Misrepresenting Al-Haq’s Position on Palestinian Rocket Attacks

by Kevin Jon Heller

David Bernstein and NGO Monitor have worked themselves into a lather about Human Rights Watch’s decision to appoint Shawan Jabarin, the head of Al-Haq, a leading Palestinian human-rights group, to its Mideast Advisory Board.  In support of their ire, they cite decisions of the Israeli Supreme Court that have concluded that Jabarin is also an official in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization.

Debating the merits of Jabarin’s appointment is pointless, given that the Israeli Supreme Court decisions are based — as HRW has pointed out — on secret evidence that Jabarin has never been able to see, much less challenge.  (Illustrating his profound commitment to due process and the rule of law, Bernstein asks rhetorically, “[s]ince when is ‘secret’ a synonym for ‘baseless’?”)  What is beyond debate, however, is that Bernstein and NGO Monitor’s attacks on Al-Haq grossly distort the group’s record.  Here is the relevant paragraph of Bernstein’s post:

[NGO Monitor’s] Hertzberg retorts: “I have been personally monitoring Al Haq [Jabarin’s NGO] and Jabarin for nearly 5 years. I have never seen any evidence that either has condemned suicide bombings or rocket attacks.” I (Bernstein) checked Al Haq’s website, searching for, among other things, “rocket” and could find no criticism of Palestinian rocket attacks, suicide bombings, or other attacks on civilians.

That’s curious.  I entered the following search into Google: al haq +”rocket attacks”.  The first link is to a legal brief that Al-Haq published on 7 January 2009 entitled “Legal Aspects of Israel’s Attacks on the Gaza Strip During Operation ‘Cast Lead’.”  Though certainly devoting most of its attention to Israel’s actions — as we would expect from a Palestinian human-rights group — the brief not only criticizes Palestinian rocket attacks, it even acknowledges Israel’s “right and duty” to use proportionate military force to respond to them (my emphasis):

4.2   Al-Haq acknowledges that rocket attacks by Palestinian armed groups, including Hamas, against civilian population centres within Israel are in violation of international humanitarian law. However, while Israel has the right and duty to protect its civilian population from such attacks, any response to Palestinian rocket attacks must respect the fundamental international humanitarian law principles of military necessity, proportionality and distinction. The conduct of hostilities during “Operation Cast Lead” can under no circumstances be considered to be in accordance with these principles.

That brief, not surprisingly, is also available on the Al-Haq website — just type “legal aspects” into the search engine; it’s the only result that comes up.

Bernstein and Herzberg also seem to have somehow missed this press release, published by Al-Haq on its website on 4 August 2010, concerning the Palestinian Independent Committee of Enquiry into the Goldstone Report:

The Committee’s investigations found evidence that the following violations have been committed by the P.A.: (i) arbitrary detention and torture by security forces, including the practice of subjecting civilians to the military court system, (ii) the restrictions placed on the work of NGOs and the freedom of the press, (iii) violations of the right to peaceful assembly, (iv) the dismissal of P.A. employees on the basis of their political orientation. The Committee also held that the de facto Gaza government had perpetrated unlawful killings, torture and arbitrary detention. The Committee was not able to investigate the factual circumstances related to the launch of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel due to impeded access to relevant information. However, it condemned and provided a comprehensive analysis of the legal implications of the illegal practice.

The Committee’s findings on the violations of international law were entirely consistent with Al Haq’s documentation and repeated calls to halt and investigate violations committed by both the P.A. and the de facto Gaza government.

It took me a grand total of five minutes to find these two Al-Haq documents, both of which directly contradict Bernstein’s and NGO Monitor’s claims.  Remember that the next time you are tempted to take their attacks on HRW (or any other progressive NGO) seriously.

http://opiniojuris.org/2011/02/21/al-haqs-condemnation-of-palestinian-rocket-attacks/

43 Responses

  1. Man, you are obsessed with Israel.  Every post has some twisted anti-Israel agenda.  Why don’t you write about the violations of international law being conducted by the state in Egypt, Iran and Libya and other “progressive” regimes that you and your Israeli bashing NGOs love so much.  Or the human rights violations committed by those standard bearers of “rights” the hamas folks in Gaza?  Really, can you ever say anything positive about Israel?  Is it not true that the Israelis have been provoked and you and other human rights champions let the other side slide  with respect to their international obligations?  Israel is subjected to an absurdly rigid and unfair standard of conduct while you never say a word about any of Israel’s neighbors who give literally shoot to kill orders against civilians for daring to request democracy.  Why don’t you condemn and call the rocket attacks on Israel what they are – violations of international law.

