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Human Rights Watch against _real_ ship attack inquiry?

by fairleft Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 05:54:00 PM EST

Does Human Rights Watch take orders directly from the U.S. Department of State, or is it that the two bodies' shared excess of empathy for Israel makes them just seem to be in lock step? Specifically, why does HRW not call for an independent international investigation of Israeli piracy in international waters and its massacre of civilians on the Mavi Marmara? Why call for Israel to investigate itself when they _know_ an Israeli investigation will be bullshit? HRW admits the last in the final sentence blockquoted below:

Israel: Full, Impartial Investigation of Flotilla Killings Essential
May 31, 2010
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director.

(New York) - Israel should promptly conduct a credible and impartial investigation into the deaths of at least 10 activists after Israeli security forces boarded ships that were part of an "aid flotilla" to Gaza, Human Rights Watch said today. . . .

"A prompt, credible, and impartial investigation is absolutely essential to determine whether the lethal force used by Israeli commandos was necessary to protect lives and whether it could have been avoided," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "Given Israel's poor track record of investigating unlawful killings by its armed forces, the international community should closely monitor any inquiry to ensure it meets basic international standards and that any wrongdoers are brought to justice."

And yet HRW doesn't ask for an independent international investigation, exactly in line with the U.S. government's position:


Israel should lead investigation into attack on Gaza flotilla, says US
Turkey's demands for international inquiry blocked at meeting of United Nations security council
Chris McGreal in Washington guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 1 June 2010 19.16 BST

The United States has blocked demands at the UN security council for an international inquiry into Israel's assault on the Turkish ship carrying aid to Gaza that left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead.

A compromise statement instead calls for an impartial investigation which Washington indicated could be carried out by Israel.

Turkey pressed for the security council to launch an investigation similar to Richard Goldstone's inquiry into last year's fighting in Gaza which prompted protests from Israel when it concluded that Israel and Hamas were probably guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. . . .

But in hours of diplomatic wrangling, the US blocked the move and instead forced a statement that called for "a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards". The US representative at the security council discussions, Alejandro Wolff, indicated that Washington would be satisfied with Israel investigating itself when he called for it to undertake a credible investigation.

The Israeli government is certain to launch its own inquiry in part as a response to domestic criticism that its forces were ill-prepared for the resistance they met on the ship. But any self-inquiry is likely to be met with the same scepticism beyond Israel's borders that met its investigations into last year's Gaza war and its 2006 invasion of Lebanon which criticised aspects of the handling of the operations but did not challenge the underlying claim that they were essential for Israel's security. . . .

And it is not just the 'not serious' Israeli attitude toward really investigating possible law of war violations committed during the Gaza invasion. Robert Fisk notes three additional incidences of Israeli international outlawery just since January, toward all of which the Israeli attitude is 'screw you, we'll do whatever we want':

Goldstone report, November 2009

Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 with the declared aim of halting rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the three-week conflict along with 13 Israelis. The South African jurist Richard Goldstone's report into the conflict found both Israel and the Hamas movement that controls the Strip guilty of war crimes, but focused more on Israel. Israel refused to co-operate with Goldstone and described his report as distorted and biased.

The al-Mabhouh assassination, January-May 2010

Britain and Australia expelled Israeli diplomats after concluding that Israel had forged British and Australian passports used by assassins to kill a Hamas commander in Dubai. Israel has neither confirmed or denied a role in the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in his hotel room in January. Britain said such misuse of British passports was "intolerable". Australia said it was not the behaviour of "a nation with whom we have had such a close, friendly and supportive relationship".

*Settlements row, March 2010

Israel announces plans, during visit by US Vice-President Joe Biden, to build 1,600 homes for Jews in an area of the West Bank annexed by Israel. The announcement triggers unusually harsh criticism from the United States. Washington said it damaged its efforts to revive the Middle East peace process. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the project was an insult. Netanyahu said he was blindsided by planning bureaucrats and apologised to Biden. Today's meeting with Barack Obama at the White House, called off by Mr Netanyahu so he could return home to deal with the flotilla crisis, was supposed to be another part of the fence-mending between the two allies.

*Nuclear secrecy, May 2010

Israel, widely assumed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, has faced renewed calls to sign a global treaty barring the spread of atomic weapons. Signatories of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) last week called for a conference in 2012 to discuss banning weapons of mass destruction throughout the Middle East. The declaration was adopted by all 189 parties to the NPT, including the US. It urged Israel to sign the NPT and put its nuclear facilities under UN safeguards.

