My Last Word

Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch (HRW) has written a scathing condemnation of Israel. He claims that civilian casualties in Lebanon are too high, and that the IDF is conducting indiscriminate attacks with no military justification.

Keep firmly in mind the fact that I have devoted the last 15 years of my life to helping innocent people resist violent attack, but I still find that I really don’t care about the report. The reason is not the subject but the source.

We have seen far too many Non-Government Organizations (NGO’s) over the past few years display an appalling enthusiasm for condemning the United States for human rights abuses, while ignoring any terrible act of violence that our enemies deliberately perform. Sometimes they have to jump through some extreme hoops to try and justify their knee-jerk anti-Americanism.

So my first, second and last instinct is to reject reports like this from HRW and other NGO’s as being hopelessly biased. They have destroyed any credibility they might have with me, and I just don’t care what they have to say.

Kenneth Roth was a guest on The O’Reilly Factor, and he said that the report was rock-solid evidence of Israeli wrongdoing. He claimed that HRW has conducted many investigations like this in many countries, and he stands by the findings. In fact, he personally vouches for it.

For some reason I’m still not convinced, even with Roth’s very strong assurances. I wonder why that is so?

(Cross posted at Hell in a Handbasket.)

8 thoughts on “My Last Word”

  1. Ginny,
    As an old (former undergraduate incarnations) student of English Lit. and mechanical engineering I have to say that the technical students usually hold the humanties students in low intellectual esteem; With good reason, if my experiences are typical. The greater effort required, intellectual demand, and rigour on the technical side of campus is by nature less subjective and less suseptible to the facil, I suppose.

  2. Wow, a Soros funded NGO is critical of Israel? I’m SHOCKED! What’s even funnier is the picture you first see when you click on their home page. It gives you an idea of how much they are vetting their info.

    HRW is not a hands on Red Cross type group, they seem to be more along the lines of a think tank in that they gather, process and then promote information and ideas. (I thought that was, at least in part, journalism’s job.)

    So regardless of what HRW has to say, I think a better question is why should HRW have any role in military operations between two sovereign states?

    The purpose of a human rights organization would seem to be sticking up for those who don’t have a voice. These voiceless victims being oppressed by or with the tacit approval of their own government, would have no safe means of entreat without someone outside the country to stick up for them and promote their well-being.

    What natural role would a HR NGO have with regard to a war between two sovereign states? Obviously HRW has found one, but I have to question how legitimate or effective it is.

    Outside of a few corner cases, the usual situation is Country A attacks Country B and vice-versa, in the course of which there is civilian death and damage. In this case the civilians should have a very effective voice in their state whose government, through diplomatic channels and the UN, has ample means to make their case as a sovereign state to other sovereign states.

    There is a reason NGO’s like HRW haven’t historically been involved in the decision-making process of wars and ceasefires, it is because ultimately in war, civilians have to die and civil damage has to be done before war can end. Sometimes alot of civilians have to die and sometimes a whole lot of damage has to be done.

    That’s a decision the countries involved have to make because only the countries involved (and their citizenry of course) will face the consequences of their actions. Use too much force (like the Russians in Chechnya) and you have a neighbor who hates you for generations. Don’t use enough (like letting the german army march back into berlin unfettered after WWI) and you set the stage for the biggest war the world has ever seen. For all the faults of diplomacy and the UN, I just don’t see where a think-tank style NGO fits in an international war (- unless of course, it’s an advocate which is what HRW is turning into.)

    So it’s sad that while there are so many human rights abuses committed on people by their own gov’t, especially situations like Cuba where journalism is severely restricted by the state, a situation where HRW could play a clear and clearly valuable role, HRW still spends most of their time on international warfare where their efficacy for the cause of human rights is questionable, their descent into advocacy (read: bias) is almost inevitable and their own accountability for their decisions is negligible.

  3. I am not surprised thet a representative of HRW would condemn Israel. It is very typical of that organisation, or for that matter, typical of most “NGOs”. Since they usually are left-leaning, they are only to eager to condemn the USA and Israel, while conveniently overlooking crimes committed by other countries the either spout leftist/socialist or anti-American or anti-Israel rhetoric. I’d love to see Mr Roth write report on say human-rights abuses in Iran, or Cuba or venezuela o Syria, or on the practises of the Islamic terrorists the world over. But, you can rest assured that Mr Roth and his organisation would never investigate any of the previously mentioned countries.

  4. I used to be a member of Amnesty International, way back before they got their Nobel in 1977. They were actually non-partisan at that point. Now they and HRW are just part of the institutional left, and that’s sad. You don’t have to be a leftist to think that torture and murder of innocents are wrong, but you must be one to think that the US and Israel are the foremost exemplars of these crimes. They have sacrificed everything for their politics, including their honesty. Oh sure, once in a while they’ll make a pro-forma condemnation of a Mugabe or the Burmese junta, but that is just to establish their bona fides so they can resume pursuing their real interests.

  5. Assuming that all of the allegations of the “report” are true, they still amount to nothing because the standard of behavior by which the reporter seeks to judge Israel’s actions is so far at variance with anything resembling war as it really conducted.

    The law of war, to the extent that it is not an oxymoron, is codified in a series of Treaties that include the Geneva Conventions and the International Criminal Court. The underlying premise of those instruments and the body of commentary that has grown up around them is that war is an activity that occurs at a remove from the rest of the world. It is fought between armies that are organized, have uniforms and ranks, and are professionals who are remote from the political issues that may have caused the war, on battlefields delimited from the mundane world. It is a profoundly anachronistic and romantic view suitable only for fantasy novels.

    In fact, for the last few hundred years, since the wars of religion, the Napoleonic wars, and the World Wars of the 20th Century, war has become completely unlike that profile. Wars include the deliberate targeting of civilian populations and infrastructure. Wars are won when the enemy has lost the further will to fight, which may require massive destruction of populations and civil infrastructure.

    Further, weaker groups have discovered (or more properly rediscovered) the advantages of inverting the very structures presumed by professional militaries. Hezbollah, while clearly well trained and well organized, shuns uniforms and insignias, and fortifies locations within civilian areas.

    Because of the fundamental disconnect between the legal conception of war and the real world, countries that fight asymmetrical embedded guerrilla forces, such as Israel and the United States, will always be guilty of war crimes.

    We can either worry about that or decide that it is not a real problem and move on.

  6. Because of the fundamental disconnect between the legal conception of war and the real world, countries that fight asymmetrical embedded guerrilla forces, such as Israel and the United States, will always be guilty of war crimes.

    What about all those war movies where the Nazis threaten to shoot captured Allied spies….as spies!

    I was under the impression that there was no such thing as a war crime if your enemy didn’t follow the rules. Catch combatants who don’t wear uniforms? Confront an enemy who deliberately uses civilians for cover? Do whatever you want. They aren’t covered under any treaty or agreement.

    A favorite Liberal claim is that the United States and other democracies are somehow criminals when they refuse to treat terrorists with all the honors extended to a traditional enemy, even though the terrorists don’t follow the rules.

    How come we have to uphold our end of the contract even though they willfully ignore it? Doesn’t that mean the contract is null and void?


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