George Soros' £65m gift to human rights charity

Billionaire financier George Soros is giving £65 million to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the New York-based organisation dedicated to investigating human rights abuses.

HRW has criticised both Israel and Hamas in its reports in the past. At the beginning of this year, its programmes director Ian Levine met Jewish communal leaders in London in an effort to convince them that the organisation was not biased against Israel.

But the grant has been criticised by NGO Monitor, the research organisation in Jerusalem. Its president Gerald Steinberg claimed that that HRW had produced “a consistent anti-Israel agenda”. He recalled that even HRW’s founder Bob Bernstein had criticised the organisation and that its military analyst Marc Garlasco (both correct) had resigned after it was revealed that he collected Nazi memorabilia.

HRW will not receive the money in one lump sum but over 10 years. Mr Soros, who is giving the money through his Open Society Foundations, has challenged the organisation to match the same amount in that time. HRW receives no government funding, so it will have to double its current income from private sources

Mr Soros said: “Human Rights Watch is one of the most effective organizations I support. Human rights underpin our greatest aspirations; they’re at the heart of open societies.”

Last updated: 1:07pm, September 8 2010