Israeli-American legal expert, activist promoted to HRW Program Director

Sari Bashi has a strong background in international humanitarian law and wrote about her personal life, her marriage to a Palestinian man, their two children and their life in Ramallah

 Sari Bashi. (photo credit: CLARA PODHANY)
Sari Bashi.
(photo credit: CLARA PODHANY)

Israeli-American legal expert and long-time activist Sari Bashi has been promoted to Program Director for the global organization Human Rights Watch based in the United States.

“I’m thrilled, honored, humbled and grateful to announce that next month, I will begin my appointment as @hrw’s new Program Director,” Bashi tweeted over the weekend.

She explained that she would be “supervising our research and investigations as we reorient ourselves to strengthen the broader human rights ecosystem and meet today’s challenges.”

“I get to lead a team of 271 researchers, associates, specialists and managers, all trying, with humility, to build power and support the work of local and national human rights defenders,” she wrote.

Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth speaks during a interview with Reuters in Geneva, Switzerland, April 9, 2018 (credit: REUTERS/PIERRE ALBOUY)Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth speaks during a interview with Reuters in Geneva, Switzerland, April 9, 2018 (credit: REUTERS/PIERRE ALBOUY)

A graduate of Yale University, both its undergraduate program and its law school, Bashi has taught international humanitarian law there. She is the co-founder and former executive director of the Israeli NGO, Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement.

Bashi has also written extensively about her personal life, her marriage to a Palestinian man, their two children and their life in Ramallah. She wrote a blog for the Hebrew daily Haaretz called ‘Bamba in Ramallah’ under the pseudonym Umm Forat.

She revealed her real identity when she published a book about her relationship with her Palestinian partner, called Maqluba - Upside Down Love.

She has worked for HRW in the past. From 2015 to 2018 she initiated research on whether Israel was guilty of the crime of apartheid. Last year she returned to HRW as a consultant and helped promote HRW’s 213-page report on the subject published in 2021, entitled “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution.”

Looking to the future at HRW, Bashi said, “We are trying to make HRW more responsive to the needs of local and national society groups” so that “our work helps strengthen civil society” to “protect against human rights abuses.”

Bashi assumes her position shortly before HRW’s executive director Kenneth Roth is expected to step down in August. HRW’s deputy executive director Tirana Hassan will temporarily fill Roth’s role until his replacement is hired.