Friday, November 10, 2006

Watch out for Human Rights Watch Watchers

I read a Q-A in Thursday's The Jerusalem Post with a woman dedicated to monitoring left-wing NGOs in order to expose their persistent anti-Israel bias. She discussed her tactics and defended her political agenda. Fair enough. But a close reading of this piece rattled me. The Post's columnist, Ruthie Blum, could use a special monitor to root out inaccuracies of her own. Her bland description of the July 30th incident in Qana as "when the IDF inadvertently killed several civilians in a building" is disingenuous. Surely, she meant to say several dozen civilians.

Later in her article, Blum notes that Human Rights Watch corrected its Qana reports with official Red Cross statistics, and that there proved to be only about half as many victims as originally feared. But she glides over the disturbing details that did emerge just three days after this IDF aerial bombing: 28 corpses were evacuated from the Qana apartment block, 16 of whom were children. The ages of these dead Lebanese civilians ranged from 9 months to 75 years. And a further 13 people were reported missing. So HRW issuing a correction is no vindication of Israel's heavy-handed tactics, which in fact were echoed Wednesday morning at Beit Hanoun, Gaza, when another sleeping family awoke to Israeli fire. For all the blood spilled, few lessons are learned in this hideous conflict.

After their terrible blunder at Qana this summer, the IDF called a brief halt to hostilities to allow for humanitarian aid, and an internal report cited a failure of Israeli intelligence. "Had they known that civilians were in the building, the attack would not have been carried out," the official statement said. Lt. General Halutz expressed his sorrow for the deaths of these civilians, but kept the report's contents classified.

Let's compare the muddled Qana body-count with number-crunching on a far larger scale: Two weeks after the World Trade Center was attacked in 2001, the official New York death toll was more than 6500; as duplications were discovered and missing people resurfaced during the following six weeks, that tally was revised downwards to 3478 deaths. By the fifth anniversary, US authorities cited a total of 2749 victims who lost their lives at the Twin Towers. In the aftermath of carnage, it takes some time to quantify the damage. Miscalculations are not necessarily evidence of a political agenda. The rapid revision of HRW's report indicates that this NGO shows accountability. It is interesting that Ruthie Blum fails to mention that just a week into the war, HRW denounced Hizbollah as probable war criminals for packing their rockets with ballbearings to render them more deadly to civilians. Governments which are criticized by HRW tend to malign this organization. Well, I applaud their efforts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good onya for taking on ruthie blum's pathetic journalism. she failed to ask the most basic question of this alleged "keeping the bastards honest" human rights watchdog group. she needed to ask the settler watchdog if she ever believed that REAL independent ngo's got it right? she also needed to ask why the idf's data was considered more credible than that of any other group. finally, i went to the internet site of this zionist watchdog group and there is absolutely no indication that the people who are doing the monitoring are sitting in settlements in the west bank. all addresses and contact details are in new york. a grand case of the pot calling the kettle black.