  2. Robert,

    You should try reading the blog once in a while.  I have condemned the rocket attacks as violations of international law on numerous occasions.  Indeed, I’m favorably quoting Al-Haq concerning that very proposition in this post, in case you hadn’t noticed…

  3. Truth be told, “robert” represents a curious and sorry class of infantile commenters on this blog who are rather obsessed with Professor Heller.

    Of course Israel considers itself a democracy, and thus it holds itself, and we rightly hold it, to a higher standard than many of the regimes in the region that are not democracies. Moreover, the behavior of these other regimes is well-known while, in the US at any rate, people appear colosally ignorant (or are routinely in a state of denial) as to Israel’s violations, say, of international law. And Hamas is reductively and tendentiously viewed simply as a terrorist organization, which means it’s not unexpected and a bit redundant to repeat ad nauseum that it violates international law on occasion.

    What bothers those obsessed with Professor Heller are his willingness to critique the policies and behavior of the state of Israel, its government or the IDF on occasion: how dare he? Instead, it is ideologically preferable and far less painful to cast our gaze elsewhere or anywhere, so long as it is away from Israel’s asymmetrical war (in both a literal and figurative sense) against the Palestinians, away from its denial of the right of collective self-determination to Palestinians and refusal to do anything concrete toward making meaningful the notion of participation in a “peace process” (a phrase Israel has come to indisolubly taint with Orwellian connotations), away from its unabated territorial expansion through settlements and appropriation of the property and land of Palestinians (creating ‘facts on the ground’ that make the likelihood of a two-state solution ever more remote), away from its divide-and-conquer strategy with the Palestinians, including a blatant refusal to recognize the results of the (democratic) 2006 elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council (indeed, Israel, the US and the European Union responded with economic sanctions: Arabs aren’t worthy of democracy…hmmm), away from the lingering consequences of ethnic cleansing and the Nakbah, away from Israel’s considerable nuclear weapons arsenal and refusal to sign onto the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty while obsessing with the “prospect” or possibility that Iran may one day possess the capacity to develop nuclear weapons (a species of what Haggai Ram rightly describes in the title of his 2009 book, Iranophobia), away from its consignment of Israeli Arabs to second-class and thus unequal citizenship, away from the policy of cultural genocide with regard to the Bedouin….

    The Israeli regime should be free to act as if they are “the chosen ones,” possessing in perpetuity a biblically sanctioned divine mandate to do as they damn well please. How dare anyone intelligently, forthrightly, and consistently, critique its behavior and policies.

  4. erratum: “The Israeli regime should be free to act as if it represents “the chosen ones,” possessing in perpetuity a biblically sanctioned divine mandate to do as it damn well pleases.”

  5. @Kevin Jon Heller

    Considering the more serious claim that Jabarin is an official in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine why would HRW not engage a neutral third party to conduct an investigation?

    From the Daily Beast: “On the one hand, there’s the “secret information.” The critics cited by Sir Harold Evans rely on it exclusively in questioning the appointment to our advisory board of Shawan Jabarin, although neither they, nor Jabarin and his lawyers, have ever seen it.” Guess what?, neither has HRW.

    So HRW really has no idea whether the Israeli Supreme Court claims against Jabarin have merit because they have not seen the evidence; nor can HRW independently confirm or deny with any probability that Jabarin is an official in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

    Relying on Jabarin’s reputation as a proxy for innocence strikes me as dangerous and just plain sloppy risk management.

  6. Let’s for assume for the moment and the sake of argument that Jabarin was, as a student, associated with the PFLP. Now let’s see what Roth says in the Daily Beast, cited above:

    Roth defended the appointment saying Jabarin had had no association with the PFLP or any other political organization since joining the staff of Al Haq in 1987. “The full HRW board noted his long and distinguished service with al Haq for two decades, the international awards he has received and his active assistance to HRW on, among other things, our seminal report attacking Palestinian suicide bombing of civilians.”

    If, after a time in the PLFP (again, not knowing whether the allegation is actually true or not) Jabarin was no longer a member, indicated by his preference for engaging in the kind of political and NGO work on behalf of human rights that Al-Haq performs, should that be held against him? I know as a young person I was somewhat enamored by revolutionary violence, at least at a distance and vicariously (thus never having engaged in same) but came to have a change of heart after studying the consequences of such violence and learning of the possibilities for nonviolent civil resistance and progressive social change. Malcolm X was once a member of the Nation of Islam and eventually left the group and its racism behind, becoming a more orthodox Sunni Muslim, willing to work with and support other civil rights leaders. Malcolm’s very public disavowal of the Nation of Islam probably led to his assassination. The relevant point being, if it is not obvious, that people can and do change, even Arabs…even Palestinians, a “change of heart” as we say is possible. But, alas, we’d rather make darker and stereotypical assumptions and presumptions, ones that fit comfortably into existing and calcified political ideologies.

