What Kind of People Affiliate with Human Rights Watch’s Middle East Division?

This kind: Helena Cobban is on the Board of Directors of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division.  In a recent blog post, she took exception to the Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb criticizing her because “she likes to compare Israel to Hamas.” (H/T: Richard Landes)

Cobban was offended not because Goldfarb was wrong, but because in her opinion any rational person knows that Israel is comparable to (or perhaps, judging by her tone, worse than) Hamas:

So here’s the thing that Michael Goldfarb and people of his ilk really don’t seem to understand: For the vast majority of the people on God’s earth today, Palestinians are just as fully human as Jewish people, and just as deserving as Jewish people of our compassion and our understanding.

(She later suggests that Gaza’s Hamasistan dictatorship is just as “democratic” as Israel.)

And who are Michael Goldfarb’s “ilk”?  Jews who support Israel and/or criticize Human Rights Watch (you tell me if the following individuals have anything else in common)!

But the Michael Goldfarbs, the Norman Podhoretz’s, the Alan Dershowitz’s, and Robert Bernsteins of this world truly don’t get this. They truly think there is something so “special” about Jewish people and their experience in the world that somehow the [sic] (and especially the allegedly “Jewish” state, Israel) deserve to be given a free pass on the application of any neutral standards of behavior, such as would be applied to anyone else.

So there you have it.  Among other Jews, Robert Bernstein, the founder, longtime president, and now critic of Human Rights Watch is not merely mistaken when he accuses HRW of anti-Israel bias, he is mistaken because he thinks Jews should be held to different, lower standards than everyone else because he thinks Jews are “so ‘special.'”  Damn Jews just think they are better than everyone else, and should be exempt from the moral standards that the civilized Christian (Cobban is a Quaker) world adheres to.  We’ve heard such sentiments before, but not generally from “human rights activists.”  [And as for her bizarre reference to the “allegedly ‘Jewish’ state, Israel,” Noah Pollak notes that “her writing is so sloppy that it’s impossible to discern what specific slander she has in mind.”]

And, in case there was any doubt, Cobban of course fails to link to any statement by any of the individuals she names suggesting that Israel should  “be given a free pass on the application of any neutral standards of behavior, such as would be applied to anyone else.”  (She does link to R. Bernstein’s op-ed on HRW, but that op-ed doesn’t say anything remotely resembling Cobban’s “interpretation.”) The reason, of course, is that none of these people have said such things, nor is there any reason, beyond the ugly sentiments implicit in Cobban’s post, that they believe that.

If Human Rights Watch was a decent organization, it would ask for Cobban’s immediate resignation from its board.  But it isn’t, and it won’t.

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, Cobban’s post attracted much more blatant and overt anti-Semitic comments, such as “There is some sort of weird Jewish psychological issue … The Inner (Screeching) Jew Incarnated may help elucidate the behavior of Goldfarb and his ilk.” When some other commenters objected, Cobban responded, “Yes we do have some anti-Israeli statements here that are stronger than usual.”

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