Category Archives: human rights

People have rights. Ideas do not have Rights.

HT: Jeffrey Bale who notes:

It should go without saying that in a truly free society, no ideas, beliefs, and ideologies have a “right” not to be criticized, just as no individual has a “right” not to be offended by criticism of his or her ideas. It’s sad that one nowadays feels compelled to state this obvious point, over and over again, in a world in which so many people apparently feel that their beliefs should be immune from criticism or that no one else has a right to offend them.

 

This problem is about to reach epic proportions if the European Parliament enacts a well-intentioned but misconceived legislation against “intolerance” (which protects an undefined “Islamophobia“). All of this effort to legislate tolerance and mutual respect stems from the appalling inability of the progressive intellectual elite to speak out against the grotesque abuse of free speech by Muslims who revile Israel with Nazi-like hate speech.

If they did (rather than defend it as “free speech” – as if free speech should not be criticized), we wouldn’t need legislation that is just waiting to be exploited by demopaths. The response to intolerance is courageous criticism, not legislation.

 

 

 

 

Norway tries to deal with a wave of Muslims raping Norwegian Infidels

NB: I have received several comments and a letter from a Norwegian journalist questioning the validity of this report. We are checking into it, but as of now, there is no corroboration of the account that Yehuda Bello gives. Will update as soon as I know. (I have added the comments from the journalist below in the comments section.)

UPDATE: Ursula Duba, a writer of great integrity and courage has posted the following.

“The sentence “Norway’s justice minister blames Israel for Muslim rape wave” which is posted on Robert Spencer’s wall on FB (the link has been removed in the meantime, even though the headline  is still on Robert Spencer’s wall) and is also quoted on Professor Richard Landes website The Augean Stables should be considered a lie. The statement by Norway’s justice minister was allegedly quoted in a headline in ARUTZ SHEVA by Gil Ronen. From there it spread around the globe like wildfire. I never saw that headline in Arutz Sheva of Dec 5, 2011. As of yesterday or even earlier, the statement attributed to Norway’s justice minister is nowhere to be found in Arutz Sheva, nor does Gil Ronen offer an explanation as to why he altered the headline to “Muslim ‘Rape Wave’ Reported in Oslo” at http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/150378#.TuQadvKa8qM. Without proof as to when and where the alleged statement by Norway’s justice minister was made, the statement itself should be considered as untrue and as slander.
We owe Norway an apology. I herewith apologize to Norway for this slander. I hope that all decent people will join me in a) apologizing to Norway and b) will make sure that any such statements are in fact TRUE. Quoting a sixth or seventh blog as a source is totally unreliable. This is how lies and defamation run amok on the internet. I will have none of it.”

After more than a week of waiting for the people involved in this story to get back to me about what the real sources are, I have come to the conclusion that this is the most appropriate position to take. I apologize to Norway for running this unverifiable approach, and hope that they show the courage necessary to tackle this grave problem of rape.


PomoMarx: Eagelton tries to make Marx and 21st century progressive

In my book on millennialism I have a chapter devoted to Marx in which, among other less than flattering remarks, I note the following about his “dialectical” thinking:

The totalizing discourse operates as a kind of scientistic magic, making millennial promises about total liberation—“complete” control over the instruments of production and universal intercourse. But Marx offered this promise not to the intellectuals of his age, but specifically to those then suffering the most from the throes of industrialization.

. . . Marxist revolutionaries adopt Hegel’s dialectic to prove that each step downward into deeper misery simultaneously and inevitably hastened the coming of paradise. “Imperialist” wars and “capitalist” depressions became, for the apocalyptic Marxists, what the “fortunate fall” and the “signs of the End” are for Christians, the same gratifying dialectic that Bakùnin had in mind when he announced that “the passion for destruction is a creative passion.”[1]

With such a promise comes a fury to console and soothe the agony of one’s current condition—the very crushing pains the laborer now experiences will be transformed into the opposite, the very totality of their alienation will make it possible for all to achievecomplete self-activity.

And behind the apocalyptic historical analysis lay an enticing millennial premise and promise: a “new man” would emerge on the other side of this wrenching process of alienation. Just as the French Revolution had promised a new citizen, so the Marxists promised a “new comrade”—an interesting shift, given the sad fact that “fraternity” was the first of the promises to vanish from the millennial formula of liberté, égalité, fraternité.[2] Here, over the course of the nineteenth century, revolutionaries availed themselves of John Locke’s theories about man as a blank slate who had no “innate ideas,” that is, no innate character, that rather sensory perceptions and experiences mold man. Whatever Locke believed he meant, both Enlightenment thinkers and subsequent radicals seized eagerly on this nurture versus nature perspective to believe anything possible.[3]

As in the case of many millennial texts, this one seems far less compelling with hindsight; indeed, these expectations were and still are completely unrealistic.[4] But, “[o]ne may poke holes in the theories . . . mock any number of embarrassing contradictions. None of that matters. It is the myth, as Sorel saw, and its inspirational powers that count. And apocalyptic Marxism is the perfect myth.”[5] One of the reasons that Marx succeeded in winning so many fervent disciples was not despite the bizarre reasoning here displayed, but because of it.[6]

[1]. Mendel, Vision and Violence, 153.

[2]. By the time of the Directory (1794–99), it appears in the variant: “Liberté, égalité, propriété.” See, for example, a print of the three directors (Barras, La Révellière, and Reubell), after the coup-d’état of the 18 of Fructidor (4 September 1797) entitled La trinité républicaine, BNP, Estampes, reproduced in François Furet and Denis Richet, La Révolution du 9-Thermidor au 18-Brumaire (Paris: Hachette, 1966), 123. See also Mona Ozouf, “Liberté, égalité, fraternité,” in Lieux de Mémoire, ed. Pierre Nora, 3 vol. (Paris: Gallimard, 1997), 3:4353–89.

[3]. Richard Pipes discusses the link between Locke and the Communists in Russian Revolution, 1899–1919 (London: Harvill Press, 1997), 125–36; see above on the French revolutionaries’ use of this notion, chapter 9 n. 87.

