NGO Monitor today released its annual review of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Obsession and Scandals: HRW in 2009. (Click here for NGO Monitor’s reviews from previous years.)

NGO Monitor’s quantitative and qualitative analysis reveals that HRW continues to devote highly disproportionate resources to criticizing Israel. In 2009, more HRW publications focused on alleged human rights violations in Israel than on Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, and Libya combined; more in-depth HRW reports criticized Israel than any other country in its Middle East and North Africa (MENA) division.


HRW also released more statements (34) on the Goldstone Report than on any country in MENA, except for Israel and Iran.  (See table below.)

HRW also faced many organizational scandals and unprecedented criticism in 2009: its fundraising trip to Saudi Arabia stressing HRW’s anti-Israel focus; the revelation that its “senior military analyst”, Marc Garlasco, is an obsessive collector of Nazi memorabilia; and founder Robert Bernstein’s New York Times op-ed, decrying the organization’s role in “turn[ing] Israel into a pariah state” and its loss of “critical perspective” on Iran’s support for Hamas and Hezbollah. Rather than address the substance of such criticism, HRW invested heavily in ad hominem attacks on NGO Monitor, Robert Bernstein, and other critics.

This annual review is an update of NGO Monitor’s 88-page report, Experts or Ideologues? A Systematic Analysis of Human Rights Watch’s Focus on Israel, released in September 2009. Experts or Ideologues documents systematic biases of key staff members, details case studies of HRW campaigns, and provides a quantitative analysis of the disproportionate focus on Israel within HRW’s MENA division.

NGO Monitor President Gerald Steinberg said: “Human Rights Watch’s highly distorted approach to Israel’s situation is reflected in the campaigns that reached new levels in 2009. NGO Monitor’s systematic analysis showing the obsessive condemnations in reports, press conferences, and op-eds reinforces founder Robert Bernstein’s conclusion that HRW has lost its claim to be a moral force. HRW’s denial of wrongdoing in the Saudi funding and Garlasco scandals further highlights the need for an independent investigation, a change of leadership, and a new direction.”