Robert Bernstein, the founder of Human Rights Watch, has published a very important criticism of the organization in the NY Times. In declaring his decision to “publicly join the group’s critics,” Bernstein endorses the conclusion that HRW has lost all credibility over the Middle East.

Bernstein’s op-ed follows publication of NGO Monitor’s systematic report demonstrating HRW’s blatant bias and lack of credibility on the Middle East, (see editor’s notes below). These findings have been amplified by the recent call for HRW’s board members to “institute a full independent review and reform in the organization” from leading experts including Elie Wiesel, Professor Alan Dershowitz and former CIA Director R. James Woolsey.

HRW’s moral failures, as denounced by Bernstein, were highlighted by the effort to solicit funds in Saudi Arabia, and exposure of the organization’s Middle East division, dominated by anti-Israel activists Sarah Leah Whitson and Joe Stork. Meanwhile ‘senior military analyst’ Marc Garlasco, responsible for many claims used to condemn Israel, was revealed to be an obsessive collector of Nazi memorabilia.

During this time, HRW has played a leading role in lobbying intensively on behalf of the discredited Goldstone report. Richard Goldstone himself was an HRW board member until forced to resign when NGO Monitor noted the conflict of interest.

NGO Monitor’s President, Prof Gerald Steinberg said, “After creating Human Rights Watch, Robert Bernstein has again done the right thing by publicly condemning its moral bankruptcy. Bernstein’s article reinforces NGO Monitor’s detailed analysis showing how HRW has lost credibility by promoting ideology in place of the universality of human rights.

In the absence of a major change in leadership and direction, which must be led by HRW’s board members, the organization will have reached the point of no return. Major change must start at the top, where Kenneth Roth has presided over this moral debacle, and in the Middle East division, whose reports on Israel should be rescinded and subject to independent review.

Please click here to view the NGO Monitor review of HRW’s 2008 activities

NGO Monitor was founded to promote transparency, critical analysis and debate on the political role of human rights organizations. For more information, see our website at

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