Human Rights Watch: can’t they help it?

Hamas supporters burn Israeli flags; photo credit: Sydney Morning Herald

It’s a peculiar thing I’ve noticed about people who are in the habit of deceiving others: they themselves are often much more easily deceived. I encountered an extreme case of this while working for a private security company some years back.

There is a surprising amount of wiggle room regarding truthful reporting in the private security field, one reason being that night patrols are not necessarily intended to protect anyone or anything. They often (though not always) exist merely in order to qualify for insurance coverage. If XYZ Semiconductor Co can show ACME Insurance Co that they have a regular nighttime security patrol checking for potential fire situations, then XYZ Semiconductor can get fire protection from ACME Insurance. The problem is, sometimes all ACME requires from XYZ is a daily report written by some poor guy in a uniform stating that he did indeed perform his required rounds. If the guy writes the report, it doesn’t matter if he did what he says he did, or not. This isn’t always the case, nor even is it the norm, but I have encountered it.

So about that time I had a supervisor (I’ll call him “Don”) who was really bad. He seemed to be completely incapable of telling the truth – about pretty much anything. I mean, if he had coffee on his break, he’d be compelled to say he had tea. Let’s just say he and I didn’t hit it off very well. I didn’t really like the job, anyway, but I had this penchant for honesty, so I made sure I always told the truth, especially around him. Now – stay with me on this – Don’s problem was so ingrained that he could not for the life of him imagine that others were not like him. He expected everyone around him to be liars, so he didn’t know quite what to do with an honest person. Well, he thought he knew what to do. In his mind, the person couldn’t possibly be honest, so he had to figure what the real truth was behind whatever they said. Like if I had coffee on my break, and said so, he’d go nuts trying to find out what I’d really had. I had a lot of fun with that, poor fellow. I wasn’t being nice – just honest. And I didn’t keep the job.

All this came back to mind while reading NGO Monitor’s counter-analysis of a Human Rights Watch report from June 30th, determining (to HRW’s satisfaction, anyway) that Gaza civilians had been killed during Operation Cast Lead by missiles launched from IDF drone aircraft. The problem is, the entire report is based on speculation and unverified testimony from those who were the least motivated to be truthful. Oh, give me a break! I’d love to give line by line details here, but I’d just be duplicating NGO Monitor’s excellent job: read it here. Or, if you think NGO Monitor is not fairly portraying the HRW report, you can get it here. I looked at it, and I could hardly believe my eyes.

Now, I do want to think that HRW really has a wicked agenda to destroy Israel with propaganda and whatever outright lies they can come up with, and that’s probably true, but I have to wonder if maybe they really did believe what they were told by untruthful “witnesses” (who, of course, were not necessarily there), being themselves fundamentally dishonest and ready to believe in another deception. Poor fellows. But this is too serious to have fun with.



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