    Allegations based on “secret information” should carry no weight, and thus we should not be allowed to make inferences from them. Rather, we should rely in the first instance on the embarrasment of riches found in the available evidence, including testimony from those with impeccable integrity, like William A. Schabas: “Shawan is a great friend of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, and we all admire his enormous contribution to the promotion of human rights. He completed an LLM here some years ago.” 

    As to the “secret” reasons for Jabarin’s travel restrictions we need only recall the experience of the nonviolent social activist Mubarak Awad in East Jerusalem, who was ordered to leave the country after asking the Israeli interior ministry to replace his “tattered, 20-year old ID card” (the ostensible reason: living for a time abroad caused him to forfeit his status as permanent resident of Israel). When pressed about the ruling against Awad, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir referred reporters “to the security services.” This by way of a reminder that we hardly have sufficient or even presumptive reason to trust what official Israeli government spokespersons say about such matters, while David Ketzmer’s book on the Israeli Supreme Court, The Occupation of Justice…(2002) provides us with ample reason not to defer to the Court’s judgment on such things as well, let alone those considerations cloaked in secrecy. 

    Seeing how the Israeli government has responded to nonviolent resistance is a reminder that what counts for “national security” in Israel is rather elastic, its definition adapted to suit the regnant political ideologies and goals of a regime that continues to deny the Palestinians the right of collective self-determination. National security rationales more often than not trump all other political values and principles, so much so that “political realism” and Realpolitik begin to look morally palatable by comparison. As Yousef Munayyer wrote in the Guardian last year, “the repression of Palestinian nonviolent dissent has increased significantly and Israel is showing signs of transforming into a fully-fledged police state.” Nonviolent activists and initiatives are routinely “shut down and repressed.” Munayyer noted the human rights activists (i.e., leaders of human rights organizations) being “arrested and thrown into jail for allegedly posing security risks to the state.”

    David Bernstein and NGO Monitor are rather selective in what draws their attention, all too eager to rely on “secret evidence” when public evidence of a different sort suggests their efforts might more productively directed elsewhere, to wit:

    The international community has an obligation to Palestinian nonviolent activists. Leaders cannot simply call on Palestinians to abandon violence in the face of Israeli occupation and remain silent when the nonviolent activists are politically repressed. This only reinforces the idea that the use of force reigns supreme and that Palestinians have no choice but to accept hardships at the hands of their Israeli lords.

    Sadly, the same leaders who call on Palestinians to abandon violence have been silent in the face of Israeli repression. By condemning violent Palestinian resistance while remaining silent in the face of Israeli crackdowns and political arrests, they are simply endorsing violence against civilians by one side instead of the other.

    The United States should take the lead in condemning Israeli repression of nonviolent dissent, just as they would in Iran, Burma or apartheid South Africa, because nonviolent dissent is not only a critical part of the Palestinian struggle but it is an American value as well.

  7. erratum: “Let’s assume for the moment….”

  8. And apologies for “enamored by”…

  9. One or two sentences out of thousands of pages of reports, press releases, publications, letters, speeches, conference transcripts, etc… is indicative of nothing.   Al Haq has done no substantive campaigning on behalf of Israeli victims of Palestinian terror attacks.  Many of its documents refer to such attacks as “legitimate resistance” contradicting the statements you quote above.  Other documents issued by Al Haq during the Gaza war denied that Israel had any right to self defense.  I was at a meeting at the ICC in October 2010 where representatives of Al Haq lobbied Ocampo to take up an investigation of Israel.  At not time, did Al Haq’s representatives call for investigations of potential Palestinian violations.

    Al Haq frequently lobbies the EU, UN, and other officials to impose sanctions on Israel.  Again, no comparative calls are made against Palestinian actors.

    In 2009, Al Haq sought an arrest warrant against Ehud Barak in the UK for the Gaza War.  They have made no attempts to do the same against perpetrators of Palestinian terror.   In addition, Al Haq has filed lawsuits in the UK, the Netherlands, and Canada to impose arms embargoes on Israel and to have Israelis and companies doing business with Israel declared guilty of war crimes.

    They have never engaged in any legal efforts to hold Palestinian terrorists, terror organizations, or states or companies that aid such terror accountable.

    So please.  Spare me your feeble attempts at defending this immoral organization.

  10. KJH –

    a) Have you found anything about suicide bombings?

    b) Why do believe that Al Haq should naturally focus on Israel – “as we would expect from a Palestinian human-rights group”? Israeli human rights groups focused on alleged Israeli violations…

    c) ABP is right. The real issue is whether or not you trust the Israeli Supreme Court. My sense is that most of the West considers it to be operating at the highest standards. I guess you and HRW know better.

