Darwin's Theories Blog

New Theories for a New Time

Knee-jerk Journalism

Rosa Brooks writes in the Los Angeles Times: Ken Roth -- an American Jew whose father fled Nazi Germany -- "is executive director of Human Rights Watch, [one of] America's largest and most respected human rights organization[s]. In July, after the Israeli offensive in Lebanon began, Human Rights Watch did the same thing it has done in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia, East Timor, Sierra Leone, Congo, Uganda and countless other conflict zones around the globe: It sent researchers to monitor the conflict and report on any abuses committed by either side." It found them, as any sentient observer might predict, on both sides. Reporting on the former was overwhelmingly positive in the US Media, while reporting on the latter won Roth a host of character assassination attempts (and apparently one or two real assassination threats). As an aside, I note that HRW's and other early on-site reporting has led the United Nations to investigate Israel's targetting of civilians. "How did adopting a reflexively pro-Israel stance come to be a mandatory aspect of American Jewish identity? Skepticism -- a willingness to ask tough questions, a refusal to embrace dogma -- has always been central to the Jewish intellectual tradition. Ironically, this tradition remains alive in Israel, where respected public figures routinely criticize the government in far harsher terms than those used by Human Rights Watch..."