‘Sunday Times’ (UK) corrects its neocon attack on Human Rights Watch

on 23 Comments

Last week, the UK national newspaper ‘The Sunday Times’ featured an article attacking Human Rights Watch. In tones familiar to similar attacks on both HRW and Amnesty International, there was no prize for guessing which country was deemed to be getting undue attention:

For instance, HRW has published five heavily publicised reports on Israel and the Palestinian territories since the January 2009 war…Noah Pollak, a New York writer who has led some of the criticisms against HRW, points out that it cares about Palestinians when maltreated by Israelis, but is less concerned if perpetrators are fellow Arabs.

Of course, the usual suspects jumped on the report, including NGO Monitor. I trust equal publicity will be given to the correction printed in this week’s newpaper. In fairness, it is quite long, so for ease, here is a summary:

  • The magazine said that HRW had not published any report on the post-election abuses in Iran when in fact the organisation published one in February this year.
  • Marc Garlasco, the former senior military analyst for HRW, was not the only person in the organisation who had military experience; a number of the HRW staff have military expertise.
  • In the 20-year Kashmir conflict HRW has published nine reports, not four as the article stated.
  • One HRW researcher has had articles published by the Palestinian solidarity site Electronic Intifada without her permission but was not directly employed by that group, as the article suggests.
  • Although HRW never produced a full report about the shelling at the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in 2007 it did write three press releases, not one as the article stated.
  • Writer Jonathan Foreman quoted a critic of HRW saying the group “cares about Palestinians when mistreated by Israelis but is less concerned if perpetrators are fellow Arabs”. In fact Human Rights Watch has reported on abuses of Palestinians by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan.
  • Foreman cited unnamed sources that said Garlasco resented what he felt was pressure to sex up claims of Israeli violations. HRW and Garlasco both say HRW never pressured Garlasco to change his findings.

Well, at least they spelled all the names right.

About Ben White

Ben White is author of 'Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's Guide' and 'Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, discrimination and democracy'. Follow him on twitter at @benabyad and on his website www.benwhite.org.uk.

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23 Responses

  1. otto
    April 5, 2010, 9:54 am

    Indeed, during Apartheid South Africa, there were lots of people who focussed on White colonial supremacy and not so much on the maltreatment of Africans by African leaders. But anyone who used the latter to attempt to legitimise the former would have been clearly recognised as a colonial bigot. The same with Apartheid Israel.

    • Citizen
      April 5, 2010, 11:41 am

      Ditto during the Civil Rights days in the ’60′s, when anyone who brought up the fact that Africans traded their own fellow blacks to the white (and Arab) slave traders–
      were viewed as lame white Christian bigots trying to justify historical slavery–and rightly so. I guess Israel has a special dispensation from the Pope, er I mean from G-D.

  2. eGuard
    April 5, 2010, 10:37 am

    The Times’s correction: We are happy to clarify HRW’s position.
    They did not and they are not. To be corrected next week.

  3. The Hasbara Buster
    April 5, 2010, 11:22 am

    As soon as I read the Foreman piece, I submitted a comment linking to HRW’s report on the Iranian election. It never got published, but I’m comforted to think that, together with others, I may have contributed to this very necessary retraction from the Times.

  4. Julian
    April 5, 2010, 11:30 am

    HRW defenders don’t want to know the truth. I guess they can’t handle the truth. Human Rights Watch did an investigation on Galasco and refuses to reveal what they found. What are they hiding? They also refuse to release the minutes from their infamous Saudi Arabia trip. Again what is Human Rights Watch hiding?
    There needs to be a congressional investigation on HRW. I would love to see Galasco and Roth testifying under oath.

    • Peter in SF
      April 6, 2010, 12:52 am


      HRW defenders don’t want to know the truth. I guess they can’t handle the truth. Human Rights Watch did an investigation on Galasco and refuses to reveal what they found. What are they hiding? They also refuse to release the minutes from their infamous Saudi Arabia trip. Again what is Human Rights Watch hiding?
      There needs to be a congressional investigation on HRW. I would love to see Galasco and Roth testifying under oath.

      That might actually be a good idea. HRW is an independent organization that receives no government funds, and having a congressional investigation on it on such trivial grounds as suggested here would really show who sets the agenda in Congress.

    • Chaos4700
      April 6, 2010, 2:18 am

      I know Julian! They’re hiding the Iraqi WMDs, they are! Now we found them!

      Time to renew your John Birch Society membership, I think.

  5. Mooser
    April 5, 2010, 11:57 am

    ROTFL!! And I mean laughing, hysterically. And you know what, I’m right, I’m fricking right! I saqid long ago I was not going to shape myself with the vicarious brutality of stories made up to minipulate me. And what do you know!
    Oh, Citizen will relish this, and he has every right to! But he couldn’t know how much it means to me, or maybe he could.

    link to nytimes.com

    Look, I’m really, really busy now, and life is a madhouse. I wouldn’t have sent in this link if I didn’t think it was important. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a long journey in a first-cless boxcar ahead of me. Sure, I know what “the camps” are like- I’ve seen “Dirty Dancing”!

