Is promoting genocide a human-rights violation? You might think that's an easy question. But it isn't at Human Rights Watch, where a bitter debate is raging over how to describe Iran's calls for the destruction of Israel. The infighting reveals a peculiar standard regarding dictatorships and human rights and especially the Jewish state.A ghoulish imitation of human being, that Kenneth Roth. But continue reading.
Human Rights Watch is the George Soros-funded operation that has outsize influence in governments, newsrooms and classrooms world-wide. Some at the nonprofit want to denounce Iran's regime for inciting genocide. "Sitting still while Iran claims a 'justification to kill all Jews and annihilate Israel' . . . is a position unworthy of our great organization," Sid Sheinberg, the group's vice chairman, wrote to colleagues in a recent email.
But Executive Director Kenneth Roth, who runs the nonprofit, strenuously disagrees.
Asked in 2010 about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statement that Israel "must be wiped off the map," Mr. Roth suggested that the Iranian president has been misunderstood. "There was a real question as to whether he actually said that," Mr. Roth told The New Republic, because the Persian language lacks an idiom for wiping off the map. Then again, Mr. Ahmadinejad's own English-language website translated his words that way, and the main alternative translation—"eliminated from the pages of history"—is no more benign. Nor is Mr. Ahmadinejad an outlier in the regime. Iran's top military officer declared earlier this year that "the Iranian nation is standing for its cause that is the full annihilation of Israel."
Mr. Roth's main claim is legalistic: Iran's rhetoric doesn't qualify as "incitement"—which is illegal under the United Nations Genocide Convention of 1948—but amounts merely to "advocacy," which is legal.
"The theory" to which Human Rights Watch subscribes, he has written in internal emails, "is that in the case of advocacy, however hateful, there is time to dissuade—to rebut speech with speech—whereas in the case of incitement, the action being urged is so imminently connected to the speech in question that there is no time to dissuade. Incitement must be suppressed because it is tantamount to action."
Mr. Roth added in another email: "Many of [Iran's] statements are certainly reprehensible, but they are not incitement to genocide. No one has acted on them."
And human rights? Not if you're Jewish according to the left's human rights policeman. Just watch your back, Jewish or not. Progressives have their knives out.