As part of its ongoing BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) campaign against Israel, Human Rights Watch (HRW) published a report and press release targeting Israel banks. This represents HRW’s third major BDS initiative in 2017 alone, notes NGO Monitor.
“Economic warfare against the Israeli financial system has long been a goal of anti-Israel activists, ,” said Anne Herzberg, Legal Advisor at NGO Monitor. “It is also clear that HRW has timed the release of this publication to coincide with the preparation of the discriminatory UN Human Rights Council blacklist, currently being prepared by UN functionaries in conjunction with BDS groups like HRW.”
Under the leadership of Ken Roth, HRW was a major participant at the launch of BDS at the infamous Durban Conference in 2001, and Sarah Leah Whitson (Director of HRW’s Middle East division) participated in the first BDS rally in the United States in 2004. In recent years, HRW has pursued BDS at the United Nations against FIFA, quarries and real estate brokers.
NGO Monitor notes that HRW’s increased BDS activity follows the hiring of BDS activist Omar Shakir to head its Israel desk. In addition, HRW’s Israel/Palestine program received a donation in June 2017 from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, one of the main US funders of BDS.
“HRW’s pseudo-legal arguments and sophistry do not stand up to scrutiny and cannot create legal obligations where none exists,” added Ms. Herzberg. “BDS is not about human rights, and, this publication reflects HRW’s long-standing pattern of singling out Israel.”
Like the UNHRC’s discriminatory blacklist, this operates from the premise that business in occupied territory is “illegal settlement activity” and is barred by international law. In fact, there is no such prohibition and almost every country engages in and/or facilitates business activities in settlements in situations of occupation throughout the globe.