't actually fooled. They like the absence of human rights.
However, if you were to ask a random bunch of people about nations with human rights issues, would Israel come out closer to the top, or North Korea?
5.16.2008 2:44pm
frankcross (mail):
DB, if it is monitoring NGOs, I would expect it to be evenhanded in such monitoring. I would not expect evenhanded to be 0% critical. But if it is not evenhanded, then that would go to its credibility, as I understand your position.
5.16.2008 2:56pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
From the NGO Monitor's website:
Aims and Objectives
The aim of NGO Monitor, as outlined in the mission statement, is to generate and distribute critical analysis and reports on the output of the international NGO community for the benefit of government policy makers, journalists, philanthropic organizations and the general public. We intend to publicize distortions of human rights issues in the Arab-Israeli conflict and provide information and context for the benefit of NGOs working in the Middle East. We hope this will lead to an informed public debate on the role of humanitarian NGOs.

NGO Monitor's objective is to end to the practice used by certain self-declared 'humanitarian NGOs' of exploiting the label 'universal human rights values' to promote politically and ideologically motivated anti-Israel agendas.
Strikes me that NGO Monitor is doing exactly what it purports to do. That's reason, perhaps to be skeptical of NGO Monitor. But here Ms. Whitson didn't take issue with NM's claim that HRW spends a lot of time on Israel, she just suggested that Israel's human rights record deserves such attention relative to Iran et al.
5.16.2008 3:07pm
Brian Mac:

At least, whether there is any internal effect or not, the HRWs of the world could tell us more emphatically about how things go in NK, or Myanmar, or Cuba.
Just so we'd know they actually care.
But they don't, so they don't.


That doesn't really stack up with what I saw from a quick visit to their site. What the media choses to report of HRW's activities is another issue.
5.16.2008 3:15pm
Hoosier:
Richard Aubrey--Re: The "Jenin massacre" never happened:
Now, you must keep in mind that we have a much higher standard for "to happen" in the case of liberal democracies.
5.16.2008 3:18pm
Snarky:

I can see the argument that a disproportionate focus on Israel is appropriate, because Israel should be held to higher standards as a liberal democracy, and because liberal democracies are far more likely to be responsive to groups like Human Rights Watch than are countries like Saudi Arabia. Instead, Whitson claims that the disproportionate focus isn't disproportionate to begin with


Actually, you have essentially argued yourself that the attention may not be disproportionate from a cost benefit perspective. Money used to focus on Saudi Arabia may provide very little or no benefit, because Saudi Arabia is not responsive.

I do not believe that someone must agree that something is disproportionate when they disagree with the standard used to make that assertion. And if you cannot "comprehend" why people would use a different standard, I think it is fair to say it.

Maybe in HRW's view, money used on some of these other countries is money wasted. It is hard to "comprehend" why someone would insist that one use a flawed metric of proportionality that causes an organization with scarce resources to squander those resources.

Maybe HRW does have anti-Isreali bias. But, this particular quote does nothing to establish that.
5.16.2008 3:21pm
Thoughtful (mail):
This is passing strange. DB makes a claim that HRW spends disproportionately on uncovering Israeli human rights atrocities.

So when HRW discovers Israeli human rights atrocities, it doesn't matter because "Hell, you'd find those atrocities committed by ANY nation if you spent THAT much money investigating it"? No, that can't be it.

DB presumably think Israel commits no significant human rights atrocities. I can't recall ever hearing him mention one. If he truly believes that, wouldn't he want HRW to spend even more of their budget investigating Israel? "See! You spent 100% of your budget investigating Israel and you found NOTHING!"

Is the point that if HRW spent more money investigating, say, Egypt, they'd find more atrocities committed by Egypt. Granted, this is likely. But how does that lessen the significance to Bernstein of documented Israeli atrocities? Presumably, given Bernstein's strong commitment to Israel, he'd be MORE interested in any Israeli atrocities committed. I don't care about Egyptian atrocities. I don't travel there or have friends there. I'm more interested in atrocities alleged of governments I live under or care about. But that's just me. I, for one, would never think of saying, when the Washington Post uncovered torture at Abu Graiab, "Wait just a minute. Exactly how much did you SPEND to uncover that? Was it proportional to your spending on Sadam's atrocities?"

