Saturday, September 02, 2006

How to Become a Pariah

Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, sent researchers to monitor the conflict between Israeli-Hezbollah. HRW said that Hezbollah missile strikes were "serious violations of international humanitarian law and probable war crimes."

So far, so good, but then Roth and company crossed the line--by criticizing Israel. HRW said that the IDF was "treating southern Lebanon as a free-fire zone" and failing to make distinctions between combatants and civilians.

What do you think happened next? Rosa Brooks fills in the details:

The backlash was prompt. Roth and Human Rights Watch soon found themselves accused of unethical behavior, giving aid and comfort to terrorists and anti-Semitism. The conservative New York Sun attacked Roth (who is Jewish) for having a "clear pro-Hezbollah and anti-Israel bias" and accused him of engaging in "the de-legitimization of Judaism, the basis of much anti-Semitism." Neocon commentator David Horowitz called Roth a "reflexive Israel-basher … who, in his zest to pillory Israel at every turn, is little more than an ally of the barbarians." The New Republic piled on, as did Alan Dershowitz, who claimed Human Rights Watch "cooks the books" to make Israel look bad. And writing in the Jewish Exponent, Jonathan Rosenblum accused Roth of resorting to a "slur about primitive Jewish bloodlust."

As Brooks says, this episode is an all too typical scenario visited upon those who offer even tepid criticism of Israeli behavior. Of course, this is all old news to anyone who has followed the careers of Pat Buchanan, Joe Sobran and other writers of with paleo sensibilities who have been branded as anti-Semites over the years.


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