The Echo Chamber of Dupes: Human Rights Discourse in Service of Demopathy

I came across a recent article by Ron Dudai, “Entryism, mimicry and victimhood work: the adoption of human rights discourse by right-wing groups in Israel,” The International Journal of Human Rights, May, 2017.

His basic claim is that “right-wing” groups imitate, seek to be included in, and exploit “human rights” discourse in order to pursue a “right-wing” agenda whose aims are to hijack the movement from within, defend Israel and undermine the Palestinian struggle for their human rights. It’s a classic product of the PoMo-PoCo-Po-Zi discourse heavily favored at Hebrew U, and especially among Buber Fellows (of which he is one): filled with fashionable jargon – entryism, aggressive, colonial mimicry, mimetic isomorphism, counter-hegemonic strategy, etc. (It’s actually not as bad as it might be; and I shouldn’t complain because I make up terminology all the time.)

What’s striking about the article is the echo chamber effect of current “liberal/progressive” thought. It’s logic (and documentation) are impeccable within that echo chamber, recently criticized by the President of Wesleyan (!). The possibility, however, of anomalous evidence entering this mental universe has been minimized to the point where key questions cannot even arise, alternative perspectives cannot even be imagined.

The core of the problem revolves around two issues. First, the reification of the “right-left” phenomenon, as if (according to the medieval school of realists) when the author says “right-wing” that designates a real entity, and not his effort to organize a reality that his terms cannot possibly comprehend. Thus, the differences between what he identifies as “right-wing” and what he considers “progressive” or “left-wing human rights” movements are so fundamental, that the behavior of one side can only be malevolent, and the other only be beneficent.

Second, having reified the dyad, he cannot see any possibility that his criticism of the “right” for invoking human rights to undermine human rights (ie, demopathy“) has already occurred among the major “left-wing human rights groups,” and has been causing havoc in human rights for decades. As a result, he sees a group like NGO Monitor as essentially attempting to hamper the work of the “good left-wing” HRGs (which it is), because they are tribal, Israel-first, right-wingers (not Ron Dudai!), not because they’re opposing the devastating effects of “left-wing” HRGs that are working hand in hand with some of the worst “right-wing” demopaths on the planet. The damage done by this extensive “left-wing” adoption of the “human rights” discourse of demopathic Caliphaters (CAIR, Linda Sarsour, Marwan Barghouti) not only harms Israel (the only “human rights respecting” nation in the entire region), but the very cause of human rights.

As a result, Dudai has taken an effort to control the extensive abuse of human rights language by the caliphater demopaths and their dupes in the Global progressive left, as the opposite, a mean-spirited defense of a human-rights violating state, as a right-wing plot to deny the real victims (Palestinians) human rights, rather than keep it honest and on track. A look at his reasoning, both explicit and implicit, reveals the mindset:

Take for example some of his (often unspoken) axioms:

  • Israel is a major human rights violator and justifiably the target of the “left-wing human rights community.” (As an adherent of the Livingstone Formula, he shows no sign of considering any criticism of Israel illegitimate.)
  • Palestinians… not so much.
  • So when Israelis accuse Palestinians of violating either their, or the Palestinians’ human rights, that’s illegitimate.
  • On the other hand, it is completely legitimate for Palestinians to accuse israelis of violating their rights, no matter how inaccurate or virulent the accusations.
  • Victims have “rights” that oppressors do not.
  • The Palestinians, the “Human Rights” activists are the victims, and have special rights.
  • “Right-wing” groups using HR language to criticize Palestinians are illegitimately appropriating property of the left, it is staging hostile takeover.
  • BTS and Btselem and Adalah et al. are just telling it like it is, NGO Monitor trying to stifle them.
  • It is categorically unthinkable, even as a thought experiment, to entertain the notion that “legitimate human rights” groups are proxy agents for an effort to destroy the only “rights-abiding” nation in the ME.

Here’s Dudai on the motives behind “right-wing” human rights groups:

motivated by frustration over what they perceive as the [Israeli] states periodic unwillingness to apply its full might against Palestinians and in aid of Jewish settlers, and they use human rights arguments in order to pressurise the state to activate its legal machinery in their favour.

In other words, these are extremist right-wing groups who want to oppress the Palestinians more than they already are, and can’t get the Israeli government to be mean enough. When applied to a group like NGO Monitor, this gets close to the kind of fakenews characterizations of Heather MacDonald that whipped up the “free-speech” mob at Claremont.)

