Israeli human rights lawyer and Haaretz columnist Sari Bashi has been appointed as Human Rights Watch’s program director, taking charge of 16 divisions dealing with a range of human rights abuses across the globe.
A graduate of Yale Law School, the American-born Bashi is the founder of the Israeli human rights organization Gisha, which advocates for Palestinians’ freedom of movement, and has contributed a column for several years to Haaretz under the pen name “Umm Forat,” in which she describes her life as a Jew raising a family with her Palestinian husband in Ramallah. She started her career as a correspondent for the Associated Press in Jerusalem in 1998.
Bashi had previously served as HRW’s Israel and Palestine Country and Advocacy Director from 2015-2018 and has been a special advisor to the organization since July 2021.
“I'm thrilled, honored, humbled and grateful to announce that next month, I will begin my appointment as @hrw's new Program Director, supervising our research and investigations as we reorient ourselves to strengthen the broader human rights ecosystem and meet today's challenges,” she tweeted on Friday.
HRW, which employs approximately 450 people across the globe, has accused Israel of crimes against humanity and compared it to the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Israel has accused the organization of antisemitism and of having a biased approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2019, the Israeli Supreme Court upheld a government decision to expel Omar Shakir, the group’s local representative, who was accused by the state of supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.
Prior to the deportation ruling, HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth, who announced his retirement several days ago, alleged that “the Israeli government is in a campaign designed to silence not only us and local human rights organizations, but also to deny Israelis information about what’s happening around them.”
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Last summer, the group issued a report stating that Israel is committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said in reply that Human Rights Watch “is known to have a long-standing anti-Israel agenda,” adding that “the fictional claims that HRW concocted are both preposterous and false.”