More on the peace ship massacre:

Israelis opened fire before boarding Gaza flotilla, say released activists
First eyewitness accounts of raid contradict version put out by Israeli officials
Dorian Jones in Istanbul and Helena Smith guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 1 June 2010 14.12 BST

. . . Arriving at Istanbul's Ataturk airport with her one-year-old baby, Turkish activist Nilufer Cetin said Israeli troops opened fire before boarding the Turkish-flagged ferry Mavi Marmara, which was the scene of the worst clashes and all the fatalities. Israeli officials have said that the use of armed force began when its boarding party was attacked.

"It was extremely bad and very tough clashes took place. The Mavi Marmara is filled with blood," said Cetin, whose husband is the Mavi Marmara's chief engineer.

She told reporters that she and her child hid in the bathroom of their cabin during the confrontation. "The operation started immediately with firing. First it was warning shots, but when the Mavi Marmara wouldn't stop these warnings turned into an attack," she said.

"There were sound and smoke bombs and later they used gas bombs. Following the bombings they started to come on board from helicopters." . . .


"It was like war. They had guns, Taser weapons, some type of teargas and other weaponry, compared to two-and-a-half wooden sticks we had between us. To talk of self-defence is ridiculous." -- Annette Groth, party of The Left (Die Linke) German MP, who was aboard the Mavi Marmara.

More on Israel's 'screw you' just don't get it attitude about what it's done:

'Next time we'll use more force'
By YAAKOV KATZ, AP AND JPOST.COM STAFF
06/01/2010 13:41
Israel will use more aggressive force in the future to prevent ships from breaking the sea blockade on the Gaza Strip, a top Navy commander told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. . . .


Hair-curling demo in support of flotilla raid outside Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv
by Philip Weiss on June 1, 2010

Wow. What has Israel become? . . .

[Check out the video]

(Citizens of Indonesia, Lebanon, and Qatar are 'nationals of enemy states'?)

Red Cross visits wounded nationals of enemy states
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
06/01/2010 19:06

Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross for Israel and Gaza went on Tuesday to hospitals where foreign civilians from countries without diplomatic relations with Israel who were injured in the Marmara ship conflict are being treated. . . .

The Jerusalem Post learned from hospital sources that those visited include people from Lebanon, Indonesia and Qatar.

If you're in New York:

RALLY AGAINST THE ISRAELI ATTACKS ON THE GAZA FLOTILLA- PART 2!
Date: Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Time: 5:00pm - 8:00pm
Location: Israeli Consulate
Street: 42nd street & 2nd Ave
City/Town: Manhattan, NY

Display:
Where I've been fairleft, fairleft2, fairleft3, newfairleft, and newnewfairleft, and now am, till censored again, fairleft4:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/6/1/872059/-Human-Rights-Watch-against-_real_-ship-deaths-inquiry

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 06:46:19 PM EST
admitting that you have 9 lives? I recommended your diary but I would like to say something about HRW and AI. In principle they are doing good job, gathering facts about human rights abuses around the world.

However over the time there was growing criticism to their impartiality. Economist recently published an article about Amnesty lifting veil of secrecy a bit - these organizations have limited number of founders which try to change coverage. It was mentioned that one founding member tried to influence AI annual report on Israel. Of course such damning reports undermine their credibility.

For example recently I participated in one debate about racism in Russia, I argued that racist crimes in Russia have the highest number in the world. I was asked to provide statistics. I did it using Russian NGOs data. Then I was asked to back my assertion that the Russia's rate is the highest in the world. I wanted to use the latest Amnesty's report but to my embarrasment I did not find a single word about racist crimes in Australia despite world wide coverage of racist attacks on Indians there. Such a shame for Amnesty.

So what is the solution. I believe it will be gradual, some new organizations will appear, possibly sponsored by founders from developing countries as they grow wealthier. They will try to compete with Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and other Western based groups, hopefully without obtaining such blots on reputation.

by FarEasterner on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 07:51:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
into doing the right thing. I hope people write to the organization and ask it to do the right thing on this matter. Which is damned obvious: call for an independent international investigation into Israel's alleged 'crimes'.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 07:57:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Human rights is highly charged politically, and will always remain so.

