Human Rights Watch Executive Director Ken Roth got into hot water on Twitter on Sunday after he retweeted a report on the severe spike in antisemitism in the UK during Israel’s war with Gaza in May when he implied that Israeli government action was responsible for antisemitism.
“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,” tweeted Roth.
Numerous public officials condemned Roth’s comments as justifying antisemitism and victim blaming, although Roth rejected these accusations and said he was merely pointing out a correlation.
American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris slammed Roth’s tweet, saying “No, antisemitism is always wrong, period. Just as racism is always wrong, period. Coming from an alleged human rights defender, totally & utterly despicable.”
The British organization Muslims Against Antisemitism insisted that “The underlying antisemitism IS the problem” and added “Let’s not make excuses for any form of hate.”
Former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon retorted, “Antisemitism is bad, period. To justify antisemitism as a result of our just operation against Hamas in Gaza is to give it legitimacy. I would suggest focusing on the human rights violations in Gaza under Hamas rule.”
In response to the massive criticism Roth deleted the tweet, replying “Interesting how many people pretend that this tweet justifies antisemitism (it doesn’t and I don’t under any circumstances) rather than address the correlation noted in the Haaretz article between recent Israeli government conduct in Gaza and the rise of UK antisemitic incidents.”