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September 17, 2014 7:20 am

Ken Roth Uses ‘Anti-Semite’ Straw Man to Avoid Answering Critics. Time to Grow Up, Ken (VIDEO)

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This interview with Human Rights Watch’s Ken Roth on Dutch TV reveals how Roth avoids answering the many substantial, provable criticisms of his clear anti-Israel bias.

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He simply claims that all his critics are accusing him of anti-Semitism.

In the past 10 years I can find only a single serious critique of Ken Roth, by professional pundits or writers, that criticized him for his opinions of Judaism. Here it is, from The New York Sun, July 31, 2006:

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Mr. Roth concludes his letter with a slur on the Jewish religion itself that is breathtaking in its ignorance.”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,” Mr. Roth writes. The reference is to the phrase “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” found in Exodus 21, in Deuteronomy 19, and Leviticus, Chapter 24. The sages have long made clear that this referred to monetary compensation, as the Talmud points out in Baba Kamma 84a. 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 anti-Semitism.

The ADL’s Abraham Foxman referred to this incident as an aside in a much wider-ranging attack on Roth that same year.

Since 2006, Roth and HRW have been criticized for their obsession with Israel from many quarters besides this blog. Here is a small sample:

None of these critiques, many of which are quite substantive, accuse Ken Roth or Human Rights Watch of anti-Semitism.

The reality isn’t close to what Roth claims in the video. HRW’s critics are not using a charge of anti-Semitism to silence the organization or Ken Roth. On the contrary, Ken Roth is using accusations of anti-Semitism charges to avoid answering his many critics!

Roth is playing whatever games he can to avoid facing reality: His over-the-top anti-Israel bias is provable from his own words and from what he doesn’t say. There is no impartiality in his organization, whose very moral force is dependent on its appearance of fairness.

Roth has a choice. He can keep trying to weasel out of addressing the valid points made by his critics, or he can take their criticism to heart and revamp his organization to address the very real problems it clearly has. There are specific things that HRW can do to prove to the world that it can be a real force for good, and not filled with the corrupt, self-promoting hypocrisy as it appears to be today.

At this point in time, Roth has chosen to act in ways that are worse than the countries his organization criticizes. There is no transparency in HRW’s methodology for fact finding, no transparency in HRW’s funding sources, no transparency in how HRW hires employees or chooses researchers, and no transparency as to what topics it has actual expertise in and what topics that it doesn’t. Despite its clear ignorance of military strategy and forensics – critical fields when evaluating the facts – HRW writes reports suffused with ignorance and hand-waving.

HRW likes to accuse its targets of acting with impunity, but that is exactly what Human Rights Watch does under Ken Roth’s leadership, by using childish excuses to avoid self-reflection.

It is not unreasonable to demand that an NGO act with at least the same degree of morality and responsibility that it demands from others. Yet its leader, with a salary of  over $400,000, reacts to well-founded criticism petulantly instead of responsibly.

Isn’t it time for HRW to stop running away from criticism and to actually address these issues head on? That’s what one would expect from a multi-million dollar for-profit corporation, and one should expect no less from an NGO that pretends to be the world’s moral conscience.

Incidentally, when Roth claims that he takes anti-Semitism seriously – that isn’t true either. By ignoring the major sources of anti-Semitic incitement today, namely, the Arab and Muslim world, it is Roth that cheapens the term, not his critics.

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