In a previous post, I criticized Human Rights Watch Director Ken Roth's characterization of the criticism HRW receives regarding its coverage of Israel. Roth wrote, in an email to Jeffrey Goldberg, "We report on Israel. Its supporters fight back with lies and deception." I've also noted that (at least according to NGO Watch, and to my knowledge), HRW has never officially recanted or apologized for any of the errors or distortions critics have identified in its reporting on Israel.
There are two possible explanations for the above. One is that HRW is implicitly hostile to Israel and its supporters. The other is that Roth and colleagues are just arrogant you-know-whats who don't take criticism well, and would react the same way regardless of the source of the criticism.
It was therefore enlightening for a reader to point me to a prior controversy involving HRW and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. HRW criticized Palestinian officials for urging civilians to serve as human shields. Anti-Israel commentators, led by rabidly anti-Israel activist Norman Finkelstein, went ballistic.
So how did HRW react? Did Ken Roth say, "We report on Palestine. Its supporters fight back with lies and deception." Did Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson accuse HRW's critics of racism? Not exactly. HRW instead issued an abject apology. In fact, if you try to find the original press release on its website, you instead find a page that first has the lengthy apology, and only then republishes the original press release.
You can't make this stuff up!
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