September 4, 2006
From Maurice Ostroff
Dear Rosa Brooks
I hope you will not react to my comments
on your article "Criticize Israel? You're an Anti-Semite", with "Criticize Rosa? You're anti-Brooks". (LA Times September
It is an exaggeration to claim that criticizing Israeli policies automatically results in accusations of rabid
anti-Semitism. Nevertheless, there have been occasions where accusations against Israel have been so blatantly prejudiced,
that suspicions of anti-Semitism offer a reasonable explanation.
It would be interesting to compare the almost hysterical
reaction to any suggestion of anti-Semitism, with the common apologetic reaction not only to cries of ant-Islamism, but threats
of violence, whenever statements are made about say, the undeniable predominance of Muslims among perpetrators of terror.
The timidity of the media in dealing with Muslim sensitivities is an interesting phenomenon. For example "The Phoenix",
a Boston newspaper admitted its reason for not publishing the Infamous fake Danish cartoons was fear of being terrorized,
adding "..this may be the darkest moment in our 40-year publishing history".
Mr. Roth's glossing over convincing evidence
that Hezbollah consistently used civilians as shields reflects badly on his impartiality. Accompanied by convincing photographs,
Chris Tinkler, of the Australian Sunday Mail, wrote that the extremists use residential areas to launch rockets. Dressed in
civilian clothing they quickly melt back into suburbia with automatic assault rifles and ride on trucks laden with cannons.
Consequently, statements about absence of Hezbollah fighters and civilian casualties must be treated as assumptions, not facts.
Roth's assertion that HRW found no Hezbollah soldiers or arms anywhere in sight of a very large number of the civilians
killed by Israeli bombs proves nothing. According to the Global Security Organization, mobile rocket launchers move out from
underground facilities, fire from pre planned firing positions, and return in a few minutes to protected caves or to alternate
firing positions. Surely it is unforgivable for a serious organization to ignore evidence of this nature
bias shows in your quotation of his statement that Hezbollah strikes on civilian areas within Israel are violations of international
humanitarian law and probable war crimes. Why "probable"? Is he unsure of the fact that deliberate firing on civilian populations
is a war crime? You also wrote that Roth observed that the failure by Israel to take appropriate measures to distinguish between
civilians and combatants constitutes a war crime, not a probable war crime.
His singling out of Israel is incomprehensible
in the glaring knowledge that Hezbollah made no effort to hide their deliberate aiming, from civilian areas at densely populated
civilian areas, with the intention of killing and maiming as many as possible.
4,228 rockets fired by Hizbollah, landed
in Israel. The warheads contained steel balls that spread over a wide area killing or maiming anyone in range. It was only
by good luck or divine providence that each rocket did not kill at least one person
A more realistic understanding
of appropriate measures to avoid hurting civilians would have been achieved if HRW investigators had interviewed and even
participated in planning sessions with a number of Israeli pilots and an equal number of Hezbollah missile launchers. Evaluating
the factors each of the parties considers in selecting targets, would leave no doubt about who would be judged guilty of deliberate
There appears to be one advantage to raising the ant-Semitism accusation. It provokes an immediate voluble
response. While I have read several heated responses by Mr. Roth to suggestions he is motivated by anti-Semitism, I have seen
none in which he addresses the basic causes of dissatisfaction with his reports.
I wrote an open letter to Mr. Roth
on August 20, dealing only with the substance of an article he had written. Evidently, as I did not accuse him of anti-Semitism,
he was unable to reply crying foul. My legitimate unemotional queries about his methodology are evidently more difficult to
deal with and my letter remains unanswered. (Click here for my letter to Mr.Roth
, including the photographs).
May I hope that you will not avoid the substance and explain why you believe Mr. Roth
is justified in ignoring evidence that contradicts some of his conclusions.