Tuesday, April 14, 2020

  • Tuesday, April 14, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
When the New York Times first broke the story of Hamas arresting Rami Aman and several other Gazans for the crime of "normalization" by speaking with Israeli peace activists, the head of Human Rights Watch, Ken Roth, offered a curious response:


Roth seemed to imply that while it is indeed a human rights violation for Hamas to arrest people who want to talk to ordinary Israelis, if they would communicate with the "repressive Israeli government" then it would be OK.

Today, Human Rights Watch's Omar Shakir wrote a fairly good denunciation of Hamas that for the most part did not engage in the usual HRW and Amnesty motif of throwing in a bunch of anti-Israel stuff to make it look "balanced." The only exception was in this paragraph, where they did not put "repression" in scare quotes:

Authorities publicly stated that they had arrested Aman and the others for holding a “normalization” activity, a reference to activities held with Israelis that are not rooted in challenging the Israeli government’s repression. The statement likens normalization to “espionage” and “treachery.” Laws issued by Hamas authorities in Gaza criminalize all social, cultural, political, economic, sporting, or other activities with “the Zionist enemy.”
HRW gets the definition of "normalization" wrong. To Hamas as well as to the  supposedly "liberal" BDS movement, any contact with Israeli Jews is forbidden, unless those Israelis are explicitly anti-Zionist. (No one in Hamas or BDS seems to have a problem with meeting with regular Israeli Arabs, only Jews, a bit of antisemitism that groups like HRW studiously ignore.)

But look at Ken Roth's tweet about this HRW article:




The article doesn't distinguish between Gazans speaking with Israeli civilians and officials - only Ken Roth does.

This is twice in a row that Roth seems to be saying that the only problem with Hamas arresting Aman and his friends is that they spoke with "civilians" - and Hamas would be within its rights to arrest any Gazan who communicates with Israel's "repressive government." 

Now, Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosts some popular social media channels in Arabic that total millions of followers. They engage with Arabs online all the time, and their posts often make headlines in Arab media.

Is Roth really saying that any Gazan who responds to a post by the Israel MFA deserves to be arrested? Is he saying that it is not a human rights violation to arrest people who comment on the MFA site, since the Ministry is part of a "repressive government?" If the MFA would have set up this Zoom session, would Roth have condoned Hamas arrests?

Based on these two tweets, it is hard to see how his position is anything else.

It is a scandal that Roth is willing, even anxious, to minimize the crimes of the Hamas terrorist group. This is hardly the first time, as Roth has created an artificially limited and false definition of human shields to exonerate Hamas, to bring only one example of his consistent position of minimizing Hamas war crimes.

The leader of a human rights organization has a track record of making statements that are actually detrimental of the human rights of Gaza civilians.




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