Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Who is Watching the Human Rights Watchers?

Omri Ceren at Mere Rhetoric is. It seems as though Human Rights Watch, an organization that makes it their business to scold Israel's Defense Forces have been relying on the judgement of someone who appears to have some very dark ulterior motives. NGOs like Human Rights Watch make a very rich living out of clucking in disapproval from self-appointed perches. They trade upon the widely held perception that they are "impartial and non-political". So what are they going to do now that it is coming to light that a very prominent staff member has a major-league fascination and a personal identification with the erstwhile Nazi war machine.

Ceren, using only public material, easily available through Google searches, has turned over a rock and found a very slimy side of the self-promoting, widely quoted, media trollop Marc Garlasco. Garlasco has worked on many projects in which he has presumed to call Israelis to task for the ways in which they defend themselves from the new genocidal threat and has appeared as a military expert on many of the anti-zionist media (CNN, ABC, BBC, etc..) networks.

All the while he has, rather openly, been a well known nazi-phile and collector of Nazi paraphernalia. Of course, he has been careful not to publish anything that identifies him with Nazi ideology per-se. He fawns and giggles in his posts on Nazi memorabilia web sites about historical value, elegance, design and manufacturing expertise but I, for one, don't buy it. Even if some one who collected child pornography covered the obsession with self-serving obfuscation about the "beauty of the human form" and "the ancient heritage of love between mature adults and pubescent children" does it make the obsession less dark and abusive? I think not.

Garlasco uses the moniker Flak 88 on his favorite Nazi memorabilia website and as a vanity plate on his (German made) car.

Flak 88 (pictured at the top of this post, above), for those of you who do not know the literature of World War II was the designation of a German artillery piece that was dreaded by allied soldiers on the battlefield and aircrews in their warplanes. The story he tells is that his grandfather was on a Flak88 crew during the war and that his choice of hobby and nickname is a result of this personal history. That would all bel very well for someone who makes his living judging cabbages in a sauerkraut factory but this person is actively engaged in limiting the ability of Jews to protect themselves from an incipient new holocaust while he is still venerating (at the very least) the symbolism of the last one. The icing on the cake to me is that online moniker and the license plate on the car. What would we feel if sixty years from now, Mohamed Atta's nephew was found driving around lower Manhattan with the license plate "Boeing 767"? Would he be considered impartial and non-political?

What is going on at Human Rights Watch? Who is watching the human rights watchers?


lgude said...

The car by the way is a Mini which is owned by BMW but is British in origin and image. Someone obsessed with things German would more likely pick a VW or Audi. It is a bit like seeing a Saab as American because GM bought them. I'm inclined to see his anti Israel writings are more part of the modern leftist group think than as neo Nazism. His fascination seems to stem from a his grandfather's involvement with the antiaircraft version of the 88 and an interest in memorabilia. I think the deeper problem is that NGOs get a pass for being neutral when they are typically activists with a cause. I think they have occupied the niche formerly held by missionaries - who no one sees as neutral today. For someone born in 1970 their fascination with German technology and memorabilia might be quite separate from their anti Israel writing...or not. I keep thinking of the recent film Good which shows with telling irony how well meaning people in the thirties got caught up in Nazism.

Anonymous said...

The 88 comes from the words Heil Hitler (H being the 8th letter of the alphabet) and is a common theme in white supremacist tattoos in US prison systems.

Anonymous said...

this is really quite unbelievable. not that he is a scum-bag, and not that there is any question what his motivation is. duh. you'd have to be a moron to think that a guy with a nazi flak license plate with a former wehrmacht grandfather who collects nazi memorabilia is 'impartial' and somehow decided out of the blue that israel's 'war crimes' is his interest (as opposed to the hundreds of other conflicts going on in the world). the real unbelievable thing is that this was not exposed by israeli intelligence in 2006 when he was going around doing his defamation. this is basically a massive intelligence failure. all of these people should be investigated and completely discredited when they deserve to be so, not by some blogger 3 years after the damage is already done.

General P. Malaise said...

saddly this is not new. there are such sabators in every NGO. they do not enter these posts if they did not have agendas.

good work bring this to light. kkep up the good work Yaacov.



