Kenneth Roth: What’s Wrong With You?

Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Right Watch: New York, thinks that Israeli aid to Nepal in light of the earthquake there is a rallying cry for Gaza.

Roth’s 140 characters are packed full of dubious assertions and an even stranger conclusion. Roth asserts that Gaza’s status is equal that of Nepal (or perhaps worse), that it is entirely Israel’s making and that Israel is whitewashing its image through “easy” humanitarian gestures in Nepal rather than deal with a disaster for which it is entirely culpable.  The only conclusion from this statement is that Israel should not help anyone else until the situation in Gaza is remedied.

Firstly the assertion that the situation in Gaza is akin to that in Nepal is clearly absurd as the first is a human made disaster and the second a natural disaster. They are ethically different fields. Erdogan’s Turkey sent Israel aid in fighting the Carmel Forrest Fire in 2010.

Secondly, Gaza’s human disaster is by no means Israel’s fault alone. The situation in Gaza has deteriorated since Hamas’ 2006 coup and development/reconstruction efforts there are hindered by Hamas’ control of the flow of materials once they’re in Gaza.  With regards to the flow of materials into Gaza, it is Egypt – not Israel – that maintains a complete blockade of the territory; all materials entering Gaza are permitted entry by and through Israel.

Perhaps Roth would commend Egypt for not sending aid to Nepal as it is more consistent with their treatment of Gaza.

Thirdly, it is hubris to call Israel’s humanitarian missions to Haiti, Japan and Nepal easy. Massive funds are devoted to sending Israelis charged with defending their own state to risk their lives in geographically dangerous areas.  When they arrive they meet huge demand and throw themselves into physical exhaustion to help people to whom we owe nothing.  Israel is not the United States and does not have local bases of operation all over the globe.

Most importantly, even if we were to accept all of Roth’s assertions as true, the conclusion is still illogical.  There is no imperative that those who have caused bad cause no good.

There certainly are not the same calculations on what aid is given when the entity in need is friendly rather than hostile.  Never mind the fact that we’ve never been at war with Nepal and that the country has almost no known incidents of anti-Semitism, we even help the sick and injured from entities with whom we’re technically (Syria) or de facto (Gaza) at war.  Should we deny those persons access to our medical facilities until all hostilities have been resolved?

The 140 characters evidence a psychology so warped that many more characters are needed to address it. In plain English: the two have nothing to do with each other.  What is wrong with you that your hatred of Israel would have you call for others to go without assistance they desperately need? Because that’s what you said.

About the Author
Avi Taranto is a tour guide, chef, translator and photographer based in Tel Aviv. A native of New York City, he has a BA from McGill University in History and an MA from Tel Aviv University in Diplomacy.