Edith Garwood, whose title is Amnesty USA “country specialist on Israel and Palestine”, and Alicia Koutsoulieris, Amnesty USA “case coordinator on Israel and Palestine”, are touring Israel and the West Bank with other blatantly anti-Israel propaganda groups: Interfaith Peace-Builders (IFPB), American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), which are listed as the official sponsors, as well as leaders from Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).
All three groups – AFSC (a radical Quaker group), JVP, and IFPB support BDS campaigns; IFPB claims that BDS actions are “victories in a sustained movement to which Interfaith Peace-Builders delegates continue to make lasting contributions.” AFSC ‘s demonization also includes accusations that Israel practices “apartheid against Palestinians”; and advocates for the “right of return,” meaning the end of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. JVP, in turn, describes itself as the “Jewish wing” of the Palestinian solidarity movement, seeking to “drive a wedge” among Jews over support for Israel.
Although advertised as an educational trip, the program demonstrates the emphasis on anti-Israel propaganda and the Palestinian narrative, with meetings involving BDS leaders Grassroots Jerusalem, BADIL, and Omar Barghouti, co-founder and Steering Committee member of Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).
The official objective of the trip is learn about “the effects of incarceration and detention on Palestinian society. Meetings feature the experiences of political prisoners and prisoner support organizations… The delegation also includes meetings with Israeli military refusers, imprisoned for their opposition to military occupation.” Terrorism and resulting deaths and injuries to Israelis are entirely erased in this description, again highlighting the propaganda goals.
A review of Garwood’s activities demonstrate a history of anti-Israel political warfare In 2008, she published an op-ed in the Charlotte Observer, entitled “Let the Refugees Return,” claiming:
The Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, rocket fire into Israel, illegal settlement growth, checkpoints, suicide bombers, the crippled Palestinian economy, The Wall, and the lack of adequate access to medicine, food and clean water require attention, but are only outgrowths of the root problem — the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.” …”[m]ilitias expelled Arabs using home demolitions, massacres, rape, beatings, bombings and widespread threats of terror.
Garwood and Koutsoulieris’s involvement with such a biased trip underlines the overall bias in Amnesty’s activities related to Israel. As noted in NGO Monitor’s Experts or Ideologues?, staffers “exemplify the organization’s troubling ideological approach to Israel and retreat from the universal principles of human rights. As long as these individuals are involved in producing research publications, analyses, and other materials relating to Israel, Amnesty cannot be considered a credible or impartial party to the conflict.”
In addition to Garwood and Koutsoulieris, the group includes:
Joseph Berman, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)
Cecilie Surasky, previous deputy director of JVP
Katie Huerter, AFSC Iowa Middle East Peace Associate
Jody Mashek, Legal Services Director of AFSC Iowa’s Immigrants’ Voice Program
Nawal Musleh, AFSC Middle East Program Fellow
And others listed on the IFPB website