by Gerald Steinberg
New York-based Human Rights Watch – once the "gold standard" of moral watchdogs – is playing a leading role in demonizing
HRW also claimed credit for Judge Richard Goldstone's one-sided UN "inquiry" on the
But HRW has been shattered following revelations of systematic factual, moral and ethical violations, particularly with respect to
BASED ON interviews with HRW board members, employees and others, Birnbaum documented systematic bias and factual distortions. Sarah Leah Whitson (who led a bizarre fund-raising trip to
Whitson deputy, Joe Stork, has at least 30 years of experience as a virulent pro-Palestinian activist. And four other MENA staff members, past and present, have similar "solidarity" backgrounds, which accounts for the systematic bias in HRW reports on
As former HRW board member Edith Everett told Birnbaum: "There was a commitment to a point of view – that
HRW's Palestinian tilt is even reflected in the office décor.
These revelations have also exposed the façade of HRW's "research," which parrots Palestinian testimonies. Garlasco spoke of being "pushed by HRW headquarters to focus on white phosphorous... because... it was regarded as a headline-generating story."
He also confirmed the suspicion that Roth, Whitson and others deliberately ignored "necessary context when covering war" – such as war crimes committed by Yasser Arafat, Hamas and Hizbullah. HRW's rare and low-visibility reports on suicide bombers, Hamas and Hizbullah were token efforts to counter evidence of bias.
Roth fostered a culture of intimidation to hide his immoral tilt. Sid Sheinberg, vice-chairman of HRW's board, noted that "I've had staff members come to me and tell me off the record that they're not happy with the way this particular thing is being done, but they're not going to say anything."
A former board member noted HRW's "intolerance for open dialogue."
IN CONTRAST to the obsessive focus on
Gregory Stanton, a respected professor of genocide studies and prevention, noted that HRW also opposed the creation of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, and "refused to call the genocide in
With HRW's reputation in ruins, one might have expected Roth, Whitson, Stork and others to have resigned in embarrassment, or face removal by board members responsible for oversight. But Roth and his remaining supporters still cling to power, and to control over a $40 million annual budget.
Indeed, board member Kathleen Peratis, a staunch Roth loyalist, issued HRW's official response to these revelations, filled with pious and patronizing slogans. After declaring her "love for
The best defense that HRW can produce is a collection of vacuous clichés.
HRW's abuses have damaged not only
Gerald Steinberg is a professor of political science at
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