    • Citizen
      April 5, 2010, 1:31 pm

      Thanks for the url, Mooser. I think it is important too. I’ve seen Dirty Dancing too–and Fiddler On The Roof, and The Apprenticeship Of Duddy Krawitz etc–I’ve even seen episodes of Jersey Shore.

      • Mooser
        April 5, 2010, 2:12 pm

        And you also, IIRC, insisted that the usual depictions of Jewish life in pre-Holocaust Poland and Europe may not have been completely, well, kosher.
        And this article confirms there was a lot more to it than meets the eye in those iconic photographs.

        But don’t worry, when my latest project ” Fiddler on the Roof meets The Music Man for a Day of Pleasure” opens, (if it gets past the Hayes Office) there’ll be pelf glorious pelf for all! If only some smart producer would advance me $750,000 for research, I will fly to Vladivostok, and keep right on going. So long, suckers!

  6. Mooser
    April 5, 2010, 12:08 pm

    “What’s interesting to me is less Vishniac’s tendency toward mythology than the Jewish need to have those mythologies and the attachment they have to them, even in the face of evidence to the contrary,” Benton says. “Why are people so attached to the other story? The real story is so much better.

    And a lot better for you.

    • Citizen
      April 5, 2010, 1:33 pm

      That’s also what interested me the most. So why are people so attached? I guess the real thing is too difficult to manage for them.

      • Mooser
        April 5, 2010, 2:16 pm

        “So why are people so attached?”

        Hey, I’m not the one who knows. Ask Witty, Yonira, BDS, Julian Calander and their ilk. Frankly, I think they’re ilk myself.

        Maybe because it gives them permissions, usually forbidden to American Jews. And it gets the ziocaine flowing.

    • Mooser
      April 5, 2010, 2:18 pm

      And a lot better for you.

      And if you are trying to think about it, not just minipulate the story for some kind of gain, actually a hell of a lot more tragic. But that wouldn’t serve the purpose, would it?

      • Mooser
        April 5, 2010, 2:30 pm

        Yow, sorry for pulling this OT, but I wanted to send in that link. I’m off to the lawyers.
        Those people didn’t just break the restraining order, they defied it, and in the worst way. The second (or third?) time we had to call the local constabulary (their lot never a happy one, of course) they announced (to the cops!) that all would come good for them because they were circulating a letter and petition among the neighbors about us!!! The very definition of harassment, and bragging about it! And threatening our pets, and then strealing our cat not 12 hours after being served? I don’t think the judge will like that.

        In America, never, ever pay off your house, or live a quiet married life without violent ex’s and oppressive child-support payments. It only pisses people off. It’s not worth it, and you won’t fit in. And if you get a motorcycle, have the good sense to fall off and screw up your body before you’re 25. Why stick out like a sore thumb?

        • lyn117
          April 6, 2010, 1:55 am

          My neighbor dug up my sprinkler while repairing his driveway. Several years later, he tripped on it and broke his collarbone, and he’s now trying to collect from my insurance. I don’t think he compares to your neighbors tho. At least, I don’t think that yet.

  7. MHughes976
    April 5, 2010, 5:38 pm

    Well, Mooser, they seem to be persecuting you without a cause. No wonder you empathise with the Palestinians.

    • Mooser
      April 5, 2010, 10:08 pm

      Oh, they have plenty of cause, as I explained above. If there was some way I could direct them to the help they need, I would. It might be a simple case of senile dementia or Alzheimers. But this is America, and the gateway to the mental health system is through the criminal justice system. It’s a win-win for everyone, both the police and the mental health professionals, except me and my wife, who alternate between the fear and the feeling we are tripping cripples.

      And while I thank you for the concern, you only trivialise the problems of the Palestinians by comparing us. I’m out a fence and a few laurel bushes, and he cut his own internet/TV cable in the process Now they have no TV, which I understand can be fatal.

  8. Rowan
    April 6, 2010, 12:48 am

    The “Correction” says that the article is called “Explosive Territory”. In fact the article is not called “Explosive Territory” but “Nazi scandal engulfs Human Rights Watch”. As you might expect from that headline, it is focused on Garlasco’s penchant for collecting WW2 memorabilia. Isn’t it interesting that the “Correction”, and Ben White, ignore this and concentrate on relative trivia?

  9. Rowan
    April 8, 2010, 3:05 am

    Hmm. Even if one assumes that Garlasco’s interest in such things is wildly kinky (which I don’t think they manage to prove), it is still quite hypocritical to act all shocked about it. As is quite well known, the original source of the nazi porn genre was Jewish, and largely Israeli: the ‘stalag’ comic books, which were Jewish revenge fantasies. The most famous of them, “Ilse, She-Wolf of the SS”, was of this sort. People should research this stuff, it’s fascinating.

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