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New Human Rights Watch director follows old pattern of targeting Israel

Tirana Hassan 'turned her fire on Israel' within days after taking office, according to New York Post op-ed

Tirana Hassan, acting executive director of HRW speaks during Human RIghts Watch briefing at UN Correspondents Association at UN Headquarters in New York, March 9, 2023. (Photo: Lev Radin/Sipa USA)

The new head of Human Rights Watch has taken aim at Israel just days after assuming her role.

Tirana Hassan, recently appointed as executive director of one of the world’s leading international human rights organizations, told Reuters that the Israeli government is “actually on a rampage against human rights domestically against its own people in Israel.”

“With the current state of the Israeli government and the attacks on the judiciary, in particular, we see that this is not a human rights-compliant government,” Hassan added.

Hassan is a lawyer who has represented asylum seekers. She previously served as chief programs office for Human Rights Watch (HRW), before replacing the organization’s long-serving director, Kenneth Roth.

In an article for the New York Post, David Adesnik, a senior fellow and director of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, slammed Hassan for her unjust targeting of the Jewish state.

“For the first time in 30 years, Human Rights Watch has a new executive director, Tirana Hassan. Within days of taking office, she turned her fire on Israel... If one were to select a country whose government is on a rampage against human rights, Israel may not be the first that comes to mind,” Adesnik wrote.

To highlight Hassan’s anti-Israel bias, Adesnik mentioned in his column a list of countries, such as  China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Myanmar and Venezuela, elaborating on their disturbing violations of human rights against their own populations.

“Despite this wealth of viable options, Hassan chose to point a finger at Israel,” he stressed. “Notably, she highlighted the Netanyahu government’s treatment of Israelis, not of Palestinians.”

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have been freely and openly protesting against their government for months. While the new HRW director may have ignored this, Adesnik’s column underscored that there is simply no comparison between the treatment of Israeli protesters and their counterparts in Tehran and other capitals.

“To put it mildly, one must put Israel under a very powerful microscope to search for the alleged rampage against human rights that Hassan described,” Adesnik wrote.

Human Rights Watch has been accused several times in the past for its bias against Israel, as has the United Nations and organizations like Amnesty International. In 2009, HRW Founder Robert Bernstein lambasted its approach towards Israel in a New York Times op-ed.

"Leaders of Human Rights Watch know that Hamas and Hezbollah chose to wage war from densely populated areas, deliberately transforming neighborhoods into battlefields,” Bernstein wrote.

“They know that more and better arms are flowing into both Gaza and Lebanon and are poised to strike again. And they know that this militancy continues to deprive Palestinians of any chance for the peaceful and productive life they deserve. Yet Israel, the repeated victim of aggression, faces the brunt of Human Rights Watch’s criticism."

Bernstein’s article provided additional examples of anti-Israel bias, such as the organization blatantly overlooking a Palestinian terror attack outside of a Jerusalem synagogue in January – a murder spree that resulted in seven casualties. However, the HRW only gave the incident attention when Israel announced its plan to demolish the terrorist’s home in retaliation, never mentioning the terror attack itself.

Human Rights Watch is also leading a campaign to protect critics of Israel from accusations of anti-Semitism, Adesnik noted. The organization sent a letter to the secretary-general of the United Nations, urging him to reject the definition of anti-Semitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA). The United States, along with most European countries, has adopted the definition. 

Read more: ANTI ISRAEL

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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