Human Rights Watch Coverup
April 13, 2004
By Anne Bayefsky
When it comes to anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias, Human Rights Watch still has a lot of explaining to do notwithstanding Executive Director Ken Roth’s umbrage at criticism.
Roth, however, volunteers a test of his organization’s reliability when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, namely Human Rights Watch’s behavior at the UN’s infamous “anti-racism” conference held in Durban, South Africa…It is a test that Human Rights Watch fails hands down. I know because I was there as the representative of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (IAJLJ).
Together we had a right to vote on the final NGO document, and hours before the last session gathered together to discuss our position.
The draft included egregious statements equating Zionism with racism, and alleging that Israel is an “apartheid” state guilty of “genocide and ethnic cleansing designed to ensure a Jewish state.”
As we arrived at our meeting the chief Durban representative of Human Rights Watch, advocacy director Reed Brody, publicly announced that as a representative of a Jewish group I was unwelcome and could not attend. The views of a Jewish organization, he explained, would not be objective and the decision on how to vote had to be taken in our absence. Not a single one of the other international NGOs objected.
n the evening, as the declaration was considered, a motion was made to delete draft language that had come from the Jewish NGO caucus. The Jewish caucus had proposed including a statement that the demonization of Israel and the targeting of Jews for destruction because of their support for Israel was a form of anti-Semitism.
The vote to delete the Jewish caucus’s proposal succeeded and all Jewish organizations from around the world walked out.
What did Human Rights Watch do? The organization said nothing…HRW (along with Amnesty International, and the Lawyers Committee/Human Rights First) repeated the claim that the “voices of the victims” had legitimately prevailed at the NGO conference. HRW spokesperson Smita Narula said: “The document gives expression to all voices.”
Having the courage to speak out against the tide of hate directed at Israel and the Jewish people is not one of the strengths of Human Rights Watch.
When will this leading international human rights NGO stop believing it has to earn its stripes by demonizing Israel, or that to stay in business it must avoid criticizing Israel’s enemies?