Human Rights Watch's fundraising in Saudi Arabia has cast a welcome light on the organization's anti-Israel agenda. Much of the response among HRW's defenders has been along the lines of, "how dare you attack a human rights organization? Typical right-wing Zionist crap, attacking the messenger."
This criticism, of course, presumes that HRW is acting in good faith as a neutral human rights arbiter. The other possibility is that HRW's Israel policy is driven by a leftist "anti-colonialist" agenda masquerading as a human rights agenda, and using the halo effect of HRW's human rights work in other regions to provide it with credibility.
The evidence strongly suggests the latter.
Take a look at NGO Monitor's investigation of HRW's Middle East staff. It includes researcher Nadia Barhoum. Barhoum is a Palestinian activist who publicly supported divestment from Israel because of its "apartheid" policies.
A blog she wrote while living in the Palestinian territories hardly shows an even-handed concern with human rights abuses emanating from the Palestinian side. Here's what she wrote after Hamas won election in Gaza:
right now, the western powers are threatening to halt aid to the palestinians on account of hamas and its stance on the use of violence against the state of israel. ironic, because i never once heard a western power threatening to discontinue its billions of dollars in aid to israel on account of the violence used daily against palestinians.
And that's just one example. Read the whole NGO Monitor report.
Of course Human Rights Watch could counter that it hires "activists" on all sides, because they have a particular incentive to ferret out abuses by their opponents. A dubious argument, but completely undermined by the fact that HRW doesn't hire pro-Israel activists, and it's laughable to think it ever would.
That doesn't mean that HRW is never right when it points out perceived Israeli wrongdoing. It just means that HRW's reports on Israel should be treated with the same skepticism one would treat them if they came from any other anti-Israel NGO. The "human rights" halo is a false one, and the presumption of good faith unwarranted.
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