Summary Report on Human Rights Watch
April 14, 2004
Summary Report on Human Rights Watch
Founded in 1978 as Helsinki Watch; Middle East Watch created in
1989; Operating Budget $22 Million; donors include major organizations,
such as the Ford and MacArthur Foundations, and private philanthropies
(2003 Report, p.
Major figures: Kenneth Roth - Executive Director
(ex-prosecuting attorney); Joe Stork - Acting head of Middle East
Division (radical anti-Israel political activist and ex-editor of
Middle East Report); Gary Sick - Middle East Advisory Committee
(ex-U.S. National Security Council during Carter Administration,
responsible for Iranian policy)
- In a study of activities between October 2000 and April 2004,
and activities on Israel were found to be systematically and
exceedingly biased. Most of the 103 reports, press releases, letters,
photo essays and film festivals focus on condemning Israeli responses
to terror, in comparison to only 13 that deal with Palestinian
terror attacks. This record illustrates HRW’s exploitation of
the rhetoric of universal human rights in order to pursue political
and ideological objectives in concert with international demonization
- HRW’s systematic condemnations of Israeli policies erase
the context of Palestinian violence, and when terrorism is
mentioned, it is marginalized, and not reflected in action items.
HRW also ignores systematic
anti-Israel incitement to hatred and the glorification of
- HRW has not issued a single report on antisemitism, on the
role of the Egypt, Syria, and other governments in promoting hatred
and violence, or on kidnapped and missing Israelis, including
Ron Arad. Through its silence, HRW, like the UNHRC, belies the
claim to universal and unbiased approaches.
highly politicized advocacy on boundaries and disputed territory
extends far beyond the human rights mandate. As a result, HRW
has become a party to the Arab-Israeli conflict and a contributor
to the atmosphere of violence, and has lost credibility and influence
in Israel and beyond.
- HRW has been a prominent participant in anti-Israel political
campaigns such as the
Durban conference (September 2001) and the ICJ process (February
- HRW reports
on Israel repeatedly use condemnatory terminology such as
“war crimes”, “collective punishment”, “violations of international
law”. The arbitrary use of this language without definition or
context clearly reflects political and ideological positions.
- While over 900 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian terror
attacks, HRW has generally failed to use its public relations
and press access to issue condemnations, in contrast to AMNESTY,
and in contrast to the regular HRW condemnations of Israel. The
single detailed HRW
report on Palestinian terror and its implications, released
in November 2002, has been forgotten in subsequent HRW actions.
- HRW has served as a major conduit for Palestinian-based organizations
that exploit human rights to pursue political and ideological
objectives, thereby violating and undermining the concept of universal
and apolitical human rights.
- HRW and affiliated organizations (ICBL) have used staged
photographs and manipulated evidence to support a political
and anti-Israel position.
Selected Illustrations and details:
- HRW May 2002 report Jenin:
IDF Military Operations. These operations took place following
a year of terror attacks, including the Passover bombing at the
end of March in which dozens of Israeli civilians were killed.
The focus of the HRW’s report on human rights was not on terrorism,
but on the response. The report claims that:
at times...IDF military attacks were indiscriminate...failing
to make a distinction between combatants and civilians...particularly
in the Hawashin district, the destruction extended well beyond
any conceivable purpose of gaining access to fighters, and was
vastly disproportionate to the military objectives pursued.
This highly subjective language reflects the propaganda campaign
of the Palestinian leadership, and is based on unsubstantiated
anecdotal evidence and unverifiable Palestinian claims.
- In a December 10 2002 CNN interview, Kenneth Roth attacked
Israeli policy in the case of Jenin, and called for "conditioning"
or cutting US government assistance to Israel. He “forgot” to
mention the context of terrorism.
“World Report" in 2001 repeated the unsupported claims on
Israel's policy on illegal building in Jerusalem, proclaiming
that Israel "violates provisions in international law against
collective punishment." This report exclsuively reflects Palestinian
perspectives in what is a highly political conflict. The detailed
refutation of Palestinian claims written by Justus Weiner (Illegal
Construction in Jerusalem, A Variation of a Global Phenomenon),
- The HRW press release of June 7, 2002 condemned the Knesset
decision to reduce child subsidies in cases where parents have
not served in the army. This is a complex issue whose impact extends
beyond the Israeli-Arab community. The ultra-Orthodox Jewish community,
the poorest segment of the Israeli population, is also affected
in exactly the same way, but they were ignored in this highly
- Nov 1 2002 : HRW
report “Erased in a Moment, Suicide Bombing Attacks Against Israeli
Civilians”. After the release of this report, it has disappeared
from the HRW vocabulary and horizon, and it is rarely if ever
cited in subsequent condemnations of Israeli defense actions against
- February 23 2004: On the day after the Jerusalem bus bombing,
HRW issued a highly politicized and biased
attack on Israel’s policy of unilateral separation. Instead
of considering the human rights benefits from removal of checkpoints
and reduction in friction, HRW joined the campaign coinciding
with the International Court of Justice proceedings. HRW endorsed
the view that Israeli lives saved by separation are of lesser
importance than reducing Palestinian inconvenience. HRW again
used sweeping and unsupported terms such as “indiscriminate punishment”,
“arbitrary and excessive restrictions on the freedom of movement”.
- On January 9 2004, al-Jazeerah
published a denunciation of the “Zionist NGO Monitor”, and defended
HRW for its political and ideological support of the Palestinian