After the 2008-2009 war in Gaza, Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued reports documenting Israeli “war crimes.” Amnesty’s was titled “22 Days of Death and Destruction.” Human Rights Watch issued three under the titles: “Rain of Fire: Israel’s Unlawful Use of White Phosphorus in Gaza,” “Precisely Wrong: Gaza Civilians Killed by Israeli Drone Launched Missiles,” and “White Flag Deaths: Killing of Palestinian Civilians during Operation Cast Lead.”
A fascinating new study by Asher Fredman, “Precision-Guided or Indiscriminate?,” issued by NGO Monitor and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, takes a close look at the claims of these studies, which along with the Goldstone Report, have done so much to tarnish Israel’s image around the world. Fredman finds severe problems with their use of evidence and the application of the laws of armed conflict to the evidence they have amassed. He recommends that Amnesty and Human Rights Watch “should carefully evaluate their areas of competency” and “take steps to ensure that ideological predispositions do not color their analyses.”
For anyone familiar with the track record of these organizations in analyzing Israeli conduct, Fredman’s language is supremely understated, if not whistling in the dark. But it makes the power of Fredman’s own analysis all the more devastating. One comes away from his pages seeing that these high prestige organizations are sloppy and tendentious in their use of evidence, ignorant and tendentious in their interpretations of the laws of armed conflict, and driven by a clear agenda of painting Israel in the worst possible light. None of this comes as a surprise. But it is satisfying to see the goods on such vivid display.