  11. I didn’t see this (how could I have missed one sentence is a seven page brief in one document )?  I agree that this constitutes “criticism” of rocket attacks as violations of international law, and will amend my post accordingly when I return from my  trip.

    I do not, however, see any “condemnation” of the rocket attacks; it’s entirely possible for Al Haq leaders to believe that the attacks are illegal but not immoral and indeed morally justifed, plus we have Jabarin’s prior statement differentiation  “Palestinian resistance” from terrorism.

    In any event, the sentence in question hardly supports Levine’s claim that Jabarin is at the forefront of condemnation of rocket attacks and bombings of civilians, much less that heI isnt a secret PFLP official.
    And i gotta love your comment that Palestinian human rights groups can be expected to focus overwhemingly on Israeli violations.   I suppose you agree that B’Tselem should shift its focus to Palestinian h.r. violations? What else could we expect from an Israeli h.r. grou\p.

  12. i see FMR beat me to point 2.

  13. and apologies for the typos, less than ideal setup here

  14. “Al Haq has done no substantive campaigning on behalf of Israeli victims of Palestinian terror attacks.”

    “Why do believe that Al Haq should naturally focus on Israel – ‘as we would expect from a Palestinian human-rights group’?”

    Has anyone read what Al-Haq’s mission statement?

    Al-Haq is an independent Palestinian non-governmental human rights organisation that works in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) to uphold the rule of law and respect for human rights. Al-Haq focuses on monitoring, documenting, and advocating against the violations of the individual and collective rights of Palestinians under international law, irrespective of the identity of the perpetrator, using both national and international mechanisms to:

    influence policies at the national and international levels; 

    and hold perpetrators accountable

    with the intention of promoting respect and adherence to the rule of law and remedying violations.

    Has anyone read Kretzmer’s book on the Israeli Supreme Court?

  15. Erratum: “Has anyone read Al-Haqq’s mission statement?”

  16. And one other comment in response to this statement made by Ken Roth:  “The full HRW board noted his long and distinguished service with al Haq . . . and his active assistance to HRW on, among other things, our seminal report attacking Palestinian suicide bombing of civilians.”

    Neither Al Haq nor Jabarin are thanked in the acknowledgments, nor are either cited in “Erased in a Moment” — the HRW report to which Roth refers.  An odd absence give Jabarin’s supposed “active assistance” on the report.

    PS  You might also want to inform your readers that you have served as a consultant for HRW.  Your readers may want to “remember that the next time [they] are tempted to take [your defense of] HRW (or any other progressive NGO) seriously.”

  17. “One or two sentences out of thousands of pages of reports, press releases, publications, letters, speeches, conference transcripts, etc… is indicative of nothing.”

    On the contrary, it is indicative of your lack of credibility concerning Al-Haq, given your claim that “I have been personally monitoring Al Haq [Jabarin’s NGO] and Jabarin for nearly 5 years. I have never seen any evidence that either has condemned suicide bombings or rocket attacks.” That statement indicates you were either (1) lying, or (2) so sloppy concerning the work of a group you did not like that your judgment concerning that group cannot be trusted.

  18. It’s also amusing to see Herzberg refer to Al-Haq as an “immoral organization” for focusing its efforts on Palestinians instead of on Israelis.  I have yet to see NGO Monitor criticize Israel for its violations of Palestinian human rights, much less work on behalf of those Palestinian victims.  So if Al-Haq’s focus makes it immoral, NGO Monitor is far more deeply so.

  19. Still waiting for the evidence that Jabarin, as stated by Iain Levine  “has been one of the leading Palestinian voices condemning torture by the Palestinian Authority, and suicide bombings and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians by Palestinian armed groups in the West Bank and Gaza.”  Where is Jabarin’s condemnation of anything?  Where is Al Haq’s condemnation of suicide bombing? 

    And the lines you think are so telling are not.  Here it is again: “The Committee was not able to investigate the factual circumstances related to the launch of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel due to impeded access to relevant information. However, it condemned and provided a comprehensive analysis of the legal implications of the illegal practice.”

    The grammar here is mangled, perhaps intentionally.  It COULD mean that Al Haq condemned Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, but it could also mean that Al Haq couldn’t investigate the circumstances of the rocket attacks, so it generally condemned firing rockets on civilians as illegal, WITHOUT condemning the specific attacks on Israeli civilians.  If Al Haq is as forthcoming as Levine says, why can’t you find a simple, direct statement by Al Haq: “We condemn Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, and suicide attacks on Israeli civilians.”