So, I'm not clear on the import of DB's point. Either Israel commits atrocities or it doesn't. If it doesn't, that point is made more clear the MORE HRW spends to try and discover them. If it does, THAT's the important issue, not HRW spending priorities.
5.16.2008 3:29pm
Oren:
But do anything about NK or Burma? That's too hard!
What exactly do you want "done" about NK or Burma?

Oren: You're kidding. How many lefties--and not all ex-SDS lefties--make the pilgrimage to Cuba? The big noise is the Hollywood emptyheads, but I know of faith-based folks who go under the radar. I've worked with some of them.
Yes, there are knuckleheads that go to Cuba and make a stink about it (probably because they don't tour the political prisons). To be frank, they embarrass me quite a bit. I can't stop them, though, now can I. The only thing I can do is present a positive picture of modern liberalism that is committed to human freedom, human rights and rejects authoritarian leftism as a ridiculous and failed system.

However, if you were to ask a random bunch of people about nations with human rights issues, would Israel come out closer to the top, or North Korea?
I'm pretty sure NK, but whatever.
5.16.2008 3:39pm
Oren:
When did I ever say that HRW has an anti-Israel bias that emanates from anything other than more general left-wing premises?
You didn't say it, you implied that you supported the NGO Monitor's conclusion that HRW has an anti-Israel bias (first sentence of your post). That conclusion makes no mention of general premises but is a bald assertion of bias on the part of HRW.

This clever argumentation is starting to give me a serious headache. Even more so since we probably agree on the core issues -- I just wish that criticisms of HRW would focus on the substantive issues of misrepresentations (where they exist) and not on some vaguely mathematical notions of "percentages of abuses" (whatever it means to quantify a thing like that) or thinly-veiled accusations of outright racism.
5.16.2008 3:42pm
Oren:
That doesn't really stack up with what I saw from a quick visit to their site.
Did you do a mathematical comparison of how many pixels they devote to each country divided by that country's normalized rate of human-rights atrocities? If not, then obviously you don't have a useful metric!
5.16.2008 3:47pm
Oren:
According to my analysis of their middle east page, there were 20 stories, 4 of which about Israel. That's 5%.

They seemed pretty down on Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morroco and Jordan too, giving those countries a whopping 12/20 stories combined, or 15% each. This must mean that HRW considers Egypt to be only 3 times as bad as Israel when, in reality, they are at least 10 times as bad. That's a 333% inflation in badness!
5.16.2008 3:52pm
Brian Mac:

According to my analysis of their middle east page, there were 20 stories, 4 of which about Israel. That's 5%.

They seemed pretty down on Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morroco and Jordan too, giving those countries a whopping 12/20 stories combined, or 15% each. This must mean that HRW considers Egypt to be only 3 times as bad as Israel when, in reality, they are at least 10 times as bad. That's a 333% inflation in badness!


You should patent that approach. Call it the badometer.
5.16.2008 3:58pm
frankcross (mail):
Ok, DB, if NGO Monitor is devoted to only one side -- defending Israel -- then it is logical that it only defends Israel.

But that completely elides my point. I thought you were suggesting that HRW was not "credible" because its reports show some pattern of bias. I would think that a site that has a priori decided to be one-sided, would surely lack credibility.

Now, I don't think that's terribly bad, it's good having vigorous one-sided advocates on both sides. But if you are talking about credibility, I don't see how you could say the one that makes at least some effort to report both sides lacks credibility while the one that explicitly only reports one side has credibility.
5.16.2008 4:07pm
The Unbeliever:
According to my analysis of their middle east page, there were 20 stories, 4 of which about Israel. That's 5%.
...don't you mean 20%? Or did math get a lot more liberal since I last cracked open a calculus textbook?
5.16.2008 4:10pm
Oren:
Whoops, I divided wrong. Sorry, although my math error makes the point even stronger -- now there is more than 600% inflation!
5.16.2008 4:31pm
Andrew J. Lazarus (mail):

NGO Monitor's objective is to end to the practice used by certain self-declared 'humanitarian NGOs' of exploiting the label 'universal human rights values' to promote politically and ideologically motivated anti-Israel agendas.
So by its own description, NGO Monitor is 100 percent biased and spends none of its time looking for ideologically motivated pro-Israel agenda. (I use pro-Israel reluctantly, since in my view groups like B'Tselem are pro-Israel and groups like Arutz Sheva are illiberal, undemocratic, racist, and anti-Israel.)
5.16.2008 4:38pm
Happyshooter:
Which country was issuing torture warrants in the 90s?

