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HRW in 2010: Less Credibility, More BDS-Organization Again Devotes More Resources to Israel than Other MidEast Countries

Posted by admin | Posted in The Capitol | Posted on 12-01-2011

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Press Release

For Immediate Release
January 12, 2011
Contact: Jason Edelstein, +972-52-861-2129

HRW in 2010: Less Credibility, More BDS
Organization Again Devotes More Resources
to Israel than Other MidEast Countries

JERUSALEM – As part of its annual analysis of Human Rights Watch (HRW), NGO Monitor today released the 2010 report on the activities of HRW’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) division. In 2010, HRW demonstrated a lack of credibility in allegations involving Israel, extended its support of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), ignored the criticism of its founder Robert Bernstein, saw a significant drop in donor funding, and replaced the chairman of its board.

“Our analysis proves that in 2010 HRW continued to be driven by anti-Israel bias and a lack of focus on real human rights issues in the Middle East,” says Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institution that tracks NGOs in the region. “In examining the number of reports issued, the types of documents published for each country, the weak statements on totalitarian regimes, and a lack of credible sources in their reports, the conclusion is clear – the MENA division has an obsessive focus on Israel.”

NGO Monitor’s analysis shows that MENA issued 51 total documents related to “Israel and the Occupied Territories” in 2010, the highest for any country in the region. The December 166-page report on Israel, Separate and Unequal, was the longest one issued by the division in the past two years. In 2010, HRW’s three reports Israel total 344 pages – far more than any other country in the region.

In addition, using NGO Monitor’s weighted methodology for different types of activities, Israel accounted for 14 percent of HRW’s regional involvement. Iran was only 12 percent, despite the daily assault on human rights, followed by closed societies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, at around 9 percent, which is one-third less than Israel. [See Tables 1 and 2]

“Of all the countries in the region, Israel, a democratic society, received the most attention,” Steinberg adds. “This is indicative of what HRW founder Robert Bernstein repeatedly condemned – HRW has abandoned its mission to pry open closed societies, to help individuals in those societies who lack the infrastructure to fight for their rights. Instead, HRW is a central player in exploiting human rights to isolate Israel.”

MENA’s bias against Israel was also reflected in publications on the Middle East that continue to be based on sources without credibility.

“The publication headlined Separate and Unequal demonstrates HRW’s severe lack of credibility and proper methodology,” says Steinberg. “The allegations were based on secondary sources that HRW did not independently verify. Instead of conducting its own research, HRW relied on politicized advocacy groups such as Who Profits (Coalition of Women for Peace), Al Haq, Badil, B’Tselem, Yesh Din, and Ir Amin. These organizations pursue their own agendas; they do not provide reliable information.”

In preparing the report, HRW also relied on anecdotal interviews with 66 Palestinians and eight Israelis.

“This is not just counting pages,” says Steinberg. “These methodology problems reflect major biases at HRW that impact their reporting.”

As these failures are recognized, HRW continues to lose impact and support – funding from traditional donors decreased by $ 6 million (15%) from 2009, after a similar decline the previous year. (This was offset by the 10-year, $ 100 million donation from George Soros.)

Along with its questionable credibility, HRW promotes the BDS campaign based on the 2001 Durban conference, in which the organization was a major participant. In May, MENA director Sarah Leah Whitson renewed calls for a boycott of Caterpillar because of the use of its bulldozers in Israel. Separate and Unequal repeated calls on the US to withhold security cooperation, and called on corporations to sever ties with projects or companies in Israeli settlements. HRW MENA researcher Bill Van Esveld acknowledged HRW’s role in the campaign to delegitimize Israel: “It would be disingenuous for us to say it [“Separate and Unequal” report] has no similarities to BDS. This is kind of an S report” (referring to the S in BDS).

“The BDS movement – which calls for the end of Israel as a Jewish state, and is led by individuals that compare the IDF to Nazis – represents the antithesis of human rights,” Steinberg notes.

HRW’s continuing decline was highlighted by Bernstein during his November Goldstein Lecture on Human Rights at the University of Nebraska, which expanded on themes included in his October 2009 New York Times op-ed. Bernstein decried the trend of HRW and others, such as the UN Human Rights Council, in focusing on democracies, and falsely painting Israel as one of the “principal offenders” of human rights.

In the media, Ben Birnbaum in The New Republic (April 27, 2010) published a detailed report on HRW that highlighted the deeply-rooted bias among senior officials, in contradistinction to human rights principles. Similarly, Jonathan Foreman’s “Nazi Scandal engulfs Human Rights Watch” in the Sunday Times [UK], (March 28, 2010) illustrated how the revelation of HRW “senior military analyst” Marc Garlasco’s Nazi memorabilia obsession was indicative of far deeper problems at the organization.

Steinberg adds: “Hopefully the public scrutiny and pressure from Mr. Bernstein and others will lead to changes among the HRW officials that lead the exploitation of human rights. The new chairman, James Hoge, Jr., has the opportunity to implement the much delayed revamping of the MENA division in order to end the inherent bias and lack of credibility.”

Read NGO Monitor’s full report on HRW: http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/hrw_in_more_bias_even_less_credibility

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