Soon after it became clear that the earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday had caused devastating damage and loss of life, Israel began organizing a rescue and aid mission. As was only to be expected, anti-Israel activists immediately responded to the news by maligning this effort. The notorious Max Blumenthal claimed on Twitter that the main purpose of Israel’s mission was to rescue newborn infants of Israelis who had used local surrogate mothers. Not quite content with this dismissal of Israel’s aid effort, Electronic Intifada contributor Rania Khalek responded to Blumenthal by suggesting “that maybe Israel is heading to Nepal to learn from the earthquake how to kill better?”
In view of Khalek’s sordid record, this openly antisemitic tweet was of course just par for the course, but Khalek wasn’t done yet. Only too pleased with her own bigotry, she cynically proposed “a game”:
Given the pervasive hatred and antisemitism that is so openly displayed by “pro-Palestine” activists, these tweets were hardly surprising. Unfortunately, it was also hardly surprising that Ken Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), expressed similar sentiments in a tweet that was eagerly promoted by the likes of Khalek and inspired Ali Abunimah to publish a related post on his Electronic Intifada blog to amplify Roth’s maligning of Israel’s aid efforts.
I have repeatedly written about Roth’s egregious bias against Israel and the double standards evident in HRW condemnations of Israel; there are also plenty of analyses by NGO Monitor documenting “that HRW disproportionately focuses on condemnations of Israel and that publications related to Israel often lack credibility.” Indeed, even in this tweet, Roth blames Israel for the “humanitarian disaster” in Hamas-ruled Gaza, though he of course knows perfectly well that Hamas is busy rebuilding its tunnels and replenishing its missile arsenal with the help of tens of millions of dollars reportedly provided by Iran. But apparently, Roth (once again) prefers blaming Israel to criticizing the priorities of Hamas.
By now, Roth’s tweet has garnered 560 retweets, but also some critical attention. Rabbi Jason Miller argued in a post on his website that “Roth’s egregious tweet” was yet another instance of Israel being unfairly singled out for criticism. But Rabbi Jason also highlighted the short and sharp reaction of his friend Ari Kohen, who argued in an excellent post on his blog that “if your first response to Israel sending medical aid to Nepal is to criticize Israel about Gaza, you’re an anti-Semite.” Kohen explained that in his view, Roth’s tweet was antisemitic because he was “singling out Israel for criticism even when it assists people who are suffering.” He added that he had defended HRW against charges of antisemitism for many years, but that he felt now that “Ken Roth’s bias” against Israel “is unmistakable,” noting that “There’s a grand total of one tweet from him about the tragedy in Nepal and it’s the one I posted above, criticizing Israel for sending medical aid.”
Last but not least, it’s also worthwhile noting that if Roth wants to insists that Israel should focus on helping a hostile Gaza that is already preparing for a new war instead of earthquake-stricken Nepal, he should perhaps check out the UN’s Human Development Index, where Nepal is ranked 145 in the group of countries suffering from low development, while Palestine is ranked 107 in the group of countries that have achieved medium development. So even without the devastation wrought by the earthquake, Nepal is arguably more in need of help than Palestine – though one would never know that from Roth’s output on Twitter or HRW’s publications.