[4]. For an attempt at a sympathetic but realistic review of the completely impracticable assumptions that underlie so much of Marx’s thought about the Communist state to come, see Jon Elster, Making Sense of Marx (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 521–27. He repeatedly refers to the elements of Marx’s assumptions and allusions that are “extremely” (522) and “irredeemably Utopian” (526), of coming from “Cloud-cuckoo-land” (524). See also Axel Van den Berg’s characterization of Marx’s salvific vision as an “absurdly bucolic . . . utterly cloudy millennium.” The Immanent Utopia: From Marxism on the State to the State of Marxism (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988) 56-7,

[5]. Mendel, Vision and Violence, 152.

[6]. “Such utopian images of the future command society, however scattered and fragmentary in the writings of Marx and Engels, form an essential component of Marxist theory—and one that is essential for understanding the appeals of Marxism in the modern world.” Maurice Meisner, “Marxism and Utopianisn” in Marxism, Maosim and Utopianism, Eight Essays (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982); see also Frank E. Manuel and Fritzie P. Manuel, “Marx and Engels in the Landscape of Utopia” in Utopian Thought in the Western World (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 1979), 697–716.

I also, in a subsequent chapter on the Russian revolution, note the way Western intellectuals dealt with the cognitive dissonance of the failed communist millennium:

Fellow Travelers and the Cognitive Dissonance of Failed Revolutions

The reaction of Western Marxists to the Soviet debacle, namely, the length and depth of their denial that the dream had turned into a nightmare, has astounded and puzzled most intellectuals not in thrall to Communist ideology. This is particular true since some of these people, like George Bernard Shaw and Jean-Paul Sartre, were both brilliant and otherwise known for their mordant observations on people’s “bad faith.” And yet, just like believers incapable of allowing the evidence of apocalyptic prophecy’s failure to enter their consciousness, these people could not admit to themselves or anyone else that the millennial experiment in which they had invested so much (intellectual) energy could have failed.[1]

… these pilgrims proved capable of the most extraordinary ability to ignore whatever anomalies they observed in their terrestrial paradise. George Bernard Shaw’s visit to Moscow in 1931 illustrates some of the psychology involved. A devastating critic of Western capitalism, he checked his skepticism at the border, along with the numerous tins of canned meat that his friends had given him to bring to their starving Russian friends, and arrived oblivious to all that surrounded him, including the dismay of the Russians when he told them about the jettisoned cans of meat since he “knew” there was no famine in the socialist paradise.[5] Russia served not as a case of the “real world,” subject to his penetrating criticism, but the foil for his own dislike of the world he inhabited, no matter how it welcomed the products of his socialist genius. Despite the horror that surrounded him in Russia, he came back with glowing reports. As Russell noted, Shaw “fell victim to adulation of the Soviet government and suddenly lost the power of criticism and of seeing though humbug if it came from Moscow.”[6]

[1]. One of the significant exceptions was Bertrand Russell, who, among other things coined the expression the “fallacy of the superior virtue of the oppressed,” in his 1937 essay “The Superior Virtue of the Oppressed,”Unpopular Essays (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1950). For the broader phenomenon, see  David Caute, The Fellow Travelers: A Postscript to the Enlightenment (New York: Macmillan, 1973); Paul Hollander, Political Pilgrims: Western Intellectuals in Search of the Good Society (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1998).

[5]. Eugene Lyons, Assignment in Utopia (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1937), 428–35.

[6]. Bertrand Russell, Portraits from Memory (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1956), 59; cited in Hollander, Political Pilgrims, 139.

Now, too late to add to the footnotes, Terry Eagelton, one of the major figures in the abuse of post-modernism for political purposes, comes up with a book entitled Why Marx was Right. I fisk his article for the Chronicle of Higher Education in which he summarizes his argument and tries to rehabilitate Marx for a modern progressive audience. I put Eagelton’s article in bold to distinguish from other quotes I add to this post.

For other excellent critiques, see Ron Radosh, Marx and the American Academy: When Will the High Priests ever Learn? and John Gray, The Return of an Illusion.

April 10, 2011
In Praise of Marx

By Terry Eagleton

Praising Karl Marx might seem as perverse as putting in a good word for the Boston Strangler. Were not Marx’s ideas responsible for despotism, mass murder, labor camps, economic catastrophe, and the loss of liberty for millions of men and women? Was not one of his devoted disciples a paranoid Georgian peasant by the name of Stalin, and another a brutal Chinese dictator who may well have had the blood of some 30 million of his people on his hands?

That’s much more likely 70 million. See Frank Dikötter, Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-62 (2010) on the “great leap forward” alone which brought on over 45 million untimely deaths. One of the comments Dikötter highlights is the determination of Mao to downplay the number of deaths, something that, even as he pretends to admit the truth, Eagelton continues to do.

On Atheist Morality

Jeff Jacoby asks a particularly pertinent question in his latest op-ed, Created by God to be good,” on Atheist “humanism” (as embodied in the American Humanist Society) and its hostility to biblical (or quranic) morality.

It brings to mind the argument made by Kwame Appiah’s book, The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen: that moral revolutions do not so much occur as a result of people who do the “right thing” for the “right reason” (practitioners of Kant’s categorical imperative), as they do because there’s a fundamental shift in the peer-group’s view of what’s moral: slavery, dueling, foot binding all go out when the dominant attitude disapproved of such behavior. If you duel to the death and win (as did Aaron Burr), and it’s a career-ender because your peers take you as a hot-headed fool, dueling will not last long.

Jacoby challenges the the core message of the American Humanist Association: “that God and the Judeo-Christian tradition are not necessary for the preservation of moral values and that human reason is a better guide to goodness than Bible-based religion.”

Can people be decent and moral without believing in a God who commands us to be good? Sure. There have always been kind and ethical nonbelievers. But how many of them reason their way to kindness and ethics, and how many simply reflect the moral expectations of the society in which they were raised?

In our culture, even the most passionate atheist cannot help having been influenced by the Judeo-Christian worldview that shaped Western civilization. “We know that you can be good without God,” Speckhardt tells CNN. He can be confident of that only because he lives in a society so steeped in Judeo-Christian values that he takes those values for granted. But a society bereft of that religious heritage is a society not even Speckhardt would want to live in.

This is the key point. Humanists are, in fact, free riders. They come along after centuries of hard work in prime divider societies where the zero-sum dominating imperative ruled social and political relations. In those long and painful years, some people, driven to by a sense of divine authority, systematically, and at great personal cost (sometimes one’s very life) pursued the generous impulses of positive-sum interactions. Now that we’re raised in a civil society, where we’re trained from childhood to cooperate, to eschew violence, to seek the positive-sum interaction, such behavior comes much more easily.

The Society can put up billboards reading: “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake.”

But in a world where it’s “rule or be ruled,” where the nice guy is a sucker who’ll predictably get the short end of the stick, where alpha males use violence with impunity to dominate others, “for goodness’ sake” doesn’t cut much ice. Indeed, it’s quite risible.

“Statistically speaking this table is the most dangerous one…: On Arab journalists and Hamas

I recently attended a press conference at Erez Crossing point at the top of Gaza. While the earlier one in Hebrew had quite a few participants, the one in English and Arabic had me, another blogger, a European AFP reporter, and three Arab journalists, one for AP, Al Jazeera English, and Arabic. They were accompanied by a crew of Arab cameramen.

While their formal questions to the spokesman – whose Arabic was considerably more fluent than his English – were largely contentious, their conversation was strangely open and even mordant. At first I suspected ideologues. When I asked my companion about the population of Gaza, he said, “1.5 million,” immediately corrected by one of the Arab journalists to “1.7.”

But after the press conference, and before we could leave, there was an alert and we spent about 20 minutes in a room waiting for the all-clear. Israeli soldiers lounged around, obviously quite used to this. The Arabs gathered around one table, looking a bit out of place. I imagined they were feeling hostile to these “Occupation Army” soldiers with whom they were forced to spend time. I went over to join them.

“Statistically speaking, you might not want to sit here,” said a cameraman from East Jerusalem.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well considerably more Arabs are killed by Hamas rockets than Israelis, so if a rocket does land on this base, the statistical odds are it will hit this table.”

Foolish Cowards: The Flotilla Shows its Colors

In an op-ed which will hopefully appear in a Swedish newspaper and which I will then post here, I wrote about the bizarre behavior of the European progressives participating in this “flotilla of fools” to Gaza.

    The only people this flotilla does assist, are the elected leaders of Gaza, Hamas. Here it gets curious. These European saviors think that they will help these leaders help their people. But Hamas is not a social democratic regime. It is a pre-modern, predatory élite that exploits its people, in this case, theocratic fanatics who promised an end to domestic corruption, and honor in the struggle for Palestine, and gave their people instead, death, destruction, and more misery. Even its kindergartens teach their death cult.

    And more corruption. When Israel recently opened its crossing in the far south, militants targeted it with Qassams on behalf of the tunnel moguls, who were losing money as prices dropped. With the material Hamas garnered through those tunnels – especially cement – they now rebuild their prison and more police stations, as well as a shopping center where Hamas employees get special privileges.

    As for the wretched people who lost their homes in a war Hamas did much to provoke… it’s Israel’s fault. Let the do-gooder Western progressives pressure Israel to open the borders to cement. Hamas has a vested in the blockade: it secures their power. This flotilla comes not to the aid of blockaded Palestinians, but to the aid of those people responsible for the blockade.

Now today this article in Ynet (HT/TB5Y) about an exchange between the Shalit family and the organizers — who all invoke great zeal for human rights the world over — reveals an interesting dimension to their problems identifying reality.

Shalit family’s offer to back Gaza flotilla declined

Kidnapped soldier’s family asks organizers of aid mission to urge Hamas to allow international organizers to visit him. Family’s attorney: I thought they supported human rights
Ahiya Raved
Published: 05.27.10, 13:46 / Israel News

Gilad Shalit’s family offered to support the international flotilla to Gaza if its participants would demand that Hamas permit various organizations to visit the kidnapped Israeli soldier and allow him to receive packages.

Members of the campaign for Shalit’s release said the organizers of the international aid mission to Gaza declined the offer.

Attorney Nick Kaufman, who approached the Free Gaza Movement on behalf of the kidnapped soldier’s family, told Ynet that he offered the flotilla’s organizers the family’s full support provided that “in addition to their demand that Israel lift its blockade they will urge Hamas to allow the soldier to receive letters and food packages from his family and allow international organizations to visit him.”

According to Kaufman, he was referred to the movement’s legal counsel, who rejected the offer.

It would be nice to know the wording of the response. Always valuable to know how people explain themselves publicly.

“I thought this movement supports human rights, as it claims, but according to the reaction it seems that it is only interested in provocation and expressing support for a terror group that doesn’t really care about human rights,” said the attorney.

Now there are two scenarios here. 1) They are afraid to ask for fear of alienating Hamas; 2) they feel Shalit is not a victim, but an aggressor, and therefore not their concern.

Dershowitz on the Latest Revelations about Goldstone

Alan Dershowitz has a piece up at the Hudson Institute about the recent revelation that Goldstone had a nasty record as judge in South Africa during apartheid. The original revleations to which Dershowitz refers to are here (full report in Hebrew) and here (summary in English), and Goldstone’s defense his here.

Legitimating Bigotry: The Legacy of Richard Goldstone
May 7, 2010 1:58 PM
by Alan M. Dershowitz

Richard Goldstone, author of the notorious Goldstone report, did not become a South African judge in the post-Apartheid Mandela Era, as The New York Times and other media have erroneously reported. He accepted a judgeship during the worst days of Apartheid and helped legitimate one of the most racist regimes in the world by granting the imprimatur of the rule of law to some of the most undemocratic and discriminatory decrees.

Goldstone was–quite literally–a hanging judge. He imposed and affirmed death sentences for more than two dozen blacks under circumstances where whites would almost certainly have escaped the noose. And he affirmed sentences of physical torture–euphemistically called “flogging”– for other blacks. He also enforced miscegenation and other racist laws with nary a word of criticism or dissent. He was an important part of the machinery of death, torture and racial subjugation that characterized Apartheid South Africa. His robe and gavel lent an air of legitimacy to an entirely illegitimate and barbaric regime.

The Goldstone Report Part I and II: A Failure of Intelligence, A Miscarriage of Human Rights

I have just published an article in MERIA (Middle East Review of International Affairs) on Goldstone’s Gaza Report in two parts:

The Goldstone Report Part I: A Failure of Intelligence

and

The Goldstone Report Part II: A Miscarriage of Human Rights

From the conclusion:

Intimidation and Advocacy: The Narcissistic Payoff

There is something more sinister here even than various forms of animosity toward Jews, conscious and unconscious, or radical ideologies that have somehow lost their way. If it were only that problem, then reasoned discourse, hard evidence, and some serious self-criticism on the part of the parties involved might help, at least in some cases. One wouldn’t find so much unanimity. There is, however, something more fundamental that underlies the positions taken in the Arab-Israeli conflict, something that explains why, despite so many powerful anomalies (like Hamas using human shields and shutting out aid at the Egyptian border), “progressives” continue to cling to their self-destructive paradigms and adopt positions that so violate the very principles they claim to espouse. That more powerful factor is: “We are afraid and we cannot admit it.”

Journalists in particular, subject to pervasive threats and occasional violence in the Palestinian territories (and elsewhere in the Middle East), cannot possibly admit this to their readers and viewers for fear of losing credibility. Moreover, not inclined toward living in the constant recognition that they have succumbed to the double indignity of bending their knee to jihadi demands, and to hiding that fact from their audiences, they prefer to believe that they say what they do out of advocacy. They can thus feel noble by embracing the cause of the oppressed (who happen to be the same people who threaten them). How much braver it feels to accuse the Israelis of whining about unfair coverage than to admit one cannot report honestly on Hamas’ behavior. With the alchemy of advocacy for the “oppressed” and “wretched of the earth,” they transform this double cowardice into bravery, “speaking truth to Israeli power.”

That intimidation, however, extends beyond the journalistic front lines to the home front as well. Since the Salmon Rushdie affair in 1989, Muslims have realized that they can extend Shari’a through intimidation, that when they call for targeted killings of blasphemers of Islam, the West will back down. The twenty-first century has been a privileged terrain for such spectacles of intimidation and appeasement, among the most spectacular (and enduring) concerned the “Muhammad Cartoons.” Note that the same radical forces in Islam that responded so violently–and so openly about their agenda–to Western indiscretions, also, in the first decade of the twenty-first century, produced a stunningly long list of suicide attacks on civilians of all faiths around the world, beginning with Israel, but then becoming frequent in both the West and Muslim-majority societies.

Much of this intimidation has been internalized in the form of a politically correct narrative whose hegemony depends on the silences it imposes. It denounces any criticism that offends Muslims as gratuitous insult and provocation. The key issue, of course, is where should one draw the line between gratuitous insult and important criticism? If politeness is not saying certain things lest there be violence, civility is being able to say certain things and there won’t be violence. Is contemporary Western discourse too obsessed with being polite with Muslims? Are they too thin-skinned (especially given how violently they can dish out the criticism)? It certainly seems strange then that supporters of human rights and defenders of free speech expend far more effort silencing those who “seem” to insult Islam, than offensive Muslims who call for the death of blasphemers, who carry signs in the streets of European capitals that read: “Slay all those who insult Islam.”

Those who follow this politically-correct line so dominate the public discourse that any dissent takes one on a perilous path to marginalization–those who make even mildly critical remarks about Muslims, Arabs, or Palestinians are rapidly dismissed as proto-fascists. If they persist, they may be accused of incitement, Islamophobia, and even holocaust denial (of the genocide against the Palestinians). What is portrayed as politically correct–whether Hina Jilani’s it would be “cruel not to believe” or Erik Alterman’s it is an “inarguably racist rant” to say that “Arabs are feigning outrage”–trumps trying to determine what actually happened based on the evidence. They think they are being virtuously generous and open-minded; but in the world of cognitive warfare, the outcome is systematic renunciation all the West’s main defenses.

As a result, Americans don’t know how to protect themselves from real enemies like Major Malik Hassan, FBI Arabic translators whose loyalties lie elsewhere, or government advisors who “help” law enforcement and security deal with the Muslim community. Ironically, stigmatizing as a “right-winger” and an “Islamophobe” anyone who points out the “us-them” ideology–wala wa bara (loyalty to fellow Muslims and enmity to infidels), a mentality so prevalent among Muslims and so effectively incited by radicals–will make it harder to counteract that problem. The losers here are moderates on all sides, especially among the Muslims whom jihadists like Hamas and Jama’at-e-Islami are permitted to stigmatize as collaborators with the enemy.

Alas, Goldstone may have won his peaceful sleep at the cost of the Gazans’–and everyone else’s–nightmares, for not only does his report target Israel, it will eventually serve to target every civil polity with a powerful army attacked by this asymmetrical war waged by jihadi forces. Ironically, once these other armies become aware of the heightened standards, they go straight to Israel for advice on how to lower the civilian tolls in their military maneuvers.

The consequences of such self-delusion are massive. The Goldstone Report embodies an astonishing failure of Western culture to collect reliable intelligence, to “see” clearly enough to make sober judgments and take effective decisions. A systematic inversion sets in: al-Dura 2000, symbol of Palestinian blood libels, becomes “Israel’s images of hate”; Jenin 2002, the most exceptional example of military self-sacrifice for the sake of sparing enemy civilians in the history of human warfare, becomes “the Jenin Massacre”; Lebanon and Gaza 2006-2009, the revolting spectacle of religious fanatics victimizing their own people in a war of extermination, become symbols of freedom fighters resisting Israeli apartheid imperialism. The result, as Irwin Cotler points out, is the grotesque double moral inversion of making Israel the only country accused of genocide, even as it is the only contemporary country subject to incitement as the object of genocide.

It may make many in the West feel good to “believe” the Arab Muslim narrative of suffering at the hands of the Israeli oppressor. After all, it allows them to be generously empathic, and to wag the finger at Israel. Yet it also empowers the very forces of intolerance, violence, and reactionary goals they imagine they are opposing. It is neither honorable nor courageous; it is a capitulation that endangers the most hard-earned freedoms. Even as they congratulate themselves on bravely balancing advocacy and “objective” journalism, reporters daily betray the very charge given to them by the citizens they serve–to report accurately.

If someone had told the founders of Hamas, as they penned their genocidal “charter” of Islamic supremacy in 1988, that in 20 years time, infidels in Europe would be carrying their flags and chanting “We are Hamas,” they would have laughed in disbelief. It is not that the jihadists–violent and “non-violent”– are so smart or talented at deception; it is that their Western counterparts are so stupid. Great civilizations do not necessarily die or fall to superior powers; they can self-destruct.

Goldstone’s inexcusably unprofessional report represents a major step on the way to either the suicide of a human rights culture unique in history and a millennium in the making, or a global war that will beggar World War II for casualties. The tragedy is that this fight might be won largely non-violently by showing some courage, honesty, and judgment. Given the cost in lives that would ensue in a war with the vicious forces now empowered daily, is that too much to ask for?

The Progressive Case for Israel, the Arabs and the Global Community

Several years ago I was asked to write an essay on the progressive case for Israel. The editor did not like the essay — thought it too convoluted, I think. I just ran across it, and thought I’d put it here. Comments welcome.

The Progressive Case for Israel, the Arabs, and the Global Community.
2005

The following essay constitutes the groundwork for a discussion about globalization and fairness, with the Arab-Israeli conflict as the focus of a particular case study. It represents a progressive case that aims to benefit both Israeli and Palestinian peoples, and, in the longer run, hopefully, peoples all over the globe. It begins by making explicit progressive values and goals, and then considers how best to empower such values. Then the essay looks first at the ways in which these values play out in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and which forces on both sides of the ethnic conflict show commitment to those values. It then compares this analysis with the current Leftist consensus on the causes and possible solutions to the Middle East conflict, a contrast that suggests that current consensus actually undermines the progressive values it claims to promote. It concludes with the outline of a course of discursive actions which will hopefully lead to a progressive outcome for everyone in the Middle East and in this increasingly globalized world in which we live.

I. Progressive Values

The fundamental progressive commitment concerns the relationships between those with a hand on the technologies of power (elites) and those who labor (commoners). Put briefly, we might sum it up as the belief that elites should make the bounties of nature and culture available to all, commoners as well as elites, and hence dedicate themselves to programs that educate, empower and elevate commoners both to exercise freedom and participate in the deliberations of power. Correspondingly, all that seeks to prune back the excesses of power – opacity, arbitrariness, privilege, arrogance, violence, hierarchy and authoritarianism – find favor among progressives.

Advice from a former Muslim terrorist to the West, to Israel

This is a must-see video. Hamid Tawfik, who has his own website, and wrote a book, Inside Jihad: Understanding and Confronting Radical Jihad, is interviewed in Israel and tells some of his own story (including the nice detail that the main enemy of the Islamists is “human rights culture,” as well as offers some advice to those who would fight Islamic radicals (don’t appease!). HT: Amos Ben-Harav

I’d love a transcription of this if anyone has the chance.

When too much of Ken Roth is enough: Bernstein answers Ma’ariv’s questions

As posted here, Bob Bernstein, the original founder of HRW, came out with serious criticism of Ken Roth in the op-ed pages of the NYT. That led to something of a sandstorm, with everyone from Helena (Hullo can you see Florida from here?) Cobban to Roth himself throwing the sand in our eyes. (I haven’t gotten to fisking Roth yet, but it’s ripe for fertilizer.) Now, Ma’ariv asks Bernstein why he did what he did, and he answers. (HT for English version to Gerald Steinberg)

Here are the questions sent to Bernstein by Ma’ariv and below are his answers, in full:

1- Why did you write this op-ed at the TN Times last week? what was the ‘straw that broke the camel back’ from your point of view?

Actually it has been brewing for a long time. I had been trying to do a long piece because many of my views about human rights in the Middle East are different from those being expressed by Human Rights Watch. The Goldstone Report made me feel I should get something out, so I wrote the NY Times op-ed piece.

2- What was your vision when you founded Human Right Watch and does the organization follow your vision in the recent years?

My vision, I should say our vision because it was supported by a wonderful board – was to go into closed societies and try and help people in those societies who wanted free speech. I was a book publisher so that was an especially important principle to me and it’s a key part of the Declaration of Human Rights. But, of course, other basic human rights are also vitally important. – freedom of religion, equal rights for women, to name just two. When governments of closed societies asked us what we were doing about our own country we would explain that the United States had many faults but because we were an open society we had many organizations and other ways to try and bring change. But after a while we decided we would do some work in the United States but try to not replicate what was being done by others.

“Hullo, Can you see Florida from here?”: Helena Cobban opens a window onto the “global hamoulah” of progressives

Helena Cobban, who to her pacifist credit, expressed deep disapproval of Marc Garlasco’s unsavory hobby, despite the fact that she is on the board of HRW, and shares their attitude towards Israel, here gives us a fine example of how the “human rights” community think. It’s a stunning ride through the wild side of liberal cognitive egocentrism, the epistemological priority of the other, and masochistic omnipotence syndrome weaponized against those who dare defend themselves against sub-altern aggression. An excellent guide to what ails our chattering classes, including their chattering tone of self-confidence.

The value of the human rights frame
Posted by Helena Cobban October 22, 2009 11:15 PM EST

Michael Goldfarb, who was the deputy communications director for John McCain’s campaign, worked for a while in that temple of neoconservative organizing, the Project for a New American Century, and is a kind of scuzzy attack-dog for the pro-settler hard right, has now decided to come after–poor little moi.

Ad hominem? Moi?

(Yay! I made the big leagues of this guy’s ‘enemies’ list’! Oops, suppress that childish thought, Helena.)
HT to Richard Silverstein, co-rabbi of our “off-broadway” bloggers’ panel at J Street, next Monday noon-time, for having read Michael Goldfarb’s blog so the rest of us don’t have to…

For those who don’t know, “the rest of us” means, it’s, in Amira Hass’ proud phrasing, the global hamoulah [clan]” of leftists/progressives who know they’re at the cutting edge of global morality, leaders of the fight for a truly just and peaceful world, by identifying with the oppressed. And they’ve gathered, somewhat comically, at the JStreet conference in force.

HRW’s Founder denounces the organization’s obsession with Israel

Robert L. Bernstein, the former president and chief executive of Random House, was the chairman of Human Rights Watch from 1978 to 1998. Here, on the op-ed pages of the NYT he comes out on the side of HRW’s nemesis, NGO Monitor. This is big, very big.

Let’s see how HRW responds. They’ve always dismissed NGO Monitor and their other critics as over-zealous Zionists who object to any criticism of Israel. Now they’ve got big trouble and that line won’t work… which doesn’t mean they won’t try it.

Rights Watchdog, Lost in the Mideast
By ROBERT L. BERNSTEIN
Published: October 19, 2009

AS the founder of Human Rights Watch, its active chairman for 20 years and now founding chairman emeritus, I must do something that I never anticipated: I must publicly join the group’s critics. Human Rights Watch had as its original mission to pry open closed societies, advocate basic freedoms and support dissenters. But recently it has been issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.

At Human Rights Watch, we always recognized that open, democratic societies have faults and commit abuses. But we saw that they have the ability to correct them — through vigorous public debate, an adversarial press and many other mechanisms that encourage reform.

In other words, there’s a world of difference between self-critical, self-regulating societies, and authoritarian ones who shut down any criticism of their actions.

Goldstone: High Priest of Human Rights, Demopath’s Lethal Weapon

Melanie Phillips has a must-read analysis of the problem with the human rights community as it now stands. In so doing she has an interesting (and probably controversial thesis about both the biblical origins of human rights and the reasons why today’s “human rights advocates” have made Israel a major target.

I don’t have time to comment now, but will in the coming days. Meantime, I leave it to my readers to comment.

The ‘human rights’ witch-hunt
FRIDAY, 25TH SEPTEMBER 2009

As readers may know, I have had my differences with the American civil liberties lawyer Alan Dershowitz – specifically, over how American Jews can continue to support Barack Obama given his acute hostility towards Israel and appeasement of the Arab and Islamic world. Nonetheless, all credit to Dershowitz for mounting a devastating onslaught upon Richard Goldstone and his shocking travesty of justice masquerading as judicious analysis for the UN Human Rights Commission on Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. In this piece, Dershowitz accuses Goldstone of conducting a ‘kangaroo court’ in which he

    abandoned all principles of objectivity and neutral human rights.

And in this terrific piece he excoriates Goldstone’s ‘wilful and deliberate’ refusal to hear the other side of the story – Israel’s side: the most elementary precondition of justice and fairness. As I wrote here, the mandate Goldstone was given by the UN required him to be thus one-sided and unjust, singling out Israel alone for investigation and thus merely collecting the evidence to uphold the prior verdict of guilt – an utter negation of legal and ethical principles which he sought to conceal by presenting a dubiously revised version of his mandate which bestowed a veneer of even-handedness, while delivering precisely the rigged verdict that the UN had required of him. Dershowitz tears him to shreds by showing how he refused to take evidence from Col Richard Kemp, Britain’s former commander in Afghanistan who had previously stated that during Cast Lead Israel had behaved with globally unprecedented ethical care to avoid killing Palestinian civilians — evidence which would have holed below the water-line the blood-libel Goldstone was assembling from overwhelmingly partisan sources that Israel had deliberately targeted civilians.

Dershowitz has written countless powerful articles and books attacking the Israel-bashers. Yet his onslaught upon Goldstone has a different quality. It is a cry of anguish. He has clearly set out not just to destroy Goldstone’s report but to destroy Goldstone. Thus he states:

    His name will forever be linked in infamy with such distorters of history and truth as Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein and Jimmy Carter.

The reason for this all-out attack is surely that Goldstone personally embodies the two most nightmarish, perplexing and agonising aspects of the witch-hunt against Israel: that a malevolent campaign based on bigotry, falsehoods and injustice marches mind-bendingly under the banner of ‘human rights’; and that so many of its leading proponents are Jews.

Finally! An Arab Voice for Resettling the Palestinian Refugees

I’m pretty sure that if you were to take a poll of Americans and ask them, “who put the Palestinian refugees in camps and kept them there to this day?” a large majority would respond, “The Israelis, duh. Why would the Arabs do that to their brethren?” For example, Michael Moore speaks about a visit to the refugee camps in 1988:

Although in my life I had already traveled through Central America, China, Southeast Asia, and other parts of the Middle East. I wasn’t ready for what I saw in the refugee camps in the Occupied Territories. I had never encountered such squalor, debasement, and utter misery. To force human beings to live in these conditions – and do so at the barrel of a gun, for more than forty years — just made no sense. Stupid White Men, p. 178.

Now Moore seems to presume that it’s the Israelis who have done this to the Palestinians. (His next paragraph goes into how badly the Jews have been treated in the past and how sad that they should turn around and do it to someone else — the favorite formula of those attracted to moral Schadenfreude.) He seems to have no awareness that for the first (and critical) half of the Palestinian experience of refugee confinement, it was Arab rulers and Arab guns who kept them in misery, and that once Israel took over they tried to move these unfortunate victims out into decent housing, and it was the Arabs who pushed UN Resolutions insisting that they be returned to the squalor of the camps.

How much more nonsensical is that — it’s the Arabs who want their misery, not the Israelis?

Unless one thinks in terms of Domineering Cognitive Egocentrism, and the Honor-Jihad Paradigm.

I have posted before on the inexcusably ruthless Palestinian and Arab policy of using the refugees from 1948 as hostages, really as sacrificial victims on the altar of Arab irredentist hatred of Israel. The single most constructive move that the world community can do to contribute to peace is test the real intentions of the “moderates” who assure us all that only a fraction of the Palestinian refugees will want to return to Israel once the peace deal has been brokered, by insisting that they start moving those who don’t/won’t want to move back into decent housing… not just in Palestinian territory, but all over the Arab world. And Jimmy Carter can lead the movement as head of Habitat Humanity.

Now, at last, an Arab intellectual, Daoud Al-Shiryan, has tackled this shameful (by modern humanitarian standards) situation. MEMRI provides an extensive translation of passages. H/T oao and Elder of Ziyon

August 11, 2009 No. 2483

Al-Arabiya TV Deputy Secretary-General Calls for Resettlement of Palestinian Refugees

Daoud Al-Shiryan, Al-Hayat columnist and deputy secretary-general of Al-Arabiya TV, recently published several articles criticizing how the Palestinian refugees have been treated by the Arab countries in which they live. He called on these countries to integrate the refugees into their societies and to resettle them before they are forced to do so by the international community.

Objecting to Refugee Resettlement Is Objecting to Peace

In the first of his articles, published July 15, 2009, Al-Shiryan wrote: “The issue of [refugee] resettlement has begun to preoccupy the Arab countries, which are keeping the Palestinians in depressing prison camps known as Palestinian refugee camps. Although so far no one in the Arab world has called for their resettlement, the refugee problem has now [gained prominence] in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan, both on the political arena and in the media. It has [even] become an issue in forming the next Lebanese government. This means that, in its next stage, the peace process is expected to encounter obstacles [on the part of] the Arabs.

Objecting to [refugee] resettlement is no different than objecting to peace. It is nothing but an unrealistic slogan. The Arabs have agreed to peace, although they realize that there cannot be peace without [refugee] resettlement. But they disregard this fact, viewing the refugee issue as a point of controversy, when it is [actually] a central and key issue in the peace process. The fear [of being accused of renouncing the nationalist] slogans [calling for] struggle, resistance, and casting Israel into the sea – slogans which emerged at the outset of the peace process with Israel – and the link that has been established between the issue [of resettlement] and ethnic and political problems in some [Arab] countries – have [all] become an obstacle to a realistic and honest approach to the issue.

“Arabs who object to the [refugee] resettlement plan contend that they are motivated by their zealous devotion to the Right of Return. But they have not lifted a finger to keep this right alive in the consciousness of the Palestinian ‘detainees’ in the camps of abasement. As a result, this spurious devotion has evoked the opposite reaction: a Palestinian [refugee] now hopes to emigrate to America, Europe, Canada, or Australia in order to escape the hell of the Palestinian refugee camps, which have played a part in killing his will to live.

Human Rights Complex Take 13476: HRW Does Hatchet Job on IDF and (silently) exculpates Hamas

HRW continues its assault on Israel based on methodologies that, were they used in science, would have us still living in the Ptolemean universe (i.e., human rights revolve around the Palestinians). Fortunately, both NGO Monitor and the IDF are responding vigorously.

Begin with what HRW doesn’t want to mention: i.e., that Hamas “operatives” systematically use civilians as shields, including those who wave white flags. Here’s IDF aerial footage from January 7, 2009 showing just such an incident.

Comment: Captured in this aerial footage, a Hamas terrorist plants an IED and then climbs into a house containing uninvolved civilians. Later the civilians and the Hamas terrorist exit the house waiving a white flag, at which point IDF troops approach and arrest the terrorist.

This is just one of many examples of how Hamas uses uninvolved civilians as human shields. This example is particularly egregious since the terrorist used civilians waving a white flag to try to evade IDF soldiers.

Why does the HRW report contain no mention of these Hamas tactics, despite the fact that elsewhere they do acknowledge the problem? I think for two reasons.

1) It takes the moral heat off of Israel. How can you get your back into accusing Israel for shooting at people with white flags when there are combattants hiding among them. (Idem for ambulances, checkpoints, etc.) Exhibit B is the explanation for this twisted morality. Noah Pollak over at Contentions explains how both Sarah Leah Whitson of Saudi notoriety and the author of the report, Joe Stork, have long careers and anti-Israel advocates (“pro-Palestinian” would be too twisted a term for people who have no problem with the Palestinian treatment of their own refugees).

And 2) it raises a huge problem of the validity of the testimony they collect among Palestinians. If Hamas will fire from the midst of civilians, hide behind white-flag toting refugees, and keep them cooped up in areas to which they draw fire, then surely they are not going to be very happy with Palestinians complaining about that behavior. Once HRW grants that such matters go on within the same report in which they present Palestinian evidence as their key source for their allegations, the epistemological house of cards begins to fall.

So exhibit C is an analysis of a particular case which I treated at some length in the aftermath of operation Cast Lead — the tale of the Abed Rabbo family. Here Elder of Ziyon examines the way in which HRW uses testimony whose only value is to document how unreliable Palestinian witnesses tend to be, in order to indict Israeli soldiers.

Finally, NGO Monitor produced its own critique: HRW’s ‘White Flags’ Report Surrenders Morality.

Update: Buzzsawmonkey, a commenter at LGF, posted the following lyrics to be sung to the tune of Pink Floyd’s Brain Damage.

Collateral Damage
–with apologies to Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage

The terrorist’s behind the wall
The terrorist’s behind the wall
Setting an IED trap, hoping soldiers will fall
To kill Jews is important over all

The terrorist is in the shed
The terrorist is in the shed
At the first alarm, beneath its roof he fled
He’s trying to sight his cross hairs on your head

And if Israel’s patience comes at last to end
And if it goes in to clean out the nest
There is no reason, its enemies pretend
You’ll see how loud the NGOs protest

The terrorist is in the house
The terrorist is in the house
He’s got a white flag to cover up his gun
He’ll use the first to hide the other one

That’s how it goes
As we all know
And it will be whitewashed by NGOs

And if the tapes show, and clearly reveal
Hamas uses civilian shields
Don’t think they’ll admit lies, or make a clean breast
You’ll see how loud the NGOs protest

Further Update:

Huffington Post treats the subject. Comments indicate a relatively braindead readership.

List of all the blogs posting on this.

HRW and Saudi Arabian “citizens”: How badly can one misunderstand the problem?

Recently Human Rights Watch got criticism for raising money in Saudi Arabia for, of all things (it shouldn’t be a surprise actually, but anyway) human rights. In their defense to their board, Ken Roth, speaking for the organization in the royal “we”, made the following point. We were talking not to the Saudi government (although they did admit there was at least one government official present at one of their meetings), but to individuals, in particular, “people who were interested in Human Rights Watch.” (Note, not interested in human rights, but in “us”.) After insisting on how scrupulous they were about not accepting money from any government, they then made the following remark:

We reject the idea that an individual’s nationality, ethnicity or religion can be taken as a proxy for their political or ideological beliefs or that the backgrounds of our supporters influence our coverage. By the same token, no assumption should ever be made that a Saudi citizen’s support for human rights reflects or is captive of Saudi government policy. Human Rights Watch is eager and delighted to find supporters of the human rights ideal – financial or otherwise – in any and all countries of the world. To draw such communities into an active, international network is an important part of our mission and does not impair our political neutrality. It threatens no-one but the human rights violators we seek to expose.

Now here’s where we get to the hub of the problem, one which, I think, sheds much light on the operating assumptions of Western human rights organizations, and that produces at least some of the unconscious patterns that result in the formuation of Charles Jacobs’ Human Rights Complex.

Before fisking this remarkable paragraph in detail, let’s take a short detour via an article by a real Saudi reformer, a woman who, I suspect was not a participant in the fundraising tour of HRW. (She does not appear, either in a search of the HRW website, or a search of the HRW report on this very issue — women’s legal tutelage to men — Perpetual Minors (about which, more, anon).

Saudi Arabia – The World’s Largest Women’s Prison

In an article on the liberal website Minbar Al-Hiwar Wal-’Ibra, reformist Saudi journalist and human rights activist Wajeha Al-Huweidar described Saudi Arabia as “the world’s largest women’s prison.” She added that unlike real prisoners, Saudi women have no prospect of ever being released, since throughout their life, they are under the control of a male guardian – their husband, father, grandfather, brother or son.

Huweidar and other women activists recently launched a campaign against the Saudi Mahram Law, which forbids women to leave their home without a male guardian. She told the Kuwaiti daily Awan that the campaign, whose slogan is “treat us like adult citizens or we leave the country,” was officially launched at the King Fahd Bridge, connecting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, where the women demanded to cross the border without a guardian. [1]

The following are excerpts from Al-Huweidar’s article

    Prisoners Can Be Released From Prison – But Saudi Women Can’t

    “The laws of imprisonment are known all over the world. People who commit a crime or an offense are placed in a prison cell… where they serve their sentence. [When they complete it], or get time off for good behavior, they are released…. In Saudi Arabia, there are two additional ways to get out of prison early: by learning the Koran or parts of it by heart… or by getting a pardon from the king on the occasion of a holiday or a coronation – after which the prisoner finds himself free and can enjoy life among his family and loved ones.

MSNM, NGOs and Paranoia: Nelson’s Reflections

I’ve posted several pieces on the latest dust-up between HRW and NGO Monitor recently, that raise fundamental questions about both the credibility of the “human rights” NGOs, but also their disturbing relationship to the MSNM, especially in their way of viewing the world (what the Germans call Weltanschauung). Now Nelson (Europundit) has offered an essay that gets at the core of the problem in a way I’ve only hinted at. Below, his essay. My notes — and others who comment here — to follow.

Nobody trusts the government. The politicians are corrupt. The government is always lying to the people. It works against the people’s true interests and only promotes the selfish interests of its own members and their friends. Those in power invent scary threats to distract the public’s attention from their own wrongdoings.

No, I’m not talking about the US. Well, not exclusively at least. Everything I’ve just said has been repeated day in day out, for years and decades, by the papers and the electronic media wherever there’s anything resembling a free press. That’s the MSM’s real message in all democratic nations. Whatever else they talk about is secondary.

Is it true? Often it is. Is it the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Each one of us can judge by him or herself. And, as we have been doing so collectively for some time, the MSM has been losing most reliability it might once have had, to the point that, in countries like the US, it is not only as little trusted as the government and the politicians themselves, but it’s clearly seen as just another partisan political player.

That’s, however, quite a small consolation, because the damage they, the MSM, could do has already been done and, even without being trusted, they can go on doing it. What’s exactly this damage? The corrosion and eventual destruction of public trust. No open society can work without it and, though the government and all state institutions must always be closely watched, it works at its very best when the people’s default attitude towards these is one of conditional trust, not one of perpetual mistrust.

HRW and Self-Criticism: Fallout from the Saudi Arabian Fundraising Junket

NGO Monitor has just posted a further discussion of the HRW Saudi-Arabia fund-raising junket scandal. Part of what the dispute reveals is the very tenuous hold that HRW has on empirical reality, and the nasty ad hominem-style arguments they resort to in their defense. Self-criticism, which is what they call on others to do all the time, is apparently not their long suit.

In his defense of HRW against criticisms from outside, Roth had commented:

“The fact that we publish far more extensively on other Middle Eastern governments (as well as the PA, Hamas, etc) is irrelevant, apparently.”

Similarly, in responding to David Bernstein’s WSJ oped, Whitson declared

Human Rights Watch in recent years has published more reports and news releases on rights problems in Saudi Arabia than any other human rights organization in the world.

Now Roth’s comment is outright dishonest. As an email exchange with someone who is not necessarily familiar with the details, this is a bit like Enderlin drawing me a false map of Netsarim junction — a way to dismiss a subject without addressing it. Whitson’s comment is more careful. She just doesn’t mention that their work on Saudi Arabia is a) very recent, and b) more than anyone else in the way that 2 is more than 1. (Human Rights Complex means minimal attention to what “primitive” people do to each other.)

NGO Monitor comments that they criticize HRW because their reports are “so bad”:

HRW’s frequent “research reports” on Israel are a mix of “eyewitness” testimony (”there were no Hamas/Hezbollah forces anywhere”), pseudo-technical analysis, and speculation… As for the claims on the agenda, the data shows until 2006, Saudi Arabian human rights behavior was hardly on HRW’s agenda. Using a systematic methodology to compare the activities, NGO Monitor data show that between 2004 and 2006, HRW criticism of Israel was 300% greater than the almost non-existent focus on Saudi Arabia. In other words, in HRW’s world, Israel was by far the greater source of human rights violations.

The change – as much as it was — took place in 2008, after the NGO Monitor reports on HRW’s obsessive anti-Israel agenda were published. Some donors then earmarked money for a wider agenda, dragging Roth and Whitson along. But Israel continues to be the main target, with more press conferences, major reports, and United Nations lobbying. HRW is not campaigning for an “independent UN inquiry” on Saudi treatment of women, minorities, or members of other religions.

Don’t forget calling for an independent UN inquiry into war crimes in Sri Lanka.

He said, she said: Israel vs. HRW on Saudi Arabia and Gaza

One of the more frustrating aspects of reading news articles (and even more, in watching news broadcasts) is how little follow-up there is. This article is quite meaty for the back and forth it gives.

Gov’t strikes back against ‘biased’ human rights NGOs

Jul. 15, 2009
Herb Keinon , THE JERUSALEM POST

In the opening shot of a battle Jerusalem has decided to wage with NGOs it deems biased against Israel, the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday slammed a recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) fundraising delegation to Saudi Arabia as evidence the organization has lost its “moral compass.”

“A human rights organization raising money in Saudi Arabia is like a women’s rights group asking the Taliban for a donation,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev said Monday.

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

Sarah Leah Whitson, director of HRW’s Middle East and North Africa Division, responded by telling The Jerusalem Post that there was a need to distinguish between a government and its people, and to conflate the two was “misguided at best.”

“Certainly not everyone is tainted by the misconduct of their government,” she said, stressing that her organization did not take money from any governments around the world, but did solicit funds from individuals and foundations worldwide.

“There are private individuals in Saudi Arabia who are not part of the ruling government,” she said.

This is exceptionally naive, and raises the question who’s being taken for the fool here? Whitson? Or the people she’s addressing? The idea that Saudi mistreatment of their women, or foreign workers, or their own commoners, or imported slaves, is just a matter of government, beggars the imagination. This is a cultural matter that goes so deep — especially among the wealthy elite — that I defy Whitson to come up with one wealthy Saudi who is not riddled with the kinds of prejudices that HRW allegedly battles all over the world.