It is a  case of powerful actors mimicking weaker progressive groups, a process which Peeples labelled in a similar context as aggressive mimicry: appropriating the discourse of a weaker progressive opponent while in fact fighting against the goals implied in such discourse.

This is an elaborate and contentious way to rephrase healthy competition. Organizations like NGOMonitor, or Bassem Eid’s Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, claim to do the job of protecting the human rights of victims better than the big organizations – Btselem, HRW, AI – who constantly ignore the violations that do not fit their agenda, who obsess about the alleged crimes of the “IDF” and “settlers” and have little to say about far worse matters the world over. They count on people like Dudai to sustain their “halo effect,” long after they abandoned the values that got them the halo.

And what is that agenda? Increasingly, to stop the “occupation” at all costs.

From the late 1980s a plethora of Israeli human rights groups have been operating to protest, through local and international advocacy, documentation and litigation, Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights in the Occupied Territories. These groups have come to occupy a prominent role in Israels political culture, and, at least in recent decades, the term human rightshas become associated in Israel almost completely with the anti-occupation cause.

And therein lies the rub. Ending the occupation has become such an obsession – Matti Friedman calls it a cult – that virtually anything, fake news, skewed statistics, deliberate blackening of Israel’s in world opinion, allying with her mortal enemies, pressing foreign governments to intervene and force her into concessions her people and their elected leaders do not feel they can afford. And this obsession has so preoccupied the minds of these “human rights activists,” working to stop the occupation, that they systematically ignore everything about the Palestinians that makes “ending the occupation” so problematic and dangerous.

After all, to focus on how badly the Palestinian leadership (PA and Hamas) abuse their own people and wish to so do to the Israelis, would lessen the impact of their criticism of Israelis. It’s known as the “not-in-my-name” brand of moral narcissism. “I have nothing to say about what Saddam Hussein does to his own people. I don’t want one hair on one Iraqi child’s head to be paid for with my taxes.”

Already in the 1990s, when Bassem Eid, working for B’tselem as an investigator, reported serious violations of Palestinian human rights by the PA, not only did he become the target of Palestinian authorities, but his employers at B’tselem explained to him that

as an Israeli organization, it was their mission to criticize misdeeds by Israel, not by the nascent Palestinian government.

The board of B’tselem was split over whether to support Eid’s work on PA violations of human rights, but eventually, the faction led by Uri Avnery, who placed much value in his relationship with Arafat, prevailed and the organization refused to do so. To Eid it looked like hypocrisy: people so obsessed with criticizing their own side that they didn’t really care what happened to the Palestinians whose rights they avowedly fought for, as long as their Israeli hands were clean. So he broke with them and formed a (the only?) Palestinian human rights organization dedicated to what most courageous human rights groups do, criticizing a cruel and oppressive government – PHRMG. For that, neither the human rights community, nor those Western governments who fund them, could forgive him.

While Dudai attacks some groups who have a distinct activist Israeli political agenda that treats Arabs as dangerous neighbors (hardly a counter-factual position), he sees no serious difference between the most aggressive settler group pushing for “permanent occupation” and a research group like NGO Monitor: they’re all part of his reified “right-wing.” In his treatment of the leftist groups, one sees the full panoply of his internal contradictions that only blind loyalty to the “left-wing” human rights groups as wholly “good,” permits him not to see, and makes his article something of a parody of itself:

Entering the human rights field allows right-wing groups to perform several functions which can be pursued most effectively only from within the camp. The first and perhaps clearest such function is protecting Israels image and human rights record through engaging from within with the UN human rights system, as well as other less formal forums for international human rights debate.

Stated as if it were illegitimate for Israel to defend its human rights record and image in the court of a public opinion that values human rights…

The illustrative example is the decision of NGO Monitor, perhaps the staunchest critic of the UN human rights system, to formally join the very system it had decried as biased beyond the pale.

Ummm. Yes. The phrasing suggests the author finds this hypocritical. A reading, certainly, but by far the most uncharitable. “They” are the enemy.

In 2013 NGO Monitor applied for and received a consultative statusin the UNs Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). This status, at times hard to obtain, allows human rights NGOs to take part in deliberations in bodies such as the UNs Human Rights Council; for NGO Monitor, it facilitated the organisations interventions in such bodies since then, all of which were aimed at protecting rather than criticising Israels human rights record. 

