Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic has done the research, and has concluded that:
[T]he director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division is attempting to raise funds from Saudis, including a member of the Shura Council (which oversees, on behalf of the Saudi monarchy, the imposition in the Kingdom of the strict Wahhabi interpretation of Islamic law) in part by highlighting her organization’s investigations of Israel, and its war with Israel’s “supporters,” who are liars and deceivers. It appears as if Human Rights Watch, in the pursuit of dollars, has compromised its integrity.
David Bernstein, who broke the story in the WSJ, says:
Finally, some would defend HRW by pointing it that it has criticized Saudi Arabia’s human rights record rather severely in the past. The point of my post, though, is not that HRW is pro-Saudi, but that it is maniacally anti-Israel. The most recent manifestation is that its officers see nothing unseemly about raising funds among the elite of one of the most totalitarian nations on earth, with a pitch about how the money is needed to fight “pro-Israel forces,” without the felt need to discuss any of the Saudis’ manifold human rights violations, and without apparent concern that becoming dependent on funds emanating from a brutal dictatorship leaves you vulnerable to that brutal dictatorship later cutting off the flow of funds, if you don’t “behave.”
Short order cook has a reasonable point:
I for one am glad that HRW can go to Saudi Arabia and fund raise, despite publishing many papers fiercely critical of the Saudi regime, and that apparently some important people in the country are enlightened enough to give them money.
Nevertheless, I don’t agree.
What would you think if HRW had gone to apartheid-era South Africa, had met with members of the ruling elite, and solicited funds from them for reports on human rights abuses in black African states on the basis that “black power groups fight back against our campaigns with lies and deception”?