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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights Watch’

Richard Falk Calls for ‘Legitimacy War’ against Israel

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

In a new interview, Richard Falk, the UN Human Rights Council’s permanent investigator on “Israel’s violations of international law,” explained the strategy of his “legitimacy war” against Israel—but complained that UN Watch “complicated my task.”

According to Falk, “extremely defamatory attacks by UN Watch”—which he described as “an ultra-Zionist, ultra-Israeli organization”—succeeded in getting him “attacked” by the American ambassadors in New York and Geneva, “and by the UN Secretary-General, actually, on a couple of occasions.”

Falk is upset that UN Watch exposed and got him condemned for supporting 9/11 conspiracy theories that deny terrorist responsibility, publishing an anti-Semitic cartoon, endorsing a pro-Hitler book, and blaming the Boston Marathon bombings on the U.S. and “Tel Aviv.”

“What is more disturbing than the (UN Watch) attacks themselves,” said Falk in an October interview, “is their resonance among those holding responsible positions in government and international institutions, as well as widely respected liberal organizations.”

“In my case, the UN Secretary General, the U.S. ambassadors at the UN in New York and Geneva, the British Prime Minister, and the Canadian Foreign Minister. Not one of these individuals bothered to check with me as to my response to the defamatory allegations or apparently took the trouble to check on whether there was a credible basis for such damaging personal attacks.”

“Even the liberal mainstream human rights powerhouse, Human Rights Watch, buckled under when pressured by UN Watch, invoking a long neglected technical rule to obtain my immediate removal from a committee, and then lacked the decency to explain that my removal was not ‘a dismissal’ when UN Watch claimed ‘victory,’ and proceeded to tell the UN and other bodies that if Human Rights Watch had expelled me, surely I should be expelled elsewhere.”

“I learned, somewhat bitterly, that HRW has feet of clay when it came to standing on principle in relation to someone like myself who has been the victim of repeated calumnies because of an effort to report honestly and accurately on Israeli violations of Palestinian rights.”

Source: UN Watch

Pro-Violence Against Israeli Civilians No Bar to Human Rights Award

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

On Tuesday, October 8, the 2013 Martin Ennals Human Rights Defender Award was presented in Geneva, Switzerland to someone other than an Egyptian woman who repeatedly vilified and glorified violence against Israel.

Yes, things are so bad it is newsworthy when a promoter of human rights abuses against the Jewish state was not voted by the leading global human rights organizations as the top human rights defender in 2013.

But although Egyptian social media activist Mona Seif was not chosen as this year’s award recipient, it is barely less astounding that she was chosen as a nominee, and then again as one of the three finalists for what is known as the “Nobel Prize for Human Rights” in spite of her very public advocacy of terrorist and wanton destruction against the Jewish State.

Friday morning and then again on Monday, the day before the award was presented, The Jewish Press spoke with the (non-voting) chair of the Martin Ennals Human Rights Award jury, Hans Thoolen, in an effort to understand how Mona Seif could be considered a credible nominee.

The Jewish Press first covered this story back in May when we learned that  Seif had been nominated for the award because of her social media activism in countering the Mubarak regime’s repressive actions and in mobilizing protesters and supporters of the Egyptian Revolution in Tahrir Square during the winter of 2010 – 11.

But it was her use of that same social media to threaten and to glorify attacks against Israel that led at least some human rights advocates – those who also support the right of the Jewish State to defend itself – to question Seif’s nomination.

True, Seif organized and activated an important Egyptian grassroots organization which opposed former Egyptian President Hosnai Mubarak’s use of military trials for civilians through her masterful use of social media. She tweeted out messages warning of oppressive moves by the former Egyptian government, and helped mobilize protesters and supporters of Tahrir Square’s Egyptian Revolution during the winter of 2010-2011. That takes bravery, especially given the alarmingly violent misogyny in Egypt, particularly amongst the young revolutionaries.

But, as was pointed out when Seif’s nomination was first announced, there is a darker side to her social media activity.  People who think that the Jewish state is entitled to self-defense and security in the face of decades of existential terrorism find that side utterly inconsistent with the fundamental precepts of the Martin Ennals Human Rights Defender Award.

Seif’s Twitter account revealed a propensity to express the most vulgar kind of hatred towards Israel, both in terms of how she expresses herself, “#F[expletive deleted]Israel” being a popular choice, as well as the substance of her messages, which advocate terrorism against the Jewish State and which harshly criticized Human Rights organizations that dared to suggest the terrorist group Hamas should refrain from killing Israeli civilians.

