Netanyahu spokesman uses racist attack against HRW

For many years now, successive governments of Israel– and their blind-love cheering sections in western countries– have tried to “shoot the messenger” when human rights groups or international bodies like, erm, the UN, have criticized official Israeli practices.
So at one level it’s nothing new that Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev yesterday slammed Human Rights Watch’s objectivity, claiming it had “lost its moral compass.”
HRW’s sin? A delegation from the organization went to Saudi Arabia in May to raise money and to work with local rights activists on brainstorming strategies for addressing some of the Kingdom’s own very large-scale human rights problems.
Oh, it’s that old “tainted Arab money” story again. How racist can Regev get?
Let’s be clear here: Neither in Saudi Arabia nor anywhere else has HRW ever raised money from governments. I’ve been on the organization’s Middle East advisory committee for 17 years. I would never have gone on if they’d been an organization that accepts government funding– from anyone.
HRW’s fund-raising dinner in Riyadh was hosted by a private individual.
The report linked to there was by Nasser Salti of Arab News. He focused a little on the part of the presentation made by the HRW team where Middle East division head Sarah Leah Whitson described some of the work HRW has done on Israel. He also noted that,

    Keeping with its mission of even-handed criticism, Human Rights Watch has also leveled criticism at other states in the region, including Saudi Arabia. The organization recently called on the Kingdom to do more to protect the human rights of domestic workers…

Knowing Sarah Leah as I do, I am confident that her presentation at the dinner was professional and even-handed.
HRW does fund-raising events like this all the time— mainly in the US, but also in other countries around the world. It has, as it happens, a particularly rich network of long-time Jewish-American donors.
So what is wrong with trying to raise money for worldwide human-rights work from people in Arab countries??
Would Mark Regev prefer that wealthy Saudis who want to engage in philanthropy do so by donating to the Taliban?
I don’t know how much money HRW netted from Sarah Leah’s visit to Saudi Arabia. But one other clear result of the brainstorming she and her colleagues were able to do with Saudi counterparts there was this well-researched report, which HRW published last week, which calls for an end to Saudi abuses of their millions of migrant workers, who face what the report called “slavery-like conditions.”
Perhaps Mark Regev is indifferent to the fate of those millions of people?
He told the Jerusalem Post,

    “If you can fundraise in Saudi Arabia, why not move on to Somalia, Libya and North Korea?… For an organization that claims to offer moral direction, it appears that Human Rights Watch has seriously lost its moral compass.”

This is a really pathetic argument. As Sarah Leah herself pointed out to the JP reporter, it is always quite necessary, in human rights work, to distinguish between a government and its people, and “Certainly not everyone is tainted by the misconduct of their government.”
Regev’s attack against HRW is, it seems, just part of a broader attack the Israeli government is planning against HRW and Amnesty International.
The JP reporter, Herb Keinon, writes,

    Regev’s comments came two weeks after Israel was ripped for alleged misconduct during Operation Cast Lead in reports issued by HRW and Amnesty International, two of the highest-profile human rights NGOs. Israel has decided to take a much more aggressive stance toward future reports issued by these organizations, the Post has learned.
    “We will make a greater effort in the future to go through their reports with a fine-tooth comb, expose the inconsistencies and their problematic use of questionable data,” one senior official said.
    “We discovered during the Gaza operation and the Second Lebanon War that these organizations come in with a very strong agenda, and because they claim to have some kind of halo around them, they receive a status that they don’t deserve,” he said.
    The Foreign Ministry is currently considering how best to expand its focus and deal more systematically with this issue, and it is assumed this will be done together with the Prime Minister’s Office, the Post has learned.

The Israeli government will probably also be working in close conjunction with a new, Jerusalem-based group called “NGO Monitor” (which is funded, for what it’s worth, by the Weschler Family Foundation, Newt Becker of Los Angeles, and Ben & Esther Rosenbloom Foundation of Baltimore.)
When I was in Israel in February/March I did make, as JWN readers knew at the time, several attempts to get myself accredited as a visiting reporter with the Israeli government’s press office in Beit Agron, West Jerusalem. Sadly, they claimed they’d never heard of The Nation (!!!) and I never got it.
But the helpful young man in the GPO office there, Jason, pressed upon me several brochures from “NGO Monitor” and urged me to do a story about their “revelations.” (He really wasn’t terribly swift… )
Anyway, Regev’s use of the old “Arab money” canard is one that should absolutely be exposed for the racist thinking that it is.