Yaacov Ben Moshe said...

There are all kinds of ironies here- As lgude points out the mini was originally a British marque, one with a lasting appeal. But BMW has made it very German, indeed. a kind of metaphor that I think is rather an attraction for this type of ghoul...
Also, as Anon2 points out this is an intelligence failure in every possible sense of the expression.
The flak 88 was an anti-aircraft gun and here is this ding-bat fyling along "under the radar" for all these years.

GM Roper said...

Anonymous, your tale is merely myth. The 88 was so named because it was an 88 mm cannon, originally an anti-tank gun called (by most Germans a KwK (that stands for Kampfwagenkanone) Or fighting vehicle cannon.

It was one of the most feared weapons in the German arsenal and its use as an AA cannon or Flack gun was equally deadly.

This yo-yo's using it as a license plate is just sickening. Imagine as Yaacov notes Atta's grand son with a 747 license plate. Just disgusting.

Excellent post my friend.

HRW Press Office said...

Several blogs and others critical of Human Rights Watch have suggested that Marc Garlasco, Human Rights Watch’s longtime senior military advisor, is a Nazi sympathizer because he collects German (as well as American) military memorabilia. This accusation is demonstrably false and fits into a campaign to deflect attention from Human Rights Watch’s rigorous and detailed reporting on violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by the Israeli government. Garlasco has co-authored several of our reports on violations of the laws of war, including in Afghanistan, Georgia, and Iraq, as well as by Israel, Hamas, and Hezbollah.

Garlasco has never held or expressed Nazi or anti-Semitic views.

Garlasco’s grandfather was conscripted into the German armed forces during the Second World War, like virtually all young German men at the time, and served as a radar operator on an anti-aircraft battery. He never joined the Nazi Party, and later became a dedicated pacifist. Meanwhile, Garlasco’s great-uncle was an American B-17 crewman, who survived many attacks by German anti-aircraft gunners.

Garlasco own family’s experience on both sides of the Second World War has led him to collect military items related to both sides, including American 8th Air Force memorabilia and German Air Force medals and other objects (not from the Nazi Party or the SS, as falsely alleged). Many military historians, and others with an academic interest in the Second World War, including former and active-duty US service members, collect memorabilia from that era.

Garlasco is the author of a monograph on the history of German Air Force and Army anti-aircraft medals and a contributor to websites that promote serious historical research into the Second World War (and which forbid hate speech). In the foreword he writes of telling his daughters that “the war was horrible and cruel, that Germany lost and for that we should be thankful.”

To imply that Garlasco’s collection is evidence of Nazi sympathies is not only absurd but an attempt to deflect attention from his deeply felt efforts to uphold the laws of war and minimize civilian suffering in wartime. These falsehoods are an affront to Garlasco and thousands of other serious military historians.

Yaacov Ben Moshe said...

HRW Press office should be aware that form letters containing platitudes and bland denials do not work when real issues are on the table. The historical value of the flak 88 batteries medals is about as important as the historical value of recording the color of the manure of the Carthaginians' war elephants as they changed altitudes in crossing the Alps. The detailed immersion in the stylization and lurid imagery of the Nazi medals betrays a mania that is simply not explainable as a normal hobby- especially given the ideology and ethos they represent. These are not treasures nor are they of any historical value they are lustrous totems of an inhumane totalitarian regime that should be, rightly forgotten and dishonored rather than worshipped.

I have observed in at least two cases where Mr Garlasco responded to postings about items in other collections that he would "kill for that!". Is he entirely mindless that others already killed and died for it? Or is this something else?

I have not implied anything. I have simply stated that given the evidence that he has shown the world willingly, he is not to be considered a judge who can sit and pronounce on any situation, let alone on anything to do with the Jewish people or our legitimate homeland.

The evidence that he (and many other HRW operatives) are biased against Israel and Jews has been presented much better elsewhere http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/experts_or_ideologues_systematic_analysis_of_human_rights_watch than I ever could. But I know what I have seen and it is my opinion that his fetish with Nazi subjects, his personal assumption of a nickname and a publicly displayed license plate on his personal car speak to either a deeply disturbed sense of morality or a frank admiration and emulation of some of the worst human beings ever to have walked the earth.

