Kenneth Roth, former Human Rights Watch executive director (AP/Lee Jin-man) (AP/Lee Jin-man)
HRW director Kenneth Roth

Ken Roth’s invective against the Jewish state was only matched by Isa Soares’ leading questions as well as her uncritical reception of Roth’s partisan analysis.

By Chaim Lax, HonestReporting

As part of her analysis of the ongoing Israeli judicial reforms debate, CNN’s Isa Soares recently turned to former Human Rights Watch chief and rabid anti-Israel talking head Ken Roth for his “expert” take on the subject.

Naturally, Roth’s seven-minute appearance was chockful of anti-Israel bias steeped in misleading statements and skewed information, with a particular focus on the settlements and the claim that Israel is practicing “apartheid.”

Roth’s invective against the Jewish state was only matched by Soares’ leading questions as well as her uncritical reception of Roth’s partisan analysis.

Ken Roth Takes on the Settlements

During his interview, Roth claims that the Israeli settlements are “blatantly illegal. They violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which basically says you’re not allowed as an occupier to move your population into occupied territory.”

However, this issue is far from being cut and dry. While Roth presents his understanding of the law as the final word on the matter, other legal scholars have disputed this interpretation for several reasons.

First, Article 49 refers to an “occupied territory.” As Israel gained control over the West Bank from Jordan, which was not considered by the international community to be a legitimate sovereign, Israel cannot be considered to be occupying it. Rather than being an “occupied territory,” some legal experts hold that the West Bank should be termed a “disputed territory.”

Second, as the settlement movement was a grassroots movement of Jews wishing to reside in the historic heartland of the Jewish people, there was no “transfer” of civilians as outlined by both the Fourth Geneva Convention or the official commentary of the Red Cross to the Geneva Conventions.

Roth also claims that “the settlements and the outposts and the bypass roads” have left a “Swiss cheese” of Palestinian enclaves, effectively dooming the two-state solution and any chance of a future Palestinian state.

Roth’s analysis conveniently ignores certain facts that complicate his overly simplistic evaluation.

First, no mention that all Israeli building is done within Area C of the West Bank. This area, which covers 60% of the territory, was set during the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO. This means that in 40% of the West Bank, there is no Israeli construction at all.

Second, Israeli communities in the West Bank only take up approximately 10% of the West Bank’s land.

Third, almost three-quarters of settlers live within consensus settlements, the vast majority of which lie within proximity to the Green Line and will most likely be retained by Israel during a future negotiated peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

These points, along with the fact that Israel has previously proved willing to uproot certain Jewish communities for peace, belie Roth’s simplistic notion that the two-state solution is dead solely due to recent Israeli construction.

Ken Roth’s ‘Apartheid’ Obsession

The “Israeli apartheid” charge is one of Ken Roth’s favorite claims. In fact, during this interview, Roth uses the term “apartheid” six times in just 2.5 minutes.

As with the settlements, Roth makes it seem as if his opinion that Israel practices “apartheid” is a self-evident given.

He backs up this contention by claiming that “every serious human rights group that has looked at the issue agrees” that Israel is practicing apartheid.

However, as detailed by NGO Monitor in its in-depth analysis of this issue, these human rights groups (including Human Rights Watch – of which Roth is the former executive director) purposefully warp the traditional definition of “apartheid” to be able to accuse Israel of committing this crime.

When Ken Roth and other like-minded activists spread the “Israeli apartheid” libel, they are seeking to vilify the Jewish state and to also isolate it within the international community. When mainstream media organizations allow this defamation to air freely, they are aiding in this nefarious project.

Isa Soares’ Journalism

Throughout this interview, Isa Soares not only failed to take Roth to task for any of his claims about Israel but even asked him soft-ball and leading questions that allowed him to flesh out his biased analysis of the situation in Israel and the West Bank.

Similarly, in March 2023, Soares conducted an interview with Francesca Albanese, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories who has engaged in trivialization of the Holocaust, has justified Palestinian terrorism, and has been accused of spreading antisemitic tropes.

There too, Soares asked soft-ball and leading questions while allowing Albanese to go on for minutes without rejoinder.

Lest it seem as if it is just Soares’ journalistic practice to allow her interviewees to speak freely and without comment, this is belied by a heated interview she held with Naftali Bennett in May 2023, during which she constantly interjected and put the former Israeli prime minister on the defensive about Israel’s fight against Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

Where is this same journalistic rigor when Soares interviews such notable anti-Israel personalities as Ken Roth and Francesca Albanese?



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