  20. Sorry, you’ll need to learn to use a search engine on your own.  I’ve already shown that your categorical statement (and Herzberg’s) about Al-Haq and rocket attacks is simply false. The legal brief is very clear: Al-Haq condemns rocket attacks against Israeli civilians as illegal under international law.  You remain free, of course, to suggest — counterintuitively and with no evidence whatsoever — that perhaps Al-Haq morally supports action it considers to be illegal.  The rest of us remain free to attribute those mental gymnastics to your evident desire to discredit Al-Haq and HRW, pesky facts be damned.

  21. “The legal brief is very clear: Al-Haq condemns rocket attacks against Israeli civilians as illegal under international law.” Ha! Pointing out that it’s illegal is at most criticism, and hardly condemnation. Why is it impossible to find a clear statement from Al Haq “we condemn suicide bombings and rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.” Indeed, you’re well-connected in the relevant circles. Why not send a sentence just like that to Al Haq, and ask them to acknowledge publicly that they agree with it?

    But more important, as usual you are engaging in misdirection.   The major issue here is: why did HRW add to its M.E. advisory board someone who the Israeli Supreme Court found to be a leading figure in a terrorist organization?  You’re only response is that the evidence is secret, and therefore doesn’t comply with due process.  But HRW isn’t putting him in jail, or even fining him, just potentially denying him a spot on its advisory board.  Given that a reputable body has found credible, albeit secret, evidence of terrorist ties, it’s almost as if HRW is purposely showing its worst enemies criticisms to be true.

    The more minor but still pertinent issue is whether Iain Levine lied when he said that Jabarin, personally, is a leading critic of rocket attacks on and suicide bombings of civilians.  You haven’t presented ANYTHING to support this contention.

    In sum, Kevin, have fun trying to parse Al Haq’s words to prove it has “condemned” attacks on civilians. Meanwhile, you’ve alerted those who didn’t see it in other sources that HRW has no compunctions about putting a terrorist on its advisory board.

  22. The 2 publications you cite to neither condemn suicide bombings, nor rocket attacks. While the single sentence referred to makes a cursory acknowledgement of Israel’s rights to protect its civilian population, the rest of the 7 page document is aimed at delegitimizing that right. I have yet to see an Al Haq document where ANY Israeli response against terrorism is deemed acceptable. Therefore, in substance (and in Al Haq’s campaigns and lobbying efforts), Israel’s right, as interpreted by Al Haq, does not exist.
    The second publication you refer was simply Al Haq’s very brief summary of a report issued by the Palestinian Authority. If you actually had bothered to look at the original PA document, you would see that
    “The objective of this section of the Report [a few paragraphs claiming to analyze rocket attacks]  is to shed light on the inaccurate and unreliable Israeli information [regarding the number and location of rocket attacks] as well as Israel’s abstention from investigating it in an objective, professional and impartial manner. ”
    After claiming that the rockets “allegedly caus[ed] three civilian deaths” the next paragraph talks about “armed resistance”; minimizes the scope and nature of Palestinian attacks: “The capability of the Palestinian resistance . . . is limited to launching, at intervals, ‘primitive rockets’ and mortar shells,” and a few paragraphs later appears to justify such attacks because,
    “The Committee is of the opinion that recognition of the Palestinians’ right to resist the occupation and confirmation of their lawful struggle derives its legitimate status from the international law norms and principles…”
    While the report states that
    “The Committee further confirms that acquiring legitimacy of international law as well as international recognition of the lawful Palestinian struggle necessitates that Palestinians duly fulfill their legal obligations,” it does not make direct reference to rocket attacks in this paragraph and given the vague wording, it is certainly far short of a condemnation or a declaration that such attacks are “illegal” and morally unjustified.
    I find it most interesting that your post deliberately omits the context of my original comment to David Bernstein on Volokh . That comment was in direct response to the claim of HRW’s Ian Levine that Jabarin “has been one of the leading Palestinian voices condemning torture by the Palestinian Authority, and suicide bombings and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians by Palestinian armed groups in the West Bank and Gaza.” And as Bernstein notes, you have not provided a shred of proof on that point. So who’s misrepresenting who?

  23. david bernstein, thank you for your posts here. you have shown all of us, that we should never listen to you again.

    sincerely. everyone

  24. When I read of HRW’s work and commentary with respect of, (to use a contemporary example) Libya, it literally warms my heart.

    I just wish that HRW could see that reasonable people can, and do, differ on their judgment of Israel, and that as a result, their work on Israel tends to undermine the other work they do, which usually relates to far graver human rights violations.

