Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Demonising Israel is a lucrative business:

Two stories:

I. Greeks bearing gifts get duped: Here is the report:

The hospital that was the focus of a campaign, which included the participation of Greece’s president and foreign minister, never actually existed.

For nearly a week in February, Greece’s official state television network inundated viewers with news about a telethon that would take place Feb. 9 to raise money to “rebuild the Christian hospital in Gaza that Israelis destroyed with their bombs” during the Israeli army's operation there in January.

In its announcements, the network made clear that it was referring to a specific Christian hospital destroyed by Israel.

The telethon included recorded video messages by Greek President Carolos Papoulias and Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyianni, along with a parade of Greek politicians, singers, public personalities and trade unionists. Many used the telethon to cast broadsides at Israel.

The campaign raised $1.67 million, according to telethon organizers, who said little Greek children had gone so far as to break their piggy banks to offer $14 to Palestinians in need.


No one was taking responsibility for the situation.

The spokesman for the Greek Foreign Ministry, Gregory Delavekouras, said, “Along with the Ministry of Health, it was our intention to raise money for the restoration of schools and hospitals, and more specifically for the medical center,” he said. Delavekouras could not say how the “medical center” morphed into “the Christian Hospital of Gaza” on TV.

One thing is certain: In a six-hour telethon loaded with Israel bashing, the Greek public was deceived that money contributed would go to rebuild a Christian hospital destroyed by the army of the Jewish state.

What remains unclear is whether organizers deliberately perpetrated the fraud or the telethon had fallen into the deception by accident.

II. Human Rights Watch fundraising in Saudi Arabia:

A delegation from Human Rights Watch was recently in Saudi Arabia. To investigate the mistreatment of women under Saudi Law? To campaign for the rights of homosexuals, subject to the death penalty in Saudi Arabia? To protest the lack of religious freedom in the Saudi Kingdom? To issue a report on Saudi political prisoners?

No, no, no, and no. The delegation arrived to raise money from wealthy Saudis by highlighting HRW's demonization of Israel. An HRW spokesperson, Sarah Leah Whitson, highlighted HRW's battles with "pro-Israel pressure groups in the US, the European Union and the United Nations." (Was Ms. Whitson required to wear a burkha, or are exceptions made for visiting anti-Israel "human rights" activists"? Driving a car, no doubt, was out of the question.)

... some would defend HRW by pointing it that it has criticized Saudi Arabia's human rights record rather severely in the past. The point of my post, though, is not that HRW is pro-Saudi, but that it is maniacally anti-Israel. The most recent manifestation is that its officers see nothing unseemly about raising funds among the elite of one of the most totalitarian nations on earth, with a pitch about how the money is needed to fight "pro-Israel forces," without the felt need to discuss any of the Saudis' manifold human rights violations, and without apparent concern that becoming dependent on funds emanating from a brutal dictatorship leaves you vulnerable to that brutal dictatorship later cutting off the flow of funds, if you don't "behave."

More, here.

Update: Jeffrey Goldberg, having enquired specifically, comes to this conclusion:

In other words, yes, the director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East division is attempting to raise funds from Saudis, including a member of the Shura Council (which oversees, on behalf of the Saudi monarchy, the imposition in the Kingdom of the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islamic law) in part by highlighting her organization's investigations of Israel, and its war with Israel's "supporters," who are liars and deceivers. It appears as if Human Rights Watch, in the pursuit of dollars, has compromised its integrity.


"Human Rights" as practiced by these NGO's is a travesty. If they wish to pursue only human rights violations within democratic states then they should re-define their mission statements. If they are only interested in representing the human rights of Palestinians, they should state it, openly. They cannot however pose as a universal human rights organization which cares equally for all and then do something like this:

"Human Rights Watch, which was largely created and funded by Jewish donors to promote traditional human rights concerns, is now cooperating and seeking funding from the leaders of Saudi Arabia – one of the major violators of the norms that HRW claims to promote. This is consistent with HRW’s central role in the demonization of Israel, and based on the exploitation of the rhetoric of human rights. Under the leadership of Kenneth Roth, HRW has been active in the campaigns condemning Israeli responses to attacks from Gaza, as well as during the 2006 Lebanon War, the Palestinian mass terror campaign, and in many other examples, as documented by NGO Monitor.

An article in the Arab News praised Human Rights Watch for “gaining more recognition and support in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world.” The article notes that “[d]uring their recent visit to the Kingdom, senior members of the organization were given a welcoming dinner in Riyadh hosted by prominent businessman and intellectual Emad bin Jameel Al-Hejailan. Other prominent members of Saudi society, human rights activists and dignitaries were invited to the dinner held to honor the guests….Al-Hejailan said the credo of human rights is rising in the Kingdom. He commended Human Rights Watch (HRW) for its work on Gaza and the Middle East as a whole.” Indeed, HRW’s anti-Israel obsession was the major reason for Saudi fundraiser: “The group is facing a shortage of funds because of the global financial crisis and the work on Israel and Gaza, which depleted HRW’s budget for the region.”



Update: July 23:

Amnesty publishes a report on Saudi atrocities. That's great, says David Hazony, but why now?

And I ask: how can they have compiled a 65 page report since May, yet a complete silence characterized their scrutiny of the kingdom before that? Could it be that these incidents recorded in the report were allowed to collect dust in some shelved files somewhere until it became... expedient.. to publish them?


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