Friday, September 05, 2014

  • Friday, September 05, 2014
  • Elder of Ziyon

As I went through over 400 of Human Rights Watch's Ken Roth's tweets, I couldn't help but notice that dozens of them were flat-out false, and others were knowingly deceptive - virtually always against Israel.

Here are are some:

July 6: After days of near silence on kidnap-killing of Palestinian boy, #Israel PM Netanyahu condemns a "horrific crime."

Truth: Netanyahu called the murder "reprehensible" immediately after it occurred.

July 9: Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel, indiscriminate; Israeli targeting of Gaza homes, collective punishment: @HRW 

Truth: Without knowing what was in those homes, Roth cannot make that flat statement. In many if not most of the cases, Hamas members used their homes as weapons caches, entrances to tunnels, meeting areas or command and control centers - all of which are valid military targets. 

July 13: Unlike Hamas, #Israel says it spares no effort to prevent civilian harm, but UN says 77% of Gaza dead are civilians.

Truth: Besides the fact that the percentage of civilians killed in the first days of the war have already been shown to be vastly exaggerated, even the UN report said "Data on fatalities and destruction of property is consolidated by the Protection and Shelter clusters based on preliminary information, and is subject to change based on further verifications." Anyone who reported these figures as flat facts, which Roth did numerous times, without the UN's caveat, was lying.

July 14If Israel uses precision bombing & 133 of 168 of Gazans killed were civilians, what does that say of its intentions?

Truth: Again, besides the inaccuracies of civilian casualties reported, Roth is saying that Israel's intentions must have been to target civilians. Of course, if Israel wanted to target civilians there would have been thousands killed every single day. So what does it say when Roth takes false data and applies it falsely to come up with a preconceived conclusion?

July 15: Even if militant is legit military target, attacking family home likely to cause disproportionate civilian casualties 

Truth: According to international law, that is not a decision for Roth to make, but a decision that a "reasonable military commander" must make based on the data he has in the field, based on the value of the target and the knowledge about what civilian casualties are likely.  That is the reality of international law, not the fantasy that Roth spins. We will see other examples of international law that Roth twists - always against Israel and, unbelievably, for Hamas.

July 16:  #Israel warns eastern #Gaza city residents to evacuate, suggesting (contrary to law) that anything goes if they don't

Truth: Nowhere did Israel imply anything like that - this is only in Roth's sick imagination. Warnings demonstrate that due care is being taken to minimize civilian casualties, which means that Israel was adhering to (or going beyond) international law. Civilians do not make military objectives immune to attack; if the target is a valid military target then international law accepts that civilians can die as long as their deaths are not disproportionate to the military value. As the ICTY case shows, after a warning is given the responsibility for civilian lives shifts, to an extent, to the authorities that have the ability to evacuate the citizens.

The rest of the series after the break.

July 22: Palestinians killed: more kids (129) than militants (86). 4.7x as many civilians as militants.

Truth: Even his source, the Washington Post, says "These numbers are often not complete, but represent the best available data and do tend to clarify over time. Israel disputes the numbers provided by the United Nations, saying that a large number of those killed, particularly males over 18, were armed terrorists and not civilians." Roth doesn't care, he reports the numbers without caveats - but only when they make Israel look bad.

July 24: Good that the commission of inquiry launched by UN rights council is authorized to investigate both Israel & Hamas. 

Truth: Even the article he linked to - from The Guardian - doesn't say this. It says:
The resolution called for the urgent dispatch of "an independent, international commission of inquiry" to investigate "all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip".
Which means it is only looking for Israeli crimes in the territories, not Palestinian crimes against Israel. 

Notably, the timeframe that the UNHRC chose for its inquiry does not include the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens - which is a clear violation of IHL against Israelis in the territories - but it chose to start the probe from the the day after they were kidnapped and murdered. The only possible reason is to ensure that only Israeli actions would be investigated, not those of the terrorists.

Roth completely made this up.

