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Disproportionate Focus on Israel
Since 2004 NGO Monitor has analyzed HRW’s Middle East output using a weighted scale methodology to rank and count publications on each country per year.115    This gives a basic but informative picture of the research priorities and distribution of resources across the division.  To expand the analysis, NGO Monitor studies have also examined the use of language in relation to various Middle Eastern states.  This has repeatedly shown that Israel is consistently singled out for condemnation, using particularly harsh language that delegitimizes Israel’s actions of self-defense, while minimizing Palestinian and Arab human rights violations.

The chart below illustrates the total weighted scores for a selection of Middle East actors from 2004 to 2008 inclusive:116

HRW’s spending priorities in the Middle East 2004-2008

The graph illustrates that:

  • Total output in the Middle East Division has doubled since 2004.  More items were published in 2008, on a wider range of countries.
  •  Far more items were published on Israel than on any other country in 2004. Following NGO Monitor’s exposure of this phenomenon, 2005 saw a significant drop in attention to both Israel and the PA. There was a corresponding increase in focus on Egypt and Iran (in 2005 publications on Iran rose by 286%).
  •  The Second Lebanon War can account for part of the significant 2006 peak in reporting on Israel, yet the sharp rise in focus on the Palestinians that year (from 16 points in 2005 to 89 points in 2006), indicates an increased emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is not linked to the Lebanon War.
  • Attention to Saudi Arabia increased massively in the period, and reporting on Jordan rose consistently.
  • The Middle East Division has limited resources which must be divided between countries.  This is expressed in the inverse relationship between scores for Israel, and scores for Egypt and Iran between 2004 and 2007, and the overwhelming focus on Saudi Arabia in 2008 at the expense of other countries (Salti 2009).117
  •  In 2008, Israel comes second only to Saudi Arabia as the worst abuser of human rights in the region, based on HRW allegations.  Egypt, Iran, Syria and Jordan all received less attention than Israel.
  • It is noteworthy that throughout the last five years, HRW’s focus on Israel has scored consistently higher than Libya, Jordan, the PA, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

This chart of cumulative weighted scores over the four-year period (2004-2008) shows that Israel consistently constitutes a higher research priority for HRW than any other country in the Middle East.