Despite HRW’s disproportionate and obsessive focus on Israel, as documented in NGO Monitor’s systematic research, Hamas officials still feel they are being treated unfairly by the organization. To reassure Hamas that this was not the case, the head of HRW’s Middle East and North Africa Division, Sarah Leah Whitson, paid a visit to Gaza.
A May 19, 2010 news item on the website of Hamas’ Central Commission for Documentation and Pursuit of Israeli War Criminals summarized a visit between Hamas “Injustice” Minister Faraj Alghoul, and Whitson and HRW Researcher Bill Van Esveld. According to the account, Alghoul expressed “his hope” that HRW “will commit to neutrality and objectivity,” while remarking that HRW’s reports equate “between the executioner and the victim.” In response, Whitson stressed that “the reason behind coming to Gaza despite the difficulties they faced is to listen to all parties directly so she will prepare more objective and impartial reports.” Whitson closed the meeting by thanking “Alghoul for his clarifications and emphasized that she will take these clarifications seriously and their next report will be about the Israeli violations as the Israeli illegal settlement which is against the international law.”
Whitson’s tète à tète with Hamas officials to emphasize HRW’s “objectivity” and “impartiality” as well as its future anti-Israel campaigning is yet a further indication of HRW’s loss of “critical perspective” as well as “helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state,” as noted by founder Robert Bernstein Her visit also begs the question: When was the last time Whitson made a special trip to Israel to reassure its leaders about the fairness of HRW’s reporting.