I haven't looked recently at world reports by AI, but I remember a lack of mention of Palestinian right of return. I suspect that it was just too hot for them to handle - placing them in a damned if you do damned if  you don't situation. They chose the "damned if you don't".

New groups won't escape this type of problem.  Perhaps we need a continual process of new idealistic groups forming who are willing to face the political fallout from deeply unpopular human rights positions.

One question/defence for AI - is AI the messenger or is it the standard bearer? If it is the messenger, then it is too much to ask for it to cover everything.


aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 10:12:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Amnesty International tries to avoid giving governments an excuse to dismiss what they say out of hand. Mentioning of the right of return would enable Israel to accuse AI of pro-Palestinian bias.

For instance, the AI UK members' guide for writing letters tells you to be polite and includes "Don't discuss ideology or politics - Amnesty International opposes human rights violations, not governments or political systems".

by Gag Halfrunt on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 09:37:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely - except for the fact that Right of Return is a fundamental right that fits squarely under their mandate.

Even more importantly - it is the core issue of the conflict - the conflict will not end until this issue is settled: either by acceptance, or categorical denial by means such as genocide.

The failure to discuss this issue renders all criticisms of the various Palestinian groups to - equality and justice is not for the likes of you. Do as we say.

Even further, on AI's web page about refugees they actually fail to mention that refugees have the right to return home.

http://www.amnesty.org/en/refugees-and-migrants

Lets just say that this is a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation. Failure to mention the Right of Return runs the serious risk of Palestinian groups dismissing what you say out of hand.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 03:52:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When does the right of return turn into irredentism? Did "the Jews" - however defined - have a "right of return" to their "ancestral homeland" in 1948?

If we're talking about people "returning" to within the '48 borders... well, for all practical purposes except the purely geographic one, the place they fled has ceased to exist. You have second- and third-generation Israelis living there - surely they have a right to live on the land of their birth as well, no?

At some point, you have to start exploring other means of finding closure for injustice than attempting to restore a status quo ante that is barely within living memory at this point.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 07:55:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Surely the Palestinians could be neighbors of the present residents? Framing this as some kind of zero-sum game -- no one's attempting to 'restore a status quo ante', just trying to get refugees back home (home meaning same general area, on the 'correct' side of international borders) -- just continues the conflict forever when in fact it is solvable with some money, civility and common sense. There's not plenty of room, but Israel's largely an urban, manufacturing society, and a heckuva lot less densely populated than Holland, for example. There's room and there are jobs.


fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 08:08:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If, in fact, a solution can be found that involves right of return yet still respects the legitimate interests of all involved parties - including the average Israeli resident - then I'd be in favour of it. But I am not optimistic on that point, so I think that it would be prudent to explore other possible solutions to the problem of a Palestinian diaspora.

The problem is that you have a group of stateless people living very frequently in abject poverty and often lacking the most elementary political and economic rights. Surely, the most expeditious route to finding them a state where they would be willing to settle and which will guarantee their political and economic rights is the important point, not the geographic location of that state? That state could be Israel, it could be Jordan, it could be Syria, it could be the European Union.

On the other point - the expiration date for the right of return - I can certainly see the argument that such an expiration date would encourage the conquerors to reject all compromise in the hope that they can hold out until the conquered people's claims vanish into thin air. However, the current policy of demanding perpetual right of return provides incentives to keep old grudges alive - something that is incredibly counterproductive in terms of peace and prosperity. More blood and treasure has been spilled in Europe over such empty grudges than any other single issue, possibly excepting religious heresy.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 08:34:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At no point has Israel allowed the refugees the right to return home. The crime started in 1947 has not stopped, and is in fact ongoing. In particular, as we speak more Palestinians are being made refugees.  Israel is deliberately playing the until the claims vanish in thin air strategy.

The problem is that you have a group of stateless people living very frequently in abject poverty and often lacking the most elementary political and economic rights. Surely, the most expeditious route to finding them a state where they would be willing to settle and which will guarantee their political and economic rights is the important point, not the geographic location of that state? That state could be Israel, it could be Jordan, it could be Syria, it could be the European Union.

Why that problem exists is critical as well - as well as the need for justice. We do not have a problem of a group of stateless people - we have a problem that as a deliberate policy since 1947 Israel has tried to create an ethnically/religiously pure state, driving off its citizens and citizens of neighbouring countries (Palestine) and rendering them stateless in order to steal their land, homes, and possessions. This is not a neutral "natural disaster".

