On Human Rights Watch's Saudi Fundraising

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Goldblog reader P.F. writes, in a hostile though respectful e-mail:

"Are you suggesting in your criticism of Human Rights Watch that its officials shouldn't talk to Arab audiences about Israel?"

No! Of course not. What I'm suggesting is that they shouldn't fund-raise in Arab countries, especially un-free Arab countries -- by bragging about their opposition to Israel, and by invoking the greatest bogeyman of all, the Jewish lobby. It's just so tacky it's hard to believe Ken Roth, the group's director, would ever endorse this practice. It's absolutely fine for Human Rights Watch to talk to Arab audiences about the universe of its work (it would have been nice, of course, if Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East director of Human Rights Watch, had seen fit to mention, you know, beheadings in front of her Saudi audience), but perhaps there should be a rule that Human Rights Watch not raise funds in its main target countries. I would argue that Human Rights Watch shouldn't raise funds in Israel, either. Imagine if one of the group's fund-raisers got up before an audience in Tel Aviv and bragged about how tough her group has been on Saudi Arabia. You can just imagine the outcry in the Arab world. 

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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