As noted in previous NGO Monitor updates, HRW is continuing to use current events to pursue a political agenda,including calls to cut U.S. aid to Israel. In a letter of February 9 to European Commission President Josè Manuel Barroso, Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division stated that EU aid to a Hamas-led P.A. should be conditioned on the human rights record of the Palestinian government. However it also supported the continuation of EU aid for the time being, since Hamas "largely has maintained a moratorium on such attacks for more than a year".

The letter ignores the declarations by Hamas leaders that the ceasefire is temporary and that violent activity will be renewed. The letter also condemns attacks "against Israeli civilians" but by omission implies that military operations against Israeli military targets should not preclude EU funding. HRW’s position as set out in the letter also fails to mention the requirement that Hamas adhere to previous international agreements signed between the PA and Israel.

By failing to address these issues, HRW effectively backs the continued flow of money to a Hamas-controlled government, despite its refusal to recognize Israel or renounce violence. HRW’s apparent acceptance of Palestinian violence is reflected in its screening of the controversial film "Paradise Now" in the HRW film festival 15-25 March. The film depicts two suicide bombers yet the HRW review simply describes their plan as a "strike on Tel Aviv."

On a related topic, Ken Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch supported the decision of a New York school to invite two Islamist anti-Zionists to speak. As a parent of a pupil in this school, Roth reportedly opposed those who argued against this radical program. "It suggests that some parents who supposedly believe in progressive education and trust their kids to hear all sides of disputes don’t extend that principle to disputes about Israel." 

Other HRW activities related to this conflict since the beginning of 2006 include a recommendation that the IDF open criminal investigations of soldiers allegedly involved in the killing of two Palestinian children in January 2006. HRW also sent a letter to Dr. Ramadan Shalah, Secretary-General of Islamic Jihad calling on them to "immediately stop the practice of targeting civilians or launching indiscriminate attacks that claim civilian lives." At the same time, HRW continues the increased emphasis on human rights violations beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict zone, as noted in previous NGO Monitor analyses. It has published material



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