Chivalrous defenders of human rights
Why haven't the media bothered to try and find out who HRW is and why it is obsessively issuing report after report against Israel?
Last week, the media reported on the findings of a study commissioned by Human Rights Watch examining Israel's crimes in Gaza. The report, which blames the Israel Defense Forces for killing women and children who waved white flags during Operation Cast Lead, was authored by Joe Stork, the deputy director of HRW's Middle East and North Africa division.
Ben Dror Yemini, a columnist with Ma'ariv who has investigated radical left-wing organizations around the world, wrote that Stork is a supporter of Palestinian terrorism (he once wrote that terrorism has "revolutionary potential of the Palestinian masses") and the murder of Israeli athletes in Munich (an act which "provided an important boost in morale among Palestinians").
"Zionism may be defeated," he wrote, "only by fighting imperialism."
In 1976, Stork attended a conference convened by Saddam Hussein to mark the one-year anniversary of the UN resolution equating Zionism with racism.
Yemini's report is well-known. Its English version raised many doubts as to HRW's credibility. In Israel, on the other hand, the organization's "findings" are reported almost without reservation. In response to the allegations against him, Stork wrote to Haaretz that rather than deal with the content of the report, Yemini chose to "shoot the messenger."
"The quotes he attributes to me are more than 30 years old. Most of them I do not recognize, and they are contrary to the views I have been expounding for decades now." Stork wrote. "I have dedicated much of my adult life to the protection of human rights for all and to fighting the idea that civilians can be attacked for political reasons."
Arab News, an English-language Internet news site which is funded by the Saudis, wrote on May 26 of this year, "Human Rights Watch is gaining more recognition and support in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world." According to Arab News, when the HRW group of officials visited Saudi Arabia, they were feted with a festive dinner in their honor and were lauded with praise for the reports it issued detailing the serious violations of human rights and international law committed by Israel in Gaza.
Sarah Leah Whitson, the director of HRW's Middle East and North Africa Division, told her hosts (whose country is, as we all know, a paragon when it comes to respecting human rights) of her organization's contribution to exposing Israel's true face ("Human Rights Watch provided the international community with evidence of Israel using white phosphorus and launching systematic destructive attacks on civilian targets," she said) and the counter-attack which HRW finds itself under from pro-Israel organizations in the United States and Europe.
Hassan Elmasry, a member of HRW's board of directors, appealed to those gathered to support their organization.
"The group is facing a shortage of funds because of the global financial crisis and the work on Israel and Gaza, which depleted HRW's budget for the region," Arab News quoted him as saying. "We call [on] businessmen in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world to support HRW by sending donations."
Why haven't the media bothered to try and find out (the material is easily accessible) who HRW is and why it is obsessively issuing report after report against Israel?
This is not just a problem of unprofessionalism. Given the lack of motivation to debunk these serious allegations, there is also an added element of an instinct for self-destruction. If not, then it is difficult to understand how Israelis can parrot, without verifying or investigating the identity and motives of the reports' authors, such serious charges against the IDF.
Radical leftist organizations succeeded in inciting hatred against Israel abroad as well as among some of its citizens. We must expose - and the Foreign Ministry has thus far failed in doing so - the faces of those who are spreading poison in hopes of strengthening the delegitimization campaign against the Jewish state.
Indeed, wherever incited public opinion goes, governments follow. Proof can be found in the change of direction we are witnessing in Norway and Sweden, where many pro-Palestinian non-governmental groups are active alongside news outlets that are especially hostile to Israel.