Sarah Leah Whitson
© REUTERS/Stringer
Sarah Leah Whitson
Human Rights Watch (HRW) Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson is under fire from Jewish organizations after claiming Israel is meddling in UK domestic politics by summoning a "manufactured" anti-Semitism crisis.

The incident began when Asa Winstanley, a journalist for the Electronic Intifada, a US-based pro-Palestinian news outlet, warned that new accusations would soon rock the UK's Labour Party, which has been dogged by scandals ever since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader in 2015.

"We're on the cusp of a major new wave of manufactured 'Labour antisemitism crisis' stories, much like spring/summer 2018," Winstanley tweeted, linking to his own article from last year, which suggested that Jewish activists had been taking instructions from a government-developed phone app to criticize Corbyn en masse.

Whitson, who is one of the public faces of HRW, and oversees the advocacy group's work in 19 countries, including Palestine and Israel, appeared to endorse Winstanley's stance in a retweet, to which she added her own thoughts.

"Why is this #israel interference in domestic UK politics acceptable? Is it only a problem when Russia does this?" she wrote on the social media network.


This produced significant pushback from several prominent Jewish voices, including the US-based activist NGO Stand with US, and an editor at the Jewish News, the prime newspaper of the community in the UK.

All insisted that her implication that Israel was behind the tensions with the Jewish community experienced by the Labour Party was an "anti-Semitic conspiracy theory."






So far, the US-born Whitson has neither defended her position, nor deleted the original tweet. Last year, Matthew Myers, associate director of finance at HRW, was suspended from his position after making light of the Holocaust in his dating profile on Tinder.