Refugees have a right to return home. It seems quite reasonable to assume that if their home is now 2nd or 3rd generation Jewish, then a home of similar value in the same neighbourhood. They also should receive financial compensation.

The right of refugees to third countries as refugees is also noted in international law, unfortunately it fails when the numbers of refugees are so large as to threaten political stability and even starvation to that country.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 07:35:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The right of refugees to third countries as refugees is also noted in international law, unfortunately it fails when the numbers of refugees are so large as to threaten political stability and even starvation to that country.

But the threat to political stability applies at least equally well to Israel, should every Palestinian claim right of return. Demanding that Israel dismantle its political structure is not politically, practically or, I would argue, ethically viable.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 08:30:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't see how allowing right of return to a prosperous Palestinian state on the pre-1967 territories would be any problem for Israel's political structure. But, of course, Israel plans to annex most of that land, and right of return poses a problem for that.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 10:37:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't see any problem with right of return to a prosperous Palestinian state on the post-'67 borders either. It's the right of return to areas within the pre-'67 borders, and even the pre-'48 borders that is problematic.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 07:19:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's problematic in theory, but this theoretical problem becomes a negotiable matter has to be removed by one side before Israel will even sit down for negotiations (and that's what this issue really 'means' for the Israeli government). And when the Palestinians capitulate on that matter, 'something else' theoretically fundamental will come up that has to be capitulated on before Israel will sit down for comprehensive negotiations. And so it will go, so it has gone, for many decades.

But how many Palestinians will insist on resettlement within Israel's present (legal) borders, despite I assume significant economic incentives to settle inside a viable, prosperous Palestinian state? There's a lot of money (Gulf oil money) available to be thrown at this problem, if it ever reaches anything close to actual, sincere negotiations, and incentives themselves would be part of the negotiations. Rough guess: if negotiations set an absolute limit of 250,000 Palestinians being allowed to settle within the current borders of Israel or the deal is off, actual numbers wouldn't come close to that limit because Palestinians would be heavily incentivized not to 'go there'. But, of course, reasonable success for all sides depends also on whether Israel will make sure Palestine is an economic basket case forever.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Fri Jun 4th, 2010 at 10:22:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rough guess: if negotiations set an absolute limit of 250,000 Palestinians being allowed to settle within the current borders of Israel or the deal is off,

That would be a viable way to deal with the matter, yes.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jun 4th, 2010 at 10:25:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If an amateur like me can provide a decent starter position, I'm sure the professionals on the Palestinian side quietly came up with similar long ago. The thing is, start negotiating final status, enough of Israel's pre-conditions (capitulations by the Palestinians) before negotiations begin.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Fri Jun 4th, 2010 at 08:28:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"the place they fled has ceased to exist"

"Fled" is an Israeli propaganda notion propagated by Elie Weisel and others to suggest that 800,000 Palestinians just left 470 villages because the invading Arab armies told them to.

It is pure bullshit. Most were forceably ejected by Zionist militias and then the new born IDF, while the others left out of fear following several massacres like Deir Yasin. There was no Arab call for the Palestinians to leave (read Weasel Words at The Nation, about Elie Weisel's lies and hypocrisy).

Months later when the UN attempted to right their wrong (not demarcating borders) by creating UNWRA, they counted 711,000 refugees in camps in neighboring countries and the Palestinian territories. Others settled in various cities, some emigrating to Europe and the US.


by shergald on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 11:22:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was gonna say, but I'm glad you stepped in.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 01:52:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Fled" as in "became refugees."

Whether they became refugees as a result of deliberate ethnic cleansing (as seems most probable) or as the ordinary result of the chaos of war does not really matter at this point, except perhaps for the size of any monetary damages.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 07:21:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Tue Jun 1st, 2010 at 07:03:01 PM EST
HRW claimed that Russia used cluster munitions in Georgia. As evidenced by a picture that according to their own list clearly didn't show a Russian weapon.
That has lowered my opinion of the organization considerably.
by generic on Wed Jun 2nd, 2010 at 01:12:58 PM EST
Is HRW anything but an american liberal pro-interventionist think thank? Sort of the democrats version of PNAC?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Jun 3rd, 2010 at 07:58:32 PM EST
I don't think it is.

It has lost a lot of credibility.

I can go on and on about their "work" in the Balkans.

A political hit squad.

by Upstate NY on Sun Jun 6th, 2010 at 02:42:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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