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Human-Rights Establishment's lack of moral clarity

 

"...has wider philosophical implications, not only for reports by human rights groups, but also for journalists."


Behind the Lines: Putting 'moral clarity' in context
Anshel Pfeffer, THE JERUSALEM POST

After decades of human-rights activism around the world, which has seen a rise in the number of organizations committed to the cause, anyone embarking on a new initiative to promote democracy and freedom — highlighting the plight of dissidents and prisoners of conscience in dictatorships — should be asked what is lacking in the existing bodies.

Natan Sharansky, who, together with former Czech president Vaclav Havel and Spain's Jose Maria Aznar, this week launched a new framework for supporting those fighting for democracy, had a clear answer in speaking to journalists at the start of the Democracy and Security Conference held in Prague — a joint venture of the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, the Prague Security Studies Institute and the Spanish FAES Foundation.

"There is a lack of moral clarity," he said of the existing human-rights establishment. "They seem to have adopted a post-modern attitude, according to which, after World War II, there is no longer such a thing as bad regimes and cultures; it's only a matter of what has been done to an individual. But how can you set human rights as an ideal if there's no right or wrong?"

His main contention with these movements — especially the flagbearer, Amnesty International — is that they are not prepared to express any view on the character of the governments they are monitoring. "It's not just the fact that they [Amnesty] have 20 pages on human rights infringements by Israel and only half a page on Syria," Sharansky said. "I don't want them to stop monitoring Israel. But why can't they just note the fact that one country is a democracy and the other a dictatorship? Why don't they put them in separate categories in their annual report?"



I

ndeed.

The article continues with a critique of journalism, including why "journalistic objectivity is a myth, and even those who profess to this will be forced to admit that the very choice of what issue to invest time and space on is essentially a moral one."

In other words: Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can neither do nor teach are called "journalists."

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