The Israeli Defense Forces recently concluded a report on the tragic deaths of seven Palestinians on a Gaza Beach. As detailed yesterday in HR's special report "Gaza Beach Libel", the IDF has carefully analyzed all evidence and proven that it was not responsible for this tragedy.
In the past 24 hours, our report has generated over 500 letters to the media. While some news organizations have reported the IDF findings, it certainly does not compensate for the highly emotive front page initial accusations.
At the same time, many in the media have been quoting Human Rights Watch (HRW)'s military "expert" Marc Garlasco. Garlasco was one of the authors of HRW's controversial study "Razing Rafah." The study is based on unverifiable Palestinian allegations and unsubstantiated security judgments. This "academic" study claimed that "the IDF actions destroyed over 50 percent of Rafah's roads and elements of its water, sewage, and electrical systems" based on a combination of Palestinian "eye-witnesses" and sympathetic journalists.
HonestReporting does not expect media to accept Israel's conclusions at face value. However, Human Rights Watch, along with many other organizations which claim to focus solely on human rights without a political agenda, have hardly proven themselves to be an "unbiased" source.
First, as an NGO (Non-Government Organization), HRW is not held accountable to anybody but its own staff.
According to Professor Gerald Steinberg of Bar Illan University:
The international human rights framework was created in response to the horrors of the Holocaust and embodied in the Nuremberg trials and the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But going far beyond simple irony, this idealistic framework has been hijacked to justify the Palestinian terror campaign against Israelis.
A small group of powerful NGOs has played a leading role in this process. At the same time Israeli victims of the latest Palestinian bus bombing were being buried, HRW's ideologists denounced "Israel's West Bank barrier" as a grievous violation of human rights. While claiming to speak in the name of humanitarian principles, HRW officials have been abusing these norms in order to play an active role in the public-relations campaign to demonize Israel.
The organization's bias against Israel is hardly new. A report from the influential NGO Monitor (which we encourage our readers to read in full) makes the case of HRW's agenda against Israel:
In a study of activities between October 2000 and April 2004, HRW's reports and activities on Israel were found to be systematically and exceedingly biased. Most of the 103 reports, press releases, letters, photo essays and film festivals focus on condemning Israeli responses to terror, in comparison to only 13 that deal with Palestinian terror attacks. This record illustrates HRW's exploitation of the rhetoric of universal human rights in order to pursue political and ideological objectives in concert with international demonization of Israel.
The bias of HRW become clear when reading any of its reporting on the Middle East. In their latest annual report, they dismiss the fact that Israel removed all civilian and military personnel from Gaza, and that Gaza now has its own border with Egypt:
Gaza remains occupied, and Israel retains its responsibilities for the welfare of Gaza residents. Israel maintains effective control over Gaza by regulating movement in and out of the Strip as well as the airspace, sea space, public utilities and population registry. In addition, Israel declared the right to re-enter Gaza militarily at any time in its "Disengagement Plan" Since the withdrawal, Israel has carried out aerial bombardments, including targeted killings, and has fired artillery into the northeastern corner of Gaza.
While the last sentence is true, to write it without explaining the context of why Israel has launched attacks into Gaza is deliberately misleading, like condemning the U.S. for attacking Afghanistan without context. Israel conducts military operations in order to stop continual rocket fire targeting civilians. To ignore the rationale for the military operations is to ignore the very "human rights" that HRW claims to monitor.
Human Rights Watch is just one of many biased or previously discredited sources that the media often refer to when reporting on Israel. After being caught telling an outright lie that thousands of Palestinians had been killed in Jenin, there is no reason the media should ever quote Saeb Erekat. (For more on Erekat and other PA "spokesmen", read this CAMERA report). Yet, we the media again giving exposure to his outrageous statements. Consider Erekat's recent claim:
The Palestinians do not have any weapons capable of such precision and such effectiveness that can massacre seven people in one shot. Now they want to escape the responsibility, and these crimes may reoccur and that is dangerous and alarming.
No responsible news agency should repeat the outrageous claim that the Palestinians have no weapons that can kill seven people in one blast? Tragically, the Palestinians have become quite proficient in mass murder through explosives.
HonestReporting subscribers should demand that the Media use sources without history of questionable integrity. If your local media have cited spokespeople or NGOs with a proven anti-Israel agenda, challenge them to work harder to get the story right. To do otherwise is to mislead the public.
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