HRW exploits human tragedy to further its political agenda - opinion

HRW’s report is part of a concerted NGO campaign, as documented by NGO Monitor, to use the term “apartheid” in order to lobby the International Criminal Court to open an investigation against Israel.

Omar Shakir, a US citizen representing New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Israel and the Palestinian territories, speaks to Reuters TV in Amman, Jordan.  (photo credit: MUHAMMED HAMED / REUTERS)
Omar Shakir, a US citizen representing New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Israel and the Palestinian territories, speaks to Reuters TV in Amman, Jordan.
(photo credit: MUHAMMED HAMED / REUTERS)
Last week, the New York-based NGO Human Rights Watch released a one-sided and vastly inaccurate report accusing the State of Israel of the crime of apartheid. While HRW’s attacks on the Jewish state are nothing new, its latest report reflects a particularly cynical exploitation of human tragedy to further a transparent political agenda.
For decades, HRW has been obsessively singling out Israel, rejecting its legitimacy as a Jewish nation-state regardless of its policies or borders. Their intentions are clear when considering that the Law of Return, which was enacted in 1950 in the shadow of the Holocaust, is used as one of the arguments to accuse Israel of apartheid.
HRW’s report is part of a concerted NGO campaign, as documented by NGO Monitor, to use the term “apartheid” in order to lobby the International Criminal Court to open an investigation against Israel.
The international community is now repeating the claims HRW has made for 20 years in promoting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement campaigns against Israel and targeting companies that do business in Israel. Recently, HRW was active in (failed) BDS attacks targeting Airbnb and FIFA, as well as in lobbying intensively for the discriminatory UN BDS blacklist.
While HRW devotes ample space to demonizing Israel in its 200-page report, it makes no mention of the daily struggle that Israel faces against Palestinian terror groups such as Hamas.
Nor does it recognize the suffering inflicted on Palestinians at the hands of those same groups. Excusing these actions while at the same time holding Israel to a vastly different standard of conduct places HRW squarely in the camp of the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah, hardly beacons of human rights.
Perhaps this is due to the fact that the human rights of Palestinians are not, in fact, HRW’s main concern. If they were, one would expect HRW to take issue with the suffering of the Palestinian people under their own corrupt and violent leadership. But no such condemnation can be found in the report. Instead, the repeated use of the phrase “domination by Jewish Israelis” betrays the organization’s true colors.
HRW’s concern is not the violation of Palestinian human rights, but rather the autonomy and the very existence of a Jewish state. Indeed, in its report, HRW denies Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state and reduces all security policies to “demographic objectives.”
HRW’s unfounded accusations of apartheid are not only vitriolic; they are also demonstrably false. Israel is a vibrant and diverse society which affords full rights to its minorities. Arab, Muslim and Christian citizens can be found in the highest echelons of society. We see them in the High Court, in senior military positions, as members of parliament and as popular sports and entertainment figures. To characterize such a society as apartheid is not only inaccurate, but also cheapens the experiences of those who have lived under real apartheid regimes.
Let’s be clear. Those who truly want a better future for the people of this region and to put an end to human rights abuses like those which Hamas inflicts on Gaza, would do well to rise above ideological and personal attacks and focus on what really matters. By choosing instead to erase the victims of terror and blame Israel for the region’s tragedies and injustices, the officials of HRW become part of the problem, not part of the solution. We must all stand up and speak out against such misinformation, false accusations and demonization.

The writer is a member of Knesset from the New Hope Party. She formerly served as a member of the Knesset from Likud. She was the youngest member of Likud and the second-youngest member of the 20th Knesset.