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A blog about human rights in their many forms.

Confessions of a 'pro-Palestinian' Israeli diplomat

Commentary: In war with Hamas, Palestinians and Israelis share similar aspirations for peace and normalcy.
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Two Palestinian boys walk amid the rubble of destroyed homes in Shejaiya on August 27, 2014. Shejaiya is one of the hardest hit neighborhoods in fighting between Hamas militants and Israel during 50 days of fighting. Israel and Palestinians both boasted of victory in the Gaza war but analysts say Hamas received only promises while the conflict aggravated divisions in the Israeli leadership. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

BOSTON — I admit it. I find myself in unfamiliar territory. Twenty-five years in the Israeli Foreign Service, during which I spent much of my time countering terrorism and its supporters, didn't prepare me for this. In our fight against Hamas, I am pro-Palestinian.  


As a human being, an Israeli and a Jew, I cannot ignore the suffering that Gazans — like their Muslim, Christian and Jewish Israeli neighbors across the border — have undergone during two months of fighting. It's truly painful to see.


Muslim majority must stand up against Islamic extremists

Arab intellectuals and moderate Muslims need to condemn Muslims who kill other Muslims.
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Iraqi Shiite volunteers from the University of Basra that have joined government forces to fight Sunni jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) take part in a graduation ceremony in the southern port city of Basra on August 23, 2014. Jihadist-led militants launched a major offensive in June, overrunning large areas of five provinces and sweeping security forces aside. (HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI /AFP/Getty Images)

KABUL, Afghanistan — As the flames of war burn terrible scars into Gaza, Israel, Iraq, Syria and beyond, a viable path to peace presents itself. It has little to do with the US military or President Obama.

The solution lies in the Arab world itself.


Traveling with a coyote: Brothers journey 4,000 miles to reunite with undocumented parents in US

Economic limitations in El Salvador pushed Jose and Ester to leave their boys behind. But violence back home convinced them to pay a coyote to smuggle Kevin and Jose Jr. north.
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This location along the Suchiate River, on the border between Mexico and Guatemala, is known as 'El Paso del Coyote' or 'Coyote's Pass.' This is where thousands of Central American migrants cross into Mexico each year with the help of human smugglers. (Jennifer Collins/GlobalPost)

MEXICO CITY – Only the most desperate parents put their children in the hands of a human smuggler for a journey to the United States that can put them face-to-face with kidnappers and end in arrest, detainment or worse.


World Humanitarian Day: Remembering brave people and invisible victims

When almost a billion people go to bed hungry every night, being a humanitarian is not a choice, says Unni Krishnan, head of disaster preparedness and response for Plan International.
A South Sudanese child receives a dose of vitamin A given by Medecins Sans Frontieres in an isolated makeshift IDP camp for Dinka ethnic group placed in an island between Bor and Minkamman, South Sudan, on March 5, 2014. (JM Lopez/AFP/Getty Images)

On World Humanitarian Day, I am reminded that close to a billion people go to bed hungry every night, making humanitarian work crucial.

Consider this – 24 hours from when you are reading this piece, approximately 24,000 more children will have died worldwide from preventable diseases. This is an everyday reality, but these deaths can be stopped with access to clean water, health care, immunisation, safety and education. 

When I am asked what inspired me to get involved in humanitarian work, I ask myself if there is any choice when faced with this reality. 


Undocumented Central American minors not getting due process in US immigration cases

More than two-thirds of minors appearing in US immigration courts, most escaping violence in Central America, are not represented by an attorney.
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Undocumented immigrants on July 24, 2014 in Mission, Texas. Tens of thousands of immigrants, many of them minors, have crossed illegally into the United States this year, causing a humanitarian crisis on the US-Mexico border. (John Moore/AFP/Getty Images)

In the United States, thousands of immigrants – many of them underage, mentally ill or otherwise vulnerable – risk deportation as they face the court system without legal counsel.


Inside Bangladesh's garment industry, second largest in the world

The Tuba Group hunger strike is the latest worker pushback against an industry under repair.

Editor's Note: This is the second piece in a three-part series that goes inside Bangladesh's garment industry to explore how the Rana Plaza collapse served as a wake-up call to an entire global supply chain and how Bangladesh is working furiously to reform itself before another tragedy strikes. Read Part One here.


US lawyers say movement to protect the unborn increasingly hurts mothers

At the American Bar Association's annual meeting, legal scholars said US women are losing rights as unborn children gain them.
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Lawyers Michele Goodwin (left), Farah Diaz-Tello and Brigitte Amiri discuss the implications of the Hobby Lobby decision and other legislation limiting women's rights at a panel during the American Bar Association annual meeting. The talk was held Saturday, Aug. 9 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. (Jessica Mendoza/GlobalPost)

BOSTON – The legal battle over reproduction is increasingly focused on unborn children while criminalizing mothers, said to a panel of lawyers and women’s rights advocates who spoke at the American Bar Association’s (ABA) annual meeting Saturday.

“Women’s medical rights [are] treated as though they don’t exist at all,” said Farah Diaz-Tello, staff attorney for the National Advocates for Pregnant Women and one of the panel’s three speakers.


Duplicity’s Child: How British promises sowed the seeds of today’s Israel-Palestine bloodshed

Gaza and Jerusalem were promised to both the Arabs and the Jews. They're still fighting nearly a century later.
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Israeli soldiers stand in front of a banner with a copy of a letter from the British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild (a leader of the British Jewish community) known as the Balfour Declaration of 1917, as Palestinians, Israeli and foreign protesters demonstrate near the Karmi Tsor Jewish settlement not far from the Palestinian village of Beit Omar in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on November 6, 2010. (Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty Images)

In October 1917, British forces finally drove the Ottoman army from Gaza, in recent weeks the site of Israeli-Palestinian fighting but then a dusty garrison town that had stubbornly held out against British attacks.


Aid groups 'stretched very thin' as conflicts persist in Middle East

Even with added funding, relief workers see difficulties in the months ahead.
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Residents of Syria's Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp, south of Damascus, collect aid food. (RAMI AL-SAYED/AFP/Getty Images)

Though the latest round of fighting in Gaza began barely four weeks ago, the crisis already has taken a toll on the United Nations' ability to respond to the vast humanitarian needs across the Middle East, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said.

“In less than a month, we have lost eleven of our own,” said Salvatore Lombardo, the agency’s director for external relations and communications. Almost 270,000 displaced Palestinians are living in 90 UNRWA shelters across Gaza, he added.

“While designated emergency shelters were originally equipped to accommodate 500 people, these facilities are now accommodating more than 2,000 people,” he said.

It’s not just the UN. Other humanitarian groups are feeling the weight of supporting the growing number of victims and refugees in Gaza as other conflicts persist in the Middle East. Aid workers say relief efforts face not only shrinking supplies of manpower, food, water and funding, but also the diluted attention of the media, policymakers and donors.

“[We are] being stretched very thin by a number of disaster responses,” said Lawren Sinnema, humanitarian and emergency affairs program management officer at World Vision, an international Christian nonprofit that aids children and their families in times of poverty, war and calamity.


For US and African leaders at summit, a time to invest in next generation of girls

Commentary: Education, ending child marriages are key to unlocking potential of African girls.
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Some of the Chibok schoolgirls who escaped their Boko Haram Islamist captors wait to meet the Nigerian president at the presidency in Abuja on July 22, 2014. (WOLE EMMANUEL/AFP/Getty Images)

NAIROBi, Kenya — “I really want to go back to school so that I can get a job and live a better life,” Changamile told us from her home in rural Malawi. But Changamile married at 16, and she has too much housework and no support from her family to return to school.