How Do You Know When it's a Bad Day at Human Rights Watch?

When your own founder condemns you on the op-ed page of the New York Times for being hopelessly biased against a single country. This is what Bob Bernstein, a giant in the field of human rights, has just done:

Human Rights Watch has lost critical perspective on a conflict in which Israel has been repeatedly attacked by Hamas and Hezbollah, organizations that go after Israeli citizens and use their own people as human shields. These groups are supported by the government of Iran, which has openly declared its intention not just to destroy Israel but to murder Jews everywhere. This incitement to genocide is a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Bernstein's argues that the organization he started no longer knows, or cares to know, the difference between closed and open societies, and, as a result, spends far more time criticizing democratic Israel than it does the authoritarian regimes of the Muslim world. He also argues, quite powerfully, that Human Rights Watch no longer understands the difference between wars of aggression and wars of self-defense:

The organization is expressly concerned mainly with how wars are fought, not with motivations. To be sure, even victims of aggression are bound by the laws of war and must do their utmost to minimize civilian casualties. Nevertheless, there is a difference between wrongs committed in self-defense and those perpetrated intentionally.

This is an important piece, one that confirms my worst fears about Ken Roth, the director of Human Rights Watch, and the Middle East division he oversees. Read the whole thing.