Lerman in la-la land

There’s none so fervent as the proselyte. Antony Lerman has turned full circle and is now a fervent and embittered enemy of Israel and mainstream Judaism who says that there are some Jews who welcome antisemitism. On Tuesday his CiF article discussed the recent criticism of the NGO ‘Human Rights Watch’. But instead of offering an analysis of the criticism, Lerman simply used it as a hook for despicable, libellous and completely unsubstantiated allegations about Jews. Let’s call a spade a spade – when viewed against the backdrop of his recent writings, that’s antisemitic and he is a nasty antisemite.
Look at some of the allegations in the article, none of which Lerman substantiates:

  • that those who “outed” Marc Garlasco of Human Rights Watch said he is an antisemite;
  • that those who speak out against antisemitism (such as we who started CiF Watch) hold “the international human rights movement” responsible for it;
  • that Israel is the “neighbourhood bully”;
  • that Richard Goldstone – the legal academic who has led the UN Inquiry into the events in January in Gaza –  has been labelled a ‘traitorous Jew’ by some Jews.

And Lerman has the brazen audacity to rope in René Cassin – a Jew who was one of the prime drafters of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights – in support of these libellous smears.
So bad is the article that the Guardian was forced to correct two factual errors in it (see the italicised text at the bottom of the article). NGO Monitor posted as follows and forced a retraction:

15 Sep 09, 1:53pm
Antony, please note that our organization is called NGO Monitor, not NGO Watch.
As for your allegations that Prof Steinberg is an advisor to the Lieberman led Israel Foreign Ministry this is simply not the case. Several years ago, Prof Steinberg was consulted by the ministry on matters totally unconnected to NGOs. This has no relevance to NGO Monitors role as a research organization. We demand an immediate correction of both these points.

Amusingly, one of the anti-Israel posters observed that Lerman was in fact “conflating [NGO Monitor] with the equally risible CIFWatch”!  Whether that’s the case or not is neither here nor there but its simply astounding that both Lerman and the Guardian editors made such a blunder and that the Guardian published such mendacious statements about NGO Monitor and the estimable Professor Steinberg. But then again this is the Guardian and we know that the commissioning editor, Brian Whitaker, will not stand for a bad word about Human Rights Watch and has a track record of getting things wrong.
In any case, it goes without saying that Lerman completely ignores the very real concerns about the impartiality of some NGOs when it comes to Israel, as related by NGO Monitor about Garlasco

Most disturbingly, Garlasco’s screen moniker is Flak88. The number 88 is a code for “Heil Hitler” and is used by neo-Nazis to identify themselves.  The same screen name, Flak 88, was adopted by a poster at the white power website, stormfront.org.  An expert in Nazism such as Garlasco would surely have been fully aware of this symbolism when he chose this name. He even uses it on his licence plate (a practice which is banned in Germany) and as a screen name on websites unrelated to his Nazi collection.

Not only does Garlasco collect Nazi memorabilia, he also claims to love to wear Nazi leather jackets, wore a shirt with the Iron Cross (nearly 5 million Iron Cross medals were awarded by the Nazis in World War Two and the symbol was so tainted that postwar Germany shunned it until 2007), wrote a 430-page book about Nazi symbols and regularly attends conventions and on line blogs with other “enthusiasts” on the same subject.
(Note that contrary to Lerman’s allegation, NGO Monitor does not call Garlasco an antisemite!)
And turning to the UN enquiry into Gaza, although Judge Goldstone’s (the Chair of the enquiry) probity is unquestioned, there is undeniable evidence that Professor Christine Chinkin, a member of the enquiry, had made up her mind that Israel was in the wrong well before she accepted the post. Lerman criticises Israel for not co-operating with the enquiry. Would he stand trial before a blatantly based jury then? Quite apart from the Chinkin issue, the reasons why Israel did not cooperate with the enquiry are spelled out in the Israel UN Ambassador’s letter near the end of the 575 page UN Report.