I would say that country needs some watching.

Wasn't that the courts in Israel?
5.16.2008 4:40pm
The Unbeliever:
Whoops, I divided wrong. Sorry, although my math error makes the point even stronger -- now there is more than 600% inflation!
Well, no, because your error propagates down into your next paragraph:
They seemed pretty down on Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morroco and Jordan too, giving those countries a whopping 12/20 stories combined, or 15% each. This must mean that HRW considers Egypt to be only 3 times as bad as Israel when, in reality, they are at least 10 times as bad. That's a 333% inflation in badness!

If you're taking the average per country in that group to be 15% of stories (a bit of bad statistical analysis I'll ignore for now), yet they dedicated 20% of the stories to Israel, then the inflation is going the other way. In other words they portray Israel to be 33% worse than Egypt, and if Egypt is actually 10x worse than Israel, then the disparity is actually a 967% inflation against Israel! (How many badometers is that?)

[incoming snark warning]
Tell you what, how about you just leave the math to us pesky conservatives working in the hard sciences from now on. =)
5.16.2008 4:48pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
HRW claims, however, not to have any agenda other than "human rights." We've already heard from readers who say that we should trust organizations like HRW precisely because they are respected human rights organizations. No one has claimed that we should trust whatever NGO says because it's an unbiased media source.
5.16.2008 4:50pm
Oren:
It was in the 90s (99) that the Israeli Supreme Court stepped in and put limits of the interrogators. Still, there is a fair amount of wiggle room left. . .
5.16.2008 4:51pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
When did I ever say that HRW has an anti-Israel bias that emanates from anything other than more general left-wing premises?

You didn't say it, you implied that you supported the NGO Monitor's conclusion that HRW has an anti-Israel bias (first sentence of your post). That conclusion makes no mention of general premises but is a bald assertion of bias on the part of HRW.

This clever argumentation is starting to give me a serious headache. Even more so since we probably agree on the core issues -- I just wish that criticisms of HRW would focus on the substantive issues of misrepresentations (where they exist) and not on some vaguely mathematical notions of "percentages of abuses" (whatever it means to quantify a thing like that) or thinly-veiled accusations of outright racism.
I think you're overreading the first sentence. And the point of my post is not that HRW focuses too much on Israel, but that Ms. Whitson suggests that it focuses so much on Israel because it believes that Israel is on at least a par with Iran, et al., and she tops it off with an extremely tendentious view of Israel's actions in Gaza.

But if I were PM of Israel, I'd make HRW a deal. Israel will open the border with Gaza more regularly, if HRW staff will man the border checkpoints (which Hamas and allies have attacked regularly). Nothing like asking someone else to risk their lives for your idealism, but if HRW has volunteers to do it, more power to them.
5.16.2008 4:55pm
Ai:
Looking at it through this prism will provide clarity:

The Left hates Israel.
5.16.2008 4:57pm
BGates:
The only thing I can do is present a positive picture of modern liberalism that is committed to human freedom, human rights and rejects authoritarian leftism as a ridiculous and failed system.

And if that requires you to tell lies like, "NK and Cuba are universally known to have zero consideration for human rights," well, so be it.
5.16.2008 4:57pm
frankcross (mail):
I guess I misunderstood and thought you were giving NGO Monitor some credibility in this post.
5.16.2008 5:02pm
TGGP (mail) (www):
NGO Monitor says its purpose to discuss NGOs in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Is there a more general purpose version of NGO Monitor that isn't obsessed with that tiny patch of land in the Middle East?
5.16.2008 5:24pm
Iolo:
If HRW followed this advice, I imagine it would redeploy the vast majority of its resources to places like North Korea and Myanmar, where there are human rights abuses occurring on a larger scale than anywhere in the middle east, and it is incredibly difficult to report on them because of their governments. I have a hard time seeing how that would advance global human rights.

Money used to focus on Saudi Arabia may provide very little or no benefit, because Saudi Arabia is not responsive.


Fascinating. This is the "look for the car keys under the street light" theory of human rights watching!
5.16.2008 5:25pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I'm not saying NGO Watch isn't credible, I'm just saying that its overall credibility is not on point to this discussion, nor is it analogous to HRW, which purports not to take any position vis a vis the relevant players except to protect "human rights."
5.16.2008 5:53pm
b-rob (mail):
I think you are being oversensitive, Israelaphiles. No one is saying that a country's "evilness" is measured in the number of pages in a report. And to be honest, both the US and Israel have some things that they should be ashamed of. But does anyone put Israel in the same catagory as Myanmar? No. And if you have been cognizent of any of Human Rights Watch's reports about Tibet and Myanmar, it should be clear that Israel is not judged as bad as those countries. Israel has its issues, but it is not Sudan . . . and I don't think anyone would claim that it is.
5.16.2008 5:54pm
Paul A'Barge (mail):
Here is a picture of the mu8tt
5.16.2008 6:05pm
Oren:
BGates, you should probably revise your post if you don't want to look like a complete ass.

And the point of my post is not that HRW focuses too much on Israel, but that Ms. Whitson suggests that it focuses so much on Israel because it believes that Israel is on at least a par with Iran, et al.
I think that's a fairly uncharitable interpretation of what she said. If HRW did think that Israel is on par with Iran then they would be plain nuts, but I don't see that (or at least, I don't see the evidence that they see that).
5.16.2008 6:11pm
Rob Crawford (mail) (www):

Richard, NK and Cuba are universally known to have zero consideration for human rights. It's unclear to me how further documentation of this fact is needed.


Really? No further documentation?

What ever happened to ensuring the victims aren't forgotten? To getting their stories out so everyone's aware -- viscerally aware?

Maybe I'm off base, but I always figured it's best to put your efforts were it's needed most, not where it's easiest (and most fashionable).
5.16.2008 6:21pm
frankcross (mail):
Well, my point was that if you think HRW is not credible, you would have to think NGO Watch was not credible. HRW purports to be evenhanded, and perhaps fails, but I don't see how an entity that doesn't purport to be evenhanded would be more credible, at least as to factual claims.

I guess my main point is that credibility is not really a binary concept and that some failure or bias in particular instances doesn't really defeat credibility. No organization should be taken on faith as universally accurate, but HRW is a pretty good organization overall (notwithstanding is occasional errors) that provides a pretty good and pretty credible source of information on global human rights.
5.16.2008 6:24pm
holdfast (mail):
The reports that orgs like HRW issue do not exist in a vacum. While western countries tend to take criticism of themselves seriously, and it often sparks internal debate (like the furios debate over Gitmo, which all three candidates have woed to close), dictatorships like Saudi, Iran, NK, Cuba, Burma et al completely ignore any criticism (and any internal debate is verboten) - instead they use the criticsm of the democracies as a defense of their own records, and as a club to beat the liberal democracies. Thus the deliberate starvation policy that has killed hundreds of thousands of people in NK is legitimized by Israel's policies of trying to keep rockets and terrorists out of Gaza. All context and proportionality is stripped away and HRW's reports becomes nothing more than fodder for security council debates and the star-chamber treatment of Israel in the UN Human Rights Kabuki Dance.
5.16.2008 6:28pm
LM (mail):

But does anyone put Israel in the same catagory as Myanmar?

No reasonable people, but yes, some people do. Just as when Oren says, "NK and Cuba are universally known to have zero consideration for human rights" it allows BGates to, at the very least, uncharitably call him a liar.

