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

 

A Better Syria Strategy Can Help Achieve the U.S. Goal of Countering Iran

While the Trump administration has reversed much of its predecessor’s effort to realign Washington with Tehran, and has effectively used sanctions to exert economic pressure on the Islamic Republic, Omar Hassino argues that these measures might not be enough:

Iran and its militias control more territory and natural resources in Syria and Iraq than before President Trump took office. . . . The U.S. should back the low-cost insurgency approach that has already shown potential in southwest Syria to bleed the Iranian forces and increase the costs of their expansion and [of Tehran’s] support for the Assad regime. It makes no sense that Iran can fund low-cost insurgencies to bleed American allies in the region, but the United States cannot counter with the same. The administration should also consider expanding support to the proxy forces that it currently works with—such as the Revolution Commandos near the [U.S.] al-Tanf garrison in southwest Syria—for the purpose of fighting and eliminating Iranian-backed militias. This limited escalation can curb Iranian expansion and put pressure on the Assad regime in the long term.

Furthermore, in this vein, the U.S. should empower peaceful Syrian civil-society groups and local councils operating outside Assad-regime control. Last year, the Trump administration eliminated assistance for stabilization in Syria, including funding going to secular anti-Assad civil-society groups that were also combating al-Qaeda’s ideology, as well as the Syrian [medical and civil-defense group known as] the White Helmets, before quickly [restoring] some of this funding. Yet the funding has still not completely been resumed, and if this administration takes an approach similar to its predecessor’s in relying on regional powers such as Turkey, these powers will instead fund groups aligned ideologically with Muslim Brotherhood. This is already happening in Idlib.

The United States must [also] jettison the Obama-era [strategy of establishing] “de-escalation zones.” These zones were from the start largely a Russian ruse to help the Assad regime conquer opposition areas, and they succeeded. Now that the regime controls most of Syria and Iranian proxies are dominant within the regime side, support for de-escalation is tantamount to support for Iranian expansion. The United States must [instead] prevent further expansion by the Assad regime and Iran in parts of the country that they still do not control.

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More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy