Kenneth Roth should “display the same statesmanship…It is time for him to follow Judge Goldstone’s example and issue his own mea culpa.”
– HRW founder Robert Bernstein in the Jerusalem Post
- Human Rights Watch (HRW) was a major force behind the UN Human Rights Council “fact-finding” mission on the Gaza war of its former board member Richard Goldstone, which resulted in the “Goldstone Report.” In 2009, HRW released 34 publications promoting the report, out-numbering documents on all the countries in the Middle East, except Israel and Iran.
- In response to Goldstone’s article in the Washington Post (April 1, 2011), in which Goldstone withdrew the accusations against Israel that were central to the Report, HRW executive director Kenneth Roth published two op-eds and a letter to the New York Times attempting to recast Goldstone’s retraction.
- Roth reiterates the discredited accusation of “widespread and systematic” attacks that “clearly reflected Israeli policy,” while Goldstone acknowledges “that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of [IDF] policy.”
- Goldstone writes that “our main recommendation was for each party to investigate, transparently and in good faith…. McGowan Davis has found that Israel has done this to a significant degree.” But, Roth misrepresents this as meaning that “the UN report raised serious doubts about the thoroughness of these investigations.”
- Roth claims that “Human Rights Watch… never made” allegations that Goldstone originally quoted and then renounced. However, the evidence clearly shows numerous HRW reports, press releases, and statements from officials, as well as op-eds by Roth relating to the Gaza conflict, that accuse high-ranking Israeli officials of deliberate targeting of civilians.
- In a Forbes article (January 22, 2009), Roth claimed that rationale behind Israel’s attacks on Gaza was the “determination to make Gazans suffer for the presence of Hamas – a prohibited purpose for using military force.” This is false, and has since been rejected by Goldstone.
- Similarly, in a December 2009 op-ed in Foreign Policy in Focus, Roth alleged that “there is strong evidence that Israel wanted Gazan civilians to pay the price for Hamas’s abuses, and that the decision to impose that cost was taken not by junior officers in the field but by senior government officials” – another false claim that has no basis in fact.
Roth Misrepresenting Goldstone
The excerpts provided below are direct quotes from:
- Richard Goldstone, “Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes,” Washington Post, April 1, 2011
- Kenneth Roth, “Not so Fast,” Jerusalem Post, April 4, 2011
Goldstone: The investigations published by the Israeli military and recognized in the U.N. committee’s report have established the validity of some incidents that we investigated in cases involving individual soldiers, they also indicate that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.
Roth: But Goldstone has not retreated from the report’s many documented allegations of serious laws-of-war violations by IDF forces…This conduct was so widespread and systematic that it clearly reflected Israeli policy.
Goldstone: Indeed, our main recommendation was for each party to investigate, transparently and in good faith, the incidents referred to in our report. McGowan Davis has found that Israel has done this to a significant degree; Hamas has done nothing.
Roth: In fact, Israel’s investigations look good only by comparison with Hamas, which has done nothing to investigate its war crimes…. But the UN report raised serious doubts about the thoroughness of these investigations
Goldstone: the most serious attack the Goldstone Report focused on was the killing of some 29 members of the al-Simouni family in their home. The shelling of the home was apparently the consequence of an Israeli commander’s erroneous interpretation of a drone image, and an Israeli officer is under investigation for having ordered the attack.
Roth: Israeli drone operators fired on and killed 29 people from the same family, including five children playing on rooftops, even though drone technology offers the capacity and time to determine whether the targets were combatants.