web analytics
August 27, 2014 / 1 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Why Human Rights Reporting On Israel Lacks Credibility

Gregory J. Wallance

Gregory J. Wallance

In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, however, the communities of the investigator and the victim are in often violent conflict. To say the least, the normal investigator-victim dialogue is disrupted. Even so, according to a report by the Israeli government, by the time of my trip during the First Intifada, the IDF had brought fifty courts martial against ninety Israeli soldiers for causing death or injuries to Palestinians. Of the ninety soldiers, only nine had been acquitted.

Reports on the First Intifada by Amnesty International acknowledged neither the challenges faced by the prosecutors or their prosecutorial record.

Since the First Intifada, the nature of the conflict – and the nature of war itself – has changed in ways that make human rights reporting even more challenging. As evidence of Israel’s alleged intent to kill civilians, the Goldstone Report focused on the deaths from an Israeli bomb of some twenty-nine members of the al-Simouni family in their home. In fact, as the IDF investigation found, the home was shelled because of an Israeli commander’s erroneous interpretation of a drone image, which finding was cited by Goldstone in his op-ed as a reason for his change of view.

What Goldstone did not satisfactorily explain was how the fact of the bombing alone originally proved to him that the Israel military intended to kill this family. Accidents in the use of precision-guided bombs or missiles were not exactly unheard of by then. In Afghanistan in December 2001, a U.S. Special Forces air controller called in a two thousand-pound bomb strike on his own outpost that killed three American and five Afghan soldiers and wounded twenty others. The controller, who survived, was not suicidal, a deranged maniac, or a Taliban sympathizer. All he had done was change the battery on a Global Positioning System device he was using to target a Taliban outpost north of Kandahar – without realizing that changing the battery had caused the device to reset to the coordinates for its own location.

Even aided by in-house experts on armed conflicts, human rights professionals are generally not suited either by temperament or training to carefully discriminate between tragedies and war crimes in the fog of the Israeli-Palestinian clashes. Human rights staffers sympathize, if not strongly identify, with whomever they perceive to be the underdog – and in this case, to them, it is indisputably the Palestinians. And because it is a highly emotional conflict, their identification is highly emotional, which does not lead to the careful, nuanced judgments this conflict demands.

* * * * *

Late one night during my Israeli trip, a Palestinian contact took us to an East Jerusalem hospital where a Palestinian was on a respirator, surrounded by grieving family members. He had been hit in the face by some kind of projectile, which left a gaping hole from just below his closed eyes to his chin. The hospital director grabbed my arm and took me through the other hospital wards to view young Palestinian men badly injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers, all the time emotionally shouting, “CBS! CBS! CBS!” – as though I could produce a news camera crew on the spot.

Even though we had no idea how the Palestinian had been so grievously wounded (he later died), or by whom, my mission colleague emotionally insisted that “we had to do something,” as though it was self-evident that Israel was responsible. That incident came to mind when I read in the Birnbaum article that the director of HRW’s Middle East Division, Sarah Leah Whitson, had a poster in her office of the movie Paradise Now, which humanizes (and arguably dignifies) Palestinian suicide bombers, as well as photographs of bereaved Gazans.

Too often, human rights reports on Israel reflect a blindly emotional rush to a less-than-careful judgment. In the third week of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war, HRW published a report that described an Israeli air strike on the village of Srifa that allegedly killed “as many as 42 civilians.” A year later, in a more complete, apparently less-hasty report, HRW admitted that the strike, in fact, had killed 17 combatants and five civilians.

“Eyewitnesses were not always forthcoming about the identity of those that died, and in the case of Srifa, misled our researchers,” explained the newer report (which, according to Birnbaum’s analysis, also contained dozens of other discrepancies).

About the Author: Gregory J. Wallance is a lawyer and writer in New York City and a long-time human rights activist. His most recent book is “America’s Soul in the Balance: The Holocaust, FDR’s State Department, and the Moral Disgrace of An American Aristocracy.”


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Why Human Rights Reporting On Israel Lacks Credibility”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The three salesmen -Netanyahu, Ya'alon and Gantz
Netanyahu Tries to Sell Bill of Goods that Israel Won Goals in the War
Latest Indepth Stories

Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.

One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.

While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.

We risk our lives to help those who do what they can to kill to our people .

Twain grasped amazingly well the pulse of the Jewish people.

The entertainment industry appears divided about the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Israelis in Gaza border communities need to get out; who will help them?

The contrast between the mentality of Israel and the mentality of Hamas was never so loudly expressed as when the Arab killers became heroes and the Jewish killers became prisoners.

There is a threat today representing a new category of missionary:They call themselves “Hayovel.”

Just as we would never grant legitimacy to ISIS, we should not grant legitimacy to Hamas.

Is Woodstock still leading the world to destruction?

Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state

Blaming Israel for the violence in Gaza, he ends up justifying Hamas’s terrorism.

In the Thirties it was common for anti-Semites to call on Jews to “go to Palestine!”

More Articles from Gregory J. Wallance
Wallance-070513

How did we move so quickly from complacency to last-minute weapons deliveries and a possible no-fly zone?

Gregory J. Wallance

A just-released Israeli commission report vehemently disputes the France 2 video made in 2000 of a Palestinian father and his son crouching for shelter from bullets allegedly fired by Israeli soldiers. This is a media controversy but it parallels the decades-long dispute between Israel and the human rights organizations that have issued reports on violent clashes in the West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon. Simply, the reporting process on these confrontations has broken down.

The debate in the Jewish community over Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his response to the Holocaust has been bitter and emotional, a family divided against itself. On the one hand, FDR was the polio-stricken man who, after being knocked flat on his back, rose and revived an America that had been knocked flat on its back and then led it to wartime triumph over Hitler and to global destiny.

During a recent trip to Rwanda, former president Bill Clinton lamented his failure in 1994 to intervene in that country’s genocidal massacres. “I don’t think we could have ended the violence, but I think we could have cut it down. And I regret it.”

This year, Holocaust Remembrance Day is the anniversary of two starkly contrasting events of April 19, 1943 – the first day of the gallant but doomed Warsaw Ghetto uprising and of the ignominious Anglo-American Bermuda Conference on the Refugee Problem, which State Department diplomats organized to deflect pressure to rescue Jews from the Nazi death machine.

Recently, the Romanian government unveiled a long overdue memorial to the 300,000 Romanian Jews and Roma who perished in World War II at the hands of their own government and the Nazis. Unfortunately, the U.S. State Department, whose wartime diplomats doomed tens of thousands of the Romanian Jews commemorated by the memorial, has yet to acknowledge its own role in the Romanian Holocaust.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/why-human-rights-reporting-on-israel-lacks-credibility/2013/05/29/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: