Reed Brody has held many central positions at HRW. As of June 2009 his official title is “European Press Director,”30 although this description obscures his extensive involvement across the organization and in many conflict zones throughout the world.
As HRW’s “special counsel” (HRW News Release Apr. 5, 2003), Brody took an active role in the highly politicized effort to bring Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to trial in Belgium in 2001-2003. His advocacy included opinion columns displaying a highly distorted Palestinian narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and of the events in Lebanon. As “advocacy director,” Brody led HRW’s delegation to the NGO Forum of the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism at Durban. This forum ignored victims of racism throughout the world in singling out Israel for condemnation. Officials from 1,500 NGOs adopted a declaration that branded Israel a “racist apartheid state” guilty of “war crimes, acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing.” Despite Brody’s belated attempt to distance himself from the declaration,31 Prof. Anne Bayefsy (Bayefsky 2004)
has documented Brody’s active role in singling out Jews and preventing free speech and open debate in the forum:
As we arrived at our meeting, the chief Durban representative of Human Rights Watch, advocacy director Reed Brody, publicly announced that as a representative of a Jewish group I was unwelcome and could not attend. The views of a Jewish organization, he explained, would not be objective and the decision on how to vote had to be taken in our absence. Not a single one of the other international NGOs objected.
Congressman Tom Lantos also reported (Lantos 2002),
What is perhaps most disturbing about the NGO community’s actions is that many of America’s top human rights leaders — [including] Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch …participated. Although most of them denounced the NGO document that was adopted, it was surprising how reluctant they were to attack the antisemitic atmosphere…
While disproportionately focused on Israel, Brody’s advocacy campaigns do embrace other issues, including strong and consistent opposition to U.S. policies following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. He has critiqued America’s practices at Guantanamo and in Iraq and authored an op-ed article criticizing the procedures used in the trial of Saddam Hussein (Brody 2007). Another major theme in Brody’s work is the use of national universal jurisdiction statutes to prosecute war criminals from countries that lack functioning judiciaries.
Brody’s activities at Durban in 2001 and in the Ariel Sharon case, reflect a strong ideological agenda. Taken together, and like Roth, Whitson, and Stork, Brody’s campaigns and language reflect an overriding post-colonial bias which excuses war crimes and human rights violations in conflicts perpetrated by the leaders of designated “victims,” while condemning Israel and the U.S. for acting to defend their citizens from asymmetric warfare.