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May 20, 2015

Robert Naiman Uses Saudi Arabian Human Rights Violations as Pretense to Impugn Israel

Robert Naiman, a regular Huffington Post contributor, penned a piece titled “Is Saudi Arabia Now the Israel of the Gulf?�. In it, he addressed human rights concerns in Saudi Arabia, and without any background or context, likened them to issues in Israel.

Naiman suggests both that “Saudi Arabia is apparently becoming the Israel of the Gulf countries -- a habitual aggressor in its neighborhood�, and that Saudi Arabia and Israel “have killed many human beings, including many civilians, for no clear military purpose.�

His version of Israel’s recent history compares unfavorably to reality and demonstrates sweeping bias. Naiman, as evidenced in the comparisons he draws, categorically ignores that Israel is neither an “aggressor� nor a ruthless apartheid state.

Indeed, both of Israel’s recent wars in Gaza have been defensive, prompted by unending rocket fire from Hamas. The untargeted rockets are indiscriminately fired toward Israeli population centers with the hopes of inflicting maximum casualties. Moreover, Israel has undertaken unprecedented measures to prevent civilian casualties. That they have happened is deeply regrettable, but they happen not because Israel targets civilians but because Hamas uses them as shields, prevents them from leaving targeted areas, and fires rockets – which they know will draw responsive fire – from densely populated areas. Indeed, General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, claimed that “Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties.�

These issues considered, to call Israel an aggressor that callously kills civilians is propagating an anti-Israel lie.

Particularities aside, the most glaring demonstration of Naiman’s deplorable bias is the construction of his article. He uses abuses in Saudi Arabia as a pretense to criticize Israel, and he does so without a hint of evidence. Each claim he levies against Saudi Arabia, he levies against Israel as well. However, when addressing Saudi Arabia, he substantiates his claims with evidence, and then simply suggests Israel engages in the same behavior, absent any evidence at all. To be sure, it is not as if the evidence he provides against Saudi Arabia is unimpeachable. Providing it at all, however, is the important distinction. It is as if Saudi Arabia’s human rights failings provide Naiman license to attack Israel, even if Israel is innocent of the claims he levies against it.

Harboring this antagonism to Israel is Naiman’s profession. He is the Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy, an organization that purports to be committed to reforming foreign policy based on diplomacy, law and comparison. Instead, what it amounts to is an anti-Israel group built upon many of the standard anti-Israel tropes. Of the four campaigns it is involved in, three focus on Palestinians. In fact, one is a campaign to alert congress to an incident involving Israeli extremists stoning cars in January. Naiman’s bias emerges ever clearer considering that his agency, which professes to be committed to addressing foreign policy issues, creates an entire issue campaign based on a single Israeli stoning incident but ignores frequent violent Palestinian attacks, such as the many reported by CAMERA here, here, here among many others.

Along similar lines, Naiman refers to his affiliation with a woman who works for CodePink, an organization which began as a feminist advocacy agency and has since devolved into an anti-Israel organization that prominently supports the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement. In fact, its National Director admitted such, articulating that CodePink’s goal is “freedom for Palestinians.�

Naiman’s affiliations call into question his journalistic chops, and should prompt Huffington Post to reconsider its relationship with him. Providing a platform on which a known anti-Israel bigot can write an article that maligns Israel for Saudi Arabia’s behavior is not pushing boundaries of journalism, it is pushing the boundaries of the truth.

Posted by ns at May 20, 2015 09:58 AM


Intellectual honesty and integrity are important, but not for the editorial board of the Huffinton Post. Shameful.

Posted by: F Meyer at May 21, 2015 10:19 AM

"He uses abuses in Saudi Arabia as a pretense to criticize Israel".

Pretense? Or pretext?

Abuses in Saudi Arabia are not a pretense. they are savagely real.

Posted by: wsg at May 21, 2015 11:57 AM

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