The Supposedly Neutral Organization Turning “Human Rights” into a Weapon against Israel

July 29 2020

Writing of the tyranny of France’s revolutionary regime, the English statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke described “the rights of men” as “that grand magazine of offensive weapons” in which could be found the most “effectual instrument of despotism.” For a 21st-century illustration of his claim, one need only look to Human Rights Watch (HRW), an organization that has become mired in obsessive hatred of Israel, while all-too-ready to ignore the crimes of actual despots when politically convenient. Yet governments, the media, and the United Nations tend to take the reports of HRW and similar organizations as objective and reliable.

Gerald Steinberg and Maayan Rockland detail how the group defames the Jewish state, beginning by pointing to the role of such individuals as Sarah Leah Whitson, who served for sixteen years as the head of HRW’s Middle East operations:

In May 2009, Whitson went to Saudi Arabia seeking donors, emphasizing HRW’s “work on Israel and Gaza, which depleted HRW’s budget for the region,” and the need to stand up to “pro-Israel pressure groups.” . . . Whitson often echoed classic anti-Semitic tropes and Jewish conspiracy theories, particularly on Twitter. In January 2015, she commented on the U.S. Holocaust Museum’s display of “death and torture in Syria,” stating that the Holocaust Museum should “also show pic[tures] of death and destruction in #Gaza.” Recently . . . Whitson, [in her tweets about Israel], invoked the classic blood libel: “Such a tiny taste. Missing a tablespoon of blood.”

Or take the case of Zena al-Tahhan, another HRW Israel “expert,” whose tweets cross the line from anti-Israel propaganda to outright praise of terrorism:

Tahhan’s Twitter posts reflect deep involvement and experience in propaganda, political activism, and acceptance if not endorsement of terror and violence. In January 2015, for example, she compared the terror attack on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris, which killed seventeen, to the “battle of Shuja’iyya” during the 2014 Gaza war,  commenting that “seventeen died and they called it a massacre; . . . 120 were slaughtered [while fighting] courageously and they called it a battle.” She called the use of the term “massacre” to refer to the Charlie Hebdo attack a “hypocrisy.”

Steinberg and Rockland encourage the Israeli government to shift away from its inconsistent and ad-hoc responses to HRW’s propaganda, and take a more systematic approach:

[I]t is important to counter the soft-power influence HRW enjoys among liberal government officials, particularly in Western Europe, and in international institutions such as the UN Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court. To be effective, [Jerusalem’s] strategy should include transmission of detailed information on the deep bias and lack of credibility under the facade of researching and promoting a universal and neutral “human-rights” agenda.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Anti-Semitism, Charlie Hebdo, Edmund Burke, Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Israel diplomacy


The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy