Avi Bell
Avi Bell

Human Rights Watch Endorses Palestinian Terrorism

Human Rights Watch is set to release its newest attack on the Jewish state of Israel tomorrow. The report, a 217-page collection of lies, distortions of the law and regurgitated propaganda is the self-styled human rights organization newest vehicle for accusing Israel of “persecution,” “systematic oppression” and apartheid.”

In its report, Human Rights Watch continues its full-on assault on the rights of the Jewish people to be judged by the same legal standards as other peoples in the world, as well as to their state and self-determination in their homeland. The report labels Israel’s Law of Return as criminal (or, at least, a key component of a crime), demands that Israel facilitate mass Palestinian immigration to Israel under a so-called Palestinian “right of return,” and demands that all states impose boycotts and sanctions on Israel and Israelis.

The length of the report is an important part of HRW’s strategy of marketing its propaganda as “research.” The report dissembles, distorts and distracts in order to create the illusion of “evidence,” and the 867 footnotes look sufficiently intimidating to prevent casual readers from understanding they have encountered a lengthy insult rather than a serious analysis. As Winston Churchill noted in another context, the report’s length “defends it well against being read.” Unfortunately, this means a point-by-point rebuttal and refutation of HRW’s false accusations would necessitate an equally long report that would be just as well defended against being read.

Since it’s impossible to tackle all of HRW’s distortions in one article, I’m going to focus on only one: its treatment of Palestinian terrorism.

The phrase “Palestinian terrorism” appears nowhere in Human Rights Watch’s report. This is not the least surprising given HRW’s anti-Israel agenda. While the HRW report mentions Hamas 13 times, it designates Hamas a “political party,” and never admits that Israel, the United States, the European Union and others have designated Hamas a terrorist organization as required by international law. The report overlooks altogether other active Palestinian terrorist organizations such as Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. As far as HRW is concerned, apparently there is no Palestinian terrorism to discuss. The only times the terms “terrorism” and “terrorist” appear in the report is within quotations (from Israeli figures) or in the names or citations of newspaper articles or organizations mentioned in footnotes.

This is not because Palestinian terrorism is irrelevant to the report. The report repeatedly claims that various Israeli policies “fail[] any reasonable test of balancing Israel’s security concerns against [] human right[s].” But, somehow, the report asserts this conclusion without ever addressing any of the actual security threats to Israeli civilians.

In other words, not only does the report pretend that Palestinian terrorism does not exist. It ignores related security threats, such as spying by Palestinians on behalf of foreign terrorist organizations like Hezbollah (see, for example, here and here).

The report doesn’t suffice with whitewashing Palestinian terrorism and related crimes. HRW actually distorts international law to the point where it became a basis for a Palestinian legal right to join and be active in terrorist organizations.

On pages 193-194, the report refers to a multigenerational “depriv[ation] … of [Palestinians’] basic civil rights, including the rights to free assembly, association, and expression.” HRW explains, “In particular, authorities have targeted Palestinians for their anti-occupation speech, activism, and affiliations, jailing thousands, [and] outlawing hundreds of political and non-government organizations … As of March 2020, the Israeli Defense Ministry maintained formal bans against 430 organizations, including the Palestine Liberation Organization that Israel signed a peace accord with, its ruling Fatah party, and all the other major Palestinian political parties.”

Footnote 814 of the report directs the reader to the source of these outlandish claims: the Israeli Ministry of Defense maintains a “List of Declarations and Orders of Terrorist Organizations and Unlawful Associations,” with 428 terrorist organizations and associations designated as illegal by Israel. HRW never mentions any of the stars of the list such as al Qaeda, ISIS and Hezbollah. Contrary to HRW’s claim, the PLO is not on the list of illegal organizations, although the list does include organizations like the PFLP (designated a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, the European Union and others) which are component organizations of the PLO.

This means that not only does HRW lie in its report about Israeli laws and about Palestinian terrorism, HRW also falsely claims that international law grants Palestinians a basic civil right to freely assemble themselves in and associate with terrorist organizations.

Essentially, HRW asserts that it is a crime under international law for Israel to punish Palestinians for their “activism” in al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.

So for Human Rights Watch, Palestinians have a basic legal right to conspire to murder Jews in terrorist acts, and it is a crime for Israel to defend Jews from the murderers.

Human Rights Watch’s claims have no justification in international law, nor in any legitimate moral code. They represent nothing less than the exaltation of murderous bigotry against Jews. No person should accept such a perverted version of “human rights.”

About the Author
The author is a professor at Bar Ilan University’s Faculty of Law and the University of San Diego Law School, a senior fellow at the Kohelet Policy Forum, and recently a visiting fellow at the Project on the Foundations of Private Law at Harvard Law School.
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