The legal basis of the mission is HRC Resolution 5-9/1. This resolution, beyond its inflammatory and prejudicial language, clearly provides that the mandate of the Mission is limited to investigating ”violations” by “the occupying Power, Israel, against the Palestinian People.”

Goldstone did extend the mandate of the enquiry to include Hamas’ violations of human rights. But all the history of the UN Human Rights Committee (remember Ahmadinejad’s tirade in Geneva at Durban 2) and its membership suggests that Israel was right not to cooperate – there was no hope of a fair hearing or assessment.
But Lerman doesn’t go into any of this. All he wants is a stick with which to beat mainstream Jews. No wonder he cannot find anyone – apart from the Comment is Free editors, who adore antisemitic Jews in the way that Victorian sideshow owners adored freaks or Henry VIII adored bears – to publish his bile.
And the sideshow doesn’t end there.
Two comments by Petra Marquart-Bigman were deleted from the thread by the CiF Moderators. One is reproduced below. Does anyone have the vaguest idea why it should have been deleted – apart of course from the fact that it rips Lerman to shreds?

Censored comment (reproduced in full)
15 Sep 09, 11:26am
You couldnt make it up: Antony Lerman decries the ‘pollution of public discourse, but from the very start, he describes any criticism against HRW and similar organizations as “despicable attacks” that are not more than “lies”, and then he proceeds to denounce anyone who dares to argue that the reports of human rights agencies are biased against Israel as attack dogs.
Well done, Mr. Lerman.

Too much here to object to – which, I guess, makes me an “attack dog”, right, Mr. Lerman? – but anyway, Ill have to live with this, so here are just a few points:
You refer to René Cassin, one of the prime drafters of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and you make the important point:
Cassin was deeply influenced by the Holocaust, and the universal declaration was drawn up in direct response to it.
So how would you explain then that according to recent news reports, UNRWA is adamant that Gaza schools need to teach human rights, but that UNRWA thought they first should politely ask if perhaps the Holocaust should also be taught — and that this was met with a furious response from Gaza’s rulers and educators? And many of these educators are likely to be the product of an UNRWA education… You see, that’s where the whole bias and double standards already begin.
And, apropos double standards: aside from Garlasco’s creepy hobby – which must have taken up quite a bit of his time, since he published a 400plus page book on Nazi awards (just on Nazi awards, nothing about American awards there, btw…), and left altogether more than 8000 messages on Internet forums where like-minded collectors engage in sometimes rather dodgy exchanges – anyway, aside from all this, it’s rather interesting to check out an interview Garlasco gave not so long ago to CBS:
At the Pentagon, Garlasco was chief of high value targeting at the start of the Iraq war. He told 60 Minutes how many civilians he was allowed to kill around each high-value target — targets like Saddam Hussein and his leadership. ‘Our number was 30. So, for example, Saddam Hussein. If youre gonna kill up to 29 people in a strike against Saddam Hussein, thats not a problem, Garlasco explains. ‘But once you hit that number 30, we actually had to go to either President Bush, or Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. Garlasco says, before the invasion of Iraq, he recommended 50 air strikes aimed at high-value targets — Iraqi officials.
But he says none of the targets on the list were actually killed. Instead, he says, ‘a couple of hundred civilians at least were killed.
That’s interesting because in his pronouncements about Israel, Garlasco seems to think that civilian casualties are always an indication that war crimes have been committed. And there’s more in the interview that highlights the fact that HRW staff has a rather nuanced view when it comes to the conduct of armies other than the IDF – here’s Garlasco again:
‘I dont think people really appreciate the gymnastics that the U.S. military goes through in order to make sure that theyre not killing civilians, Garlasco points out. ‘If so much care is being taken why are so many civilians getting killed? Pelley asks. ‘Because the Taliban are violating international law, says Garlasco, ‘and because the U.S. just doesnt have enough troops on the ground. You have the Taliban shielding in peoples homes. And you have this small number of troops on the ground. And sometimes the only thing they can do is drop bombs.
I think that if this kind of attitude was reflected in the reports on Israel by HRW and similar groups, then we would have a much less “polluted” debate…

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