20 thoughts on “Netanyahu spokesman uses racist attack against HRW

  1. JES

    How do Regev’s remarks jibe with your headline? Stupid, yes. Foolish, yes. Inappropriate, possibly. But racist? Come on!

  2. John O'D

    Oh, dear. The odious Mark Regev is back! Not just here, but spouting on the BBC as I drove home this evening, about how the IDF made “superhuman” efforts to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza last winter. Too bad his interlocutor missed the opportunity to suggest to him that, given the level of civilian casualties, despite the superhuman efforts, the only conclusion to be drawn is that the IDF’s soldiers are mostly incompetent.

  3. brian

    ‘So at one level it’s nothing new that Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev yesterday slammed Human Rights Watch’s objectivity, claiming it had “lost its moral compass.”‘
    israel has no moral compass to lose…

  4. brian

    ‘So at one level it’s nothing new that Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev yesterday slammed Human Rights Watch’s objectivity, claiming it had “lost its moral compass.”‘
    israel has no moral compass to lose…

  5. brian

    regev:
    ‘”If you can fundraise in Saudi Arabia, why not move on to Somalia, Libya and North Korea?… ‘
    Isral prefers to fundraise in the us and among jewish communities..The US taxpayers pays form Israels blitzkriegs as wel as their palm springs suburban lifestyle

  6. Salah

    Isral prefers to fundraise in the us and among jewish communities..The US taxpayers pays form Israels blitzkriegs as wel as their palm springs suburban lifestyle
    brian, make note all these Israeli donations in US are “Tax Detectable” ……
    Economist tallies swelling cost of Israel to US

  7. Christiane

    Helena,
    It seems that the Israelian diplomacy has adopted a super active attitude these days. In Switzerland they appears in the news each two months or more, violently and officially criticizing our government actions or statements, or that of the ICRC. When Ahmadinejad came in Geneva in order to assist to the Durbans II round of talks, one month ago, he had a short formal meeting with one member of our executive. This irated the Israelian ambassador who violently criticized our government and made much a do about nothing in the media; they even recalled their Ambassador for consultation in Israel.
    Just to-day they have found another reason of dissatisfaction : Xinhuanet (the China press agency) recently wrote a short report announcing that Mahmoud Al’Zahar the Hamas ex-foreign minister had leaded a small delegation which came to Geneva in order to assist at a conference organized by a non governmental, but unnamed foundation. (I suspect that this foundation may have been the one which supported the Geneva Accords and financed the Israelians & Palestinians who participated in these negociations, or it may also be the ICRC and redcross societies, or both). Swiss diplomates also assisted to the Conference and thus met with the Hamas delegates. Informed of that visit through the Xinhuanet report, Israel’s foreign minister is completely over-reacting, Haaretz reports about it here . I have just heard a direct interview of Igor Pamal during the evening news and frankly, he ridiculed himself, accusing Switzerland to side with extremists and terrorists.
    Personnally, I was surprised by the verbal aggressivity of the israelian diplomate (aren’t these people supposed to speak diplomatically and with moderation ?); his pretention to controll whom our goverment meets or not was quite funny, to say the least.
    It is also interesting to contrast the report issued by Xinhuanet and that of Haaretz ; the fact that the Hamas delegation was on “a low profile tour” in the EU and that it had meetings not only in Switzerland, but also with several other countries is completely left out by the Israelians. Hamas didn’t reveal the names of the other countries to Xinhuanet, because these countries didn’t want to be named publicly.. well, but there is still Bruxelles : why didn’t the Israelians protest in Bruxelles as well, isn’t Solanas the only common and foreign minister of the EU ?
    That said, it is a very good news that a Hamas delegation is meeting with several governments in the EU : let’s hope that Obama will follow these apertures and pressure the Israelians to held real peace talks, including with Hamas. Hamas is an unavoidable interlocutor for whoever really wants peace talks with the Palestinians. That is what our foreign minister intends telling to-morrow to Igor Pamal during the meeting he has requested to protest.

