December 20, 2012
Human Rights Watch Again Issues False Allegations vs. Israel
NGO's attacks following a series of moral embarrassments
Jerusalem - After losing credibility over a number of Middle East-related
issues, Human Rights Watch (HRW) is once again leveling false charges
against Israel. The claim that there was an "unlawful" attack on
"journalists" and buildings containing the offices of news agencies during
the recent Gaza fighting is false both legally and factually, and the timing
of this release appears to be a cynical attempt to divert attention from
many scandals currently plaguing the organization," stated Jerusalem-based
research institute NGO Monitor.
"This is yet another example of HRW's systematic lack of credibility and its
biased approach to Israel," said Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO
Monitor. "Calling a military attack 'unlawful' is a serious charge, which
should not be made lightly. But HRW cannot substantiate these allegations."
HRW claims, without any military expertise or necessary information, that
the targets in the Israeli strikes were "making no apparent contribution to
Palestinian military operations" and were not valid "military objectives."
HRW clearly has no knowledge of the military intelligence possessed by
Israeli commanders at the time of the strikes, or the military and moral
concerns that guided their thinking. Contrary to HRW's claims, its employees
cannot possibly know the "intent" of the commanders who ordered the attacks.
Furthermore, international law is clear that neither the presence of
civilians during an attack nor the fact that civilians were tragically
killed means that the attack was unlawful. Moreover, NGO Monitor notes that
contrary to HRW claims, the targets included four senior Islamic Jihad
combatants that were directly involved with the planning, manufacture, and
execution of rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and other attacks.
"As with most of the NGO's claims in previous conflicts, HRW's 'evidence' is
without substance. The organization presents no proof whatsoever that the
targets involved were not being used for military operations or that the
'journalists' were not Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters," noted NGO Monitor
legal advisor Anne Herzberg. "HRW's bogus charges ignore that Al Aqsa TV is
a globally designated terrorist by the US government and they appear to be
based on self-serving statements by a Hamas official. The Israeli government
does not owe this totally discredited and biased organization any
explanations. Just because HRW claims something is a war crime does not make
it so." The ease with which some media outlets continue to quote HRW's long
discredited allegations, without any independent analysis or due diligence,
is also disturbing.
HRW's bias has also been seen in its silence about the Syrian bombing of
Palestinians in a mosque in the Yarmouk Refugee Camp. Steinberg commented,
"Apparently, HRW only cares about Palestinian victims when they can blame
NGO Monitor notes that this latest HRW campaign takes place against a
background of repeated embarrassments for the organization in recent weeks.
The Wall Street Journal published a stinging critique of HRW's silence in
the wake of the Iran's genocidal threats against Israel. The NGO was forced
to remove Richard Falk from one of its boards, after UN Watch highlighted
his antisemitic and conspiratorial ideas.
Previous scandals that show HRW's lack of credibility, immoral behavior, and
blatant bias in violation of the universal moral principles of human rights
include its embrace of the Ghaddafi family as "human rights reformers"; fund
raising in Saudi Arabia for anti-Israel campaigning; the employment and then
secret dismissal of its "senior military analyst" with an obsession for Nazi
memorabilia; HRW's central role in the discredited "Goldstone report";
emotional anti-Israeli statements by Executive Director Kenneth Roth; and a
New York Times op-ed by founder Robert Bernstein, denouncing his own
organization for the damage it has done to human rights.
For detailed analysis of NGO statements on this issue, see NGO Monitor's
report, "NGO Factual and Legal Distortions on Gaza 'Media Center' Attacks"
(Nov. 20, 2012)
NGO Monitor (www.ngo-monitor.org), based in Jerusalem, was founded to
promote critical debate and accountability regarding the political
activities of non-governmental organizations claiming a human rights agenda
that are active in the Arab-Israel conflict. NGO Monitor's independent
research reports and analysis are quoted frequently in the press, academic
publications, by NGO officials and donors, and in governmental and
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