In defence of B'Tselem
The serious question that should be raised is the slander against groups like B'Tselem ("Hebron shooting raises serious questions," April 7).
B'Tselem is an organization with huge regard among those for whom human rights provide a nation's moral legitimacy.
While the occupation continues like a Leviathan that keeps dispossessing, growing and crushing the rights of the occupied, does one expect Palestinians to fall to their knees in acquiescence?
Being an occupation army is a dirty business. This does not absolve the occupier from the application of the values that are inherent in both democracy and Judaism, B'Tselem is part of the conscience which may provide Israel with a moral legitimacy that many of its current political and military activities lack.
There is absolutely no case for stating "that while the motivation and reporting of B'Tselem may be questionable" unless one wishes to further diminish Israel's claim to laws of morality and justice.
The stellar commitment of groups like B'Tselem and New Israel Fund and Breaking the Silence are the slender threads through which many claim to be Zionists. In the absence of civil and human rights, can a nation be clothed with the cloak of legitimacy?
Brian RothbergNewsflash for you, Mr. R.: Israel has civil and human rights. Israel is legitimate. And your notion that Israel is a "Leviathan" crushing the hopes and dreams of "oppressed" Palestinians is belied by, well, reality (including the reality that "the only legitimate Palestinian state is therefore a Hamas state").
Mr. Rothberg (whose claim to be a Zionist, holding on as it is to the slenderest of threads, is tenuous at best) may be a big fan of B'tselem. Me? Not so much. Here's why:
When the United Nations released the so-called Goldstone Report in September 2009, Israelis and their supporters around the world were astonished by the blunt words near its conclusion: “There is evidence indicating serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed by Israel during the Gaza conflict, and that Israel committed actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly crimes against humanity.” The report declared that virtually everything Israel had done during Operation Cast Lead—Israel’s attempt in late 2008 and early 2009 to stop Hamas’s rocket war on Israeli civilians—had been a crime. No single written attack on the Jewish state has been as damning, as prominent, or as influential. And yet the South African jurist Richard Goldstone and his team had only a few months to compile a report that runs to nearly 600 pages and makes hundreds of detailed accusations about the Israel Defense Force’s conduct of the war, and Goldstone himself made only a single four-day visit to Gaza. Where did they secure the evidentiary rope with which to hang Israel?
The report was largely compiled from material provided by what is often referred to as Israel’s “human rights community.” This vague euphemism refers to a coterie of groups and individuals that has evolved over the past decade into a highly politicized movement of dozens of nongovernmental organizations that operate in Israel and subject its government, military, laws, and people to relentless scrutiny and accusation. And, as first pointed out by NGO Monitor, the Goldstone Report relied most heavily on the largest and most prominent among them: the group known as B’Tselem. More footnotes in the report, 56 in all, cite B’Tselem as a source than any other. Indeed, as Jessica Montell, B’Tselem’s executive director, has said, B’Tselem “provided extensive assistance to the UN fact-finding mission headed by Justice Goldstone—escorting them to meet victims in Gaza, providing all of our documentation and correspondence, and meeting the mission in Jordan.”
In making such a profound contribution to the Goldstone Report, B’Tselem was performing the task to which it has truly dedicated itself: not the defense of human rights in the West Bank and Gaza, but the delegitimization of Israel and its existence as a Jewish state...Zionists? I think not. More like ZINOs--Zionists In Name Only.
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