    I can appreciate that for HRW continuing to trenchantly criticise Israel is a point of principle, and that there are a number of staff-members and contributors who would rather die (well, rather quit, at least) than be seen in any way to be ceding to far-right Zionist lobby criticism. In a way, fair enough – one expects and even hopes that the staff of a human-rights NGO will be passionately and tenaciously opinionated.

    I just wish that in addition to their laudably passionate and tenacious commitment to their ideal of a human-rights NGO they could also reflect on their effectiveness, and on the relative enormity of various human-rights violations and violators around the world, and possibly adapt their messaging and their use of resources accordingly.

    I can appreciate also HRW’s view that Israel, which holds itself out as a democracy, must not only be but be seen to be held to a higher standard than Hamas (who I did think held themselves out as democrats, but that’s another question). Ideally, they would also be able to reflect on how how this applies mutatis mutandis to an organisation which wishes to be seen as a neutral arbitrator and critic of both sides, and thus must not only be neutral but above all be seen to be neutral…

    But hey, no-one’s perfect.

  25. “I can appreciate also HRW’s view that Israel, which holds itself out as a democracy, must not only be but be seen to be held to a higher standard than Hamas.”

    Dear Delinda,

    In fact HRW claims that it holds everyone to the exact same standard.  If HRW acknowledged it was using a higher (or “double”, depending on how you look at it) standard for Israel, much of the criticism would melt away.

    Dadys: Is that meant to be a spoof of stupid comment section comments the world over?

  26. It’s always entertaining to watch people try to avoid taking responsibility for their mistakes.  Both Bernstein and Herzberg made categorical claims about (1) Al-Haq, and (2) their own investigations of Al-Haq.  I showed, with five minutes of research, (1) that their claims about Al-Haq were incorrect and (2) that they were either lying about or incompetent regarding their supposed investigations.  Neither has in any way rebutted those points, except for their ridiculous argument that condemning rocket attacks as illegal and stating that they trigger Israel’s right to respond militarily does not count as “criticism,” because Al-Haq did not drape their condemnation in moralistic language hand-selected by Bernstein and Herzberg.

  27. “Dadys: Is that meant to be a spoof of stupid comment section comments the world over?”

    Dadys,

    This is a truly hysterical comment on Bernstein’s part.  Here is what he wrote last week on his blog:

    I gave up on Brad Delong after these two exchanges back in 2004. I suggest that Ilya, and anyone else subject to his misrepresentations, just ignore him.

    People in glass houses…

  28. In your “research”, you’ve simply shown that you don’t bother to look at original source materials (which actually rebut the points you are making); that you cannot provide any examples of either Al Haq or Jabarin condemning suicide bombings; and that you are unable to support the false claims of HRW’s Ian Levine.  In addition, you’ve still not answered those who have taken you to task for making the absurd claim that as a Palestinian organization, one should not expect Al Haq to criticize Palestinians as much as Israelis.

    So I’ll repeat that given your work as a paid consultant for HRW, your readers may want to “remember that the next time [they] are tempted to take [your defense of] HRW (or any other progressive NGO) seriously.”

  29. On the news wires the nice folks in Gaza fired rockets into an Israeli city Beer Sheva.  Sounds like a violation of international law to me.  Israel then retaliated against terror killing several of the gazans.  Hmmm… Khadafi murders 1,000 of his own citizens for no reason while Israel defends itself when rockets are fired into a populated area.  Want to guess which country will receive international outrage?

  30. 100% robert.  Still waiting to hear those condemnations of last night’s grad attack on Israel’s 4th largest city from Al Haq and Jabarin, who according to HRW is “one of the leading Palestinian voices condemning . . . suicide bombings and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians by Palestinian armed groups in the West Bank and Gaza.”   I imagine we’ll be waiting a very long time.

  31. Ms. Herzberg, those meetings you refer where ‘Al Haq lobbied the ICC prosecutor’ were conducted under Chatham rules. Admittedly you are free from breaking the rule of confidentiality because as you know nothing Al Haq said in those meetings has not been said in public. For clarification, those meetings took place as part of NGO consultations where many views, from NGOs and academics, on the jurisdiction of the ICC over the attacks of Israel on Palestine were heard, Al Haq was only one of them. Israeli scholars and US-Israeli organisations were present as well duly used their time to pursue their own views.

  32. Dear ICC NGO at the Hague.  As I am sure you are aware, Mr. Kearney of Al Haq gave an interview to Radio Netherlands where he discussed his participation in this meeting.  So it is he, that broke confidentiality:

    The Radio Netherlands website published an interview with Michael Kearney on November 17, 2010.  The report opens with the following information:

    http://www.rnw.nl/international-justice/article/palestine-and-international-criminal-court

    “Last month, the International Criminal Court (ICC) held informal consultations in The Hague with 40 Palestinian NGOs. MichaelKearney, research fellow at the London School of Economics’ Law Department, was present as a representative of the NGO Al-Haq.”