Either way, I object to his (and HRW's) pose of olympian impartiality and his (and your) active work to discredit Israel.

Anonymous said...

another HRW flunky wrote how happy he was when the jews were murdered at the munich games. of course anti semites to to anti israel org.


and then there is the 88 which is a well known neo nazi and skin head logo. what are we to believe our own eyes or the press flack from a known anti semitic org.

Anonymous said...

Many Allied WWII veterans brought home Nazi items for their collections. Does this make them "Nazi lovers"? I would dare any one of you who criticize the historical collecting of WWII German items to call a proud US veteran this to their face. Trying to get into the mindset of someone who collects WWII historical items is idiotic and prejudiced as you are "pre-judging" his or her motivations. I proudly collect "nazi" items as well as items from other WWII nations. Would it shock you if I told you that I voted for Obama and support greater rights for gays & lesbians?? I also support Israel's right to exist in peace.
This is all true and at the same time I can collect and appreciate WWII "nazi" items. Trying to limit the free expressions of ideas is "nazism" in its own right.

Yaacov Ben Moshe said...

I want to leave no doubt that I revere the sacrifice of the WWII veterans. I see no problem with any of them who may have trophy collections. They have earned the right and my respect. I hope I have made this clear.

You are certainly free to think whatever you want and to collect whatever you want. I hold nothing against you. Mr Flak88, however, I have an issue with.

The mere fact that he has taken such a moniker and proudly displays it on his car as he drives around the streets, shows that he has an unwholesome identification with and a passive aggressive involvement in a bloody and intolerant creed.

Ask any allied veteran of WWII what kind of feelings they have about the Flak88 gun. It murdered thousands pulverized them at long distance. Think about the effect that license plate has on anyone who knows about it first hand. I have used the comparison to a relative of Mohamed Atta driving around lower Manhattan with a license plate that says "Boeing 767" which is the model airplane that Atta used to kill thousands.

It is not the hobby to which I object but the combination of it with that attitude and those two things added to the fact that he has proven to be one of the most easily debunked- that is to say incompetent and biased critics of Israel in practice today. Put the three things together and they make a persuasive case that he is not an honest player and that the organization that employs him is either too dumb to care or glad to have him because of it.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Moshe,
I think you have missed my point that I tried to make that one can collect "nazi" items and still be a "good" person with no hate in his or her heart. I once owned an 88 flak badge and it was one of the most finely crafted military medals ever made. I, and others, can appreciate the workmanship and history of the medal and still recognize and respect that many Allied airmen lost their lives to these cannons over Europe and Africa. I also plan on working for the federal government soon and I can only imagine that like minded people as yourself might object to my employment because of my appreciation of WWII items. Instead of judging what might be in my heart, some might just see my nazi uniforms, medals, helmets, etc. and think I am somehow evil and shouldn't be working for the federal government. Others have attacked the WAF (military forum) that Marc is a part of. Well, I am a member there too and 99% of the members are good decent people who enjoy collecting mainly WWII German items but also Japanese, American, British, etc. By trying to link his membership to the WAF, and his passion for collecting, one does a disservice to those who ligitimately enjoy military history. Yes, the license plate is tacky, but each to himself. Your third point is that he has written reports that criticize Israel's actions against the Palestians. Well, as I stated before, I support Israel's right to exist in peace but would be critical of human rights abuses if they occurred. The same is true of criticisms I have had of our US military forces. So, one could do an article that trashes me in the same way because I passionately collect nazi items and have been critical of Israel on occasion. I also have a German surname so that would probably look even worse. All I would need is a tacky license plate to fit the bill. And the ironic thing is that I love people regardless of race, religion, sexual orienation, etc. as long as you are a good person.

Yaacov Ben Moshe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yaacov Ben Moshe said...

I have not missed your point at all.

