On April 29, Human Rights Watch (HRW) announced the appointment of longtime anti-Israel campaigner Sari Bashi to the position of program director, where she will be responsible for HRW’s research and investigations. Over the past two decades, Bashi has been a prominent voice in these campaigns, holding several positions at politicized NGOs. She previously served as HRW’s Israel and Palestine Director in 2015-2018 and is a co-founder of Gisha, an Israeli NGO funded primarily by European governments that claims to “protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents.” In a statement following her appointment, Bashi said that she would lead “a team of 271 researchers, associates, specialists, and managers.”
The appointment of a figure who has spent the majority of her career working towards the delegitimization of the state of Israel through major distortions of international law is another reflection of HRW’s deep-seated ideological bias. In different roles, Bashi has advanced the false Israeli apartheid narrative, advocated for boycotts of Israeli companies and products, expressed support for NGOs linked to the PFLP terror group, and contributed greatly to a discourse that singles out Israel for obsessive attack among powerful NGOs:
- Bashi is lised as a contributor in HRW’s April 2021 report “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” which denies Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state by alleging Israel has committed crimes of apartheid and by reducing all security policies to “demographic objectives.” The report recommends “Impos[ing] targeted sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, against officials and entities” and “Condition[ing] arms sales and military and security assistance to Israel.” (Read NGO Monitor’s analysis, “HRW’s ‘Apartheid’ Publication: Demonization, BDS, and Lawfare.”)
- In January 2021, Bashi praised B”Tselem’s position paper accusing Israel of apartheid as “an important step in the struggle for equal rights for all those living between the river and the sea.” (Read NGO Monitor’s report “From the “River to the Sea”: B’Tselem’s Demonization Crosses the Line.”)
- In July 2021, while working as “research director” at another NGO, DAWN, Bashi urged the Biden Administration to “implement the recommendations made by human rights groups to condition military and security assistance to the Israeli government on concrete and verifiable steps to end the crimes of apartheid and persecution, of which settlements are a central element” (emphasis added).
- In October 2021, following Israel’s designation of six Palestinian NGOs as terror organizations over their ties to the PFLP, Bashi tweeted, “Section 24(a)(1) of Israel’s antiterrorism law imposes up to 3 years in prison for identifying with a ‘terrorist group’ by publicly expressing support, praise or sympathy. I support @alhaq. I praise @DCIPalestine. I sympathize with @Addameer. Please join me in breaking the law.”
- In September 2017, following HRW’s publication of a pro-BDS report on “Israeli Law and Banking in West Bank Settlements,” Bashi stated, “There are many, many steps banks can and should take to at the very least reduce their involvement in settlements, if not stop it entirely…If they choose not to take steps, institutional investors who care about their own human rights activity should take action.”
- In January 2017, Bashi joined the Palestinian campaign calling on FIFA to ban Israel, stating that “FIFA should heed the UN Security Council’s reaffirmation that the West Bank is not part of Israel, and that settlements are illegal. The only logical conclusion is for FIFA to instruct the Israel Football Association to stop holding matches in West Bank settlements.”
- In 2016, as HRW’s Israel/Palestine Advocacy Director, Bashi sent a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights praising the efforts to publish a UN BDS blacklist, and pushing the inclusion of FIFA (a key focus of HRW’s BDS campaign) and two companies.