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Monday, January 11, 2010

HRW's Roth tries to weasel out of his libel

I wrote last week about HRW's Ken Roth's article vilifying Israel as a nation that uniquely hates human rights and that goes out of its way to trample the rights of its enemies.

One of the things he wrote was a purposeful misinterpretation of a statement by Tzipi Livni, which he used as justification for his sick thesis. He falsely wrote that she said that the IDF should not distinguish between Gaza civilians and terrorists, when in fact she said that Israel should not distinguish between Arab and Jewish victims of terror.

NGO Monitor traced the history of how Livni was misquoted and found that it originated in a similar accusation by Al Haq, a European-funded Palestinian Arab NGO. That libel then spread to other Palestinian NGOs, to Al Jazeera and finally to HRW which quoted it in its Rockets from Gaza report last August - in a transparent attempt to balance its rare criticism of Hamas with a calumny against Israel. The entire episode shows in a clear light how HRW's fact-finding methodology is flawed and biased, when they cannot even be bothered to read the original source of the quote and instead rely on biased and false interpretations from Palestinian Arab NGOs with a clear agenda against truth.

Now, Roth is backtracking. His article has been edited to take out Livni's quote, and to add a correction that, unbelievably, still doesn't admit the error:
On January 7, 2010, Human Rights Watch has updated this article following suggestions that the quote of former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni ("On my way here I heard that Hamas declared the man killed by a rocket in Ashkelon ‘one of the Zionists' despite being an Israeli Arab. They don't make a distinction, and neither should we.") is ambiguous on whether she meant that Israel will not distinguish between combatants and civilians. Other statements from Livni and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert support the argument, and one from Olmert has been added here.
The quote was not ambiguous at all, but as we have seen in the pasdt, HRW - that bastion of uncovering the truth - will do whatever is necessary to paper over its own mistakes.

And what was the quote that they added from Olmert that they say proves Israel's intentions to wantonly kill civilians? It is added in parentheses:
As Ehud Olmert, prime minister during the war, reportedly said in January 2008 about the Gaza blockade, Israel would not create a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but "[t]here is no justification for demanding we allow residents of Gaza to live normal lives while shells and rockets are fired from their streets and courtyards at Sderot and other communities in the south."

Olmert repeated the notion after the war, reportedly telling his cabinet that, "The government's position was from the outset that if there is shooting at the residents of the south, there will be a harsh Israeli response that will be disproportionate."

The fact that Olmert said that the response will be disproportionate does not in the slightest way imply that Israel intended to target civilians.

So the only quote they are left with is Olmert's quote that the residents of Gaza will not "live normal lives" - during a blockade.

As with the Livni quote, HRW is falsely juxtaposing the quotes together to imply something that was not said. The first quote was about the blockade, the second one was about the war.

Is HRW now saying that Israel, under the Geneva Conventions, is obligated to provide Gaza residents with cement and pipes and potassium nitrate that can be used for rockets against Israeli civilians, so as not to inconvenience them? Because that sure seems to be HRW's standard by quoting Olmert the way they did.

Even if Olmert had said his statement about the war, is that the new standard for HRW's interpretation of the Geneva Conventions they pretend to uphold - that wars should not affect the lives of the people who live in a war zone?

As usual, HRW raises the bar in its misinterpretation of Geneva to create circumstances where it is literally impossible for a nation to defend itself, especially against an enemy that purposefully and deliberately hides amongst civilians.

This is the tragedy of Human Rights Watch. Their admirable intention to protect civilians has turned into a twisted parody of reality, where wars are by definition inherently evil and where the human rights of the citizens of democracies are less important than others', where democratic nations are held to standards that are literally impossible to uphold, where the parts of the Geneva Conventions that justify circumstances of attacking civilian areas are constricted by the willful misinterpretation of the zealous and biased as to become invisible.

And HRW's leaders are willing to lie to accomplish their agenda.

(h/t t34zakat)