April 3, 2024

Sheri Oz responds to Danielle Haas on the false balance of Israel and Hamas

To the Editors:

I was engrossed by Danielle Haas’s article, “The Human-Rights Establishment,” and her fascinating description of her experiences with Human Rights Watch and other so-called human-rights organizations.

However, one sentence was jarring for me, disturbing the flow of the article, and I am curious about why she felt it necessary to write it:

“Focusing on the warped thinking and practice, never mind the deafening silence of many NGOs on Hamas’s wanton savagery of October 7, does not abnegate Palestinian suffering or Israeli abuses.”

Coupling “Palestinian suffering” with “Israeli abuses” has become a cliché.

My first thought when I read this sentence was: Show me what you mean. Because we could just as easily write about Palestinian suffering at the hands of their own leadership — so exactly what suffering and what abuses is Haas referring to? (Of course, going into this would involve a serious deviation from the point of her article.)

My second thought was: All those predisposed to see Israel as responsible for her own victimhood on October 7 will find solace in this statement. Many think that Israeli abuses are to blame for the wanton torture, slaughter, and abductions committed that day — that we got what we deserve.

It is as if one is writing about Nigerian Muslim abductions, rape, and marriage of Nigerian Christian girls and feels compelled to add something negative about the nation’s Christian population. As if the latter explains the former, at least in part. With the Jewish nation, the very presence of a sentence pointing to Israeli abuses is commonplace, as if the crimes of her enemies cannot stand on their own and must be explained away.

Is the inclusion of this sentence not an example of succumbing to the very same malady affecting the NGOs about which Haas writes in this article? In a little way, I mean. Or perhaps it is just because we do not have as much confidence in ourselves as we should have?

Sheri Oz

Haifa, Israel