Heller and Human Rights Watch:

Kevin Jon Heller, an American teaching international criminal law in Australia [corrected], has been on a campaign at his blog to discredit my posts about Human Rights Watch. It's therefore worh reprinting an exchange from the comments on one of his posts on the issue:


Putting aside Professor Bernstein's post, are your comfortable with HRW going to Saudi Arabia and using its work vis-a-vis Israel or Jewish entities in the US as the focus of its fund raising? .... I think the point is using one's work against Israel as a donation argument in an Arabic country is very troublesome.

For example, pretend that HRW attended a right-wing event to raise funs with the argument that they were "sticking it to the Arabs" with their focus on women's rights.


I think that is a very fair question — and I appreciate the civil tone in which you ask it. My answer depends on whether HRW is even-handed in its fundraising. If it fundraises with progressive Jews by highlighting its criticisms of Hamas, no. But if it is one-sided, absolutely. I have an email into a friend at HRW to ask precisely that question; I'll report the results when I get them.

That was exactly one month ago. Now, all of us but Kevin know that Sarah Leah Whitson wouldn't be caught dead fundraising among Jews sympathetic to Israel by highlighting its criticisms of Hamas (which, by the way, are much more limited than its criticisms of Israel).

But you would think that now that a month has gone by, with no examples of anti-Palestinian fundraising by HRW having arisen, Kevin would at least acknowledge that as sympathetic as he is to HRW, its fundraising among Saudi elites while promoting its work in Gaza and its battle with pro-Israel critics was dodgy. You'd be wrong.

You'd also think that Kevin would acknowledge that HRW director Kenneth Roth explaining Whitson's statements in Saudi Arabia away by writing: "We report on Israel. Its supporters fight back with lies and deception," is at best arrogant (We're always right! They lie and deceive!) and impolitic, and at worst reflects a deep hostility to supporters of Israel. Nope, the real villain is me, and my "clever rhetorical move" in noting Roth's unqualified statement.

And Kevin doesn't even try to explain why HRW, if it were at all concerned with even the appearance of not being anti-Israel, would hire Palestinian political activists with longstanding anti-Israel records to be its researchers, while, to put it mildly, not exactly reaching out to former AIPAC staffers.

No need to open a new thread, you may comment on the previous one.

UPDATE: Oh, and a previous encounter with Heller involved his post, "Israel's Shifting Defense of Its Attack on the UN School," an attack which, Heller asserted, based on nothing in particular, "was an intentional attack that was either (1) designed to punish the UN for helping the residents of Gaza; or (2) based on faulty intelligence." But, oops:

The United Nations has reversed its stance on one of the most contentious and bloody incidents of the recent Israel Defense Forces operation in Gaza, saying that an IDF mortar strike that killed 43 people on January 6 did not hit one of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency schools after all.

I first pointed out in the comments that Israel, after some initial confusion, and contrary to Heller's post, denied that it hit this school. Nothing. I later pointed out the UN's own finding, with relevant link, to Heller via email, and suggested that he might issue a correction. None was forthcoming.