October 12, 2009

Clarification from B'Tselem?

I should have revisited this B'Tselem post earlier than now but I've been busy and I've just been reminded of it. Just to recap, a report appeared in the Jerusalem Post claiming that a B'tselem director was basically supporting the standard zionist line on the Goldstone report. This had me posting that B,Tselem is zionist first and for human rights second. Omar Barghouti was a little more cautious by raising the possibility that the JP report might not be accurate but, like me, he found B'Tselem to be suspect.

It subsequently turned out that B'Tselem's position was largely supportive of the Goldstone report so I ran a post wondering out loud if an apology by me might be in order That led in turn to an email to me from B'Tselem's Press Officer, Sarit Michaeli, as follows:
Dear Levi/Mark,

Indeed, this time I fear you have got it wrong. Setting aside for a moment opinions about B’Tselem, it would have been easy to have made contact with the organization to ascertain whether the Jpost article was an accurate representation of B’Tselem’s position. As a matter of fact, it was incorrect (the headline was completely false) and tendentiously edited. B’Tselem’s actual position (which you may or may not agree with) is much more nuanced and was delineated by Jessica Montell here:


In any case, you are always welcome to approach me for information.



I have to say that, having read Jessica Montell's own Jerusalem Post article, I am still not convinced that B'Tselem is primarily concerned with human rights:
THE GOLDSTONE Report is unsettling. I was disturbed by the framing of Israel's military operation as part of "an overall policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population for its resilience." The facts presented in the report itself would not seem to support such a far-reaching conclusion. In light of the sweeping conclusions regarding Israel, the very careful phrasing regarding Hamas abuses is particularly conspicuous. The mission did not find conclusive evidence regarding Hamas's use of mosques and civilian buildings for military purposes, nor does it criticize Hamas's firing from and shielding themselves within civilian areas.
This looks like a potted if slightly softened version of what the whole zionist pack has been saying. She is claiming that there is no evidence that Israel is collectively punishing Gaza but that there is evidence to justify Israel's firing on civilian targets. I see no other interpretation. And if I'm wrong, I'm still not sorry.

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