July 24: #Hamas is putting civilians at risk but "no evidence" it forces them to stay--definition of human shields: @NYTimes. 
July 25: Hamas must as feasible not fight in populated areas  but no human shield unless coerced to stay 

Truth: The definition of "human shield" according to IHL says nothing about the civilians being forced to stay. The official ICRC definition does not mention anything about being forced. Simply placing weapons and other military objects into a civilian area with the intent to have the civilians deter attack is the very definition of human shielding.

Beyond that, Hamas has instructed people to stay in their homes when Israeli leaflets urged them to leave; it has forced Fatah members and other enemies to stay in their homes under threat of gunfire, it has kept journalists in Gaza against their will, and it has prevented buses from evacuating people from shelters after Israeli warnings. Some of this was known at the time of the tweet. So even according to Roth's erroneous, narrow definition of human shields, Hamas is guilty - but not once did he say anything about that.

July 26: Remember when #Israel insisted Hamas was behind kidnap-murder of three West Bank teens. Oops, turns out it wasn't. 

Truth: As Hamas admits now, it was. Roth reported that news skeptically, not with the cocky assurance that he reported the lie.

Roth also ignored the update that New York Magazine added two days later where the Israeli police spokesperson said he was misquoted - which was the linchpin of the entire false story. Roth didn't bother to correct his tweet then.

Because the truth is not as important as the propaganda Roth prefers to push.

July 29: 1st Gulf War showed devastating cascading effects on public health of attacking electricity, yet #Israel just did it. 

Truth: Israel immediately flatly denied targeting Gaza's power plant, although it allowed that it was possible that it was hit accidentally.
“The State of Israel did not attack Gaza’s power plant,” said Brig. Gen. Yaron Rosen, the commander of IAF Air Support and Helicopter Air Division.

“It has no interest (in that),” he added. “We transfer to them the electricity, we transfer in the gas, we transfer in the food in order to prevent a humanitarian disaster. So we attacked the power plant?”

The general said it was possible the plant had been hit by Israel by mistake.

Munitions, he said, can sometimes “skip,” and strike targets unintentionally, as occurred during 2008-9′s Operation Cast Lead.

“The matter is under investigation,” he added.
Later on, Israel flatly denied that it had done anything in that area that day: altogether
An Israeli military spokeswoman said after checking with ground, air and naval forces in the area of the power plant that there was "no indication that (Israel Defense Forces) were involved in the strike. ... The area surrounding the plant was also not struck in recent days."
The IDF simply doesn't lie about things like that.

Which means that the power plant was hit by a terrorist rocket, or was otherwise sabotaged from within Gaza.

It is much more likely that Hamas attacked its own power plant deliberately. Besides information that Hamas aimed rockets at its own population, it has many times created an artificial crisis around fuel shortages in order to garner world sympathy and prompt more free aid from Qatar.

A reporter who would say something this inaccurate would be forced to correct him or herself. Why should the head of a human rights organization have lower ethical standards?

July 29: More #Gaza women & kids killed (342) than militants (182). 4.5 as many civilians as militants.

Truth: Once again, Roth uses sources poorly. This was apparently a Haaretz infographic.

Yet on the previous day, the Meir Amit ITIC had already released the first of its findings  - with names - that there were far more terrorists being killed in Gaza than was being reported.

At this point it was also well known that Hamas had instructed Gazans to call everyone an "innocent civilian" and it was clear that Hamas was not releasing the full number of its casualties.

Roth was clearly following the war not only closely, but obsessively. It seems unlikely that he was not aware of these facts. Yet even so, he had no problem using the fig leaf of selectively quoting as fact only the media he trusts, and ignoring the ones that contradict his pre-determined position.

July 29: Tunnels used to attack or capture civilians is a rights violation. Tunnels used to attack or capture soldiers isn't. 

Truth: If Hamas acted according to the rules of war and was a regular army, this would be correct in a very narrow sense. But the reality is that it is a lie and Roth knows it.

