For the Hebrew version, published in Maariv, April 16, 2007, click here.
Kenneth Roth, the head of Human Rights Watch, opened a recent response to critics of his statements on Israel (including the author of this column) by referring to his father’s “escape” from Nazi Germany. Roth often uses this theme in addressing Jewish audiences.
In a November 2004 interview with The Jerusalem Post Roth also began his defense by referring to his father’s “stories of life in Nazi Germany until he fled in summer 1938.” That interview took place after angry responses to a press conference at the American Colony Hotel, in which Roth publicized HRW’s report (“Razing Rafah”) attacking Israeli measures to stop Palestinian weapons smuggling into Gaza. The same phrases appear on Roth’s personal home page and in articles by his friends.
Rosa Brooks, a former HRW employee, defended Roth in the Los Angeles Times during the fighting in Lebanon by noting that his father had “fled Nazi Germany.” And Reed Brody, who works closely with Roth at HRW and led the campaign to try Ariel Sharon in Belgium as a “war criminal,” refers to his own father’s status as a Holocaust survivor.
Roth’s (and Brody’s) frequent use of this issue suggest that their parents’ relationship to the Holocaust gives them special standing and immunity to criticism. Roth states that “my personal existence is very much a product of human rights abuse,” implying he has a moral duty to campaign against such abuse whenever and wherever it takes place, and that Israel should not receive special treatment.
EXCEPT THAT Israel does receive special treatment by Roth and HRW, in a negative and highly discriminatory manner. Detailed analysis of HRW’s activities by NGO Monitor, and verified independently, clearly demonstrate a highly disproportionate emphasis on allegations against Israel. During the 34-day war in Lebanon, HRW issued over 30 statements – most of which attacked Israel. Hizbullah’s illegal aggression was never mentioned, and a few words were devoted to the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers. Roth and HRW are clearly using their power to target Israel.