Monday, 10 May 2010

Love of the Land: What 'really excites them' is Israel

What 'really excites them' is Israel

Petra Marquardt-Bigman
The Warped Mirror/JPost
09 May '10

In late April, The New Republic (TNR) published a widely-quoted report that investigated accusations of blatant anti-Israel bias in the work of Human Rights Watch (HRW). A month earlier, The Sunday Times featured a similar article, to which HRW apparently responded by demanding a number of clarifications and corrections that in turn were challenged in the comment section by a researcher from NGO Monitor.

In terms of their substance, both reports contain too many interesting findings to summarize adequately here. However, one point that can perhaps serve to illustrate the overall picture that emerges from them is the fact that both reports include statements that openly acknowledge HRW's bias against Israel. The TNR article quotes a board member of HRW admitting: "I think we tend to go where there's action and where we're going to get reaction [...] We seek the limelight - that's part of what we do. And so, Israel's sort of like low-hanging fruit."

The Sunday Times article quotes an anonymous human rights expert working for an organization in Washington, who argues that one consideration in deciding what issues to focus on is "how it's going to be used politically in Washington"; according to this person, there is also the question of whom HRW considers as "a bad guy that they are interested in highlighting", and finally, he offers the observation: "Let's face it, the thing that really excites them is Israel."

Both quotes point to the enormous role publicity plays for HRW - in other words, HRW relies on the media to amplify its message, and the organization knows all too well what sells in the media. In this context, it is fascinating to read a recently published paper entitled "A media eclipse: Israel-Palestine and the world's forgotten conflicts".

The author, Noah Bernstein, can certainly not be accused of showing any bias in favor of Israel; instead, it is clear that he is motivated by a passionate and idealistic concern for human rights. His well-researched article starts out by starkly contrasting the media coverage of two simultaneous conflicts:

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Love of the Land: What 'really excites them' is Israel

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