Hamas has said explicitly many times that it wants to kidnap soldiers to hold them hostage, not to hold them as POWs according to the Geneva Conventions. Hostage taking is a war crime, period. Roth is going out of his way to excuse Hamas' admitted attempts to perform a grave breach of international law.

One has to wonder why the head of a human rights organization is so callous towards the human rights of Israeli soldiers that Hamas wants to take hostage. B'Tselem calls it a war crime, but Ken Roth refuses to.

August 4: (Retweeted by Kenneth Roth)  Nicholas Kristof @NickKristof · One principle of int'l law is proportionality of response. But so far, Israel has lost 3 civilians; Gaza (by UN count) 1,033 civilians.

Truth: This is not what proportionality means under international law. 

There are two definitions: One is that the expected civilian casualties from a specific attack must be proportional to the military value of the target. As we've shown, the bar for passing that test is much lower than Ken Roth claims, and Israel is adhering to the principle of proportionality. This is the jus in bello definition - how to act once a war already starts.

The other definition, which is probably what Kristof is referring to since he calls it "proportionality of response,"  is jus ad bellum, to take proportionality into account when deciding on the right to go to war initially. It is sometimes called macro-proportionality. In brief, it says that "The anticipated benefits of waging a war must be proportionate to its expected evils or harms." 

By definition, macro-proportionality can only be defined before a war starts. Given that Israel was responding to rocket attacks and was acting in self defense, the decision to go to war was clearly legal; the question is whether their initial choice of how to go about the war - how many airplanes, how many drones, how many gunships - would be proportionate to what they were trying to accomplish.

It is certain that the test of  jus ad bellum proportionality cannot be taken by doing a simple count of civilian victims after the war starts. That falls under  jus in bello. To violate macro-proportionality, it would have to be proven that Israel was acting in ways that were completely overkill for the original goal of stopping rockets. Given that the rockets didn't stop until the current cease fire, it is obvious that Israel's response was less than that allowed by this proportionality test. It has nothing to do with body counts.

Roth's retweet of Kristof's bad definition is especially egregious given Roth's supposed expertise in international law.

August 4 Do you want to know what "human shields" really are beyond ritualistic sloganeering? Read @HRW's Q&A on the law: 

Truth: This is sort of amazing. Here are Roth's previous tweets defining human shields:

 Jul 19 Much confusion about "human shields" which generally require coercion. Different from unnecessarily endangering civilians, tho both illegal.
 Jul 24 #Hamas is putting civilians at risk but "no evidence" it forces them to stay--definition of human shields: @NYTimes. 
Jul 25 Hamas must as feasible not fight in populated areas  but no human shield unless coerced to stay 

Yet when you read the official HRW Q&A that Roth tweeted here, you see a completely different definition - one that is actually accurate!

Forces deployed in populated areas must avoid locating military objectives – including fighters, ammunition and weapons -- in or near densely populated areas, and endeavor to remove civilians from the vicinity of military objectives. Belligerents are prohibited from using civilians to shield military objectives or operations from attack. "Shielding" refers to purposefully using the presence of civilians to render military forces or areas immune from attack.
There is nothing here about coercion

HRW's definition is completely at odds with the definition their own executive director gave three separate times! The HRW definition simply says that using civilians to shield military objectives is what makes one a human shield. 

Roth's tweet, by invoking "ritualistic sloganeering," of his critics, gave the impression that HRW's definition was agreeing with his multiple tweets, but amazingly it proves him wrong.

Roth never corrected his earlier tweets, though, nor did he acknowledge that his critics were correct all along.

August 4 Family homes of Hamas officials are not legitimate military targets; familes are not human shields: Michael Walzer.

Truth: Roth completely and knowingly misrepresents this article. Here is what Walzer said, in context:

Except when they are being used for some military purpose, houses where people live are not legitimate targets—even if the people who live there include Hamas officials. These attacks are wrong because the officials live with their families, who can't be called human shields.
Walzer adds the caveat "Except when they are being used for some military purpose" which Roth ignores.