  33. And as a further point, ICC NGO at the Hague,  I should note that on November 2-3, 2009, Al Haq representatives also met with OTP officials to discuss opening an investigation of Israelis.  They and other Palestinian NGOs have publicized these lobbying efforts in detail on their websites.

    If you are an official representative of the ICC office, I would like to know whether you contacted Mr. Kearney, Al Haq, and Radio Netherlands for his blatant violation of Chatham House rules?   Or you have only been policing those of us at the meeting whose views are favorable to Israel?

  34. Dear ICC NGO at the Hague.  As I am sure you are aware, Mr. Kearney of Al Haq gave an interview to Radio Netherlands where he discussed his participation in this meeting.  So it is he, that broke confidentiality:
    The Radio Netherlands website published an interview with Michael Kearney on November 17, 2010.  The report opens with the following information:
    “Last month, the International Criminal Court (ICC) held informal consultations in The Hague with 40 Palestinian NGOs. MichaelKearney, research fellow at the London School of Economics’ Law Department, was present as a representative of the NGO Al-Haq.”

  35. As part of your surveillance, ICC NGO Hague, you may want to read Kearney’s Nov. 17, 2010 interview in full where he details his remarks at the meeting:

    Last month, the International Criminal Court (ICC) held informal consultations in The Hague with 40 Palestinian NGOs. Michael Kearney, research fellow at the London School of Economics’ Law Department, was present as a representative of the NGO Al-Haq.
    By Marijntje Lazet
    What was the main discussion point between the ICC and the Palestinian side?
    Last year, the Palestinian Minister for Justice submitted a declaration under Article 12 of the Rome Statute. This is a process which allows for a state that is not a party to the Rome Statute to engage with the court’s process, and to transfer jurisdiction.
    The main question is whether you can consider Palestine to be a state. I was making an argument that from the perspective of international law it is very difficult to determine by objective criteria what constitutes a state. Essentially it is a political process. Palestine has been recognised by around a hundred states, but it has not been recognised by the United States or the European states, and is not a full member of the United Nations.
    Could you briefly explain the main points of the Palestine Declaration to the ICC?
    The declaration on behalf of the Government of Palestine seeks to transfer jurisdiction over crimes in the Rome Statute – war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide – on the territory of Palestine to the ICC.
    The key to the argument is that the court can take a functional approach.This is something that has happened at other tribunals and other international institutions. If it is de facto practicing and exercising the powers of a body like a state, then it should be considered as such for legal questions.
    When is the court going to make a decision?
    There has been no indication as to when we are going to get an answer.
    The consequences of making any decision can indeed be traumatic for either side. If Palestine is accepted, the Israelis will be very concerned. If the Palestinians are rejected it will be the final nail in the coffin, because the Palestinian people have consistently felt abandoned by international law and the international community.
    What could be the consequences if the ICC were to accept the declaration?
    If the court prosecutor was to begin investigating the war crimes in the area, there is already an overwhelming amount of material, such as the Goldstone report (a UN report in 2009 which accuses Israel and Hamas of war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity).
    The construction of occupied settlements in the West Bank is also a war crime. Settlement construction is an official government policy which the top Israeli military and political leaders ascribe to and take responsibility for. They would all be liable to prosecution.
    Palestinian, Israeli and international NGOs have been operating on the ground for decades, and the amount and quality of evidence that has been compiled is of a very high standard. If an investigation were to be initiated with respect to Palestine, it might be a lot easier than investigations that we have seen in the former Yugoslavia or currently in Sudan and Uganda. Of course the difficulty will be in prosecuting senior Israeli political leaders or military commanders because of the political consequences.
    What are your concerns for the near future?
    The Palestinian authority has not been consistent in promoting the ICC in international fora because of political pressure on the part of the US, European states and Israel.
    I don’t know if the Palestinians have done all they can in submitting the necessary documents. This could be a problem for any Prosecutor to make a decision which is politically controversial. The people who have asked you to make a decision need to stand strongly behind their request.
    The Palestinian authority need to be put under pressure by NGOs and the civil society in Palestine in order to force it to continue to develop an engagement with the court. They need to submit the necessary documents and show public support for the ICC.

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    This has just been brought to my attention. I would like to make a quick statement simply to demonstrate that I did not break the Chatham House Rules as alleged. The rules are available here ( http://www.chathamhouse.org.uk/about/chathamhouserule/ ) with a neat section of FAQ’s. If anyone at Chatham House has the time, inclination, or patience to clarify this I would be more than happy for them to do so.