Some of us moderates do erroneously say things like "nobody" when we really mean "nobody reasonable." I think it's partly a reflexive response to having our views defined by the same extremists we exclude when we refer to "everybody." So maybe that's our ideological blind spot. We wishfully define the extremists away as an aberrant fringe, and they lump all of us from both sides together with their extremist counterparts, by whose positions they define anyone who disagrees with them.
5.16.2008 6:39pm
Brian K (mail):
All context and proportionality is stripped away and HRW's reports becomes nothing more than fodder for security council debates and the star-chamber treatment of Israel in the UN Human Rights Kabuki Dance.

So we shouldn't criticize some countries in order to prevent other countries from misinterpreting/misusing the criticism?
5.16.2008 7:50pm
Oren:
Rob, it would be like (yet) another holocaust memorial at this point. The entire (rational) world is aware of what happened, (rational) history will never be written without it. [NB, I had hundreds of relatives die in the camps -- I'm not being insensitive here, there's a time to mourn the dead and then there's a time to move on].

Similarly, I don't think any (rational) human being on the planet needs to be reminding that Kim Jong Il II is batshit insane and treats his entire country like peasants while forcing them to stay in 1955. I don't think any (rational) history book will ever omit or gloss that fact.

So what exactly is the point of interjecting North Korea into this?
5.16.2008 9:05pm
whit:
"That said, it has always seemed absurd to me that leftism would somehow lead to anti-Israel bias. "

a big part of this imo is the "underdog principle"

leftists generally (unless there is really good reason for them not to - like taking the side of beleagured rightwingers on leftie campuses) go with the underdog. heck, these are the same people that claim people of color CAN'T be racist because they don't have "power".

israel is, despite its tiny size, metric a**loads more capable, equipped, etc. than the palestinians etc.

they are seen as "having power", not to mention they are supported by the US which automatically makes them suspect.

this is similar to how many in the far left nearly always see "corporate power" as wrong. corporations are big, "have power" etc. and thus are always wrong and always trying to screw the "common man".

this is why they are also against tort reform , since most of these lawsuits are the "little guy" against the big evil corporation.

at least that's my theory. :)
5.16.2008 9:13pm
SenatorX (mail):
Great comment whit, I think you're on to something. I'd add to that the Lefties also tend to argue moral equivalence a lot. That everyone is just on different sides and have different viewpoints. So nobody can ever have the moral high ground and that makes it even easier to take the side of the weaker party. There is no right or wrong, only the powerful and those they abuse.
5.16.2008 10:08pm
Smokey:
This thread reeks of the anti-semitism of the Left, and the fancy words and clever arguments don't hide it [I'm not jewish, BTW, and I don't have any jewish friends that I'm aware of].

When self-appointed organizations like HRW go after Iran, and Tanzania, and Darfur, and North Korea, and China, and dozens of other countries that treat their people much worse than Israel treats the enemies that have sworn to destroy it, with the same special scrutiny, criticism and alacrity that HRW reserves for jews ...wake me, 'K? We might have something rational to discuss.

I can just imagine the squealing by HRW if Israel ever spouted off like Ahmadinejad or Ugo Chavez -- but they get a free pass compared to Israel.

"Human rights" are basic rights that apply to everyone, and you don't get a free pass just because you happen to be a different country.
5.16.2008 10:10pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
HRW is a group of anti-American and anti-Israel dopes bought and paid for by the enemies of America and Israel. It is a scret only to those who refuse to see the obvious.

I couldn't care what they say about anything.
5.17.2008 1:08am
JonathanInTelAviv (mail):
Does anyone who defends HRW have an explanation as to why HRW's report on Israel's conduct of the war in Lebanon was published on August 3, 2006, while their report of Hebzollah's conduct was published on August 29, 2007, more than a full year later?
5.17.2008 5:47am
David Schwartz (mail):
An entity that is devoted to one side can operate many ways. It can make up facts to support its position. It can selectively report only those facts that support its position. It can do its level best to be fair and demonstrate that a fair analysis still supports its position.

Some organizations don't want or need credibility. They are perfectly willing to make up facts. But this is not true of every such one-sided organization. Some earn credibility by ensuring that the information they report is well-researched and as accurate as they can make it. The reporting may still be selective, but the reporting is dead-on accurate.

