Founded over 30 years ago to protect political dissidents from repressive regimes, the leaders of Human Rights Watch have long since lost sight of the original ethos and values.  On Middle East issues, HRW has degenerated into a political lobby, utilizing the façade of human rights and international law to promote a radical agenda.

As documented by NGO Monitor’s comprehensive research report, HRW is a leading player in the international campaign to demonize Israel.  Time and again, HRW’s publications are shown to lack credibility or the impartiality necessary for moral judgments. In the Middle East region, which is dominated by regimes that violate human rights on a daily basis, HRW officials have chosen to consistently and disproportionately single-out Israel for condemnation.

Far fewer resources are devoted to Libya, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia and Syria.  And HRW’s disregard of human rights in favor of hostility towards Israel is underscored by their virtual silence over the fate of Gilad Shalit, and a refusal to condemn Hamas’ widely documented use of human shields during the recent Gaza conflict.

Recently, HRW’s agenda was further exposed when senior officials from the organization held a dinner to raise funds in Saudi Arabia — one of the world’s most notorious human rights abusers.  In making her presentation, Sarah Leah Whitson, head of the Middle East division, emphasized HRW’s contribution in using the rhetoric of international law to isolate Israel, and the need to combat critics associated with “pro-Israel pressure groups”.

In order for the organization to have any future relevance, we call upon HRW’s board members to institute a full independent review and reform in the organization for which they are responsible. This should include the replacement of senior officials, particularly in the Middle East division, who have been instrumental in HRW’s decline, and the adoption of firm guidelines to prevent such abuses in the future.     

Signed by the following NGO Monitor International Advisory Board members:

Elie Wiesel
Prof Alan Dershowitz
– Harvard University, lawyer and author
R. James Woolsey
– Former Director of Central Intelligence (1993-95)
Elliott Abrams
– Former US Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy  
Douglas Murray
– Director, the Centre for Social Cohesion
Prof Judea Pearl
– UCLA and President, Daniel Pearl Foundation  
Tom Gross
– Journalist and international affairs commentator