In tracing the many sources for the explosion of hate directed at Israel, Zionists and Jews, Human Rights Watch (HRW) stands out. Although founded in the 1970s by Robert Bernstein as a bastion of morality in support of the post-Holocaust Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by the beginning of the 21st century the leaders of the organization had betrayed these principles. HRW became a central force in weaponizing human rights for antisemitism, and is continuing to promote this agenda in the wake of the October 7 massacre and the war in Gaza that it triggered.
The individual most responsible for this record is Ken Roth, Executive Director from 1993 to 2022. He controlled HRW’s agenda, particularly the obsessive singling-out of Israel for demonization, regardless of borders or policies. Under his guidance, HRW hired a number of individuals with clear records of antisemitism, and devoted a major part of its $100 million annual budget (as of 2022) to the unique and blatant vilification of the Jewish State. Roth and HRW championed the slogans – war crimes, apartheid, genocide, deliberate killing of children, etc. – displayed on signs and chanted by the mobs that today block access to airports, bridges and tunnels, and set fire to Jewish-owned businesses in North American cities.
After he retired from HRW in 2022, Roth began to work hard to rewrite this legacy. He attempted to remake himself into an academic expert, notwithstanding a lifetime devoted to advocacy and slogans, in contrast to serious peer-reviewed research. After receiving a strong rejection by the Dean of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Roth and his acolytes launched a wide media manipulation campaign and eventually succeeded in forcing the Dean to capitulate. It was a pyrrhic victory, as the one-year fellowship was soon over. For the following year, Roth engineered a special title as “Thakore Family Global Justice and Human Rights Visiting Fellow” at the University of Pennsylvania.