Release Date: September 5, 2007

NGO Monitor: Human Rights Watch Tokenism Too Little, Too Late  

In response to a new HRW report retracting previous accusations against Israel, NGO Monitor calls for apology.

(Jerusalem) – The Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor has today called for Human Rights Watch (HRW) Executive Director Ken Roth to apologize for his vast misrepresentation of the Second Lebanon War.   This follows the publication of a new report by HRW into last year’s conflict, which only tacitly acknowledges the errors in earlier HRW statements, and represents an attempt to regain HRW’s legitimacy through artificial "balance".

HRW’s report, "Civilians under Assault: Hezbollah’s Rocket Attacks on Israel in the 2006 War" highlights numerous factual errors in HRW’s primary publication on the war, "Fatal Strikes"; which was shown by NGO Monitor at the time to be highly inaccurate, and often based on unverifiable sources.   

Examples of HRW’s reversal include:

  • The new report accomplishes what HRW failed to do in the past – state clearly that Hezbollah initiated and caused the conflict, however the  explanation of the origins of Hezbollah is distorted.
  • In contrast to the silence in last year’s reports, the role of Syria and Iran in supplying Hezbollah with thousands of rockets is included – and both these states are now condemned for this support.
  • The new HRW report also highlights the statements made by Hassan Nassrallah and other Hezbollah officials, repeatedly declaring the goal of killing Israelis.   In addition, the majority of the report is devoted to Hezbollah’s arsenal, and the impact of the attacks against Haifa, Akko, Safed and other areas across Northern Israel – up to now both these issues were greatly ignored by HRW.

While NGO Monitor is encouraged by HRW’s re-assessment, this is a transparently late effort to redeem its credibility (prompted largely by widespread criticism of its neglect of Hezbollah war crimes against Israeli civilians). Furthermore, the pattern of artificial balance by criticizing aspects of Israeli defence against the rocket attacks is tendentious.  

NGO Monitor Executive Director, Prof. Gerald Steinberg commented, "This report finally includes many of the facts missing from HRW’s statements during the war, but cannot undo the damage or restore the moral status of this NGO superpower.  HRW Director, Kenneth Roth should apologize, and I urge him to use his visit to Israel to do so.  

"The timing of this visit and publication, after the preparatory meeting for yet another Durban conference, highlights HRW’s contribution to the strategy of delegitimizing Israel by exploiting the rhetoric of human rights. HRW and other groups must end this politicization and restore their credibility."

 For Hebrew version, click here

ENDS ————  


Editors Notes:

NGO Monitor was founded to promote transparency, critical analysis and debate on the political role of human rights organizations.  For more information, see our website at

Other recent publications and reports by NGO Monitor include:-

NGO Monitor’s Executive Director is Prof. Gerald Steinberg.

For further information, comment or interviews, contact Jason Pearlman

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