Commentary Magazine


Human Rights Watch’s New Blood Libel

One must at least give credit to the Saudi-funded Human Rights Watch for its ambition. This morning, the group held a press conference to unveil its latest elucidation of Israeli sadism, entitled White Flag Deaths. (HRW’s reports on Israel usually have sensational, action-movie titles, such as Rain of Fire, Remote Control Death, or The Incendiary IDF, as opposed to the placid headlines on their very occasional criticisms of terrorist groups.)

Anyway, the new report claims that during the Gaza war, IDF soldiers went around blowing away Palestinian women and children who were waving white flags. How does HRW know this? Well, after the war they interviewed Palestinians who told them the IDF did this. Very credible. And who wrote the report? A charming fellow named Joe Stork, who is HRW’s deputy director for its Middle East programs, which in practice means the deputy director of HRW’s campaign to criminalize the Jewish state.

HRW would like to create the impression that Stork is part forensic specialist, part human-rights expert. But he is neither. He is among the harshest of anti-Israel partisans. Here is some information on Stork’s pre-HRW activities from a JCPA report:

[HRW executive director Kenneth] Roth, in turn, brought in Joe Stork, who served for many years as editor of the Middle East Report, which had (and still has) a very explicit political agenda strongly biased against Israeli (and U.S.) policies. Stork was a core member of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), described by B’nai B’rith as “a propaganda mill of the Far Left,” which openly called for Israel’s destruction. MERIP Reports carried laudatory interviews with terrorist leaders and other activists distributed literature (including PLO buttons, posters, and flags), and MERIP’s anti-Israeli assault reflected the standard Marxist anti-imperialist analysis.

Stork wrote repeatedly on “the origins of the State of Israel and its war with the people of the Middle East.” After the murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, MERIP issued a flyer stating: “Munich and similar actions cannot create or substitute for a mass revolutionary movement, but we should comprehend the achievement of the Munich action. . . . It has provided an important boost in morale among Palestinians in the camps.”

That HRW would hire someone with Stork’s résumé as a reporter on Israel tells you everything you need to know about HRW’s mission. And this is to say nothing of Stork’s boss, Sarah Leah Whitson, who also was a dedicated anti-Israel activist before being hired by HRW.

No, I don’t trust the reports these characters produce. I don’t trust the credibility of the interviews they conduct in Gaza, I don’t trust the farcical evidentiary standards they employ in their investigations, and I don’t trust their judgment on anything related to the Middle East, especially to Israel, whose vilification has been their careers’ goal.

But since we’re on the subject of white flags, it is worth posting the video below, which shows how Hamas used them during the Gaza war. It used them, and the civilians who waved them, as cover for their military operations. This is the real human-rights crime—the employment by terrorist groups of explicitly civilian props, such as ambulances, baby carriages, mosques, and white flags, to help them carry out murder. How about an HRW report on how Hamas converted dozens of mosques in Gaza into arms depots and military command centers, or about Hamas’s use of the Islamic University in Gaza as an explosives laboratory? This will never happen. If Human Rights Watch actually cared about protecting the sanctity of the white flag in combat, Hamas would be the target of its reports, not Israel.

Let’s go to the videotape.


UPDATE: Omri at Mere Rhetoric has more.