Congo, Sudan, and Israel

It’s almost reassuring to see that the various controversies surrounding Human Rights Watch’s reporting on Israel–Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson’s fundraising trip to Saudi Arabia, deputy director Joe Stork’s long history of anti-Israel activism, military analyst Marc Garlasco’s fetish for Nazi memorabilia–hasn’t led Whitson to even pretend she and HRW will treat Israel fairly in the future.  Indeed, the controversy seems to have made her madder, and even more impolitic.

Check out Whitson’s latest quote: ‘”The Obama administration cannot demand accountability for serious violations in places like Sudan and Congo but let allies like Israel go free.”  Apparently, she can’t, or won’t, distinguish between what’s been going on in Sudan and Congo from what happened in Gaza last Winter.

A reasonable person could have phrased things this way: a U.N.-appointed panel has found that Israel engaged in war crimes in Gaza.  The report is controversial, and the U.N. Human Rights Council’s record is far from ideal.  Nevertheless, we find at least some elements of the report credible, and would urge the U.S. to insist on follow-through.  Thoroughly investigating even relatively minor, and contested, violations of the rules of war by an ally would give the U.S. that much more credibility when pursuing horrific, blatant human rights abuses that take hundreds of thousands of lives in places like Congo and Sudan. But a reasonable person would not have thought to analogize Israel’s action in Gaza to the wars in Congo and Sudan to begin with.

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