Last week Alana Goodman in the Washington Free Beacon reported that additional messages advocating violence against Jews and Israel had been sent out via Twitter by Seif. Here is a translation from the Arabic of the most egregious:

Palestine is my way, and I am full of determination and will. I will draw my blood in the West Bank, I will fight to my death in Gaza, I will support by people in Bethlehem and I will achieve martyrdom in Jerusalem.

How is it possible that the Martin Ennals Foundation considered holding up to the world as a global role model “defender of human rights” someone who published such a message of murderous hatred and hopes to participate in murder? That was just one of the questions put to Mr. Thoolen.

Some cynics suggested that of course such a double standard exists, killing, torture and demonization is only wrong – in the eyes of the global human rights community – when it is about anyone other than Israelis: Jews from the Jewish state.  We hoped the cynics would not be proven right.

We were wrong.

Thoolen was kind enough to spend a good deal of time explaining why twitter remarks such as the ones sent out by Seif simply could not be the basis for disqualifying a nominee whose bravery on behalf of Egyptian rights qualified her to be nominated.

Yes, There Is an Anti-Israel Media Cabal and They All Meet on Facebook

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Writing in Foreign Policy Magazine last April, Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director of Human Rights Watch, related a touching story about the bond that’s been forged among the exclusive group of foreign correspondents, who are also war correspondents.

I could poke fun at the name droppage and elaborate sense of John Le Carre mystique infusing paragraphs like:

In war, we have to be able to rely on each other. We meet on the outskirts of the world, where the messiest of conflicts are underway, places like Chechnya, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The journalist I’m sharing a drink with in the evening may be the one applying a tourniquet to a potentially fatal wound if I am hurt tomorrow. It is not just the danger that draws us close, but also our time together and the experiences we share.

Now, that’s a pickup line!

Bouckaert writes that he and his fisherman-vested buddies are “members of a close-knit, but informal brotherhood – I half-jokingly call us the Vulture Club, as we usually convene only when the blood is flowing. Bonds forged in war run deep.”

This reporter did his service in the 1970s as correspondence for an IDF magazine (after a stint as standup comic, don’t ask, war is hell), so I earned the right to declare that this romantic war bonding garbage makes me gag. Just an opinion.

But, as is so often the case, it now turns out that if a foreign corespondent is a self-centered, name dropping blowhard, he is also likely to be an Israel hater. It’s how God made the world.

And, as The Washington Free Beacon’s Alana Goodman reveals, Bouckaert’s Vulture Club meets regularly on Facebook to trash Israel, the IDF and the Jews’ sinister plans not to be annihilated.

According to Goodman, the closed Facebook page on Tuesday “quickly devolved into an anti-Israel hate-fest,” in response to the newly released Israeli government report clearing the IDF of wrongdoing in the 2000 death of a 12-year-old boy from Gaza (Israel Explodes the ‘Big Lie’ – Gaza Al Dura Boy Wasn’t Killed).

The Vulture Club journalists and activists mocked the IDF report, attacked the IDF, and claimed pro-Israel lobbyists were influencing the media coverage.

In other words, an admitted, 3,500-member media cabal is accusing the Jews of controlling the media.

And our romantic friend, Belgian-born Peter Bouckaert, quickly dismissed the Israeli report as “typical IDF lies.”

Mind you, Bouckaert boasts membership in a slew of investigation teams on behalf of Human Rights Watch: he is “a veteran of fact-finding missions to Lebanon, Kosovo, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Macedonia, Indonesia, Uganda, Sierra Leone, and many other war zones,” as his official HRW profile boats (incidentally, I hate—and erase in our own publication—the “many other” reference. It suggests the list is too long to include all of the items in this context, but, in reality, it’s an empty bragging. If you’ve been there—mention it by name, otherwise shut the heck up – can you tell I’m angry?)

“As usual, it takes them a long time to really build up the falsehood,” Bouckaert shared with his brave buddies on Facebook. He also blasted the New York Times for its coverage of the report: “It really isn’t good journalism to write this up as if these are credible allegations when it is a pack of lies,” he wrote.

Maybe the NY Times should have added that they fact checked the Israeli report in a bar in bombed out Aleppo, against a stunning Mediterranean sunset—that would have made it much better journalism.

And then, Goodman reports, correspondents from numerous outlets, including the Associated Press and the Agence France-Presse, also piled on.

