Human Rights Watch’s Kenneth Roth Sets New Low With Antisemitic Tweet Blaming Israel for Jew-Hatred in UK

Human Rights Watch (HRW) Executive Director Kenneth Roth.

July 19, 2021

Human Rights Watch (HRW) Executive Director Kenneth Roth — who has a long record of obsessive bias against Israel — set a new low on Sunday, engaging in blatant antisemitism with a tweet that blamed the Israeli government for the surge of hate crimes in which Jews have been targeted worldwide over the past two months.

Roth, who has led the New York-based NGO since 1993, posted a link to a Haaretz article on a new Community Security Trust (CST) report detailing the unprecedented number of antisemitic incidents faced by British Jews during and after May’s Israel-Gaza flare-up, and commented, “Antisemitism is always wrong, and it 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.”

According to the CST report, there were 628 antisemitic hate incidents from May 8 to June 7, 2021, in the UK, the highest number ever recorded by the CST in any month-long period.

By attributing the sharp spike of anti-Jewish hate crimes in the UK — including physical assaults, verbal harassment, hate speech, and vandalism — to events in the Middle East, Roth clearly violated the widely-recognized International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.

The definition states, “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Its accompanying list of examples detailing 11 specific behaviors used to discriminate against the Jewish people includes, “Holding Jews collectively responsible for the actions of the State of Israel” — which is directly applicable to Roth’s tweet.

By blaming Israel for anti-Jewish bigotry in Europe, Roth is purposely deflecting attention away from the actual perpetrators of the hate crimes and their motives, preventing people from understanding the true nature of the age-old evil of antisemitism.

Even just a cursory look at Europe’s history shows that antisemitism was a major problem there long before Israel was established in 1948. Anti-Zionism is merely just the latest, and currently most fashionable, form of Jew-hatred, propagated by extremists on both the left and right, as well as radical Islamists.

This is not the first time Roth has blamed antisemitism in Europe on Israel. In September 2014, after a previous round of Israel-Gaza fighting, he tweeted, “Germans rally against anti-Semitism that flared in Europe in response to Israel’s conduct in Gaza war. Merkel joins.”

Roth is deserving of widespread condemnation from all good people of conscience, and HRW members should question the fitness of someone who holds such repugnant views to hold a leadership role in the organization.

There is never an excuse for antisemitism, and any sentence based on the premise of “Antisemitism is wrong, but…” must not be tolerated as legitimate discourse.