While Human Rights Watch was founded with the goal of promoting morality, this NGO superpower has betrayed these norms by playing a leading role in the demonization of Israel.
As a result, HRW has lost its halo and immunity from critical analysis it once enjoyed. For HRW’s executive director Kenneth Roth, all this external scrutiny is very disturbing.
Which explains why, in "The Truth Hurts" (April 2 Jerusalem Post), Roth launches an attack on an analysis published on www.ngo-monitor.org that demonstrates HRW’s exploitation of the rhetoric of human rights in delegitimizing Israel.
According to HRW’s distorted moral framework, the totalitarian terrorism on the Arab side trumps Israeli democracy.
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," HRW’s anti-Israeli agenda is obvious. 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 campaign reached its zenith following the murder of dozens of Israelis during Pessah 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."
This highly subjective language reflects the propaganda campaign of the Palestinian leadership and is 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 assistance to Israel, condemned Israeli policies, and again forgot to mention the context of terrorism.
HRW, whose Middle East director is Joe Stork, a former editor of the anti-Israel Middle East Report(MERIP), also contributed to the campaign against Israel’s "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 explained the logic and justification for the Israeli move.
ROTH ATTEMPTS to escape association with the notorious Durban UN Conference on Racism, which set the pattern for demonization of Israel. He points to HRW’s minimalist statement disassociating itself from the NGO manifesto.
HRW should have walked out of the forum and used its multimillion-dollar public relations apparatus to amplify its protest. 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 is accompanied by 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 bloodbath 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 shadow of the Holocaust with the goal of ensuring 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.