Now, Walzer's statement is arguable, because Hamas terrorists are not policemen who work in shifts - they are always acting as militants during a war and are probably always considered legitimate targets. But even if you don't believe that, Walzer's caveat is true in most cases of senior Hamas officials: Hamas family homes are where meetings are held, command centers are built, tunnel entrances are hidden and weapons are stashed, and  where that is the case they are valid military targets. Roth assumes that their family homes are completely free of military activity, which is naive to the extreme if not knowingly deceptive.

But this was not the point of Walzer's article. While Walzer urges Israeli soldiers to take risks to their own lives to ensure that civilian casualties are at a minimum - something that is not at all written in international law - he makes clear that the ultimate responsibility for civilian casualties rests with the terrorists who place them at risk to begin with:

Along with many others, I have argued for another rule: that the attacking forces must make positive efforts, including asking their own soldiers to take risks, in order to minimize the risks they impose on enemy civilians. How much risk has to be accepted? There is no precise answer to that question. But some risk is necessary, and if it is taken, then I think that the major responsibility for civilian deaths falls on the insurgents who are fighting from homes and schools and crowded streets. And if responsibility is understood and assigned in that way by the global public, it will be possible to fight and win an asymmetric war....

It is always necessary to figure out who is there, in the house, in the school, in the yard, before an attack begins—and that will often require the attacking soldiers to take risks. I suspect that some Israeli soldiers are doing that, and some are not. That's the way it is in every war; a lot depends on the intelligence and moral competence of the junior officers who make the most critical decisions on the ground. Judging these issues from a distance is especially difficult. But I would strongly advise anyone contemplating the loss of life in Gaza to think carefully about who is responsible, or primarily responsible, for putting civilians at risk. The high-tech army, for all its claims to precision, is often callous and clumsy. But it is the insurgents who decide that the death of civilians will advance their cause. We should do what we can to ensure that it doesn't.
Roth ignores Walzer's main assignment of responsibility to Hamas for civilian deaths and implies that Israel is the only party responsible.

This is pure mendacity.

August 8 Young men over-represented among Gaza dead: unclear if Hamas won't acknowledge fighters or Israel targets young men. 

Truth: Nowhere in the article was there mentioned a possibility that Israel "targets young men." (A later version of the article than the one Roth linked to on August 8 added some theories as to why young men may be more at risk but it still never accused Israel of targeting them.)

Roth simply could not abide by the idea that Hamas was lying to inflate apparent civilian casualties, even though Hamas has done that in the past and it instructed Gazans to do exactly that. So since the emerging statistics from Gaza showed that his earlier memes of indiscriminate Israeli fire were clearly not true, Roth created a new Israeli war crime out of thin air without the tiniest bit of evidence.

(Retweet - August 14) Trita Parsi @tparsi ·Wondering why the excessive police violence? Here's a guess: #Ferguson police chief got training in Israel... #Gaza

Truth: The fact that Ken Roth felt that this was worth retweeting is, by itself, the most damning piece of evidence of his hate towards Israel.

Twitter is an interesting medium because it's very ease of use makes it a window into one's subconscious. Tweets you believe are true are easily retweeted, tweets from an opposing perspective would not be.

This tweet is ridiculously wrong on many levels:
  • Counter-terrorism training is completely different from training on how to handle civil unrest and riots. They aren't even close.
  • The responsibility for killing someone rests with the person who did the killing, not the people who supposedly once gave a course to his or her boss. 
  • The Ferguson police chief that took the training retired from the force months before this incident!
Roth wouldn't dream of retweeting anything that is pro-Israel. Yet Roth believed - without any fact-checking, without any hesitation -an absurd and completely false conspiracy theory that was only circulated by the far left fringe and anti-Israel activists. And he decided that this was worth retweeting to his followers.

This is from the $400,000+ salaried executive director of an organization that claims to be objective.

To tie Ferguson to Israel  prima facie proof of bias against Israel  There is no other way to interpret this retweet. (Of course, Roth never apologized or clarified his position on this matter.)