Again, nothing a priori delegitimates an effort to protect Israel’s human rights record which, examined impartially, is exceptional in this region, and compares favorably to many Western countries, certainly when one considers conditions. Second, Dudai and other “left-wing human rights groups” would never dream of uttering such a reproach to Palestinians – “you’re not sufficiently critical of your own record, so we won’t listen to your complaints about Israel.” On the contrary, they would consider any effort to push Palestinians towards self-criticism as “blaming the victim.”

The goal of such pro-state entryism can be demonstrated most powerfully by NGO Monitors recent practice of submitting shadow reportsto the UN human rights system. Shadow reports are among the most common and important tools of human rights NGOs: while governments submit their formal reports to UN human rights monitoring bodies, obviously seeking to portray a positive image, the practice of shadow reporting allows human rights NGOs to bring to the attention of these bodies independent and less flattering information and interpretation. 

In this case, NGO Monitor submits “shadow reports” aimed at criticizing Human Rights NGOs who (obviously) “seek to portray their efforts in the most positive light.” This allows NGO Monitor to “bring to the attention” of human rights activists who really care about their values, the massive abuses of organizations like HRW, AI, B’tselem, Adalah, etc., etc., and instead “provide less flattering information and interpretation.”

Only by calling NGO Monitor “right wing,” can Dudai delegitimate a perfectly legitimate form of criticism, criticism from which no group even on the left (how ironic that one has to write that “even”), should be exempt. After all, the most cursory examination of the Palestinian “Human Rights” organizations (and the left-wing Israeli ones) reveals that they are proxy actors for PA and Hamas information warfare against Israel.

Israels human rights NGOs often make use of this tool. NGO Monitors shadow reports however contain nothing but positive information about Israel, not seeking in any way to question Israels formal submissions.

Gasp! How often does Adalah, PHR, etc. contain negative information about Hamas, or seek “in any way” to question formal Palestinian submissions and positions. Indeed, if there’s a group of “human rights” NGOs that serves as a proxy for a right-wing government’s radical demands to eliminate another people’s human rights, it’s the Palestinians.

In effect, they provide shadowing not to the states reports but to those of the other NGOs.

Are the other NGOs somehow exempt from criticism? More halo effect?

The answer is not, and they have earned their critique manifold. Nor is NGO Monitor a mudslinging, rhetorical vandal. They do extensive research, document their empirical information, and analyze in possibly sharp, but accurate language. Of this generation of information professionals, some driven to paroxysms by the combo of PoMo-PoCo (Said!) and internet, NGO Monitor will stand out among the reliable information professionals whose work, unlike many of the NGOs they criticize, stands up to scrutiny. Dudai would like to spare his viewers the scrutiny. His text shows few signs of a close reading.

Other efforts similarly target in a defensive way the relevant international public opinion in relation to Israels human rights record.

Note how for Dudai, there’s no question that “relevant international public opinion” is correct about its deeply negative opinion of Israel’s human rights records.

For example, three of the most effective tools used by Israels human rights organisations to affect international circles in recent years have been the dissemination of soldierstestimonies on human rights abuses, collected by organisations such as Breaking the Silence;

The dishonesty of Breaking the Silence is well documented by, among others, NGO Monitor. Others have documented how they compulsively scan evidence that reveals how immorally Hamas behaves and yet all they see is evidence fragments of evidence that could be turned against Israel. For Dudai such lack of trust in the claims BtS makes are unknown and perhaps unthinkable: to question them is to make light of Palestinian suffering! Because they’re “left” and dedicated to criticizing Israel, they must be doing good work.

…the hosting of human rights-minded delegations and groups from abroad; and attempting to influence international experts in human rights law and international humanitarian law.

…whose job is to turn the human rights community against Israel with fake and distorted news.

These and other similar efforts have been strongly criticised by right-wing actors, among others on the ground that advocacy abroad or to non-Israeli audiences is illegitimate. 

It’s always a give-away to the degree to which a mind is closed, when their representation of their enemy is so far of the mark. The claim of groups like NGO Monitor and others, is not that it’s illegitimate to speak about, or even criticize Israel abroad – people and organizations do that all the time – but it is illegitimate to lie and defame Israel abroad in an effort to have the international community intervene and force Israel to adopt policies that her democratically elected government refuses to do. “I’m sure,” they tell us, “that if only Israel gave back all the West Bank, there would be peace.”

