Human rights groups gain their moral standing by adhering to standards based on universal human rights, meaning a single standard for all countries, and eschewing political and ideological biases. In contrast, HRW officials, their activities and the products they produce, fall far short of this standard, particularly when it comes to Israel, as NGO Monitor research shows. Many display a built-in emotional and ideological bias, defining Palestinians as victims, and viewing Israel as a perennial aggressor.


Kenneth Roth (Executive Director 1993-present, Deputy Director 1987-1993) In a Jerusalem Post interview in 2004, Roth tried to excuse the disproportionate focus on Israel:

“Israel, as the most powerful actor in the conflict, does have a greater variety of ways to violate human rights, and it unfortunately has engaged in many of those methods. So it’s not surprising that we do end up criticizing Israel somewhat more than the Palestinians.” [emphasis added]

Roth also attributes malign motivations for Israeli defense against terror and warfare. In 2006, he used highly emotive language in accusing Israel of killing “hundreds of Lebanese civilians” “by design or callous indifference”. Similarly, during the 2008-9 Gaza conflict, of “a determination to make Gazans suffer,” dismissing claims that Hamas operated from civilian areas as “ritual IDF pronouncements” that should be taken “with a grain of salt.” In reference to Israeli actions in Lebanon he said: “An eye for an eye — or, more accurately in this case, twenty eyes for an eye — may have been the morality of some more primitive moment. But it is not the morality of international humanitarian law…”

Sarah Leah Whitson (Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division)

Prior to joining HRW, Whitson was associated with the NGOs MADRE and the Center for Social and Economic Rights (CESR), organizations that display strong post-colonial ideology and anti-Israel agendas. Whitson led the fundraising trip to Saudi Arabia, where she highlighted “provid[ing] the international community with evidence of Israel using white phosphorus and launching systematic destructive attacks on civilian targets” and HRW’s standing up to “pro-Israel pressure groups.”

Joe Stork (Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division, 1996-present)

Before joining HRW in 1996, Joe Stork was a highly visible pro-Palestinian political activist and editor of the radical Middle East Report (published by MERIP, the Middle East Research and Information project).

Lucy Mair (Researcher, 2005-7)

Prior to joining HRW, Mair wrote for the radical website, “Electronic Intifada” and served as International Program Coordinator for CESR.

Nadia Barhoum (Associate, 2008-present)

Pro-Palestinian campus activist, with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at the University of California, Berkeley. Barhoum employs “apartheid” rhetoric, and was involved in a campaign calling on the University of California to “divest from Israel.”

Darryl Li

PhD student at Harvard and a JD student at Yale, where he is a member of the University’s “Alliance for Justice in the Middle East.”  Li used his experience with the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) – one of the leaders of anti-Israel lawfare — to promote this organization’s “Harvard war criminals” project. Li’s publications include “Disengagement and the Frontiers of Zionism” in MERIP, which parrots the Palestinian narrative, completely erasing the history of rejectionism, describing settlements as “colonies”, and terrorism as “armed resistance”.

Reed Brody

Brody took an active role in the highly politicized effort to bring Prime Minister Sharon to trial in Belgium in 2001-3. Brody led HRW’s delegation to the NGO Forum of the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism at Durban; Prof. Anne Bayefsy has documented Brody’s active role in preventing free speech and open debate, and excluding Jewish groups, in the forum.?

Marc Garlasco

Marc Garlasco has the title of “senior military analyst” in HRW’s Emergencies Division, following a period of seven years in various positions in the Pentagon. Garlasco apparently has no combat experience, and his different Pentagon positions were not concentrated on weapons systems. But this has not prevented him from writing reports based on detailed technical claims on weapons use and the implications under international law in extremely complex situations of asymmetric conflicts, including those involving Israel.

Board of Directors

A significant number of members of HRW’s Middle East and North Africa Board of Directors have been heavily and directly involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict, all on the Palestinian side.  These include: Charles Shamas, partner in the Mattin Group and PLO advisor, has lobbied the EU to impose trade sanctions on Israel.  He is also the co-founder of Palestinian NGO Al Haq. Shamas compares Israeli policy to “apartheid” and “genocide,” and distorts IHL to erase Palestinian terror (what he labels “resistance”). He also has described Palestinian mass violence as: “an uprising of large elements of a civilian population against an Occupying Power’s unlawful and predatory abuses of its control over that population and their habitat.”

Helena Cobban writings describe “Jerusalem’s apartheid wall.”

Gamal Abouali in 1999 and 2000 he served as legal adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization during the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations. This followed the publication of 2 papers in 1998 on Israel’s alleged violations of international law in relation to Palestinian water supplies.

Ann M. Lesch Described as “among the handful of American experts on the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip,” she is the director of the Palestinian American Research Centre.

Andrew Whitley is Director of the Representative Office of UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) in New York.

James J. Zogby is founder and president of the Washington, D.C.-based Arab American Institute. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Zogby was a founding member and leader of the Palestine Human Rights Campaign.

Rita E. Hauser led a group of American Jews in meetings with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat in Stockholm and Geneva.

Gary Sick was instrumental in inviting Iran’s Ahmadinejad to Columbia, and as a board member of the American Iranian Council, he regularly lobbies the US to reduce its demands on Iran with respect to human rights.