After all, HRW doesn't lose credibility because they don't report on chess tournaments. They also don't lose credibility because they don't devote equal time to anti-human-rights information.
5.17.2008 7:05am
David Schwartz (mail):
However, they do lose credibility when their Middle East Director speaks nonsense like: "Israel today is the only country committing collective punishment by blockade because it is the only country that, directly and through its pressure on Egypt, is blocking all borders of a territory in order to squeeze its civilian population." They lose even more credibility for thinking the would help *refute* the argument that they show anti-Israel bias.
5.17.2008 7:06am
Moneyrunner43 (www):
What is interesting in this debate is that those, like Orin, excuse the lack of emphasis on the most egregious violators of human rights because such a focus would have no effect. In effect, organizations that follow these guidelines are not "human rights" organizations at all. They are self criticism forums for Democracies.

Orin:

Similarly, I don't think any (rational) human being on the planet needs to be reminding that Kim Jong Il II is batshit insane and treats his entire country like peasants while forcing them to stay in 1955. I don't think any (rational) history book will ever omit or gloss that fact.

So what exactly is the point of interjecting North Korea into this?

Because we need to be reminded of these facts or we will forget them or ignore them to our peril. David Bernstein concedes the point when he says:


I can see the argument that a disproportionate focus on Israel is appropriate, because Israel should be held to higher standards as a liberal democracy, and because liberal democracies are far more likely to be responsive to groups like Human Rights Watch than are countries like Saudi Arabia.


It's as if during World War 2, a human rights organization should have focused on racism in the United States because we are more likely to be responsive while giving a pass to the Nazi death camps because criticism of their existence would not deter the Nazis.

Today, seven years after the attack of 9/11, with the exception of a few sites on the internet, the images of that event are expunged from the media. To even mention that event leads the Left to accuse you of fear mongering. This leads people to question why we are trying to stop Islamofacism.

In 1941 it took the Japanese empire an entire battle fleet including all six first line aircraft carriers, submarines, battleships, cruisers and destroyers to bomb Pearl Harbor and kill about 2400 soldiers, sailors and civilians. In 2001 it took 19 men with box cutters to kill nearly 3000 people and bring the Twin Towers down. Without that background and the understanding that a few people now have the ability to cause mass casualties, we don't understand what we are doing.

That is the point of focusing on the actual countries that destroy human rights and human dignity. The rest is intellectual onanism.
5.17.2008 11:32am
LM (mail):

To even mention that event leads the Left to accuse you of fear mongering.

Examples?
5.17.2008 8:26pm
Moneyrunner43 (www):

Examples?

Glad you asked: I put most of my comments on my blog, with links.

And here is that little know, fringe, not part of the Liberal mainstream, writer for an obscure little rag,

Paul Krugman in the NY Times.

Take a few second on Google "fear mongering 9/11" and you get 674,000 hits.
5.18.2008 10:21am
Smokey:
Wouldn't you know it? HRW is a joint venture with the rabidly ant-American vermin George Soros. They have ZERO credibility.
5.18.2008 9:16pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
George Soros?

Mentioning him is nothing but Sorosphobia. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.
5.18.2008 9:58pm
LM (mail):
Moneyrunner43,

To even mention that event leads the Left to accuse you of fear mongering.

Examples?

Glad you asked: I put most of my comments on my blog, with links.

And here is that little know, fringe, not part of the Liberal mainstream, writer for an obscure little rag,

Paul Krugman in the NY Times.

Take a few second on Google "fear mongering 9/11" and you get 674,000 hits.


None of what you linked says that the left reflexively labels any mention of 9/11 as fear mongering. You showed that there have been lots of accusations of 9/11 fear-mongering, but not how often 9/11 was raised without triggering that response, or how many of the claims come from the left. Without those missing pieces, you can't begin to claim all, substantially all or even a preponderance of 9/11 mentions have been met by the left with allegations of fear mongering.

Not to mention which, none of it touches the question of how many of the allegations were accurate.
5.19.2008 12:45am
LM (mail):
Moneyrunner43,

Btw, both here and on your blog you misspelled VC commenter Oren's name the way Orin Kerr spells it.
5.19.2008 12:47am
Moneyrunner43 (www):
LM,

Thank you for that graphic example of on-line onanism.
5.20.2008 8:54am