David Horowitz has written a thought provoking editorial in the Jerusalem Post about the US Israeli relationship – or in particular, that between Obama and Netanyahu. The editorial, entitled, Didn’t we used to be on the same side contrasts the current uneasy Obama-Netanyahu relationship with that of Clinton and Rabin, and Bush and Sharon. When added to the Clinton-led US State Department announcement decrying alleged religious discrimination in Israel, bizarrely placing Israel in the same category as countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, it does suggest an Obama led distancing in the relationship. In contrast to the Obama approach of expediency becoming principle, the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper is a shining light.
A reminder of how things change , often not for the better, is provided in an article by Robert Bernstein , entitled Human Rights in the Middle East. Bernstein founded the Helsinki Watch, which he then merged in the Human Rights Watch. When he reached the age of 75 years, he retired as Chair to become Founding Chair Emeritus. It must be galling to him to watch as the organisation he founded has betrayed its original principles to take on a biased Israel-bashing role. As a man of almost 88 years, his article – based on his “Shirley and Leonard Goldstein Lecture on Human Rights, at the University of Nebraska at Omaha November 10, 2010 – is worth reading.
Powerful paragraphs include these:
“A Human Rights Watch Board member told The New Republic that they go after Israel because it is like “low-hanging fruit.” By that, I think he means that they have a lot of information fed to them by Israel’s own human rights organizations and the press, that they have easy access to Israel to hold their press conferences, and that the press is eager to accept their reports. The organization, most would agree, was founded to go after what I guess you would call “high-hanging fruit” – that is, closed societies, where it is hard to get in. Nations that will not allow you to hold press conferences in their country. Nations where there are no other human rights organizations to give you the information.”
“It seemed to me that if you talked about freedom of speech, the rights of women, an open education and freedom of religion – that there was only one state in the Middle East that was concerned with those issues. In changing the public debate to issues of war, Human Rights Watch and others in what they described as being evenhanded, described Israel far from being an advocate of human rights, but instead as one of its principal offenders. Like many others, I knew little about the laws of war, Geneva Conventions and international law, and in my high regard for Human Rights Watch, I was certainly inclined to believe what Human Rights Watch was reporting. However, as I saw Human Rights Watch’s attacks on almost every issue become more and more hostile, I wondered if their new focus on war was accurate.”
“In one such small incident, the UN Human Rights Commission, so critical of Israel that any fair-minded person would disqualify them from participating in attempts to settle issues involving Israel, got the idea that they could get prominent Jews known for their anti-Israel views to head their investigations. Even before Richard Goldstone, they appointed Richard Falk, professor at Princeton, to be the UN rapporteur for the West Bank and Gaza. Richard Falk had written an article comparing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to Hitler’s treatment of the Jews in the Holocaust. Israel, believing this should have disqualified him for the job, would not allow him into the country. Human Rights Watch leapt to his defense, putting out a press release comparing Israel with North Korea and Burma in not cooperating with the UN. I think you might be surprised to learn the release was written by Joe Stork – Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch Middle East Division – whose previous job for many, many years, was as an editor of a pro-Palestinian newsletter.”
“Richard Goldstone resigned as a Board member of Human Rights Watch and Chair of its Policy Committee to head the UN Human Rights Council investigation of Gaza. Human Rights Watch has been, by far, the biggest supporter of the UN Council, urging them to bring war crimes allegations against Israel – based on this report. I don’t believe Human Rights Watch has responded to many responsible analyses challenging the war crimes accusations made by Goldstone and also challenging Human Rights Watch’s own reports – one on the use of phosphorous, one on the use of drones and one on shooting people almost in cold blood. A military expert working for Human Rights Watch, who seemed to wish to contest these reports, was dismissed and I believe is under a gag order. This is antithetical to the transparency that Human Rights Watch asks of others.”
……………… Articles like this one from Bernstein are a reminder of how organisations like Human Rights Watch have strayed from their original purpose.. the more publicised Bernstein is, the better.
Returning to Horowitz’s editorial, the evidence suggests that Obama has less sympathy to Israel’s situation or sense of commonality that Bill Clinton or George Bush. Caroline Glick certainly reinforces this view, and urges Netanyahu to hold his ground against an Obama onslaught. Hopefully, the US Congress and Senate together with the will of the people will be a buffer to the President and State Dpt. From a global, long-term perspective, Israel will do doubt continue to improve its links with China and India… while putting Israel first, and working to improve the relationship with the US administration.