Human Rights Watch (HRW) has published many statements, reports, and condemnations on alleged Israel actions during the past decade. A large number of these allegations and condemnations have been shown to be inaccurate, resulting from the absence of a credible fact-finding methodology, distorted interpretations of international law, and HRW’s obsessive focus on Israel. Journalists and other consumers are therefore advised to check all HRW claims regarding Israel on an independent basis in order to avoid repeating false statements.
NGO Monitor notes that HRW’s lengthy statement/report today on “detained Eritrean and Sudanese nationals” erases the legal and factual complexities of the issue in order to portray Israel as violating international law. Instead of discussing the different legal obligations towards refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants, HRW misleadingly blurs these distinctions. Also, it does not appear that HRW contacted the Israeli government prior to issuing its statement. Instead, as is its standard practice, it relies simply on unverified anecdotal statements.
Previously, HRW blamed Israel for the death of a Palestinian infant during the November 2012 conflict in Gaza, repeating the claims of Palestinian “news reports and eyewitnesses.” The details in a complex environment were unknown at the time, and months later, after an investigation, a UN report attributed the baby’s death to “what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel.”
Similarly, numerous allegations by HRW against Israel during the 2006 Lebanon War and the 2008-9 fighting in Gaza were shown to be definitively and factually incorrect, but HRW did not apologize or retract these claims.
HRW has also significantly and consistently distorted international law in condemning Israel (see “Pure Speculation: HRW Statements on Gaza and Prisoner X,” NGO Monitor, February 13, 2013).
These methodological failures are amplified by HRW’s consistent anti-Israel agenda, including participation in BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) and lawfare campaigns directed at the legitimacy of Israel. In contrast to these obessive condemnations, HRW has produced very few detailed reports on human rights violations in Syria, Egypt, and other Middle East countries. Biased officials with ideological agendas are responsible for helping “turn Israel into a pariah state,” in the words of HRW founder Robert Bernstein.
Thus, HRW’s reports and statements on Israel, regardless of the topic, must be reviewed carefully and independently verified before their “findings” and “analysis” are publicized, reprinted, or given credibility.