* Deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch
* Views Israel as a colonial force in the Middle East and supports its destruction as a means to liberate Palestine
* Views Arab violence against Jewish Israelis as a legitimate anti-imperialist struggle against an illegitimate racist (Zionist) regime
Joe Stork is the deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch (HRW), a New York-based NGO with a strong anti-Israel bias. Having joined HRW in 1996, Stork, a Marxist, is one of the longest-serving members of the organization’s Middle East wing.
In 1971, when Stork was a prominent activist for the Palestinian cause, he and six colleagues established the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) as a spinoff of the Institute for Policy Studies, where Stork was a “student.” Supporting the agendas of the PLO, MERIP called for Israel’s destruction and published a report lauding a terrorist leader who was affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). According to Stork, MERIP had been created because existing leftist critiques of “U.S. support for Israel” were “inadequate.”
From 1971-95, Stork served as the chief editor of MERIP’s bimonthly magazine, Middle East Report, which he co-founded. Also during his tenure with MERIP, Stork distributed literature from both the PFLP and Yasser Arafat’s Fatah faction. According to NGO Monitor, “MERIP was centrally involved in activities of the radical Left, and its rhetoric reflected Marxist anti-imperialist ideology. MERIP Reports carried laudatory interviews with terrorist leaders and other activists.” After nine Israeli athletes were murdered at the 1972 Olympic games in Munich, MERIP issued an editorial that read: “Munich and similar actions cannot create or substitute for a mass revolutionary movement, but we should comprehend the achievement of the Munich action…. It has provided an important boost in morale among Palestinians in the camps.” And in a 1972 panel discussion organized by MERIP and held at the Institute for Policy Studies, Stork said that “at some point we want to talk about ways we here in this country [the United States] can best support the [Palestinian] movement.”
In 1976 at the University of Baghdad, Stork participated in an Iraqi conference on “Zionism and Racism” which was organized under the auspices of Saddam Hussein. The event celebrated the one-year anniversary of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379, which equated Zionism with racism. There, Stork gave a presentation that made reference to the “Zionist colonization of Palestine,” the “Zionist settler-colonial enterprise,” and the “Zionist theft of the property and productive resources.” When referencing Israel’s 1967 victory over its Arab enemies, Stork identified “the single most important cause” of the Arab defeat as “the failure of the regimes in question to mobilize their societies for the kind of protracted struggle that is critical for the liberation of Palestine.” “[T]he surplus extracted from the masses was used to construct a military machine that was completely inadequate to the task of liberating Palestine,” he added.
In a subsequent article based on the presentation he had given at the 1976 conference, Stork characterized the “spontaneous random outbreaks of violence”—by Palestinians against Jews—as an expression of “the revolutionary potential of the Palestinian masses.” He also stated that “the struggle against Zionism can only be won by struggling against imperialism, not by striking deals with future [Henry] Kissingers.”
Stork continued to deride Israel with incendiary rhetoric during the years that followed:
Stork’s theoretical framework holds that the Middle East conflict is a “struggle of liberation versus imperialist control”—i.e., the struggle against the neo-colonial (and racist) force represented by Jewish Israel. Because it is “colonial,” the very existence of Israel is, by Stork’s reckoning, illegitimate. By logical extension, violence by Palestinians—the allegedly rightful indigenous inhabitants of the region—is thus justified as “resistance,” while any harm visited upon Arabs by Israelis—the invasive imperialists—is condemnable.
In the January 2010 issue of the Carnegie Endowment’s Arab Reform Bulletin, Stork published an article titled “Obama and Human Rights in the Middle East: Suggestions for Act Two.” In this piece, Stork:
In October 2012, Stork acknowledged that “after five years of Hamas rule in Gaza, its criminal justice system reeks of injustice, routinely violates detainees’ rights, and grants impunity to abusive security services.”
In addition to his work with HRW, Stork is currently a consultant for the Middle East Studies Association‘s Committee on Academic Freedom, which is co-chaired by Zachary Lockman—a Marxist, anti-Israel, anti-American professor at New York University. Stork has also served on the advisory committees of the American Friends Service Committee, the Institute for Policy Studies’ Foreign Policy in Focus initiative, and the Open Society Institute‘s Iraq Revenue Project.
For additional information on Joe Stork, click here.