The Nazi-memorabilia obsessive and Human Rights Watch investigator has been suspended with pay “pending an investigation,” The New York Times reports.
The suspension comes at a time of heightened tension between, on one side, the new Israeli government and its allies on the right, and the other side, human rights organizations that have been critical of Israel. In recent months, the government has pledged an aggressive approach toward the groups to discredit what they argue is bias and error.
Injected suddenly into that heated conflict, word of Mr. Garlasco’s interest seemed startling to many. The disclosure ricocheted across the Internet: Mr. Garlasco, an American, was not only a collector, he has written a book, more than 400 pages long, about Nazi-era medals. His hobby, inspired he said by a German grandfather conscripted into Hitler’s army, was revealed on a pro-Israel blog, Mere Rhetoric Mere Rhetoric, which quoted his enthusiastic postings on collector sites under the pseudonym “Flak88” — including, “That is so cool! The leather SS jacket makes my blood go cold it is so COOL!”
It was a Rorschach moment in the conflict between Israel and its critics. The revelations were, depending on who is talking, either incontrovertible proof of bias or an irrelevant smear.
This analysis doesn’t seem to leave any room for those of us who are critical of the current Israeli government but who still find Garlasco’s leisure-time activity– if not “incontrovertible proof of bias”– at least deeply troubling.
(Hat tip: Z Word)