Human Rights Watch founder rebukes group over Israel

NEW YORK (JTA) – The founder of Human Rights Watch rebuked the organization for being overly critical of Israel.

In an opinion piece published Tuesday in The New York Times, Robert Bernstein wrote that Human Rights Watch in recent years has focused too much on alleged Israeli violations while choosing to ignore those in neighboring countries.

“Human Rights Watch has lost critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields,” Bernstein said.

Bernstein, who stepped down from his position as chairman in 1998 after heading the group for 20 years, argued that Israel had taken painstaking measures to minimize civilian casualties during its recent conflicts in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

At the same time, he added, Hezbollah and Hamas have used civilians as human shields and launched repeated attacks aimed directly at Israelis.

Berstein warned that the failure by Human Rights Watch to distinguish between free and authoritarian societies belies its credibility and diminishes its power to effect change.
 

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