How Human Rights Watch Became a Pawn of Terrorists

Founded in 1978, Human Rights Watch (HRW) played an important role pressuring the Soviet Union and Eastern-bloc countries over their mistreatment of their citizens. But since the turn of the century, HRW has joined the ranks of the Israel-haters, not hesitating to accuse the Jewish state of any evil—so much so that HRW has been denounced by one of its founders. It has most recently become one of the most successful advocates for the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (BDS). David May and Jonathan Schanzer write:

Connections to the Palestinian organization al-Haq may [partially] explain HRW’s BDS contortions. The two groups have collaborated since at least 2007, when HRW urged Israel to allow al-Haq’s director Shawan Jabarin to travel abroad. According to a 1994 Israeli submission to the United Nations, Jabarin is a senior member of the terrorist group known as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), [which] was notorious in the 1960s and 1970s for high-profile hijackings and attacks against Israelis. In October 2001, the group assassinated an Israeli minister. In 2014, the PFLP claimed responsibility for a gruesome attack on a Jerusalem synagogue that left six dead, including three American rabbis. . . .

Jabarin denies his PFLP connections while he continues to assail Israel through al-Haq, which has called for a European boycott on Jewish goods from the West Bank and a [complete] French financial boycott of Israel. Jabarin submitted several reports to the International Criminal Court as part of an anti-Israel lawfare campaign, and he was instrumental in the recent push in Ireland to criminalize business transactions with Jewish businesses in the West Bank.

Jabarin is not al-Haq’s only contribution to HRW. A former legal researcher with al-Haq, Anan Abu Shanab, is currently HRW’s West Bank researcher. There is also Charles Shamas, a co-founder of al-Haq, who has been an HRW adviser since at least 2002. . . . While HRW may do serious work on other issues, it is now an activist group aligned with a vitriolic movement.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Human Rights Watch, Israel & Zionism, PFLP

Who Changed the Term “Nakba” into a Symbol of Arab Victimization?

April 19 2019

In contemporary Palestinian discourse, not to mention that of the Palestinians’ Western supporters, the creation of the state of Israel is known as the Nakba, or catastrophe—sometimes explicitly compared with the Holocaust. The very term has come to form a central element in a narrative of passive Palestinian suffering at Jewish hands. But when the Syrian historian Constantin Zureiq first used the term with regard to the events of 1948, he meant something quite different, and those responsible for changing its meaning were none other than Israelis. Raphael Bouchnik-Chen explains:

In his 1948 pamphlet The Meaning of the Disaster (Ma’na al-Nakba), Zureiq attributed the Palestinian/Arab flight to the stillborn pan-Arab assault on the nascent Jewish state rather than to a premeditated Zionist design to disinherit the Palestinian Arabs. “We [Arabs] must admit our mistakes,” [he wrote], “and recognize the extent of our responsibility for the disaster that is our lot.” . . . In a later book, The Meaning of the Catastrophe Anew, published after the June 1967 war, he defined that latest defeat as a “Nakba,” . . . since—just as in 1948—it was a self-inflicted disaster emanating from the Arab world’s failure to confront Zionism. . . .

It was only in the late 1980s that it began to be widely perceived as an Israeli-inflicted injustice. Ironically, it was a group of politically engaged, self-styled Israeli “new historians” who provided the Palestinian national movement with perhaps its best propaganda tool by turning the saga of Israel’s birth upside down, with aggressors turned into hapless victims, and vice-versa, on the basis of massive misrepresentation of archival evidence.

While earlier generations of Palestinian academics and intellectuals had refrained from exploring the origins of the 1948 defeat, the PLO chairman Yasir Arafat, who was brought to Gaza and the West Bank as part of the 1993 Oslo Accords and was allowed to establish his Palestinian Authority (PA) in parts of those territories, grasped the immense potential of reincarnating the Nakba as a symbol of Palestinian victimhood rather than a self-inflicted disaster. In 1998, he proclaimed May 15 a national day of remembrance of the Nakba. In subsequent years, “Nakba Day” has become an integral component of the Palestinian national narrative and the foremost event commemorating their 1948 “catastrophe.”

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More about: Arab World, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, New historians, Yasir Arafat