April 29, 2010

Human Rights Watch is good for Israel

I thought human rights were supposed to be good for humanity, not for racist colonies but it looks like I was wrong. The timeline on this is a bit confusing because a New Republic article dated 26 April is actually a response to an article dated 27 April and the article of the 26th even makes reference to an edition of The New Republic dated May 13, 2010, which hasn't actually happened yet. No wonder journos panic about deadlines. Still, here goes.

The 27th article is about a "civil war" raging at Human Rights Watch about the right of return being a human right with specific regard to the Palestinians.
In September 2000, HRW’s board of directors took a vote that still, a decade later, infuriates Sid Sheinberg, a legendary Hollywood mogul (he discovered Steven Spielberg) and current vice-chairman of the board. At the time, Bill Clinton was trying desperately to broker a peace agreement between Yasir Arafat and Ehud Barak, but one of the major sticking points was the right of return. It was an issue that even the most left-wing Israelis did not feel they could compromise on: If Palestinians were permitted to return to Israel en masse, it would imperil the country’s future as both a Jewish state and a democracy.
You get an immediate idea of where The New Republic stands when it can use the word "democracy" as a transparent code-word for Jewish majority or it promotes the idea that Arabs are inherently undemocratic. But see this response from a board member of Human Rights Watch:
There is broad consensus on the board of Human Rights Watch in support of its Middle East work in general and its Israel-Palestine work in particular, contrary to the suggestion of "a civil war" over Israel ("Minority Report," May 13, 2010). As the co-chair of HRW's advisory committee on the Middle East and North Africa and long-time (now emerita) member of the board, I have been a part of virtually all conversations about our work in the region in the last twenty years. I spoke to your reporter for over an hour in late March and made clear to him that I was present for the conversations he described and that his thesis of acrimonious division was wrong. Other board members told him the same, but our views are not reflected in his piece.

I am a Jew, a Zionist and a full-throated supporter of the work of Human Rights Watch. The state of Israel that I love (in fact, I write these words from Tel Aviv) will thrive and be well if it conducts itself according to its own high principles and according to the human rights and humanitarian rules that Human Rights Watch seeks to promote.

There is no bias against Israel at Human Rights Watch except in the minds of those who erroneously believe Israel is harmed by honest criticism. Far from harming it, I believe this work strengthens Israel.

Thanks for referring to Human Rights Watch as the gold standard in human rights reporting. You may view our extensive research on most of the other countries and entities in the region such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia by checking the website (www.hrw.org).

Kathleen Peratis is a lawyer for Outten & Golden LLP and a columnist for The Jewish Daily Forward.

What is it with these zionists that they never say what they mean when they say "zionist"?


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