“[T]he lobby uses all its strength and is able to push anything in majors [sic] English newspapers or in the NYT[imes],” wrote El Mundo reporter Javier Espinosa. “Israeli embassies call their contacts in all those newspapers and they agree to publish that information.”

OMG – that’s like an expose of a crime in progress. You mean to say those Israeli bastards have PR people, special PR experts, and they, like, call newspapers and push their point of view? And the special court at the Hague is keeping quiet?

Syrian Rebel Commander Eats the Heart of his Enemy

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Human Rights Watch has published its review of graphic evidence that appears to show a commander of the Syrian opposition “Independent Omar al-Farouq” brigade mutilating the corpse of a pro-government fighter. The figure in the video cuts the heart and liver out of the body and uses sectarian language to insult Alawites. The same brigade was implicated in April 2013 in the cross-border indiscriminate shelling of the Lebanese Shi’a villages of al-Qasr and Hawsh al-Sayyed.

According to Human Rights Watch, “it is not known whether the Independent Omar al-Farouq Brigade operates within the command structure of the Free Syrian Army. But the opposition Syrian National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army leadership should take all possible steps to hold those responsible for war crimes accountable and prevent such abuses by anyone under their command.”

The organization then recommends that any party with the power to do so should do all it can to keep weapons from reaching the brigade.

But is this one outfit so different from the rest? The longer the civil war in Syria continues, the clearer it is becoming that both sides are equally monstrous in their disregard for civilian lives.

 

Human Rights Watch repeated its call to the United Nations Security Council to refer the Syria situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to ensure accountability for all war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“One important way to stop Syria’s daily horrors, from beheadings to mutilations to executions, is to strip all sides from their sense of impunity,” said Nadim Houry, Middle East deputy director at Human Rights Watch. “These atrocities are shocking but so is the obstruction of some Security Council members that still do not support an ICC referral for all sides.”

In the video obtained by Human Rights Watch, a man identified by the person filming the incident as Abu Sakkar is filmed cutting the chest of a dead uniformed fighter, and removing the heart and liver from the corpse. The person filming the incident then comments, while “Abu Sakkar” is cutting out the corpse’s liver: “God Bless you, Abu Sakkar, you look like you are drawing [carving] a heart of love on him.” After Abu Sakkar completes the cutting out of the corpse’s heart and liver, he is filmed holding the heart and liver in his hands and speaks into the camera:

I swear to God, soldiers of Bashar, you dogs – we will eat your heart and livers! Takbir! God is Great! Oh my heroes of Baba Amr, you slaughter the Alawites and take their hearts out to eat them!

At the end of the video, after that statement, the man called Abu Sakkar is filmed putting the corpse’s heart into his mouth, as if he is taking a bite out of it. Because of the extremely graphic and disturbing nature of the video, Human Rights Watch has decided not to publicly release the footage, although an edited and blurred version is available on the internet (see below).

HRW writes that by comparing frames of the mutilation video to other videos showing what appears to be the same man participating in the shelling that indiscriminately hit Lebanese Shi’a villages and talking about killed Hezbollah fighters, Human Rights Watch believes the person in the video to be Commander Abu Sakkar.

Journalists and other commanders have said that Abu Sakkar is the nom de guerre of a former commander from the mainstream al-Farouq Brigade from the Baba Amr district of Homs, in Syria.

When asked about the video, Maj. Gen. Salim Idriss, Chief of Staff for the Supreme Military Council of the opposition, told TIME Magazine that “such violence is unacceptable, and no soldier under the council’s command would be allowed to get away with such actions.” However, opposition forces have not set up proper accountability mechanisms for abuses committed by their members.

“It is not enough for Syria’s opposition to condemn such behavior or blame it on violence by the government,” Houry said. “The opposition forces need to act firmly to stop such abuses.”

Warning: Extremely graphic images!


HRW Founder: Human Rights Must Focus on Arab Regimes’ Hate Speech

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

Robert Bernstein, the founder and long-time director of Human Rights Watch, told his audience of Hebrew Union College graduates and those in attendance last week that human rights advocates have lost sight of what their goals should be with respect to human rights issues in the Middle East.

The undisputed dean of the  global human rights movement, Bernstein, 90 years old, says that the movement has lost its way.  Instead of focusing on the stranglehold on speech and other basic freedoms by the leaders of 300 million Arabs across the Middle East, the human rights watchers instead watch Israel with a microscope and play a twisted game of ‘gotcha!’ in an effort to catch Israel in what they rush to call war crimes.

