(May 28, 2019 / JNS) Publisher and Human Rights Watch founder Robert Bernstein died at the age of 96, his son Peter confirmed on Tuesday.
Considered one of the most influential publishers in U.S. history, Bernstein served as the president and chairman of Random House, and from that position inserted himself into the international human-rights movement.
He founded Human Rights Watch in 1978, which monitors and documents human-rights abuses worldwide. The nongovernmental organization has since been deemed by critics to be anti-Israel, causing Bernstein to publish a New York Times piece in 2009 slamming the bias.
“The plight of their citizens who would most benefit from the kind of attention a large and well-financed international human-rights organization can provide is being ignored as Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division prepares report after report on Israel,” wrote Bernstein. “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.”
Human Rights Watch told JNS that it will be posting an obituary of Bernstein later on Tuesday.
“Bob Bernstein was a brave defender of human rights. He founded multiple organizations to promote these universal values, including a series of ‘Watch’ committees that became Human Rights Watch (HRW) in the 1980s and Advancing Human Rights in the 2010s,” said NGO Monitor president Gerald Steinberg. “He did not hesitate to publicly critique HRW…when he understood that it was attempting to ‘turn Israel into a pariah state.’ ”
“Unfortunately, human-rights rhetoric and values are too often manipulated for narrow political agendas,” he added. “Bob Bernstein’s principled voice will sorely be missed.”
“I mourn the passing of my friend Bob Bernstein at the age of 96,” tweeted U.N. Watch executive director Hillel Neuer. “He built Random House into a publishing giant & championed political dissent.”
I mourn the passing of my friend Bob Bernstein at the age of 96. He built Random House into a publishing giant & championed political dissent.
Founder of Human Rights Watch, he broke with them for siding with Hamas terrorists. He asked me to publish this: https://t.co/gf3Gu98QUJ
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) May 28, 2019