Yet the rightwing groups discussed here have entered this field of activity as well: BWHR collected testimonies from Israeli soldiers on the positive moral behaviour of the Israeli army and disseminated them abroad to protect Israels image;

… which image the “left-wing” human rights groups are determined to blacken in the global community in order to force the end of the “corrupting occupation.” To do this, they readily avail themselves of Palestinian lethal narratives (war propaganda) as weapons.

the organisation, as well as the Israeli Law Center (ILC), places a premium on hosting delegations from abroad to discuss Israels human rights record and present different arguments and images than such delegations usually hear;

horrors. you mean that while the left-wing anti-Israel groups have a right (I suspect Dudai would say “duty”) to bring in groups and fill them with poison, pro-Israel groups have no right so show them better sides?

NGO Monitor and Israel law Center hold conferences on international law and human rights. All of these are motivated by defending Israel, but doing it from within the field, while ostensibly adopting its rhetoric, practices and points of reference, with the aim of altering it from within. For example, NGO Monitor issued what it termed Best Practices for Human Rights and Humanitarian NGO Fact-Finding, a title which would look fitting in any genuine human rights circle, disguising its sole ambition to undermine the authority of independent human rights fact-finding.

Such a nice sound: “Independent human rights fact-finding.” What if – horror of horrors! – NGO Monitor’s “Best Practices” is one of the most important documents for saving the human rights community from being corrupted by Palestinian demopaths, and for assuring the critical role of accurate information, for honesty, in its work? Ironically, NGO Monitor, as a research organization, has much to say; and yet, because the “legitimate” human rights organizations don’t like what they have to say, and label them “right wing,” they get to ignore whatever this “right-wing” heretics say, and continue passing on lethal narratives about Israel uncritically.

The entryism to the human rights field is also used to facilitate a critique of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Thus ILC has submitted to the ICC prosecutor several complaints against Palestinians, including leaders of Hamas and the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organisation). While the heading of their press release reads: Israeli Civil Rights Center Files War Crimes Complaints in the International Criminal Court, a statement which, like others cited above, would fit any genuine human rights campaign, the ILC has been clear that its main motivation is to deter the Palestinian Authority from approaching the ICC against Israel.

There’s a double problem with this line of argument. First, it implies that if the motivation is to prevent the Palestinians from taking Israel to court, any such move is somehow illegitimate. Secondly, it implies that the attributed motivation – defend Zion – makes anything those supporting Israel say about the Palestinians, including Hamas, illegitimate.

But the following contraries to this are true: 1) all current Palestinians rulers are guilty of terrible crimes against human rights, both of the Israelis and of the Palestinians, none of which the “left-wing” human rights community wants to acknowledge; and 2) they use international institutions like the ICC as a venue for lawfare designed to destroy Israel. Being enclosed in the liberal echo chamber, Dudai cannot even conceive of such a possibility. Perfect dupe for talented demopaths.

These organisations act in practice as proxy actors for the government, based on the assumption that their message appears more credible coming from NGOs than from the government, as well as their facilitated status within the human rights field.

Exactly why over a hundred Palestinian “civil society” organizations call for BDS against Israel. Were it the PA or Hamas, it wouldn’t sound so good. Proxy actors for Palestinian rulers is an accurate description of the large mass of Palestinian “human rights” groups.

In the theory of international human rights advocacy, the concept of the boomerang effecthas been among the most prominent in explaining how such advocacy works: local human rights organisations which have limited ability to influence their own government turn to the international community, which in turn puts pressure on the local government a pressure which the government finds harder to resist. The intense alarm with which the Israeli government and right-wing organisations respond to advocacy abroad by Israeli human rights organisations attests to the potential strength of the boomerang effect in the Israeli context.

In Dudai’s mind this is all as it should be: Israel justifiably criticized, alarm among those who reject the criticism. That the Israeli government and Israelis who believe in human rights and are proud of their country’s efforts to uphold standards nowhere else in the region, have (at long last) become alarmed at the way the demonization of Israel actually threatens their country, and are fighting back, is, again, unthinkable.

