Hillel Neuer
International human rights lawyer, writer & activist

HRW’s Ken Roth should apologize for trivializing the Holocaust in abortion debate

Kenneth Roth, head of the New York-based activist group Human Rights Watch, should apologize for trivializing the Holocaust by making a thinly-veiled comparison to the Nazi genocide to support abortion rights.

In a Twitter post supporting reproductive freedom, Roth endorsed a pro-choice protester’s use of the term “Never Again,” with a photo of a hanger to symbolize unsafe, self-induced abortions. “It’s important for us all to rally behind this ‘Never Again,’ wrote Roth.

“Never Again” became famous as the post-Holocaust motto by which Jews condemned the Nazi genocide, “a prayer, a promise, a vow,” wrote Elie Wiesel.

Paradoxically, by making offensive use of Holocaust imagery, Roth now joins pro-life campaigners who compare abortion to the Holocaust, except that Roth’s implied Holocaust comparison is with unsafe and self-induced abortions.

Kenneth Roth Twitter

I am disappointed that Roth would stoop to make a case for reproductive rights in America through the cynical abuse of the memory of those killed in the Holocaust.

Roth’s thinly veiled invocation of Nazi Germany in the abortion debate is an inappropriate comparison on the merits, diminishes the horror of the Holocaust, and only further coarsens our discourse.

With the Holocaust symbolizing absolute evil in the Western world, Roth and others in the political and public arena should resist the temptation to resort to Holocaust comparisons as an instrument for their own ideological purposes, seeking to exaggerate the evil nature of a phenomenon they seek to condemn.

About the Author
Hillel Neuer is executive director of UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights organization in Geneva, Switzerland. An international lawyer, Neuer has been described by the Tribune de Genève as a human rights activist who is “feared and dreaded” by the world’s dictatorships. Israel's Ma’ariv newspaper ranked Neuer as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Jewish People in the World.” Hillel Neuer is a renowned speaker who has published widely, testified before the United Nations and the U.S. Congress, and appeared on CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera. On September 14, 2016, the City of Chicago adopted a resolution declaring “Hillel Neuer Day” in recognition of his work as “one of the world’s foremost human rights advocates.” In June 2018, McGill University awarded Neuer with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, citing his work as “an innovator” in “creating global platforms for courageous dissidents and champions of human rights from around the world,” and for being “a passionate advocate for human rights, fighting tirelessly against discrimination, torture, and injustice."