Bernstein noted that of the millions of Arabs whose governments deny them freedom of speech, “half of them, 150 million, as women, not only lack freedom of speech, but have barely any rights at all.  And the private rights of how to pray and how to love are wrongly dictated by governments all across the Arab World.”

In essence, Bernstein called the “Arab Spring” a squandered opportunity for human rights activists who should have seized the opportunity to help oppressed people throughout the region throw off their shackles, instead of helping them exchange the old shackles for new ones.

Dictators who had oppressed their own people – and deceived them by telling them that Jews and Israel’s very existence were one of the primary causes of their misery – were toppled.  It was a time for human rights organizations and governmental organizations to try to push for these rights long denied, with the hopes that they would take some root.  One might have hoped, too, that it was a time for human rights organizations to tell the people living in Arab countries that their governments not only misled them about their own rights, but also falsely portrayed Israel as a threat and an enemy to detract attention from their plight.  Sadly, they did not do this.  And the reason, in my opinion, is because of where many in the human rights community have placed their emphasis in recent years.

And it isn’t only the brutal repression of their people that Bernstein faults when it comes to the leaders of so many Arab countries, it is the promulgation of state-sponsored hate speech.

If they want to have an impact for good in the Middle East, human rights organizations should be focusing on state-incited hate speech.  And, unfortunately, there is plenty of it in closed societies across the Arab world.  If human rights organizations wanted to be open and honest with the suffering Arab masses, who are certainly suffering, they would point out that blaming Jews is a distraction and not what is holding them and their children back from enjoying the miracles of today’s world.  For decades, government sponsored hate speech in closed societies has been fostering a revenge rather than reform mentality.

Bernstein criticized the current vanguard of human rights activists who hear fascist government dictators’ hate speech and incitement and call it “advocacy” and “protected free speech.”

As an example, Bernstein explained that the statements made by Iran’s Ayatollah Khameini, that he ‘can destroy Israel in nine minutes,’  and Ahmadinejad’s wheeling Iran’s largest rocket through Tehran, declaring: ‘This is for Israel,’ constitute incitement to genocide, which is a crime under international human rights laws. “Yet the major human rights organizations have found no way to confront the problem and recognize that the 300-plus million people living in closed Arab countries have been taught for decades that a small Jewish state has no right to exist.”

Bernstein called on the graduates to reach out to leaders of other faiths and “ask them, as a step toward Mid-East and world peace, to stop the campaign of hate, not only in the Arab world, but wherever else it exists.”

The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) awarded Bernstein the 2013 Bernard Heller Prize at its May 3 graduation, which was held at  Congregation Emanu-El, in New York City.

The Heller Prize is given to an organization or individual whose work, research or writing reflects significant contributions in arts, letters, the humanities and religion. Previous recipients of the Heller Prize include Dennis B. Ross, Special Middle East Coordinator in the U.S. Department of State, Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, chief negotiator of the Dayton Accords, Count Folke Bernadotte, for rescuing thousands from the concentration camps during the Holocaust, and Shimon Peres, President of the State of Israel.

Human Rts Orgs Nominate Anti-Israel Pro-Terror Woman for HR Prize

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Egyptian Mona Seif has been nominated for what is known as the “Nobel Prize for Human Rights,” the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.  The nominee was chosen by a panel of human rights organizations which include Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Human Rights First and the International Service for Human Rights.

Seif was nominated in her capacity as one of the main founders of an Egyptian grassroots organization, “No to Military Trials for Civilians,” which started a national movement bringing together lawyers, activists, the families of victims and other interested parties all of whom oppose what they insist are the inappropriate restrictions of Egyptian military trials for civilians who should not be encumbered with such restrictions.

Seif, along with others who sought to resist the freedom restrictions imposed by Egyptian president Mubarak, used social media to broadcast the oppressive moves of the Egyptian government, and helped mobilize protesters and supporters to join her in Tahrir Square during the Egyptian Revolution in January 2010 – February 2011.  In the post-Mubarak Egyptian world Seif has continued monitoring and broadcasting actions of the post-Revolutionary Egyptian government.

But the 27 year old biology graduate student has a darker side.  Although fully able and energized to advocate for Egyptian rights and freedoms, at the same time Seif gleefully tweets about blowing up gas pipelines to Israel.

This dualism is one that we have seen repeated with young Egyptian human and civil rights advocates.  Several times over the past year the West has at first applauded, and sought to laud, young Egyptian women activists whose pursuits came to the attention of the West because of their social media skills.  But each time, a darker side has been revealed, one that, once exposed, brought disgrace not only to the activist.  It also reflected poorly on those whose due diligence failures revealed an over-eagerness to reward non-Western activists.  The problem is that the activism of these particular individuals was animated solely by a desire to benefit those similarly situated, but who were just as willing as their own oppressors to vilify and deny rights to others.