  8. Salah

    A human rights group founded by Israeli veterans has collected what it says are damning testimonies from soldiers who took part in the offensive in January against Hamas fighters in Gaza. BBC correspondent Paul Wood looks at the anonymous claims presented by Breaking the Silence.

    The common thread in the almost 30 testimonies collected by Breaking the Silence is that orders were given to prevent Israeli casualties, whatever the cost in Palestinian lives.

    Writing the report’s introduction, the Israeli lawyer Michael Sfard says: “All the witnesses agreed that they received a particular order repeatedly, in a way that did not leave much room for doubt, to do everything, everything, so that they – the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) soldiers – would not be harmed.

    Breaking silence on Gaza abuses
    Israeli soldiers speak of “shoot first” policy in Gaza war
    Graffiti left by soldiers saying “we come to kill you” and “a good Arab is a dead Arab” …

  9. John Francis Lee

    US tells Iran ‘time running out’
    The US government has sent a strong message to Iran, saying it is running out of time to engage in dialogue over its nuclear programme to avoid further isolation or even military action.
    Our country is run by Israeli stooges. Why else would the US even consider military action against Iran? It is certainly not in the US’ interest in any way, shape, or form.
    In an address to the Council of Foreign Relations in Washington on Wednesday, Clinton said “Iran does not have a right to nuclear military capacity and we are determined to prevent that”.
    But Israel has that right?.
    But she added that Tehran “does have a right to civil nuclear power, if it re-establishes the confidence of the international community that it uses its programmes exclusively for peaceful purposes”.
    The Iranians are immune to this sort of threat and bluster. Every passing day brings the US closer to financial collapse and its imperial delusions will collapse along with its economy.
    “Iran can become a constructive actor in the region if it stops threatening its neighbours and supporting terrorism. It can assume a responsible position in the international community if it fulfils its obligations on human rights,” she said.
    The US might become “a constructive actor in the region if it stops threatening its neighbours and supporting terrorism. It can assume a responsible position in the international community if it fulfills its obligations on human rights.”
    [Blake] Hounshell, [managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine] said Clinton’s message to Iran indicated the Obama administration had grown pessimistic on the chance of direct talks with Tehran.
    What he meant to say is that the Israelis have told Obama stooge and Clinton stooge to forget the direct talks with Iran and get on with the steps to aggression.

  10. Helena

    Christiane, thanks so much for the info about Hamas’s Switzerland visit and Lieberman’s frenetic reaction to it.
    The same Hamas delegation in switzerland also met former senior US diplomat Tom Pickering, in his capacity as chair of the International crisis Group.
    Thank G-d for the diplomacy conducted by your government and those of Norway and Turkey!

  11. Titus

    Stating that the private Arab money from Saudis that funded Mohammed Atta in 9/11 is tainted has not race connotations, I do not recall Arabs or Saudis specifically even being a race. Sure, go to the same well that funded 9/11, Madrassas, and Al Qaeda in Iraq, and maybe even Helena for all I know.
    Then keep repeating the mantra of the honest broker. Give me a break.

  12. a

    I am appalled by the racism of claiming that an organization’s funding sources could affect its findings.

  13. Salah

    Madrassas, and Al Qaeda
    Titus, you need to be specific here with all accusations here.
    Saudis still having Madrassas in DC, and very recent Saudis with US companies handed contract to Bin Laden Family (Which he had his share ) of building security fence with Iraq (you to think the terrorist coming from their side not the opposites)
    Finally whatever was media and US said let say any area any country if you dismantled military and police form in one second you get not just terrorist all of sort of criminals and gangs from around the world.Well in early days there was that the most famous Serbian Terrorist cursing on the street of Baghdad with Uday’s car!! that tells you a lot who is on the ground their not Just AQ…
    There are many exapmles just look to Katrina , or some area in Australia when foolded arae emptied the resedant were the looting florished.
    So the breading ground and the tools still in good shape there in House of Saud, its not easy to dismantled like Bremer did in Iraq you should went there for regime change not coming to Iraq US just lost direction in this matter..

