In certain circles, the very name, Human Rights Watch, has become a profanity. There are those convinced that this is an organization set on attacking Israel unmercifully and disproportionately. Among these people is even Bob Bernstein who founded the group in the 1970s and recently left in protest to start Advancing Human Rights, which he says is a corrective to an organization that has lost its moral compass.
I won’t go in to the few mistakes HRW has made to bring this criticism down on its own head (remember the Nazi memorabilia collector who was working in their Middle East division?), but suffice it to say they have sometimes not made the job of their defenders easy.
Still, it does surprise me how compartmentalized the minds of their critics can be, such that they find it impossible to commend or acknowledge HRW when they do something evenhanded or that upsets the caricature of them as blindly pro-Palestinian.
Today, for example, the group issued a strongly worded press release directed at Hamas and the Palestinian Authority calling on them to investigate attacks against two Palestinian human rights workers. Here’s a summary of the two cases as presented by HRW: