Rights Watchdog, Lost in the Mideast

[New York Times] Robert L. Bernstein - As the founder of Human Rights Watch and its active chairman for 20 years, I must do something that I never anticipated: I must publicly join the group's critics. Human Rights Watch had as its original mission to pry open closed societies, advocate basic freedoms and support dissenters. But recently it has been issuing reports on the Israeli-Arab conflict that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state. Israel is home to at least 80 human rights organizations, a vibrant free press, a democratically elected government, and a judiciary that frequently rules against the government. Meanwhile, the Arab and Iranian regimes remain brutal, closed and autocratic, permitting little or no internal dissent. The plight of their citizens is being ignored as Human Rights Watch's Middle East division prepares report after report on Israel. Human Rights Watch has lost critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hizbullah. The writer was the chairman of Human Rights Watch from 1978 to 1998.

2009-10-20 06:00:00

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