Devious Human Rights Watch diminishes significance of apartheid

Ideas

Devious Human Rights Watch diminishes significance of apartheid

Exploiting it in the Israeli-Palestinian context is a cynical appropriation of South Africans’ suffering

Shaun Sacks

In 1978 Robert Bernstein founded Human Rights Watch (HRW). Its mission: to uphold universal moral principles and political independence. After Bernstein’s exit from HRW, the organisation appears to have abandoned its independence. Instead of holding all countries to an equal universal standard, HRW has adopted an increasingly hostile agenda that sees one particular country, Israel, as more worthy of criticism, emotive language and disproportional scrutiny. In 2009 Bernstein felt the need to call out the organisation, writing in the New York Times that when it came to Israel  “Human Rights Watch has lost critical perspective”.

Rather than heed its founder, HRW, with a budget larger than many South African provincial governments, decided to double down on its campaign against the Jewish state. 

HRW’s latest effort to this effect came last week in the form of its report, A Threshold Crossed, which accused Israel of apartheid, a crime familiar to South Africans, but wholly unsuitable for the Palestinian context. Despite its length, the report is, in essence, a propagandist document, full of falsehoods and distortions. The world it describes is an alternate reality, one constructed by the same mix of false allegations and legal distortions marketed by the NGO network for decades...

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