August 19  Because of Iron Dome & indiscriminate #Israel attacks, 5% of Israelis killed were civilians versus 50-82% of Gazans.

Once again, Roth takes a tangential part of an article and adds his own bizarre additions while ignoring the bulk of the article.

The article, in a relatively obscure blog but written by a research fellow at National Defense University, discusses how Hamas can use new, cheap technology to change its current tactics of targeting Israeli civilians to targeting military targets. He discusses how Israel would be hampered in its responses to purely miliary targeting (although it is implied that Hamas would continue to mount attacks from civilian areas.) Nowhere does the author accuse Israel of indiscriminate attacks, although he does quote some pundits saying that the civilian toll is unacceptably high.

Roth is again showing his bias by editorializing, with no expertise whatsoever, beyond what the article he links to actually says.

August 21 #Israel troops in #Gaza reportedly forced this 17yo to serve as human shield to find tunnels. 
August 25 This 17yo says #Israel army used him as human shield, reviving practice that court had banned. 

Truth: Ken Roth here is first linking to Defense for Children International - Palestine, which has a track record of lying. They literally prompt kids to lie. If the "testimony" is inconsistent with the facts they coach the kids to re-testify until they get it right. They do not engage in the least amount of fact checking - if the story is anti-Israel, it is believed.

Moreover, I have proven that DCI-P will consistently ignore any evidence of Palestinian Arab kids being militants - even when other Gaza human rights organizations admit it.  They have lied about the number of child casualties.

The specific testimony of this teenager is literally unbelievable - except to people who want to believe the worst about Israel. The idea that the IDF used him to dig tunnels for them, or to check houses for bombs, is nothing but fantasy.

Proof of this comes from a later article about this kid, where his father - a Hamas official - says that the family  "forgot" to photograph the teen's bruises until they were gone and and threw out the clothing that the IDF supposedly forced him to wear. It is incredibly convenient that the two biggest pieces of evidence that would prove the case against Israel are accidentally overlooked by a Hamas official, isn't it?

Only a person who has an intense hate for Israel could believe this story. Ken Roth believes this story.

In fact, he believes it enough to tweet it twice.

August  24 For supposed command center (tho can't ID floor), #Israel destroys entire 11-story aptmt building home to 42 families
Israel has capacity to pinpoint supposed command center. Why destroy entire 11-story building? 

Truth: Just because the IDF spokesperson couldn't immediately answer which floor the command center was on doesn't mean that there was no command center.

But where did Roth get the idea that Israel has the ability to take out only one or two floors of a building - without destroying the structural integrity of the entire building?

If the command center was in the basement, there isn't much choice. If it was on the second floor, and Israel shot missiles only to that floor, the building would have a good chance of toppling into other buildings and causing even more damage.

Which Ken Roth would then criticize.

The fact is that Roth is clueless as to what intelligence Israel has and what the intentions are in targeting buildings. Intention is the key to determining if these actions are illegal or not under international law. Roth knows this quite well - and doesn't care. He pretends that he knows that Israel is targeting civilians, that Israel targets buildings for spite, that Israel targets power plants even though it is providing Gaza directly with power.

Since Israel cannot reveal its intel in anything close to real time, Roth knows that he can make these accusations and not have to worry about the truth being revealed while people are still following the story. Even when the truth comes out, as it did when Israel released its responses to the Goldstone Report -responses that showed that Goldstone was just as clueless as Roth - it doesn't matter, because the responses will be ignored. Certainly HRW will not defend its shoddy methodology and clear cluelessness that will be revealed when the IDF reports finally come out.

So Roth can make things up. Which is exactly what he does.

August 26 Devoted to reporting Palestinian life under occupation, @Levy_Haaretz is now "one of the most hated men in #Israel."

Truth: When Ken Roth quotes Al Jazeera, he does it accurately. That is a great synopsis of the article there.

Of course, it is not true.

The reason Levy is hated isn't because he tells the truth - it is because he lies. He has reportedinaccurately and defended it even when other left-wing journalists took him to task. He lied about the Mavi Marmara. His lies have been cataloged again and again. And all his lies are in one direction: against Israel.

Just like Ken Roth's.

Of course Roth will approvingly quote from Al Jazeera about Gideon Levy, where Levy praises himself - because the people who actually read Levy's writing know better.

August 26 retweet: Peter Bouckaert‏ @bouckap #IDF destroying major apartment buildings in #Gaza wholly unrelated 2 #Hamas 2 pressure pop--called collective punishment, maybe war crime.

Truth: Peter Bouckaert is another HRW employee. This tweet has no links, no proof, and no facts. It makes a general accusation that the IDF is destroying buildings for no reason, not even perfunctorily quoting the IDF's reasons.

The tweet is an assertion made without any HRW people in the field in Gaza, No IDF official was interviewed. It is utterly without any basis in truth.

So, of course, Ken Roth must retweet it.

August 31: Massive new #Israel settlement expansion again violates 4th Geneva Convention--more war crimes 

Truth: There was no settlement expansion. There was no land grabbed. There was no private land seized. The only thing that happened is that land that was uncategorized before was declared state land

It is not against international law to do that. It is not a war crime. It is, actually,the sort of administrative act that

As Eugene Konotovich - who is truly an expert in international law - writes:

... if Israel is indeed an occupying power, it has a duty to administer and maintain the rule of law, and oversee public resources, both of which require the authorities to know what land has private owners and what does not.

...The hysteria over this announcement illustrates several points. First, it reflects how detached discussions of “illegal settlements” are from international law. The entire legal argument against settlements rests on one sentence of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an “occupying power” to “deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population” into the territory it occupies.

Assume the treaty even applies to this situation–and there is good reason to think it does not. Further assume that Israelis moving across the Green Line can be considered a “deportation or transfer” committed by the Israeli government, though it does not appear the government is moving anyone. None of that has anything to do with the occupying power determining the ownership status of the land, an action which does not transfer or help transfer, and indeed, has nothing to do with the movement of people.

On the other hand, Israel also announced this week the construction of thousands of housing units in eastern Jerusalem for Arab Israelis. If the Geneva Convention indeed forbids building apartments in occupied territory for one’s nationals, it does so without any ethnic discrimination. The question would not be whether the “settlers” are Jews or Arabs, but whether they are part of Israel’s “civilian population.” Yet on this action, the international community was entirely silent.

The outrage over Israel’s “settlement” actions has no basis in law. Moving people is settlement activity, but only when done by Jews. Not moving people is also settlement activity. “Settlement activity” has just become a term of opprobrium with legal pretensions.
When Roth calls this a war crime, he is showing off, yet again, his profound ignorance at best and his gross bias at worst.

August 31: Non-excuses for Israel war crimes: 1. We respect rights at home; 2. Hamas started it; 3. Hamas commits war crimes too 

Truth: This is perhaps a fitting way to cap the series.

The link that Roth points to are letters to the New York Times responding to an article called "The End of Liberal Zionism." The writer of the article, Antony Lerman, was essentially saying why Zionism - the movement for self determination of the Jewish people - is no longer for him, and those liberal Zionists who still exist are fooling themselves.

Lerman has many problems with Israel today - perceived religious intolerance, a supposed assault on free speech, treatment of illegal immigrants  - and its conduct during war was only a small portion.

To Roth, it was the whole article.

Only one letter in the responses is being referred to by Roth, and that writer was responding to the article, not defending "Zionist war crimes." The fact that Roth read the original article through his own distorted lens and therefore assumes that the reactions are through the same lens just proves that Roth has lost the ability, if he ever had it, to see clearly.

Lerman advocates the end of Israel (a "one state solution.") Roth, apparently, agrees. Roth, who has never said a word about Arab antisemitism, is non-plussed with the idea of a state where Jews are a persecuted minority (after the "right of return," which HRW supports by lying that such a right exists.) Self-determination might be great for Palestinian Arabs, a people who no one had heard of before the 1960s, but to Ken Roth, the Jewish nation has no such rights.


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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