To the Editor:
The Israeli government and Ben-Dror Yemini [“Author of Report against Israel Supported Munich Massacre”] seem to share a “shoot the messenger” approach when it comes to addressing painstakingly researched criticisms of the Israel Defense Forces’ actions in Gaza. Instead of addressing these detailed findings, they spread malicious misinformation about me and my organization, Human Rights Watch.
On August 13, Human Rights Watch released a report detailing instances in January in which Israeli soldiers killed Palestinian civilians who were waving white flags to convey their civilian status. Government spokespersons sought to dismiss the report by calling Human Rights Watch biased. But to date no critic has disputed the facts about the seven incidents in the report, in which soldiers shot and killed 11 unarmed civilians, including four children and five women.
Now, again instead of addressing our research, Mr. Yemini has launched a personal attack on me, which the Israeli government has dutifully translated and distributed. The quotes he attributes to me are more than 30 years old. Most of them I do not recognize, and they are contrary to the views I have expounded for decades now. For instance, selective excerpts about the Munich massacre come from an unsigned editorial that appeared 37 years ago where at the time I was one of seven volunteers that produced the publication. All my work since then shows that I would never support such an attack.
For nearly 40 years, I have been documenting, writing, and speaking out on injustices by virtually all of the governments and many non-state armed groups in the Middle East. This work is readily available – including at Middle East Report magazine, which I edited through 1995, and at Human Rights Watch since then – but Mr. Yemini did not include these many statements, undoubtedly because they did not support his claims. Had he looked at the hundreds of statements, articles and reports I’ve written since the 1970s, he would have found exposés of Saddam Hussein’s murderous regime and my report for Human Rights Watch on war crimes by Palestinian suicide bombers [http://www.hrw.org/en/node/77214/section/1]. I have dedicated much of my adult life to the protection of human rights for all and to fighting the idea that civilians can be attacked for political reasons. Maariv and Mr. Yemini owe me an apology.
Deputy Director, Middle East and North Africa Division
Human Rights Watch
To the Editor: