Despite some improvement, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization continues to display a "clear, identifiable political bias in both the quality and quantity" of its Israel coverage, a recently released report charges.
Jerusalem-based watchdog NGO Monitor this week released its report on HRW's 2007 activities, with a particular focus on the group's repeated allegation that Israel is inflicting "collective punishment" on Gaza residents.
According to the report, HRW accuses Israel of "collective punishment" in a way that is applied to no other country in the world.
NGO Monitor's report notes that Russia's 1999 policy of denying power, water, food or any humanitarian supplies to Chechnya was condemned by HRW but was not referred to as collective punishment. The report also notes that Azerbaijan's blockade of Armenia in 1994 was actually supported by HRW on the grounds that Armenia was "financing" a war.
In contrast, the report notes, HRW condemns Israel as guilty of "collective punishment" despite continued rocket attacks from Gaza against Israeli civilians. These attacks, while condemned by HRW, are repeatedly referred to as "retaliatory", with Israel implicitly culpable for the violence on both sides, NGO Monitor says.
Commenting on the report's release, NGO Monitor's Executive Director, Professor Gerald Steinberg said, "This report shows, yet again, that any claim of even-handedness by Human Rights Watch is hollow. Their exclusive condemnation of Israeli 'collective punishment' is discriminatory, and should end immediately."
However, Human Rights Watch dismissed the report, noting that NGO Monitor has never endorsed criticism of Israel.
“NGO Monitor should have a better understanding of international law,'" HRW's Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson said. "Israel today is the only country committing collective punishment by blockade because it is the only country that, directly and through its pressure on Egypt, is blocking all borders of a territory in order to squeeze its civilian population.”
“It’s hard to comprehend how NGO Monitor thinks that merely devoting an alleged 9% of Human Rights Watch’s energies in the Middle East to Israel constitutes a disproportionate focus," Whitson added. "Since NGO Monitor has never endorsed any criticism of Israeli abuses, it seems to be content only when there is no attention paid to Israel at all.”