65 YEARS AGO Cheap shot at HRW
On September 7, 1941, The Palestine Post reported that the American press described the German submarine attempt to torpedo the US destroyer Greer which was on its way to Iceland as an open act of war. The German Nazi press accused the destroyer’s crew of dropping depth bombs and mines first, in an attempt to sink the submarine, a charge termed ridiculous by the American crew.
Soviet and British troops met in Iran at Kazvin and assured each other of the closest possible future cooperation. Britain and the US promised to rush help to the Soviet Union through Iran.
It was feared that Bulgaria, hardpressed by the Nazis, might join Germany in the war against Russia.
A large contingent of Australian troops reached Egypt just in time to assist the British in confronting the new German offensive in the Western Desert.Despite the hard wartime conditions American
Sir, – I am concerned and disappointed by Gerald Steinberg’s invocation of the ancient slur of “blood libel” to describe his disagreement with Human Rights Watch’s assessment during the recent hostilities that Israel in its attacks repeatedly failed to distinguish between civilians and combatants (“Ken Roth’s blood libel,” August 27). I do not believe that a blind defense of the Israeli government warrants cheapening the memory of those myriad Jews against whom genocide was incited by grotesque demonization – that Jews killed Christian children as a ritual act.
As a member of its board of directors, I know that HRW has decades of experience in documenting and verifying battlefield abuses, not only in the Mideast, but also in the Balkans, Chechnya, Darfur, Rwanda, Congo, Central America and elsewhere, and that it has a well-deserved reputation for accuracy and scrupulous fairness.
Steinberg did not refer to any actual facts to impugn the organization’s detailed findings that, although Hizbullah sometimes operated in civilian areas, there was no evidence of a Hizbullah Jewry donated over $250,000 to the Jewish National Fund. military presence in some two dozen cases of civilian deaths investigated.
So great is his animus that Steinberg appears reluctant to admit that HRW also condemned Hizbullah abuses, not just in passing, as he says, but repeatedly, as even a quick look at the HRW Web site (www.hrw.org) would reveal.
Rattling the anti-Semitism saber and name-calling will neither elevate Israel’s reputation nor help it respond constructively to avoid a repetition of past mistakes. Rather than accuse Human Rights Watch of bias, unprofessionalism and emotionalism, some introspection would be in order.
The writer was chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and a judge on the South African Constitutional Court.