reply to post by BigfootNZ
Thanks for the reply BigfootNZ.
I think HRW has every right to criticise Israel, or whatever country it pleases, however this should not be the organisation's main purpose - and to
a casual observer it does seem that their ME department seems to spend a disproportionate amount of time investigating and chastising Israel which is
only one side of the conflict. Maybe this is because Israel is an soft option - precisely because it is a free and open society with a great deal of
internal debate which makes it easier for rights groups to operate.
I have not seen, for instance, HRW criticise Hamas for its treatment of Gazan civilians, the punishment beatings, the executions, which we all know
goes on. I didn't see HRW criticising Hamas when they launched their purge against Fatah after the elections. I didn't see HRW criticise Hamas when
they were launching missiles into Israeli homes and schools.
I can only presume this is because they can't conduct investigations in Gaza unless they are investigating what Israel has done, because in order to
do anything in Gaza you have to first get Hamas approval. Same goes for journos and UNRWA.
Interestingly I looked on their website this morning and the top article under the Middle East was "Hamas: Investigate Attacks on Israeli
Civilians", which seems bizarre since it was Hamas that ordered and carried out these terrorist attacks and that they were a deliberate policy to
provoke an Israeli response. The story was published yesterday, which leads me to believe that this is a reactionary measure in response to
To me there is a very clear moral distinction here - one party deliberately targeted the other's civilians, launching rockets from soft targets that
they knew the Israelis would not hit (or would generate international outcry when they did), such as Al Jazera HQ, schools etc. These attacks were
launched at times of day when kids would be going to school and people would be on their way to work. Utterly deplorable. The other party responded
with military action which caused unintended harm to civilians.
I do not believe for one second that the IDF deliberately targeted non combatants, because this doesn't fit into any rational model of behaviour for
a modern Western army (especially one as PR conscious as the IDF), and is pointless in either a military or political sense. In fact I think that
Israel went to great lengths to avoid
harming non-combatants - more out of fear of the international response than out of altruism - but war is
a messy and chaotic business and the question to me should be:
- Was military action justified?
- Were precautions taken to minimize harm to non-combatants?
The answer to me is yes to both of the above, in which case any investigations into the conduct of the IDF during said military action should be on a
level playing field with other armies and conflicts around the world, and should not be allowed to become a political weapon for countries that want
to take the US and allies down a peg or two and who have no room to talk when it comes to respecting peoples' rights.
I would have liked HRW to have been a bit more forceful and pushy before the war, when Hamas were firing rockets on Israeli civilians, because it
seems that if the international community had been a bit more awake and responsive then war might have been averted. But that doesn't seem to be how
the world works.
Yes there are undoubtedly human rights abuses going on in Israel, on both sides of the conflict, and I find it frustrating that a disproportionate
amount of effort is spent criticising the one side who actually have laws and a legal system to protect peoples' rights (and very often does). I
assume that this is because it is easier to criticise the side that is most open and facilitating to criticism, and an underlying belief within the
organisation that Israelis are the bad guys and Hamas are helpless victims. To me this seems unjust.
I read something about the freedom of press report which explained why Israel was ranked so low - I'll dig it out when I get a sec. But as far as
I'm aware there are no government restrictions on the Israeli press or media.