By Haaretz Service
Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of launching an "organized campaign" of lies and misinformation against it in the wake of the organization's support of the Goldstone report, British newspaper the Guardian reported Friday.
The Goldstone report claims Israel and Hamas both committed war crimes during the winter conflict in Gaza, but levels harsher criticism toward Israel.
"I really hesitate to use words like conspiracy, but there is a feeling that there is an organized campaign, and we're seeing from different places what would appear to be co-ordinated attacks...from some of the language and arguments used it would seem as if there has been discussion," Iain Levine, Human Rights Watch's program director, told the Guardian.
"We are having to spend a lot of time repudiating the lies, the falsehoods, the misinformation."
Human Rights Watch told the Guardian that the campaign to discredit it includes allegations that its reports on Israel are written by "anti-Israel ideologues" and that it has attempted to raised funds in Saudi Arabia by highlighting its criticism of Israel.
The group also said that it sees the campaign as part of the government's pledge over the summer to combat what it called "biased" human rights groups.
Levine told the Guardian he believes the criticism waged against Human Rights Watch is an attempt on Israel's part to distract attention from discussion of the Goldstone report. Richard Goldstone, who compiled the report that has since been endorsed by the United Nations Human Rights Coucil, is a former Human Rights Watch board member.
Human Rights Watch said that the criticism has come from right-wing blogs, but also from Israeli non-profit groups, such as NGO Monitor in Jerusalem, which is funded by U.S. donors and includes Elie Wiesel on its advisory board.
Wiesel and others published a letter in the Guardian calling attention to an op-ed written in the New York Times by Human Rights Watch founder Robert Bernstein, which accused the group of disproportionate criticism of Israel.
"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," he wrote.
However, levine told the Guardian that Bernstein published his opinion piece only after the group's board rejected his call for a change in direction.
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