Tomorrow marks the five-year anniversary of the Hamas raid into Israel in which Gilad Shalit was wounded and then dragged through a tunnel into the Gaza Strip, where he remains in captivity to this day. To mark the occasion, 12 prominent “human rights” organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and B’Tselem, have issued a joint statement.

If a better example of the utter moral collapse of the human rights community exists, it would be hard to find. The statement is one of passionless brevity — just a few sentences long — and expresses no opinion on the standing of Hamas, or on its 2006 raid into Israel, or on the legitimacy of its goals and methods. Remarkably, it doesn’t even demand the release of Gilad Shalit. The most that this allegedly courageous and principled human rights community could bring itself to say to the terrorists of Hamas is that they should improve the conditions of Shalit’s imprisonment. You can read the statement on Human Rights Watch’s website.

Even the Goldstone Report demanded Shalit’s release. Human rights groups, especially when it comes to condemning Israel, invoke what they believe to be the inflexible requirements of international law as a guide to matters of war and peace. Their only source of credibility is their adherence to principle. Yet here these same champions of international law have lost their voices, and their outrage, when it comes to making what should be the easiest of judgments: That it is against international law to raid a sovereign state for the purpose of abducting its citizens, that Shalit’s imprisonment is barbaric and utterly without legitimacy, and that Hamas must release him immediately.

Yet the human rights groups stand together in refusing to say these words, preferring to pick and choose their principles depending on political circumstances. If these groups actually cared about international law, they would be far less brazen in ignoring it when it doesn’t suit the politics of the moment.

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