  14. brian

    ‘Stating that the private Arab money from Saudis that funded Mohammed Atta in 9/11 is tainted has not race connotations’
    saudis and atta had nothing to do with 9-11..I should you do you homework:
    ‘But bin Laden strongly denied any role in the attacks and suggested that Zionists orchestrated the
    9-11 attacks. The BBC published bin Laden’s statement of denial in which he said:
    “I was not involved in the September 11 attacks in the United States nor did I have knowledge of the attacks. There exists a government within a government within the United States. The United States should try to trace the perpetrators of these attacks within itself; to the people who want to make the present century a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity. That secret government must be asked as to who carried out the attacks. … The American system is totally in control of the Jews, whose first priority is Israel, not the United States.” (28)
    You never heard that quote on your nightly newscast did you?
    [A] number of intelligence officials have raised questions about Osama bin Laden’s capabilities. “This guy sits in a cave in Afghanistan and he’s running this operation?” one C.I.A. official asked. “It’s so huge. He couldn’t have done it alone.” A senior military officer told me that because of the visas and other documentation needed to infiltrate team members into the United States a major foreign intelligence service might also have been involved. (29)
    Bin Laden is not named as the perpetrator of 9/11 by the FBI:
    When asked why there is no mention of 9/11 on Bin Laden’s Most Wanted web page (30), [Rex Tomb, Chief of Investigative Publicity for the FBI] said, “The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Usama Bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.” (31)’
    http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/fiveisraelis.html
    French comic Bigard has a humorous take on the official theory:
    http://www.911blogger.com/node/20625

  15. JES

    Well Brian, glad to know that you are a whacko conspiracy nut. In future, I shall take all your comments here with a grain of salt. In the meantime, you may want to look here for a more rational explanation of the “Israeli movers”.

  16. brian

    thanks for the laugh JES. Your link sent me to a site that loves to link to:
    Links
    Bitter Lemons
    CAMERA: Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
    Commentary
    Haaretz Daily Newspaper Israel
    Harry’s Place
    Jerusalem Post
    Little Green Footballs
    MEMRI TV
    MEMRI: The Middle East Media Research Institute
    etc
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    =============================
    Great company! Little Green Fascists is notorious for its hatred of free speech and defence of israels genocide program.
    Not that i didnt take your comments with a ton of salt, now i will make it 2 tons.
    Youre jewish,a zionist and worried about israelis connected to any crime, that you need to spend time here defending war criminals and psychopaths that call themselves zionists.
    The link to 9-11 is an established fact, even if the media prefers to watch its income….
    The said on israeli TV they were there to document an event:
    ‘Several of the detainees discussed their experience in America on an Israeli talk show after their return home. Said one of the men, denying that they were laughing or happy on the morning of Sept. 11, “The fact of the matter is we are coming from a country that experiences terror daily. Our purpose was to document the event.” (26)’
    http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/fiveisraelis.html

  17. JES

    BTW Brian, you’re repeating yourself. Let me just clarify something for you about the “movers”. They appeared on the Yair Lapid Show. I don’t know what you find strange or incriminating about their account as it was overdubbed (BTW, so completely that it was not possible to hear the original Hebrew underneath.)
    I assume that your concern is with the last sentence:
    Our purpose was to document the event.
    Now, let me translate this back into Hebrew:
    Hakavana shelanu hayta l’ta’ed et ha ‘eyrua.
    kavana is “purpose” in English. Note that the translator didn’t use the word “goal” or “objective” (which would have indicated that the origianl Hebrew was matara).
    l’ta’ed is to “document” but it can also mean to “record” as in “to record for posterity”. Again, there is nothing incriminating here.
    ‘eyrua can mean “event” in English, and I think that that is what you, and your fellow wingnuts get off on. As if this were a pre-arranged event. However, this ‘eyrua can (and more correctly does) translate as “incident”; in other words far far from being a planned event, this was an “incident” like an auto accident or a heart attack.
    But beyond this all, what would be the logic of these young people appearing on national television and then turning around and suing Ashcroft if they were indeed Mossad agents. Don’t you think that the Mossad would have had something to say about this, particularly if they are as all-powerful as you appear to think they are?
    I suggest that you read my article again. Move your lips if it helps and stop worrying about what Web sites I link to. Then make a counter argument.

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