While Human Rights Watch was founded with the goal of promoting principles of morality, this NGO superpower has betrayed these norms by playing a leading role in the demonization of Israel. As a result, HRW has lost the "halo effect" and immunity from analysis that it once enjoyed, and for HRW's Executive Director Kenneth Roth, this external scrutiny is apparently very disturbing. In an article in the Jerusalem Post on April 2 ("The Truth Hurts"), which reflects the precept that "the best defense is a good offensive", Roth launches an attack on the analyses published on www.ngo-monitor.org that clearly demonstrate HRW's exploitation of the rhetoric of human rights in delegitimizing Israel. In HRW's distorted moral framework, the totalitarian terrorism on the Arab side of the dispute trumps Israeli democracy, and antisemitism does not even register on the human rights agenda.
Roth's desperate counterattack designed to salvage HRW's tarnished reputation is based on anything but the truth. While using the terms "objective" and "unbiased", the political anti-Israeli agenda is obvious in any examination of this organization's activities. For example, in the period between April 2002 and January 2003, in which hundreds of Israelis were murdered in Palestinian terror attacks, HRW issued 15 press releases and reports on Israeli-Palestinian issues. Almost all repeated the political allegations (disguised in the rhetoric of international law) of "Israeli war crimes", "extra-judicial killings", and "disproportionate use of force".
This anti-human rights campaign reached its zenith following the murder of dozens of Israelis during Passover in 2002, when HRW focused its attacks on the IDF's operation to destroy the terror network in Jenin. The report alleged that "IDF military attacks were indiscriminate… failing to make a distinction between combatants and civilians" and claimed that "......the destruction extended well beyond any conceivable purpose of gaining access to fighters, and was vastly disproportionate to the military objectives pursued." These highly subjective opinions reflected the propaganda campaign of the Palestinian leadership, and were based on unsubstantiated anecdotal evidence and unverifiable Palestinian claims.
Going further, in a December 10 2002 CNN interview, Roth called for "conditioning" or cutting US government assistance to Israel, condemned Israeli policies, and again “forgot” to mention the context of terrorism. HRW, whose acting Middle East director is Joe Stork, former editor of the anti-Israel Middle East Report, also contributed to the campaign against the "apartheid" wall, and the overall effort to deny Israelis the right to defense against terror attacks. When Israel sought to halt the illegal infiltration of Palestinians based on often fictitious marriages to Israeli Arabs, HRW led the NGO chorus in attacking this policy as "racist". As usual, HRW's reports erased any of the background information that justified the Israeli move, thereby earning Al-Jazeerah's endorsement as the leader in the battle against the "Zionist NGO's Monitor" (January 9 2004)
Roth attempts to escape association with the notorious UN Conference on Racism in Durban, which set the pattern for demonization of Israel, by pointing to HRW's minimalist statement disassociating itself from the NGO manifesto. HRW might have had an impact had it walked out of the forum, and if it had used its multi-million dollar public relations apparatus to amplify the late protest, but instead, HRW issued a meek statement with no visibility which was immediately buried. Similarly, with the exception of a very belated November 2002 report that was quickly forgotten, HRW's condemnations of Palestinian terror attacks are couched in terms that gain little attention. In contrast, the steady stream of attacks against Israel are accompanied by highly orchestrated press conferences, televised appearances by Roth, and detailed reports that give credence to Palestinian propaganda claims. It is precisely this comparison that Roth is trying to bury by attacking NGO Monitor.
Roth's political agenda is also reflected in his pseudo-legalistic condemnations of "extra judicial killings" and "assassinations". Israeli attacks against Hamas leaders such as Ahmed Yassin, he claims, demonstrate " Israeli indifference to the same body of international human rights and humanitarian law that prohibits deliberate attacks on civilians." Beyond the base immorality of referring to terrorists as "civilians", Roth's armchair alternative the arrest and trial of terrorist leaders -- is pure fantasy. Had Israeli forces entered the dense streets of Gaza to arrest Yassin, the result would have been a blood-bath in which large numbers of people would have been killed. But since the goal is to demonize Israel, regardless of the facts, none of this is relevant to the HRW leadership.
NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and the UN frameworks in which they operate were founded in the black shadow of the Nazi Holocaust with the goal of insuring that such brutality is never repeated, but since then, they have lost their way. Under the leadership of Roth and Stork, and the adoption of a heavily anti-Israel political agenda, HRW has betrayed the principles of its founders, and become a potent force in the exploitation and destruction of human rights. The record speaks for itself.