HU­MAN RIGHTS WATCH DE­FENDED

The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment&analysis -

Last week, ( JC Oc­to­ber 23) there were two sep­a­rate at­tacks, an ed­i­to­rial and a let­ter, on Hu­man Rights Watch’s work on Is­rael. This fol­lows the pub­li­ca­tion of two crit­i­cal com­men­taries ear­lier in the year. In all this cov­er­age, your news­pa­per has not pointed to a sin­gle er­ror of fact in our re­port­ing of hu­man rights abuses and vi­o­la­tions of the laws of war by Is­rael and Ha­mas.

Amid the par­ti­san smears and in­nu­endo, our crit­ics make three se­ri­ous points about our work. First they say we dis­pro­por­tion­ately fo­cus on Is­rael. This is false. Is­rael ac­counts for about 15 per cent of our pub­lished out­put on the re­gion. Is­rael is a small frac­tion of what we do.

Sec­ond, our crit­ics claim that our re­search is flawed — re­ly­ing on Pales- tinian wit­nesses with a po­lit­i­cal agenda. Wrong again. As in other con­flicts, we care­fully cor­rob­o­rate the tes­ti­mony of eye-wit­nesses and vic­tims.

Third, our crit­ics ar­gue that we should fo­cus on “closed” coun­tries, such as China, rather than on “open” so­ci­eties such as Is­rael. We com­pletely re­ject this. It is a call for dou­ble stan­dards which would fa­tally un­der­mine our cred­i­bil­ity. We must ap­ply the same hu­man rights stan­dards to all coun­tries, open and closed. To do oth­er­wise is to in­dulge in par­ti­san­ship and sol­i­dar­ity which leads to blind­ness to the abuses of one side, and blind­ness to the hu­man­ity of the other. Tom Por­te­ous Lon­don Di­rec­tor, Hu­man Rights Watch, Pen­tonville Road, Lon­don N1

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