A good example of this propensity was when First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry almost gave the “Secretary of State Woman of Courage Award” to an Egyptian woman, Samira Ibrahim, in early March.  Ibrahim, like Seif, was a Twitter activist in support of Egyptian rights, but Ibrahim also supported terrorism and the murder of Americans and Israelis.

However, just hours before Obama and Kerry were to present Ibrahim with the Award, the decision was cancelled (postponed they said at the time) after a relentless chorus of horror rose up to stop them.  It was social media that almost swept in Ibrahim as an honored activist by American leadership.  However, a wave of disgust towards Ibrahim who had tweeted praise for the murders of Americans in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, extolled the terrorist bombing that killed 5 Israelis and a Bulgarian last summer, and praised Hitler, swept her back out just before the awards ceremony.

Turning back to Seif, a look at her social media accounts before selecting her as a potential recipient of such an important human rights award should have been standard procedure.  After all, she was well known and was brought to the attention of the human rights organizations precisely because of her extensive and sophisticated social media activity.  Perhaps after this fiasco social media searches will become de rigueur for all sophisticated due diligence efforts.

Because Seif’s Twitter account reveals a propensity to express the most vulgar kind of hatred towards Israel, both in terms of how she expresses herself: #F[expletive deleted]Israel is a popular choice, as well as the substance of her messages, which advocate terrorism against the Jewish State and which harshly criticize Human Rights organizations which dare to suggest the terrorist group Hamas should refrain from killing Israeli civilians.

 

Tweets of Mona Seif encouraging blowing up gas pipeline between Egypt and Israel, and using vulgar and violent hashtag.

Tweets of Mona Seif encouraging blowing up gas pipeline between Egypt and Israel, and using vulgar and violent hashtag.

In addition, Seif is sloppy with her facts and fails to remove slanderous falsehoods even after they’ve been definitively exposed.  An example of this is when she sent a picture on Twitter of a man mourning the murder of his small child, which she blamed on Israel.

Human Rights Watch Turns on Hamas for Executions of Collaborators

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Human Rights Watch, which usually has Israel in its crosshairs, has turned its fury on the Hamas terrorist organization for failing to investigate the gory public execution of seven Gaza Arabs accused and sentenced to death without a trial for helping Israel.

Hamas rejected the criticism, saying it was biased and adding that it has investigated the killings four months ago. Armed Hamas goons murdered the suspects and dragged their bodies through Gaza streets to the cheers of passersby.

The Hamas regime has executed at least 38 people since seizing power in 2007 after a deadly terrorist militia clash with its rival Fatah faction, headed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Human Rights Watch Slamming Hamas for Ignoring Public Murders

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Human Rights Watch on Thursday criticized the Hamas government in Gaza for failing to investigate the murders of seven prisoners. The victims, who were accused of collaboration with Israel, were publicly killed during two days in November, 2012, while Israel and Gazan terrorists were exchanging heavy fire.

Images of one of the victims being dragged behind a motorcycle through Gaza City quickly became a symbol of the “Heart of Darkness” kind of cruelty which rules the streets there.

“Hamas’s inability or unwillingness to investigate the brazen murders of seven men makes a mockery of its claims that it’s upholding the rule of law in Gaza,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East director.

Human Rights Watch said that despite the circumstances of their deaths, the military courts that convicted the men made their decisions on the basis of coerced confessions, ignoring credible evidence that interrogators tortured at least six of the defendants.

“Even before the killings, the abuses the men suffered made the criminal justice system a travesty, regardless of their guilt or innocence,” Whitson said in a statement.

She accused the government in Gaza of failing to make even the most elementary effort to identifying the killers.

“Months after seven Palestinians were murdered in broad daylight, seemingly with the collusion of security officials, the Hamas authorities in Gaza appear not to have lifted a finger to investigate, let alone to hold those responsible to account,” Whitson said.

“Hamas should be taking concrete steps to reform the criminal justice system and break the cycle of impunity that, as these men’s cases show, lets torturers and killers roam free.”

The Hamas government announced in November it was investigating how the men died.

Palestinian human rights activists along with senior Hamas officials also condemned the killings as illegal, saying the men should have been brought to justice under the law.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/human-rights-watch-slamming-hamas-for-ignoring-public-murders/2013/04/11/

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