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|Human Rights As A Weapon, Gerald M. Steinberg|
January 28, 2009
Ken Roth and Human Rights Watch have been at the forefront of the campaign to criminalize self-defense against terrorism, and to brand
Roth’s emotional outbursts, convoluted pseudo-legal language and post-colonial bias are major contributors to the double standards and records of false allegations that have eroded the universality of human rights and turned these principles into weapons.
In attacking Israel’s response to Hamas in Gaza on Forbes.com, Roth applies the skills he acquired during his years as a prosecutor in
His case combines half-truths, speculation, unverifiable evidence, and subjective claims that may seem convincing only to a jury that has never experienced terror, knows nothing about international law, and has a strong anti-Israel bias from the beginning.
Statements from Human Rights Watch on
In 2004, Roth held a high-profile press conference at the American Colony Hotel in
The main claims were that tunnels from
Roth followed a similar pattern during the 2006 Lebanon War, with numerous false claims quoting "eyewitnesses" from territory fully controlled by Hezbollah. In the case of an attack in Qana, HRW adopted false claims regarding casualties that were nearly double the on-site figure provided by the Red Cross. In these and other cases, Roth has never apologized, and no independent investigations of HRW’s numerous errors and biases have been conducted.
When it comes to war crimes committed by terror groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, time and again Roth ignores the clear evidence, refusing to issue public condemnations or hold press conferences claiming the need for thorough investigations. In contrast,
HRW issued 18 separate condemnations of Israeli policy in
The white phosphorus issue--Roth’s main weapon in attacking the IDF regarding
Does Roth claim to be privy to the details of Hamas military deployments in houses, schools, mosques and hospitals, as well as the targeting decisions of the IDF? And how did HRW’s "military expert" (apparently Marc Garlasco, whose ideological bias and lack of expertise were evident in "Razing Rafah," and in the 2006
Roth justifies HRW’s disproportionate campaign on the white phosphorous concern by claiming that illegal actions by terrorists do not justify "illegal" defense measures. But as Professor Avi Bell, an international legal expert, states, "When a combatant hides in a civilian house, the house ceases to be a civilian target and becomes a military target ... [The] use of civilian shields is very relevant to the legal standard to be applied."
In contrast, HRW’s flood of condemnations suggests that all weapons used in self-defense are somehow illegitimate.
In the complexities of defense against well-armed terror organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah, mistakes are made, and these should be corrected. But the checks and balances in
Beyond the demonization of
Gerald M. Steinberg *
* Professor Gerald Steinberg is the executive director of NGO Monitor and chair of the political science department at
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