Human Rights Watch head claims Israel interfering in UK politics

LA-based Israel advocacy group StandWithUS calls Sarah Whitson's claims antisemitic conspiracy theory

February 10, 2019 10:28
2 minute read.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson, talks during a news conference in

Human Rights Watch (HRW) Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson, talks during a news conference in Doha June 12, 2012.. (photo credit: STRINGER/ REUTERS)


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Human Rights Watch has lost all legitimacy regarding Israel, Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said on Sunday, after a senior HRW official supported a conspiratorial claim that Israel manufactured the antisemitism crisis within Britain’s Labour Party.

On Saturday, Sarah Leah Winston, executive director of HRW’s Middle East and North Africa division, embedded a tweet on her Twitter account from Asa Winstanley, a writer for the Electronic Intifada website, which said: “We’re on the cusp of a major new wave of manufactured ‘Labour antisemitism crisis’ stories, much like spring/summer 2018. Buckle up.”

Above the tweet, Winston wrote, “Why is this #Israel interference in domestic UK politics acceptable? Is it only a problem when Russia does this?”

Nahshon tweeted in response that HRW “has lost all legitimacy when it comes to Israel. Obsessive hatred and conspiracy theories worthy of the worst antisemites.”

Nahshon said it had been a “long time” since the Foreign Ministry last cooperated with the organization.

Winstanley’s article on the anti-Israel, Chicago-based Electronic Intifada – headlined “Israel running campaign against Jeremy Corbyn” – claimed that the Israeli government operates an application that urges its users to call out Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for antisemitism.

“This is the latest evidence of an Israeli campaign of psychological warfare against the UK’s main opposition party,” Winstanley wrote.

The Sunday Times recently uncovered an event from 2010 in which Corbyn compared the Israeli government to the Nazis. The application to which Winstanley referred, called Act.IL, asked its users to call out Corbyn’s remarks.

The Act.IL website says the application – a joint venture of the Israeli American Council (IAC) and the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) – was created with the aim of using social media to combat the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement and delegitimization of the State of Israel.

According to the Electronic Intifada story, Act.IL “is part of a long-running influence operation by Israel and its lobby groups to smear Corbyn, a veteran Palestine solidarity activist, and to label the party he leads institutionally antisemitic. The operation also aims to push Labour, where there is strong support for Palestinian rights among the grassroots, in a more pro-Israel direction.”

StandWithUS, a pro-Israel education and advocacy organization based in Los Angeles, tweeted: “Executive Director of @hrw, @sarahleah1 shares antisemitic conspiracy theories on ‘manufactured antisemitism crisis’ of #UK’s Labour Party, then claims it’s because of ‘#Israel interference.’ Human Rights Watch – this is what you stand for?!”

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