Robert L. Bernstein is the founder and former chairman of Human Rights Watch. We’ve watched this organization take a not so subtle turn to the Left. Bernstein left the organization in 1998, and in an opinion piece in the New York Times today, he talks about the current organization’s lack of “critical perspective” in coverage of Israel and Palestine.
When I stepped aside in 1998, Human Rights Watch was active in 70
countries, most of them closed societies. Now the organization, with
increasing frequency, casts aside its important distinction between
open and closed societies.
Israel, with a population of 7.4 million, is home to at least 80 human
rights organizations, a vibrant free press, a democratically elected
government, a judiciary that frequently rules against the government, a
politically active academia, multiple political parties and, judging by
the amount of news coverage, probably more journalists per capita than
any other country in the world — many of whom are there expressly to
cover the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Meanwhile, the Arab and Iranian regimes rule over some 350 million
people, and most remain brutal, closed and autocratic, permitting
little or no internal dissent. The plight of their citizens who would
most benefit from the kind of attention a large and well-financed
international human rights organization can provide is being ignored as
Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division prepares report after report
Mr. Bernstein says in plain English, what everyone knows, including the media, but refuses to acknowledge:
Leaders of Human Rights Watch know that Hamas and Hezbollah chose to
wage war from densely populated areas, deliberately transforming
neighborhoods into battlefields. They know that more and better arms
are flowing into both Gaza and Lebanon and are poised to strike again.
And they know that this militancy continues to deprive Palestinians of
any chance for the peaceful and productive life they deserve. Yet
Israel, the repeated victim of aggression, faces the brunt of Human
Rights Watch’s criticism.