Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Human Rights Watch Goes to War

Mouin Rabbani on Human Rights Watch and the Gaza Massacre

"The Middle East has always been a difficult challenge for Western human rights organizations, particularly those seeking influence or funding in the United States. The pressure to go soft on US allies is in some respects reminiscent of Washington's special pleading for Latin American terror regimes in the 1970s and 1980s. In the case of Israel such organizations also face a powerful and influential domestic constituency, which often extends to senior echelons of such organizations, for whom forthright condemnation of Israel is anathema.

Given that Israel is reliant on US subventions and public goodwill to a degree without precedent in the history of American foreign policy, there is considerably more than vanity at stake. If Israel's stature in the United States were to be reduced to that of South Africa during the apartheid era, or Serbia during the Balkan wars, this would almost certainly have material consequences for the "special relationship". It is a reality very unlike that between the US and Saudi Arabia, for example, in which the American public's longstanding contempt for the House of Saud has proven basically inconsequential. In Israel's case, image is a political resource of the first order, and its preservation a matter of national security....."

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