About the Author
An open letter to Human Rights Watch's
While you deserve kudos for your unceasing work documenting human rights
violations around the world, your appearance on Fox news on August 5, gives
serious cause to doubt your methodology when applied to the Hezbollah-Israel
For example, you justified your accusation that Israel is attacking civilian
targets because no evidence was found of rocket launchers by the time HRW got
around to examining the sites. Just a little research reveals the futility of
this argument. For example the neutral Global Security Organization describes
mobile rocket launchers as capable of firing missiles and returning in a few
minutes to protected caves or to alternate firing positions. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/dprk/m-1985-mrl.htm
If indeed the reasoning behind your reports about other conflicts is of the same
standard, it prejudices the entire effectiveness of the Human Rights Watch
organization. An independent observer of this TV interview can only conclude
that your opinion is not based on direct analytical observation, but is largely
influenced by the current media frenzy, which exaggerates Israeli retaliation
and all but ignores the existential threat causing it.
Many otherwise responsible media seem blind to the fact that Israel has no
choice but to react against those who have caused hundreds of thousands of
Israelis to live in bomb shelters for weeks and who have killed and maimed many.
In an appalling display of unbalanced reporting they play on emotions in a
one-sided manner, emphasizing personal tragedies in Lebanon, while ignoring the
obvious equally poignant scenes in Israel. Mutilated babies and suffering old
people are sadly to be found on both sides and the human tragedy is equally
You seem strangely unaware of the need to question the veracity of reports
emanating from Hezbollah. Time magazine contributor Christopher Allbritton has
admitted he is loath to say too much about Hezbollah, "as the Party of God
has a copy of every journalist's passport, and they've already hassled a number
of them and threatened one."
CBS's Elizabeth Palmer has also commented that Hezbollah is determined that
outsiders will only see what it wants them to see.
Surely truth-seeking Human Rights observers cannot accept uncritically media
reports skewed by Hezbollah propaganda. My deliberate use of the word
"propaganda' is justified by an admission by none other than CNN's senior
international correspondent, Nic Robertson. Five days after placing an
anti-Israel report on July 18, he wrote, "When you hear their [Hezbollah's]
claims, they have to come with more than a grain of salt, that you have to put
in some journalistic integrity. That you have to point out to the audience and
let them know that this was a guided tour by Hezbollah press officials along
with their security, that it was a very rushed affair." ( http://newsbusters.org/node/6552).
It would be naive to believe that HRW observers have any more freedom to observe
objectively than internationally well-known journalists.
In a live interview on July 23, Robertson said that although taking journalists
into the bombed areas is a good way for Hezbollah to get their message out,
there is nevertheless no doubt that the bombs are hitting Hezbollah facilities.
One of Robertson's statements is particularly relevant to your TV appearance. He
said "we didn't have enough time to go in, root through those houses, see
if perhaps there was somebody there who was, you know, a taxi driver by day, and
a Hezbollah fighter by night...."
When a Hezbollah fighter is indistinguishable from a civilian taxi driver to an
experienced internationally recognized journalist, one must ask how you can so
confidently assert that the casualties you've seen (or may have heard about),
have been civilians.
With respect, Mr. Abrahams, I fear your lack of critical analysis of the
situation actually encourages the aggressor, thereby prolonging the conflict and
aggravating an already tragic situation, rather than helping to prevent human
I suggest to you, as a recognized personality interested in ameliorating human
rights abuses, there is one awful abuse that can be rectified very easily.
Please call on Hezbollah and the Palestinians to show an ounce
of humanity by allowing your organization or the Red Cross to visit the
kidnapped soldiers and allowing them to call their families in the presence of
third parties to indicate that they are alive; a privilege enjoyed by Lebanese
and Palestinian prisoners in Israel.
Furthermore, if HRW wishes to influence the parties to end the carnage speedily,
it should call on Hezbollah to allow Lebanon to implement SC resolution 1559
forthwith. It is that simple. In all seriousness, one cannot help wondering what
Sheik Nasrallah's objectives are and more importantly whether he cynically
considers them worth the continued suffering he continues to cause his people.
more articles by Maurice Ostroff
Mr. Ostroff's Website: http://maurice-ostroff.tripod.com