The governments attempt to curb the work of these human rights groups is one means to limit the potential of the boomerang effect; and the entryism can be seen as a second, complementary, means. Motivated by understanding that the human rights field should not be deserted and only attacked from the outside, these pro-government organisations enter the human rights field in a variation of a hostile takeover. Rather than simply attacking the legitimacy of the human rights international system, they seek to enter the field, dilute the voices of their opponents and subvert the field from within: to place themselves in a position from which they can intercept the human rights boomerang.

Subvert? Or legitimately criticize?

That agenda is nicely illustrated by a double claim: a) progressives are the weak opponent, b) any criticism of them is an effort not to improve the fight for human rights, but to fight against it. How on earth is a global “Human Rights” movement weaker that NGO Monitor and PHRMG (now defunct) when it has vastly higher budgets (by an order of hundreds), and commands the world stage in its alliance with journalists and the UN? This self-perception as the “weak side” goes hand in hand with the delusion that they are fighting for the “weak side” in “Palestine,” when they’re really fighting for the right of the corrupt and violent Palestinian leadership to continue exploiting its own people and threatening its neighbor(s).

The use of human rights discourse by right-wing actors in this category stems from a political orientation which is radical and militant: these groups are more confrontational towards state agencies, willing to use or tolerate forms of violence against state actors and Palestinians, willing to violate the law, and characterised by an anti-establishment stance, oppositional and hostile to the state.

This is surpassing strange in its unself-consciousness. Let’s rephrase it:

The use of human rights discourse by left-wing actors in this category stems from a political orientation which is radical and militant: these groups are more confrontational towards Israeli state agencies like the IDF, willing to use or tolerate the most extreme forms of violence against state actors and Israelis/their supporters, willing to violate the law, willing to push slander and dishonest fake news and characterised by an anti-establishment stance, oppositional and hostile to the democratic states that support human rights.

One of Dudai’s favorite themes is the ‘politicisation of victimhood.

There is of course an extensive literature on victims and human rights, mainly concerned with their rights, needs and often-contested status.

A mention of Bruce Bawer here might show an awareness of what the very article Dudai cites in his footnote acknowledges as a major problem with precisely the victimology he here practices:

the importance of blame may render victimhood contingent upon ‘blamelessness’, encourage hierarchies between deserving and undeserving victims and require the reification of blameworthy perpetrators.

Hard to find a better characterization of the Israel-Goliath/Palestinian-victim frame, and Dudai’s approach. And yet, he makes the “right-wing” politicization of victimhood a keystone to his argument against them.

For current purposes the pertinent issue is the politicisation of victimhood: the political claims-making process in which purported victimhood is used by movements to produce legitimacy and moral authority. 

Precisely the critique of the left-wing groups.

In divided societies typically each side to a conflict amplifies its own victimhood while denying the other sides suffering, as part of the struggle over legitimacy and efforts of self-justification. This dynamic of competitive victimhood has been a constant theme in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, described as the greatest Jewish-Arab rivalry of all: the competition over who is the aggressor and who the victim, who the overlord and who the underdog.

True, but stated as if it were somehow an even playing field. When Palestinian claims demand that one equate the Nakba (caused by the failed attempt of Arab leaders to finish Hitler’s job, resulting in the loss of some 10,000 lives and over half a million refugees) with the Holocaust, it’s morally grotesque. Only the over-indulgence of the left, somehow dedicated to see the Palestinians as the victims of the now powerful Jews, including Israelis desperate to find common ground with Palestinians, would allow such absurd notions to withstand serious scrutiny. It’s an insult to both the victims of the Holocaust, and to any self-respecting Arab who knows how badly his own leaders, following in the footsteps of the Nazis, have both victimized them and tried to victimize the Israeli.

But then, in the liberal bubble, that’s still just the Israelis trying to play their victim card with their uncle toms.

The phenomenon identified here involves a twist on this customary dynamic: efforts by right-wing Israeli activists to present themselves as victims of Israeli authorities and portray themselves as the underdogs within Israels political spectrum, rather than in the context of the broader Israeli-Palestinian context.

I.e., Palestinians suffering (understood at the hands of Israelis) trumps all.

Human rights discourse functions as one of the main anchors for these victimhood claims. Human rights and victimhood claims are also useful in the struggle over public image and stigma. Right-wing militants are often perceived by large segments of Israeli society and the media as unruly, immature and socially and culturally on the fringe of society.

