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(photo credit: AP [file])
A human rights group's senior military analyst has been suspended after a pro-Israel blog reported that he collects Nazi memorabilia, an official said Tuesday.
Marc Garlasco is being suspended by Human Rights Watch "pending an investigation," said Carroll Bogert, associate director of the New York-based organization. The suspension was first reported Monday by The New York Times.
"We do know he collects German and American World War II memorabilia, but we have questions as to whether we've learned everything we need to know," Bogert said.
Garlasco's collection was revealed last week on Mere Rhetoric, a pro-Israel blog. A blog posting said his hobby reflected an anti-Israel bias and showed he was "obsessed with the color and pageantry of Nazism."
Human Rights Watch has no evidence that Garlasco's hobby affected his analysis, and he "has never expressed any anti-Semitic or neo-Nazi statements," Bogert said.
Human Rights Watch has released reports suggesting that Israel committed war crimes during its three-week military offensive against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip last winter. Garlasco, a weapons expert for the group, has contributed to some of these reports.
Israel has accused Human Rights Watch of paying a disproportionate amount of attention to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while playing down rights violations in Arab countries.
In an essay Friday on the liberal political Web site The Huffington Post, Garlasco described himself as a "military geek" whose hobby stemmed from his family history. He noted that his German grandfather was conscripted into the Nazi army.
"I've never hidden my hobby, because there's nothing shameful in it, however weird it might seem to those who aren't fascinated by military history," he wrote. "Precisely because it's so obvious that the Nazis were evil, I never realized that other people, including friends and colleagues, might wonder why I care about these things."
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