I simply do not think you or your feelings or your actions have anything to do with Mr Garlasco. Its a funny thing about the internet that anonymous people make such oddly revealing and bizarre arguments in places where they have so little to gain and so much to loose. I don’t know why you inject yourself into this. But since you do, maybe you would like to explain why you don’t collect baseball cards, or antiques or shrunken heads. What, exactly, do you find so compelling about Nazi paraphernalia that you spend time energy and money on it? Is it a personal identification with the Nazi’s? Have you taken on a screen name like “WoodSS”, “TurboPanzer”, or “Flak88” that gives you a personal connection with the fascist army of the Second World War? Would you drive a car around town with a “flak88” license plate? Would you go out in public wearing an Iron Cross sweatshirt http://www.solomonia.com/blog/archive/2009/09/human-rights-watch-responds-to-garlasco/ ?

Do you get psycho-sexual tingle out of garments that represent nothing but raw evil as Marc Garlasco apparently did when he posted the following about an SS garment:

“That is so cool! The leather SS jacket makes my blood go cold it is so COOL!


If you answered any of these questions with a yes, then I think you owe it to yourself to look at yourself a bit more deeply. Are you aware that these things mystify or distress most people out side of the insular and self congratulatory little world of those pathetic forums where you guys share pictures of your collections? Haven’t you ever told anyone about your fetish and gotten a “funny look”. And why do you feel compelled to justify your “edgy” acquisitions by bland and empty phrases like, “it was one of the most finely crafted military medals ever made.”?


Yaacov Ben Moshe said...

If craftsmanship was the great draw for you, why not collect handmade Swiss watches or wooden decoys. No, there is a reason you are drawn to this stuff and though I don’t know what it is, it does not draw me to you. To the exact extent that you identify with this underworld of Nazi dilettantism, it makes me suspect your judgment and claims of good will.

It is easy enough for you to say that it does not disqualify you as “a "good" person with no hate in his or her heart” but even if that were the question, no one is THAT good that they have NO hate in their heart. Healthy people try to recognize their feelings and deal with them constructively. Frankly , it sounds to me as though you are in denial.

You write “Instead of judging what might be in my heart, some might just see my nazi uniforms, medals, helmets, etc. and think I am somehow evil.” Can’t you see that it is a little odd that you ask the world to ignore your ugly little hobby, which is the only substantive thing we know about you, and make the leap of looking into your “heart”? But you do not want really want us to look into your heart, you just want us to take your word for what is (or is not) there. You may say there is no hate in your heart but why do you fondle symbols of one of history’s most hateful regimes with such reverence?

I am not accusing you of being a hateful or evil person, merely one with little self-awareness. You may, for all I know, be dangerous only to yourself. Your forum mate is another matter. Garlasco has proven himself dangerous to me, my fellow Jews, to our homeland and, in the end, to America and Western Civilization.

You admit that, “Yes, the license plate is tacky, but each to himself.” No, actually, each is only to themselves when hidden behind the veil of screen names and cloistered in the dank margins of the internet. In real life, one needs to understand that what they do might be offensive or disturbing to others. The fetishes one indulges in DO say something about one’s character and motives. Your simple statement that your heart holds no hate and Mr. Garlasco’s claim to be impartial and objective toward Israel are indefensible.

A friend of mine, a well-known and very smart psychiatrist has suggested the example of Pete Townsend.

He wrote:
"A few years ago Pete Townsend of The Who was arrested for child pornography. He made a convincing case that his interest was not prurient but was part of his research into the phenomenon of child abuse and stemmed from his own abuse history. Granting that his interest was not prurient, it was clear that his interest had very deep meaning and significance to him. I would not want to be too specific but the unconscious aspects of his fascination with child porn, even as it consciously horrified him, would require years to work through in a good therapy.
In sum, anonymous is either being disingenuous or lying to himself."

I agree with my friend on almost all of this. To me the question of the prurient interest is irrelevant. The harmful results of fetishizing children sexually are the same whether the interest is prurient or just a “very deep meaning and significance”.

I do, though, agree with him that you are either lying to us or to your self so I will make this simple for you.

Get help if you are lying to yourself- you need it.

Get lost if you are lying to us- we don’t need it.