February 6: Error-free?

Fred Abrahams's claim that Human Rights Watch's critics have not "yet stepped forward and said HRW got the facts wrong" is plainly false.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Error-free? Sir, - Fred Abrahams's claim that Human Rights Watch's critics have not "yet stepped forward and said HRW got the facts wrong" is plainly false ("The man who bugs Israel and Hamas by unraveling their claims, February 2"). NGO Monitor has documented numerous examples where HRW "investigations," which often rely on unverified eye witness testimony or unnamed sources, get it wrong. During the 2006 Lebanon War, HRW promoted the myth of the Kana massacre by publishing a death toll of 54, based on the testimony of an alleged "survivor." HRW was eventually forced to accept the Red Cross's figure of 28 fatalities. HRW's major report on the conflict, "Fatal Strikes" (August 2006), claimed the NGO "found no cases in which Hizbullah deliberately used civilians" - i.e., operated from civilian areas. Yet the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies in Israel published a detailed report which described the extensive Hizbullah activity in many of the specific villages where HRW sources claimed it was absent. Indeed, nine out of 21 cases described in "Fatal Strikes" were contradicted by later HRW reports - a remarkable inaccuracy rate of 43% - even before extrinsic checks are made on the evidence. There are many further examples. In the meantime, it would be interesting to hear how Abrahams will avoid repeating past mistakes in his current investigation in Gaza. SARAH MANDEL NGO Monitor Jerusalem Weird Jews Sir, - Here in Britain, many Jews are, like me, annoyed and embarrassed by the financially powerful, biased "Jews for Justice for Palestinians" organization. While I expect non-Jews in Britain to be anti-Israel because of our prejudiced media coverage, I am appalled at these anti-Israel Jews. I fought in the 1939-45 war. By 1943, we were plastering German towns with thousands of tons of high explosives. I find myself wondering: Would these weird Jews have formed a "Jews for Justice for the Nazis" organization? After all, Palestinian hatred of the Jews is every bit as fervent as the Nazis'. DAVID LEE London True foe Sir, - When the Gazans realize that their worst enemies are not the Israelis but groups like Hamas; when they realize that it's the tolerating of these people that has wrought destruction on their homes; when they see that the best thing they can do to help Gaza is turn these madmen over, revealing their hideouts, then we can have lasting peace in Gaza. NATASHA EADIE Sydney Empty vow Sir, -Tzipi Livni still doesn't get it. As reported in "Livni vows to change 'unstable' electoral system" (February 4), all the advantages of her reform will go to the larger ruling parties in the Knesset. Nothing at all is said,, however, about a representational electoral system by which MKs will be responsible to the individual voters of Israel. Only one party is making a representational electoral system its first priority: Hayisraelim (The Israelis). CAROL CLAPSADDLE Jerusalem