The interesting element here (to reappear later) is the understanding that both the Israeli government and the Israeli public resist efforts to trample Palestinian rights. Although Dudai accepts this, he doesn’t attend to its implications – ie, Israel is a human-rights respecting culture and polity. Nothing remotely like this in Palestinian and Arab political culture.

The use of human rights rhetoric can be part of a stigma management strategy, presenting such actors as idealistic political activists rather than violent criminals as disciplined, dedicated and mature (as in, for example, keeping silent in interrogation). It allows capitalising on the perception of innocence and blamelessness produced by portrayal as human rights victims and the compassion and empathy created by stories of suffering. Self-construction as victims also enables groups to appeal for support from other groups which do not share the movements ideology. 

Is this not precisely what the left does with Palestinian “resisters” like Marwan Barghouti?

All of these functions are crucial given that the majority of Israelis, regardless of their political stance, oppose violent attacks by settlers, and in particular attacks against IDF or police personnel. By deploying human rights discourse and manufactured victimhood these right-wing actors aim to shift attention from their deeds and move the spotlight from the suffering of their victims to their own alleged suffering, using the offenders claim to be the realvictim.

Alas, when one identifies this demopathic strategy among the Palestinians, one finds no public opinion, no civil society institutions, no courts, no outside “scholars” that resist or critique. It has no place in the bubble.

Indeed, right-wing actors from this category constantly work at their self-portrayal as the underdogs in Israels political constellation: thus Honenu, for example, argue that the authorities persecute suspects of violence against Palestinians while neglect violence against Jews, Orit Strook claimed that there is a left-wing agenda in the judicial system, and others argue that the human rights of settlers are given a biased hearing in the media.

All of this is stated as if it were obviously not true (ie they’re lying and cheating). I don’t know enough about some of this, but when it comes to the media’s mistreatment, they are absolutely right: the cult-of-the-occupation minded MSNM has declared the settlers the enemies of world peace.

This type of human rights rhetoric seems to attempt to generate the underdog effect: the influence which leads people to support and sympathise with those who are perceived as disadvantaged. To sum up, for the anti-establishment right-wing there are practical, political and symbolic benefits from using human rights, most prominently in constructing the narrative of radical right-wing activists as victims of state persecution, underdogs struggling against unfair policing and prosecutions.

Let’s try that again.

To sum up, for the anti-establishment pseudo left-wing pro-Palestinians, there are practical, political and symbolic benefits from using human rights, most prominently in constructing the narrative of radical right-wing Arab activists (Palestine from the river to the sea, a Sharia-State where Jews are dhimmi) as victims of Israeli persecution, underdogs struggling against unfair policing and prosecutions.

His conclusions repeat and amplify the errors that riddle the article.

Using the tactics discussed above, actors from the Israeli right-wing camp have managed to add engagement with human rights to its repertoire of contention152 in order to advance an array of interests, without, at least for now, modifying their ideological tenets. Indeed, these methods serve to mask the ideological gap between these groups and international human rights norms: entryism facilitates superficial engagement with some formal aspects of the human rights field (for example, submissions to the UN human rights system) or its symbols (Human Rights Day) without substantive adherence to its legal and normative principles; mimicry enables taking on some features of human rights work (monitoring, litigation) and concepts (rule of law) but in isolation from the overall political context of structural inequality; using human rights rhetoric as part of victimhood work enables claiming the status of a persecuted underdog, but while ignoring the more serious victimisation of other groups.

It is important to note that the analytical parameter which sets apart the groups discussed here apart from other human rights groups in Israel is not merely their overall support of the occupation, but the way it is manifested in lack of adherence to the principle of universal application, which is considered a central foundation of human rights work. The principle of universality applying the same standards to all human rights violators and victims across political or national divideshas been a central tenet in the development of the international human rights movement, (!) and is used by the UN as a criterion to distinguish genuine human rights defenders from other advocates. While established Israeli human rights groups such as BTselem or the Association for Civil Rights in Israel condemn human rights violations against both Palestinians and against settlers, 

If occasionally. They key is there’s no effort by B’Tselem or Breaking the Silence to criticize the Palestinian authorities’ (PA and Hamas) violation of Palestinian human rights. Read the rest if you have the energy. I should have stopped long ago.

