According to reports published In January 2023, months earlier, Ken Roth had been denied a fellowship position at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, allegedly due to his “anti-Israel bias.” On January 19, 2023, following criticism, Harvard reversed course and extended a fellowship position to Roth.
The evidence provided by NGO Monitor clearly demonstrates that as Executive Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW) from 1993-2022, Roth transformed HRW into a platform for tendentious targeting of Israel, systematically distorting international law, the laws of armed conflict, and responses to terrorism. Efforts to isolate the Jewish state through false allegations of “war crimes”, “collective punishment” and “apartheid” were central to HRW’s agenda.
In 2009, HRW founder Robert Bernstein, writing in the New York Times, condemned the NGO for helping “to turn Israel into a pariah state.”
10 Blatant Examples of Ken Roth’s Demonizing Agenda
- In July 2021, Roth blamed Israel for antisemitic incidents in the UK, tweeting “Antisemitism is wrong, and long preceded the creation of Israel, but the surge in UK antisemitic incidents during the recent Gaza conflict gives the lie to those who pretend that the Israeli government’s conduct doesn’t affect antisemitism.” After intense criticism, Roth later deleted the tweet, claiming he was “misunderstood.”
- September 2014: Roth blamed attacks on Jews in Germany and the rise of antisemitism in Europe on Israel’s conduct during the Gaza War.
- In July 2006, responding to critics of HRW’s accusations on the Lebanon War, Roth declared: “An eye for an eye – or, more accurately in this case, twenty eyes for an eye – may have been the morality of some more primitive moment. But it is not the morality of international humanitarian law…” The New York Sun decried this statement as a “slur on the Jewish religion itself that is breathtaking in its ignorance… To suggest that Judaism is a ‘primitive’ religion incompatible with contemporary morality is to engage in supersessionism, the de-legitimization of Judaism, the basis of much antisemitism.”
- In the context of the 2017 white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Roth tweeted a link to a propaganda piece headlined “Birds of a feather: White supremacy and Zionism.” Roth included a picture depicting a Confederate and Israeli flag, commenting “Many rights activists condemn Israeli abuse & anti-Semitism. Some white supremacists embrace Israel & anti-Semitism.”
- HRW’s 2021 report again smearing Israel with the “apartheid” label is based on numerous demonstrably falsehoods, and distorts Israeli and international law, and was widely denounced as such, including by the Biden Administration.
- In October 2016, Roth’s HRW hired Omar Shakir to serve as its “Israel and Palestine Country Director.” Shakir brought years of BDS activism to the position, and led HRW BDS campaigns against Israeli banks, companies, sports clubs and other corporations. He was the latest in a series of hires by Roth dedicated to singling out and demonizing Israel under the facade of human rights.
- In 2009, HRW held a fundraising dinner in Saudi Arabia, in which MENA Director Sarah Leah Whitson boasted that HRW allegations were central in promoting the discredited Goldstone “investigation” of the 2009 Gaza conflict and countering “pro-Israel pressure groups.” After denying receiving any funds, in 2020, internal leaks revealed a secret donation in 2012 from a corrupt Saudi billionaire for $470,000, and which Roth agreed “not to support advocacy of the LGBT community in the Middle East and North Africa.” Whitson also visited Libya, giving credibility to the Gaddafi regime’s fictitious reform movement.
- In 2012, Ken Roth’s denied that Iran’s President Ahmedinajad engaged in incitement to genocide, claiming that he was merely engaging in “advocacy.”
- In 2009, HRW “senior military analyst” Marc Garlasco, who contributed to numerous HRW condemnations of Israel, was revealed to be an obsessive collector of Nazi memorabilia. Rather than condemn Garlasco’s activities and remove his tendentious publications from HRW’s website, Roth and HRW defended him and tried to justify his actions. When Garlasco left in 2010 under secret terms, HRW pledged to conduct an investigation and review of his reports, but there is no evidence that this was undertaken. Garlasco’s tainted work remains on HRW’s website.
- During the 2014 Gaza war, Roth promoted a highly propagandistic advertisement published by the fringe International Jewish AntiZionist Network in The New York Times and The Guardian equating “Nazi genocide” with “the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza.” Roth retweeted another post which included the tagline “‘Never again’ must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!”