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CORRESPONDENCE: We’re Actually Good for Israel

A longtime board member of Human Rights Watch responds.

There is broad consensus on the board of Human Rights Watch in support of its Middle East work in general and its Israel-Palestine work in particular, contrary to the suggestion of "a civil war" over Israel ("Minority Report," May 13, 2010). As the co-chair of HRW's advisory committee on the Middle East and North Africa and long-time (now emerita) member of the board, I have been a part of virtually all conversations about our work in the region in the last twenty years. I spoke to your reporter for over an hour in late March and made clear to him that I was present for the conversations he described and that his thesis of acrimonious division was wrong. Other board members told him the same, but our views are not reflected in his piece.

I am a Jew, a Zionist and a full-throated supporter of the work of Human Rights Watch. The state of Israel that I love (in fact, I write these words from Tel Aviv) will thrive and be well if it conducts itself according to its own high principles and according to the human rights and humanitarian rules that Human Rights Watch seeks to promote.

There is no bias against Israel at Human Rights Watch except in the minds of those who erroneously believe Israel is harmed by honest criticism. Far from harming it, I believe this work strengthens Israel.

Thanks for referring to Human Rights Watch as the gold standard in human rights reporting. You may view our extensive research on most of the other countries and entities in the region such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia by checking the website (

Kathleen Peratis is a lawyer for Outten & Golden LLP and a columnist for The Jewish Daily Forward.