Call for Human Rights Watch to act on Israel

By Jennifer Lipman, October 12, 2010
James Hoge

James Hoge

An Israeli academic has written to the new chairman of Human Rights Watch (HRW) urging him to make changes to the organisation and restore its “moral integrity.”

Professor Gerald Steinberg, president of Jerusalem-based research organisation NGO Monitor, called on James Hoge to take actions “to end support for the anti-Israel ideology that has permeated the organisation.”

In the letter, Prof Steinberg said the organisation’s Middle East agenda disproportionately focuses on Israel and criticised HRW’s support of boycotts of Israel, which he said “demean and politicise human rights norms.”

Noting “the disproportionate resources devoted to criticising Israel at the expense of chronic human rights abuses in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Libya, and others”, he appealed to Mr Hoge to “make the necessary changes in order to meet these objectives.”

Prof Steinberg said: “HRW needs to act quickly and firmly to restore its moral compass and claim to promote universal human rights values.”

“We fully expect Mr. Hoge to initiate a credible and independent examination of the organisation’s past reports on Israel, and issue retractions where warranted

Mr Hoge, the editor of Foreign Affairs magazine, was appointed as the fourth chair of HRW in January and takes over the role this month.

The New York-based organisation, created to investigate human rights abuses, has faced criticism from its founder Bob Bernstein for its treatment of Israel.

In February 2010 its military analyst Marc Garlasco resigned after it emerged that he collected Nazi memorabilia.

NGO Monitor was set up in the wake of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, where a group of non governmental organisations equated Zionism with racism.

Last updated: 3:44pm, October 12 2010