Last week we reported on the outing of Human Rights Watch’s Marc Garlasco as a collector of Nazi memorabilia. To recall, Garlasco has appeared regularly in the media, touted as a military “expert”. Garlasco played a prominent role in promoting the 2006 Gaza Beach Libel, which wrongly blamed Israel for a “massacre” of Palestinians. (See HonestReporting’s interactive Big Lies presentation for more on this story.)
Initially, HRW used every means available to defend Garlasco, including, as revealed by Harry’s Place blog, resorting to creating a fake “activist” with a Middle Eastern sounding name to post comments defending Garlasco on various blog sites.
Mark Gardner of the CST blog addresses HRW’s response, which involved attacking Jewish and pro-Israel organizations rather than the very legitimate concerns arising from Garlasco’s collecting of Nazi memorabilia.
Garlasco himself wrote a piece for The Huffington Post defending his bizarre “hobby”. Even associates of HRW, however, such as Helena Cobban, who sits on HRW’s Middle East advisory board have been suitably disturbed.
HRW has finally succumbed to pressure by suspending Garlasco (pictured here wearing a Nazi-themed sweatshirt) with pay “pending an investigation,” according to HRW’s associate director Caroll Bogert. “We have questions about whether we have learned everything we need to know,” she said.
The New York Times, however, adds its own bias in its report:
The suspension comes at a time of heightened tension between, on one side, the new Israeli government and its allies on the right, and the other side, human rights organizations that have been critical of Israel. In recent months, the government has pledged an aggressive approach toward the groups to discredit what they argue is bias and error.
As in the case of the Gaza Beach libel, many of HRW’s reports that Garlasco wrote or contributed to have been found to be academically unsound and methodologically faulty, as documented by NGO Monitor. Concern over this issue should not be dependent on one’s political views. Yet the New York Times continues to muddy the waters with the implication that genuine concerns over Garlasco’s professionalism as well as his extra-cirricular activities are driven solely by a right-wing agenda.
The NY Times continues by interviewing not those organizations that have expressed these concerns but a left-wing academic who states:
he did not believe that Mr. Garlasco’s interest in memorabilia could support allegations of “premeditated bias.” He said, however, that Human Rights Watch’s credibility might have been wounded because Mr. Garlasco’s hobby “has armed the right-wing fanatics” who “work day and night to demonize any individual or organization that raises questions about the military practices of Israel when they end up even with unintended civilian casualties.”
The NY Times is a prime example of a media outlet that has supported and followed HRW’s lead without question. Could this attempt to smear those organizations that have questioned HRW and Garlasco be the NY Times’s way of deflecting the real question for the newspaper – its reliance and support for potentially discredited anti-Israel sources?
BREAKING NEWS: GOLDSTONE REPORT RELEASED – MORE POLITICIZATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Human Rights Watch and Marc Garlasco demonstrate the dangers of treating such organizations and figures as infallible or beyond reproach. Such is the case with the United Nations, particularly the politicized and institutionally anti-Israel Human Rights Council.
The lengthy report of the Goldstone Mission set up by the UNHRC, puporting to examine allegations of human rights violations during the Gaza conflict, has just been released at a hastily convened press conference in New York and accuses Israel of committing “war crimes.”
An initial reaction to the report has been released by Israel’s Foreign Ministry:
The unbalanced nature of the resolution establishing the Mission was the reason that so many States on the Council, including all member states of the European Union, Switzerland, Canada, Korea and Japan, did not support it, and why many distinguished individuals, including former High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, refused invitations to head the Mission.
Notwithstanding its reservations, Israel will read the Report carefully – as it does with all reports prepared by international and national organizations. Israel is committed to acting fully in accordance with international law and to examining any allegations of wrongdoing by its own forces. To date, the IDF has opened investigations into over 100 allegations regarding the conduct of its forces during the Gaza Operation. While most of these investigations were closed because the allegations were found baseless, 23 criminal investigations were opened and are still pending.
NEW YORK TIMES: ONLY JEWS INVOLVED IN “TERROR”
The New York Times, along with many other media outlets, has consistently refused to call Palestinian terror by its name, preferring terms such as “militants” or similarly weak terminology.
In a feature article on Israeli settlers, the NY Times does use the word “terror”:
Jewish terror is not new. A religious student assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, and a settler, Baruch Goldstein, killed 29 Muslims at prayer in Hebron in 1994.
Thankfully, the examples cited above were acts of violence that stand out precisely due to the unususal scenario of Jews initiating such acts. But while the NY Times refers to “Jewish terror”, the thousands of acts of violence carried out by Palestinians against Israeli civilians are carried out by “militants,” “fighters” or “gunmen” according to the newspaper.
Where is the consistency?
In addition, the article itself discusses the potential for violent resistance should settlers be evacuated by Israeli security forces (concluding that this would be unlikely). So, while Palestinian acts of violence against Israeli civilians are not “terror” according to the NY Times, this term is abused to describe a scenario where it loses its real meaning.
SYRIANS RILED BY HR FACEBOOK SUCCESS
HR’s successful campaign to allow residents of the Golan wishing to write “Israel” in the Hometown section of their profiles was covered by The Jerusalem Post, Ha’aretz and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Not everyone was pleased however.
Syria will launch a campaign demanding a boycott of Facebook according to a report in Arab language newspaper Al Quds al Arabi. Damascus will also deny its citizens access to Facebook as part of the protest, the newspaper reported.
While HR and other organizations prefer to campaign through debate and engagement, we were struck by the Syrian reaction that mirrors that of so many of Israel’s enemies – a boycott and an assault on freedom of expression. Do some so called “human rights” activists who call for boycotts, divestments and sanctions on Israel have more in common with the anti-democratic and authoritarian Syrians than they would care to admit?