    The core element of the Rules is as follows: “When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.”

    In the Radio Netherland’s interview published November 2010 I certainly identified myself as having participated in the meeting but I did not identify anyone else, whether individuals or organisations. This, I believe, is far from contravening the Rules.

    At any rate, all the information – and here it may be useful to compare with what I said (and didn’t say) in the RN interview – had for almost 4 weeks been a matter of public record by the time of the RN interview’s publication.

    The day following the meeting at The Hague, the Jerusalem Post ran a story on its website (I’m not sure about the print version) which was only possible because one of the participants did blatantly violate the Chatham House Rules. Here’s the JPost.com story from 21 October 2010: http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?ID=192194&R=R1

    I mentioned this violation to the RN journalist during my interview in order to ensure I would not contribute wittingly or unwittingly to further violation, a request the journalist honourably respected.

    And to demonstrate further just how widely available all the information about who the participants were and what they said in the meeting was, the New York Times of 20 October 2010, the day of the meeting itself, ran a story providing all the details. These were provided, as is made clear in the article, once again by one of the participants, and in clear violation of the Chatham House Rules: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/21/world/middleeast/21mideast.html
    Michael.

  37. And the ICC’s own website has information on this “confidential” meeting as well including the names of speakers and links to their statements.

  38. Anne Herzberg’s comments are as inaccurate as her claims about Al-Haq: I have never received a penny from HRW.

  39. In addition, you’ve still not answered those who have taken you to task for making the absurd claim that as a Palestinian organization, one should not expect Al Haq to criticize Palestinians as much as Israelis.

    That has to be one of the most amusing things Herzberg has ever written, which is saying quite a bit.  After all, she herself works for an organization that, by its own admission, exists solely to defend Israel’s actions.  And yet she criticizes a Palestinian human-rights organization for not spending more time (but not no time) criticizing Palestinians for violating Israeli human rights.

    You just can’t make this stuff up!

  40. KJH,

    I do not think your last response to Anne Herzberg satisfactorily addresses my (and David Bernstein’s) question about your comment to the effect that “we would expect” a Palestinian group to focus primarily on allegations of Israeli violations.

    The paradigm in Israel is clearly the opposite: Israeli human rights groups focus almost exclusively on Israel. And so do Palestinian groups. And the UNHRC.

    It seems that the common denominator is going after Israel, which I guess is what we should “expect”. But I don’t think it should be applauded.

  41. Just came back to this thread.  Heller writes: “Neither has in any way rebutted those points, except for their ridiculous argument that condemning rocket attacks as illegal and stating that they trigger Israel’s right to respond militarily does not count as “criticism,” because Al-Haq did not drape their condemnation in moralistic language hand-selected by Bernstein and Herzberg.”

    Bernstein, previously:Marijuana is illegal in the U.S.  If Kevin Heller smokes a joint in my house, it triggers the authority of the Arlington County police to arrest him and of the courts to put him in jail.  There, I said it.  I also think smoking marijuana is not morally blameworthy, yet by Heller’s logic I have just “condemned it.” 

    I reiterate the following challenge to Heller: send a note to Al Haq, asking it to publicly endorse the following sentiment: “We condemn Palestinian rocket attacks on, and suicide bombings of, Israeli civilians.” Shouldn’t be too hard to get a “Human rights group” endorsed by HRW to do so, right?

  42. Only David Bernstein could draw a comparison between marijuana, which is not even close to being universally criminalized (mala prohibita, not mala in se), and rocket attacks on civilians, which are always criminal.  If he had even the slighted shred of intellectual honesty, he would have at least had me commit murder in his house and then say that although the murder was illegal, he approves of it.  Then the ridiculousness of his argument would be (even more) obvious.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. […] Opinio Juris » Blog Archive » Misrepresenting Al-Haq’s Position on Palestinian Rocket Attacks opiniojuris.org/2011/02/21/al-haqs-condemnation-of-palestinian-rocket-attacks/ – view page – cached David Bernstein and NGO Monitor have worked themselves into a lather about Human Rights Watch’s decision to appoint Shawan Jabarin, the head of Al-Haq, a leading Palestinian human-rights group, to its Mideast Advisory Board. In support of their ire, they cite decisions of the Israeli Supreme Court that have concluded that Jabarin is also an official in the Popular Front for the Liberation of… Read moreDavid Bernstein and NGO Monitor have worked themselves into a lather about Human Rights Watch’s decision to appoint Shawan Jabarin, the head of Al-Haq, a leading Palestinian human-rights group, to its Mideast Advisory Board. In support of their ire, they cite decisions of the Israeli Supreme Court that have concluded that Jabarin is also an official in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization. View page […]