Jerusalem –  The announcement this week that Human Rights Watch (HRW) chairman of the board, James Hoge, Jr. is being replaced by co-chairs Joel Motley and Hassan Elmasry, effective October 2013, will further damage the NGO’s credibility, said Jerusalem-based research institute NGO Monitor.

“The past involvement of Motley and Elmasry with HRW has been closely associated with the decline of this organization’s credibility, particularly in the Middle East,” said Prof. Gerald Steinberg, the president of NGO Monitor. “Their appointment will only add to the condemnations of HRW under the leadership of Executive Director Kenneth Roth, as expressed by founder Robert Bernstein and others for whom human rights are not political and ideological weapons.”

NGO Monitor notes that Elmasry participated in a fundraising trip in May 2009 to Saudi Arabia, and Motley represented HRW at the notorious NGO Forum of the 2001 Durban Conference.

Elmasry, a member of HRW’s International Board of Directors and the MENA Division’s Advisory Committee, went to Saudi Arabia to raise funds in 2009 with Sarah Leah Whitson, director of HRW’s Middle East and North Africa Division. Instead of addressing the Kingdom’s notorious human rights failings, Elmasry and Whitson touted HRW’s role in providing “the international community with evidence of Israel using white phosphorous and launching systematic destructive attacks on civilian targets.” In this context, Elmasry called on “businessmen in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world to support HRW.” (Funds to HRW provided from Saudi funders is unknown due to a lack of transparency.) Elmasry’s role in the MENA division also coincided with an agenda that largely ignored the dictatorial Arab regimes, while targeting Israel with false “war crimes” allegations, as documented by NGO Monitor.

Regarding Motley, his role was central in whitewashing the Durban NGO Forum’s adoption of a strategy of political warfare against Israel through the exploitation of human rights. He and HRW official Reed Brody reported in the Conference Daily News that “the NGO declaration ‘marks a major success… and recognizes the scourge of anti-Semitism.'” As noted by analyst Anne Bayefsky, he failed to mention “that the declaration had redefined anti-Semitism, changing its meaning from the hatred of Jews to something which included ‘anti-Arab racism.’

“Unfortunately, James Hoge, Jr.’s tenure did not produce any improvement in HRW’s ability to contribute positively to human rights enforcement around the world,” continued Prof. Steinberg. “Given their past activities, his replacements will only add to the damage caused by biased political campaigners, such as Roth and Whitson, who use the language of morality to promote immoral objectives.”