10 Responses to The Echo Chamber of Dupes: Human Rights Discourse in Service of Demopathy

  1. Charlie in NY says:

    You ask “How on earth is a global “Human Rights” movement weaker that NGO Monitor and PHRMG (now defunct) when it has vastly higher budgets (by an order of hundreds), and commands the world stage in its alliance with journalists and the UN?” I think the answer is “in the same way that 15 or so million Jews somehow control world finance, industry and art and oppress the other 7 billion or so people in the world.”
    It is the result of a distorted perception of reality that gives you an enemy or “other” that explains your own failures as not being your fault. That this enemy has been historically weak and unable to defend itself, but now has shown its ability to protect its interests, only adds to the intellectual confusion. Jews are no longer the world’s doormat – a reality that apparently is very difficult for some to adjust to.

  2. Cynic says:

    Isn’t it about time that the N of NGO be replaced by an F (Foreign), in the case of Israel, where many European govts., are financing various anti-Israel groups?

  3. Igor Foukzon says:

    As usual, unprecedentedly deep analysis.

    Left’s frustration – and the characteristically preemptive psychological manipulations intended to handle it (accuse, with a self-confident tone, the opponents of the malevolence you yourself enjoy) – over the human rights discourse coming from the Right is pretty understandable. The higher moral(istic) ground which the Left self-righteously and proudly attributes to itself is based on a mendacious mythology: the “deprived” (and the depraved), the weak (and the wicked) are our, the “liberals”, exclusive theme. Mythology – because capitalism continues to contribute much more to the human prosperity and rights, while the radical nationalism took significantly less victims. Mendacious – because the Leftists are interested not so much (if at all) in well-being of the other as in their own moral righteousness in their own eyes.

    As Paul Joseph Watson recently put it:

    “Hey liberals, you’re great at feigning righteous indignation, but we know it’s all an act.

    You don’t have the moral high ground.”

  4. Richard Landes says:

    what do you mean by: “while the radical nationalism took significantly less [fewer] victims”

    • Igor Foukzon says:

      The amount of people killed by, let us say, Hitler compared to those killed by Stalin and Mao.

      What is more relevant today: while sympathizing with the first (or similar ideas) is quite a marginal and unanimously condemned phenomenon, the sentiments regarding Castro and Che Guevara (in the West), Stalin (in Russia), and especially Islamist (anti)culture are quite widespread, if not growing.

      • Richard Landes says:

        Remarks of German historian quoted in my book Heaven on Earth:

        It is a widespread resistance among German historians and social scientists dealing with Marxism-Leninism to describe and analyze this movement in terms of a religious fait social in Emile Durkheim’s sense. Most of the critics still are convinced that Marxism-Leninism is a historical fellow of the French Revolution, which brought humanity, the sun of reason, progress and a new brotherhood. Thus they believe that even Stalinism has some connections with this project of historical progress and any attempt to put this totalitarian system in the category of a closed and barbarian theocracy is very often vehemently refused. In this case, very emotionally seated aspirations and hopes of young or older intellectuals are at stake . . . Everybody who dares to take the Bolshevik world as a religious community is considered as a traitor betraying the humanitarian ideals of the modernity of the French Revolution . . . If you see it in this sense, say the proponents of the project of modernity, the distance between the old and the new modern world would shrink too much and the debts to the Christian tradition would become too heavy. Thus, when you treat the Bolsheviks as a millennial sect you are going to betray the project of modernity and treat the Bolsheviks despite their very modern efforts to industrialize backward Russia as a medieval sect of obscure believers. p. 347

        • Igor Foukzon says:

          Professor Landes, thank you for the reference (and the grammatical correction above):). Your book is definitely in my reading list – I’m just slightly overwhelmed by the latter (as well as by my own partial lack of organization).

          As a (Christian) existentialist who once was a Kantian, I think that morality and ideology are reducible to emotions and religion much better than – whatever the rationalists and their (pseudo-)followers may claim – vice versa. In some distant future I myself would like to write a book on these and the related subjects.

  5. David Sigeti says:

    Your link to the article that you are fisking does not work, and does not look like a URL.

  6. David Sigeti says:

    This should do it for a reference. Reading the article requires institutional access or a purchase.

    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13642987.2017.1313235

    • Richard Landes says:

      thank you. changed as you suggested. as for reading the full article… only if you want to wallow in the stye.

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